News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Daniel Wackershauser, Marketing Specialist
Phone: 608.822.2303
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: June 3, 2021

Cooley earns CNA degree to assist students

Fennimore -

When Megan Cooley graduated from Platteville High School and was entering college she was torn between a career in education or a career in nursing. She chose the education path, until now, when she decided to expand her horizons. A life-long teacher, and most recently a special education teacher at Lancaster High School, Cooley recognized a need in her classroom for additional medical training. Her solution was to return to college and earn her Nursing Assistant (CNA) degree. She enrolled in the program at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College and recently graduated.

Female teacher sitting at desk

Megan Cooley

Education is a family affair for Cooley. Her grandma was an art teacher. Her aunts and uncles were teachers. Her father was a chemistry teacher at Platteville High School and her mother continues to teach at the elementary school level. “It was just a way of life,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in teaching and serving others.”

Cooley has taken the idea of serving others to a new level. She began her teaching career in general education at the elementary education level. Later moving on to special education in early childhood and now in high school. “I absolutely love my job,” said Cooley. “I love coming to school every day and helping students find their place in the world, find that niche where they feel loved, accepted and cared for is so important to me. I am helping prepare these students for the rest of their lives.”

There are more than 30 students in the transition department at Lancaster High School. Cooley and two others are responsible for their instruction. “We want people to know we are here to help them transition into the world,” she said. “We help students find a good fit job, community activities and find an authentic life outside high school.”

Additionally, there are many students who have health concerns, which weighed on Cooley. “I felt I didn’t have the background to care for them,” she said. “Our nurse is here every day and is wonderful. It made me feel better to achieve my CNA to better assist the students. It has helped me so much in providing care for all students.”

Cooley noted that each morning when she would enter her classroom she would immediately utilize the knowledge she learned the night before from the CNA class or lab. “It was so amazing to learn something in class about personal care, about bedside manner, about how to provide adequate care plans and communicate to everybody on a team, that I would come in in the morning and immediately be opening up my computer and starting on some kind of a project,” she said.

In addition, Cooley made medical care plans for medically complex students, which could be accessed quickly and easily. These plans could be beneficial to substitute teachers or others who are new to the care of the students.

The idea to earn her CNA was prompted by a conversation Cooley had a with a student. That student explained that she wanted to work at a nursing home, however she felt she was only qualified to be employed at the entry level. “She said she can’t go to college and she didn’t think she could get through it,” said Cooley, disagreeing with that assessment.

“Being a CNA could be an amazing job for a student,” said Cooley. “Students in transition services have so much empathy for others because of what they have been through. They are such good caregivers and servants to others.”

As a result of her new CNA education Cooley is now leading a study group of high school students, both general education and special education students, who are currently enrolled in Southwest Tech’s CNA program. They meet during open school hours and after school to review practice tests and skills tests.

Not only was Cooley teaching at the high school and earning her CNA degree this past semester, she somehow found time to earn her master’s in education. “I knew this was something I wanted to do for my students,” she said.

This past year of teaching and learning was certainly a challenge for Cooley; a challenge she conquered to the benefit of her students. After teaching during the day, Cooley would change into her scrubs and go to Southwest Tech in Fennimore for labs and clinicals. “They were long nights and so much was going through my head,” she said.


| Southwest Wisconsin Technical College is one of 16 institutions that comprise the Wisconsin Technical College System. Southwest Tech offers more than 60 programs in a wide variety of disciplines. Courses are offered on campus, online and in a blended format. The college provides apprenticeship, certificate, technical diploma, and associate degree programs that respond to district workforce needs and prepare student for family-sustaining jobs and career advancement. |

Posted in Nursing