Rachel Anne (Carroll) Cook, an unparalleled mother, wife, daughter, and friend, passed away January 17th, 2018. She was 49. Rachel was the head special education teacher at North Star Elementary School and was known and beloved for her unique ability to develop lasting bonds with everyone around her. She was a tireless advocate for all students — especially those with disabilities. She is survived by her husband of 24 years, Brian Cook, and her daughters, Riley and Makenna. She also is survived by her parents, Ellouise and Glen Carroll and her sister, Christine Carroll-Moore; mother-in-law, Charla Cook, and sister-in-law, Lynn Cook Gallagher and husband, Sean Gallagher. She leaves many cherished aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins. Rachel also touched the lives of so many friends, students and families in her community. Rachel will be missed more than words can convey. Memorial contributions may be made to a gofundme account — gofundme.com/rachel-cook — to support a scholarship fund that will encourage young people to become teachers of special education students, where there is a significant need. Rachel was always helping others.
It’s easy to talk about legacies after people have left this earth, and Rachel’s will be immense: we want to honor her life by encouraging young people to consider the avocation and profession of teaching, particularly those with special needs. Nothing would have made her happier than to know others would see their lives enhanced by good teaching in special education classrooms.
She was an incredible talent in the classroom. The University of New Mexico Dual License Program sought her out each year as an example of a Master Teacher to mentor aspiring teachers. Rachel has mentored 12 student teachers throughout the years.
Rachel had an inherent sense of fairness, and it seemed to drive her wish to teach students in special education classrooms. Those children deserve all the resources and caring that other kids get, and we are determined to see that come to fruition long after the shock of her death passes. It’s our commitment to her.
But Rachel’s unique goodness was evident every day, and her friends and family knew they were blessed to be near her. It’s one of the reasons we will miss her so. She had a unique ability to establish lasting bonds with her students and their families, but also with the people she loved. And there were many.
She had a wry, dry wit. She listened intently and learned from almost every conversation. Like many of us, she wanted to help the world – but with most actions and thoughts, she actually went about trying to do so.
She loved to run, read, and talk with friends. But mostly, she loved being around her husband and children – consoling them in defeat, reveling with them in victory. She had a gentleness and a goodness that will remain with us.
Rachel was born in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 1, 1968. She graduated from Western High School in Las Vegas in 1986. In high school, she was involved in student government, was the senior prom queen and a song leader. She was a competitive gymnast and coached gymnastics.
Rachel attended Utah State University and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology, minoring in Education, in 1991. Later that summer, she met her husband Brian in Las Vegas, and they were married on June 5th, 1993. She and Brian have shared their lives together in Prescott, Arizona (while Brian was attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University); Everett, Washington (where daughter Riley was born); Las Vegas, Nevada (to be near family and where daughter Makenna was born); and after a short year in Los Angeles, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
After moving to Albuquerque, Rachel became interested in teaching. She received her Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of New Mexico in 2009, and taught at North Star Elementary for 12 years. It was at North Star where she became a valued and much-loved staff member, and made a difference in kids’ lives by showing them the potential that was within them. It didn’t stop there: she also worked hard to work with parents so they could define those possibilities for their children.
It’s almost impossible to think about Rachel’s life without feeling the crushing heartbreak of her sudden and untimely passing. But for every tear, there’s also a smile for what she gave to us – friendship, love and wisdom without any expectations in return. It’s what we take forward, because Rachel had two legacies – one that affected us so much when she was alive, and the one that we will take forward as we work to help children (and each other) in her honor.
Rachel – unparalleled mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend - your life was too short. But your love will carry us on forever.
A Celebration of Life service will be held Saturday, February 17, 2018, 2:00 p.m., at Sid Cutter Pilot Pavilion.
Turn off of Alameda onto Balloon Museum Dr.
Proceed down Balloon Museum Dr (past the Balloon Museum-copper roofed building)
Turn left at the stop sign
Turn right into large double gates
Proceed North 200 yards
Perform a U turn to the left and proceed into parking area