Milton Hershey School Names 2021 Alumna of the Year
Christine Cook ’81 recognized for her service in early childhood education
Milton Hershey School has named Christine (Brennan) Cook ’81 as the 2021 Alumna of the Year in recognition for her 35-year career teaching kindergarten at MHS.
“It is with great pride I award Chris Cook ’81 with this year’s Alumna of the Year award,” said MHS President Pete Gurt ’85. “The first woman to graduate from MHS, Chris has dedicated much of her life and career to serving the students and alumni of MHS, and she continues to be a great role model for the Milton Hershey School family.”
Cook enrolled at MHS on March 5, 1979 when she was 15 years old. During her time at the school, Cook learned to be organized, work hard, strive for her best, and collaborate with others, skills she now teaches her students.
Cook said MHS enhanced her life in more ways than she could have imagined and gives credit to the role models she idolized as a student. “I saw the dedication, fun, and commitment and was pulled in by the MHS magic that is difficult to describe,” Cook said.
After graduating from MHS, Cook went on to earn a degree in early childhood education from West Chester University and returned to teach kindergarten at MHS. A proponent of lifelong learning and demonstrating a commitment to high standards, Cook earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Millersville University and a master’s degree in instructional technology from Duquesne University. In addition, she earned and maintained certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Beyond her dedication as a teacher, Cook coached junior high field hockey and high school softball, and taught driver’s education courses during the summer. Having held various leadership roles within the Milton Hershey Education Association, she worked closely with the school administration to develop mutually beneficial policies, and she served on the MHS Centennial Celebration Committee. An active member of the MHS Alumni Association, Chris served for six years on the MHS Alumni Association Board. In 2010, she received the MHSAA Homestead Chapter Alumni Service Award.
Cook and her late husband, Ken—who also was employed by Milton Hershey School—have two adult daughters, Jennifer and Megan, who also have connections to MHS. Jennifer teaches 4th grade and coaches the high school volleyball team, and Megan, a Ph.D. student studying school psychology, is a practicum student with Psychological Services at MHS.