Cooper preps for first school yearPublished 1:15pm Thursday, June 20, 2013
Superintendent Dr. Darrell Cooper still has about two months before the first day of school in his new system, but he’s already been at work meeting people and getting the ball rolling.
Cooper comes to Alexander City from Jasper City schools, where he served as the assistant superintendent for secondary schools since 2007. But he also has a background in teaching both science and social studies at the high school level, in addition to coaching, before he embraced the administrative side of education.
“I’d always thought of myself as a leader,” Cooper said. “I decided to go back to school and get my certification in educational leadership.”
Cooper said he was immediately hired as an assistant principal and progressed through administrative positions through principal to assistant superintendent.
“I worked across the K-12 spectrum – I coordinated all kinds of things for the district and worked in curriculum instruction, professional development, personnel evaluations, student placement and student enrollment, ESL,” Cooper said. “I’ve had a lot of experience.”
Cooper brings that experience to the table in Alexander City following the retirement of Lou Ann Wagoner. He already has a list of goals and initiatives, starting with developing a strategic plan.
“We’ve had a strategic plan in place, but it’s out of date now,” Cooper said. “It gives us both short term and long term goals to work toward as a district.”
Cooper said he intends to engage a number of different groups to develop that plan which will identify the system’s mission, beliefs and purpose, in addition to goals and benchmarks.
“That’s a long process,” Cooper said. “If we start now and we have a strategic plan in place by January 2014, that would be great. That would be pretty fast-paced.”
Cooper said another focus for him his establishing and strengthening lines of communication, using such outlets as the website, Twitter, email and an annual progress report.
“If people are informed, they feel good about what’s going on,” Cooper said. “It’s just to give our parents and our community members the information about our school system – about the good things going on in our district. I think that’s important.”
Emphasizing technology and programs – like fine arts – will be another priority, Cooper said.
Cooper and his wife Leigh – an elementary school teacher – will put down roots in the community. They have three children – Jordan, 25, Kyle, 22, and Sidney, 17.
Outside the classroom – or the office – Cooper said he enjoys reading, being outdoors, golfing and being involved in church and local organizations.
“I think it’s importatnt that the superintendent be involved in the community,” Cooper said.