Wednesday, April 05, 2000

Angela Cook earns respect of all

Youngest assistant principal "like a veteran"

Enquirer Contributor

        To some in the Cincinnati Public Schools' ranks, Angela Cook is considered “the baby.”

[photo] Angela Cook
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        At 27, she is the district's youngest assistant principal, but her colleagues say she handles the K-8 students at Central Fairmount like a veteran.

        “Angela's done a terrific job,” Principal Ken Jump said. “She demonstrates a great deal of maturity for her age.”

        Ms. Cook started her assistant principal job at Central Fairmount this school year.

        She has a good relationship with students and has earned their respect, Mr. Jump said.

        “Angela can talk the talk with these kids,” sixth-grade teacher Lisa Glines said.

        “She's got a good rapport with them, but she's not afraid to get in their face when they need discipline.”

        Before coming to Central Fairmount, Angela Cook taught at Cincinnati's Millville Primary, now Millville Elementary.
        She also taught in the Indianapolis public school system.
        Ms. Cook is a product of Cincinnati Public Schools and became familiar with the field of education long before her college days. Her mother, Alma Cook, is a teacher.
Schools face shortage
        Matters of discipline, in fact, take up a good deal of Ms. Cook's workday, which starts at 7 a.m. and ends somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m.

        “I get up at 5:30 so I can be here at 7 a.m. to help unload the buses,” she said. “Then I'm out there in the halls with my bullhorn getting the kids off to their classes.

        “After that, I'm back in my office dealing with students and parents on discipline matters. The referrals start coming down to my office early — out the wazoo,” Ms. Cook says with a smile.

        On a recent morning, 10 students already had been referred to Ms. Cook's office for disciplinary action.

        “For every child in my office, I have to fill out three sheets of paperwork,” she said. “So it's a busy day. And it's Monday.”

        Nationwide, schools are experiencing a shortage of administrative candidates and the problem is particularly acute in Ohio, Mr. Jump said. As a result, he said, people are coming into administrative po sitions at younger ages.

Opportunity abounds
        Rosa Blackwell, deputy superintendent for Cincinnati Public Schools, said the district's young administrators have come by their work honestly.

        “A lot of our young administrators have had other leadership roles in their teaching experiences that just naturally prepared them for this next step at a much earlier age,” Ms. Blackwell said.

        “There also have been so many more opportunities for advancement for administrators in our district,” Ms. Blackwell added.

        “We have, over the past several years, had a number of administrators retire.”

        Ms. Cook has no children, yet she has a knack for dealing with students in a tough, motherly way.

Tough, but fair
        Passing by a line of fifth-graders on their way to the cafeteria, she tells one boy, “Take that pick out of your hair — or it's mine.” He immediately takes it out.

        Outside her office at lunchtime, she gives written marching orders to several students for in-school suspensions. While busy writing a note for one girl, Ms. Cook coolly tells another, “I know you don't have gum. Now, go on ahead and put it in my trash can.”

        Ms. Cook attributes a lot of her know-how to “instinct and people skills.”

        “I can't deal with these children in a combative way,” she said. “Because then they'll react similarly.” She points to a sign on the wall outside her office: “Every action has a reaction.” This is a motto she lives and works by, she said.


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