Anne Cooper has announced she will be retiring as superintendent of the Revelstoke School District, but not until she sees the new schools project to completion next year.
The school district announced Thursday morning that Cooper would be retiring as of June 30, 2013.
“I really thought long and hard over Christmas that I needed to bring closure to a plan for myself,” she told the Times Review. “I love this job and I’ve had such a wonderful 13 years to date and another year and a bit to wrap up things.”
Cooper’s announcement is not unexpected and she has hinted at her intentions for some time, however she only made if official recently, informing the Revelstoke Board of Education of her plans two weeks ago.
Mike Hooker, the principal of Revelstoke Secondary School, will be her replacement, the board announced.
Alan Chell, Chair of the Revelstoke Board of Education, expressed gratitude for Cooper’s work as superintendent.
“Anne’s done an incredible job for this district,” he said. “I would regard her as probably the finest superintendent in the province and we’ve been really fortunate to have her. I just think the world of her.”
Hooker has spent the past 15 years in the district as principal of Arrow Heights Elementary and Revelstoke Secondary School.
“I have no doubt whatsoever that Mike would be an excellent superintendent,” said Chell. “I have no doubt in my mind if we didn’t hire Mike as a superintendent, he would definitely have other districts looking to hire him.”
Chell said that Hooker was in the board’s sights as a replacement for some time but they still asked him to make a presentation before them to make sure he was the right person to take over.
“We met and had a good, good session last week and after the session we all came to the conclusion that he was the right guy to bring us forward,” said Chell.
Hooker said he will be sad to see Cooper retire but is also excited about his promotion.
“I’ve been really excited to work with her and a large part of staying here and sticking with a career here has to do with her and the way the district was being run and the quality that was here,” he said. “It’s interesting to consider that work because leaving the school will be hard for me. My life has been the kids and the staff and this job will obviously change that focus a little bit.
“Well, maybe not change the focus, but change the day-to-day.”
Hooker will leave his post as principal of RSS at the end of this school year and the search for a replacement is underway. Chell said the position would be advertised externally.
A plan is being put in place for next year to ensure a smooth transition in leadership. Chell said that Cooper and Hooker would work together in the fall, with Cooper acting as a mentor. Hooker will assume the superintendent’s position in January 2013 and Cooper would spend the second half of the year wrapping up her work.
Cooper started her career in 1978 as a teacher in a two-teacher school in Conklin, a tiny hamlet in northern Alberta. She came to Revelstoke in 1999 after 10 years in Fort Nelson.
“You know it’s time to retire when the first crop of kids you taught have grandchildren,” she joked.
Cooper’s term as superintendent has been highly eventful and successful. She has overseen improvements in early learning, literacy and graduation rates; as well as the establishment of the province’s first Strong Start centre and Neighbourhood Learning Centre. She credited the collaboration of staff and other outside groups with the districts success.
“I think we believe in the school district that our schools have a place for everyone and I think that that’s kind of the key,” she said. “When I look at very few kids that aren’t able to graduate, the very few kids that we know are struggling – it’s because we’re continually saying school can be a success for everyone and all the adults are going to work towards that goal.”
Notably, she has overseen the construction of two new schools – the new high school that opened in October and the new elementary school, which is scheduled to open in time for the next school year. She said her goal was to see the new schools to completion before retiring.
As Cooper pointed out, the 2011 graduating class was in kindergarten when she started. The 2012 graduating class will be the first cohort that started kindergarten while she was superintendent.
“Very few superintendents have the luxury of staying somewhere long enough where they see two or three complete cohorts go through the system so that’s been a real thrill too,” she said.
Here is the letter Anne Cooper sent the following letter to the board:
“After considerable reflection, and with a poignant mixture of pride and humility I am offering this letter as my intention to retire effective June 30th, 2013.
I feel so fortunate to have been given an opportunity to serve Revelstoke’s children and youth for the past thirteen years. I am grateful for the many opportunities that my Superintendancy has afforded me. I believe Trustees, staff and parents know how very proud I am to be a part of such a dynamic and successful school system. Together, we have been guided by an unconditional commitment to children.
My fondest career memories reside in this school district. They include the official opening of Revelstoke Secondary School, the development of the first Neighbourhood Learning Centres in the province, the profound accomplishments in early learning with our partners, development of the first StrongStart Centre in the province, our successful community literacy planning, the achievements we have made to create and sustain safe, caring and orderly schools, and, at the heart of all of our success, the excellence we have obtained in reading.
Every visit to a school reinforces what truly wonderful students we have. Our administrative, teaching, and support staff have worked tirelessly to establish high expectations for our students and our students have responded. We set the bar high and our students leapt over it.
The work plan for 2012/2013 is extensive with significant tasks related to facilities, especially the completion of our capital project and closing our contract with Graham Design Builders a JV. Be assured that I will do my utmost to ensure that those tasks are brought to closure while facilitating a transition for a newly appointed Superintendent.
I close by saying it has been my sincerest pleasure to work with each and every one of you. I have enjoyed a good-natured working relationship with Trustees, in an atmosphere of mutual respect. I have tremendous respect for our administrators, teachers, parents and support staff and I thank them for exemplifying graciousness and professionalism – qualities that define our district. I am a most fortunate individual and a very grateful educator for the life I have established in Revelstoke and the school system I have been a part of.
Superintendent of Schools”