“I look at my career almost like a track meet,” said Cooper. “If you’re running a 440 yard dash or an 880 yard dash like I used to run in high school, you don’t pace yourself. It’s an outright dash, and you just take off running as hard as you can.”
Although he had the option to retire two years ago, Cooper said he wanted to make sure that the planning for the new Anna K. Davie Elementary School went through before he left the office. It was also important for him to help manage the merging of the students from the old school into Southeast Elementary.
“I just didn’t want to leave it undone,” said Cooper.
As the system transitions to a new superintendent that has yet to be selected, Cooper wants the focus of this year to be on the children and teachers, instead of his departure.
“I’m confident that the school board and the Georgia School Board Association will find a strong instructional leader that will continue the great work being done here in Rome City Schools,” said Cooper.
Cooper graduated from West Georgia College in 1973 with a degree in science education and at first wanted to do environmental field work. That changed when he got a taste of teaching.
“It turns out I really liked it,” said Cooper. “I never applied with anybody but a school system.”
In that same year of graduation he started his education career as a biology teacher at Cedartown High School, where he taught for six years.
Since that time he served at various schools as assistant principal and principal before joining Rome City Schools as a principal at Elm Street Elementary. In 1989 Cooper accepted the responsibilities of assistant superintendent and since 2003 has served as superintendent.
Throughout his time as an administrator and educator, his hope was that all the children he worked with would know they were cared for and that he wanted them to succeed.
“It’s been an opportunity to serve and really help our kids and our community,” said Cooper. “When you have more children graduating high school ready for college, you not only help that child, but you help that community, but also our state and nation. It’s a huge responsibility to be an educator.”
Upon retirement in December, he said he looks forward to catching up with old friends and enjoying time to hike and walk more. Next spring, he is looking into pursuing further work in education, possibly at the university level, helping to teach others in academic administration.
“As long as I have something to give I want to be able to serve in some capacity,” said Cooper.
Looking back on his time with Rome City Schools, Cooper said he was most proud of the accomplishments the students and teachers have made throughout the years.