Scott Cooper is confident he will transition smoothly to his new role despite pandemic.
Throughout his years as an educator, Scott Cooper said watching his students walk across the stage with a diploma in their hand has been his biggest thrill.
“Our job is to just give them all the tools necessary to prepare them to get to that spot,” he said.
It is a thrill he didn’t have his final school year at Electa Arcotte Lee Magnet Middle School, which ended in May with students e-learning off campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The oddity will continue for Cooper, who is the new principal at R. Dan Nolan Middle School in Lakewood Ranch. He has unpacked everything in his new office and is ready to meet the staff as the new principal of the school, but he can’t.
At least, he can’t meet them all at once due to limitations on group gatherings.
Even so, he said that he expects a smooth transition in taking over his new school.
“I’m looking forward to meeting everybody, meeting all these families and students and getting to know everybody,” Cooper said.
He is replacing Scot Boice, who will retire in October.
During this transition period, he’s relying on staff members, such as Assistant Principal Lori Jones and secretary and bookkeeper Jennifer Polson, to help get to know his staff.
He isn’t going to make major changes because he said Nolan already is a great school.
“I’m here to support [the staff] and keep that momentum going,” he said.
In the coming years, he would like to expand on the electives the school offers, especially adding more performing arts and career and technical education programs.
“I want to build on what was already great at this school and make it even greater,” Cooper said. “I want to make sure there’s something for every child. There should be a club, class or elective for every student here.”
Cooper started his career in education as a teacher in New York City in 1998.
After two years of commuting, he was ready for a change, so Cooper and his wife, Alison, decided to move to Florida.
He started teaching history at Lakewood Ranch High School in 2000 and has stayed with the School District of Manatee County since then.
Cooper has served as principal at Lee Middle for six years, principal at Buffalo Creek Middle School for two years, assistant principal at Bayshore High School for four years and assistant principal at Southeast High School for three years.
Cooper is hoping all the students will be able to return to campus full time. He looks forward to seeing his students in musical performances, Technology Student Association competitions, sporting events and more.
“A lot of our kids missed out this year with nationals or state tournaments,” he said. “I look forward to getting them back [in the building], so all their hard work can be rewarded by competing against everyone else.”
With the uncertainty revolving around whether students will be back in brick and mortar classrooms next year, Cooper said communication with families is key.
As a father of a rising freshman at Parrish Community High School, Brianna, and rising senior at Braden River High School, Kaylee, he said he understands what parents are going through and that they have their children’s best interests in mind.