COMMERCE - As one of only 22 superintendents from Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma selected to the 2012-2013 class of the Lamar University Superintendent Academy, Blake Cooper says he’s very honored.
The Commerce Independent School District superintendent joins hundreds of district leaders from over the years to participate in the academy, now serving its 20th class.
“I was nominated last year, but because of my involvement in the UIL Legislative Council I couldn’t do it – I had already committed to that,” Cooper said. “It’s such a rare opportunity to get to do it I thought my opportunity was over. I didn’t think I’d get another shot. And when Dr. Thompson called me and offered me another opportunity this year I jumped at it.”
Cooper’s term on the UIL Legislative Council ended early when Commerce dropped from 3A to 2A during district realignment.
Dr. Bob Thompson is the executive director of the Lamar University Superintendent Academy, which is an advanced leadership training program on Lamar University's Beaumont campus. Cooper says this year’s class met for the first time last weekend, and will meet once a month during the yearlong training.
“Next month, actually we are going to New York City for four days. We’ll be visiting Columbia University, which the School of Education there is well thought of throughout the country. We’ll also be visiting some schools. We’ll be visiting a high school, middle school and elementary school in the City of New York.”
According to the Academy, Cooper and the other 21 superintendents will review the latest technology for enhancing student learning, participate in advanced leadership training from some of the nation's foremost trainers of company executives, and get training in the Decision Support Center, a high tech laboratory for improving the speed and quality of management decision making.
Dr. Thompson says the knowledge superintendents glean from work in the Academy is immediately applicable to any district, regardless of size or location. To assist districts in incorporating these management concepts, the Academy will host a three day Visioning session in the spring for Academy superintendents and their boards where they will be led through joint leadership training and planning activities. They will also meet with boards and superintendents from similar sized districts to share ideas for increasing student achievement and developing a vision for the future.
Superintendent Cooper says he looks forward to adapting the new skills and ideas generated during this training to Commerce ISD.
“There are not very many original thoughts in this business. So if you can come up with something that will help our students be all that they can be, then we want to be able to use those. That’s what I hope a year from now, that I’m a better superintendent than I am today.”
Other area superintendents to be invited to the Lamar University Superintendent Academy throughout its now 20 year history include officials from Delta, Hunt, Hopkins and Lamar counties. Here are some of the Academy alumni from our region:
Richard Arlan Flanagan – Mount Vernon, 2008-2009
Bryan Neal – Como-Pickton ISD, 2005-2006
Collin Clark – Celeste ISD, 2004-2005
Mark Keahey – Sulphur Bluff ISD, 2003-2004
Eddie White – Campbell ISD, 1999-2000
Graham Sweeney – Boles ISD, 1998-1999
Carolyn Mccreight – Como-Pickton ISD, 1996-1997
Harvey Hohenberger – Chisum ISD, 1995-1996
Mark Henry – Sulphur Springs, 1995-1996
James A. Dawson – N. Lamar ISD, 1994-1995
Fred Wilkerson – Cooper ISD, 1993-1994