COEUR d’ALENE – School trustees in Coeur d’Alene have selected Steven Cook of Colorado to lead the 10,800-student district as Superintendent starting July 1.
Cook is now deputy superintendent for the Douglas County School District in the Denver area.
“Following a thorough national search, and having heard valuable input from many in our community who participated in this process, we are excited to offer this position to a career educator who will bring a high level of expertise, skills and leadership to the role,” said Casey Morrisroe, school board chair.
Morriroe said it was a tough choice because highly capable candidates applied for the position.
“Dr. Cook emerged as a visionary leader who places great emphasis on academic excellence, communication, community involvement, integrity and relationships. We believe Dr. Steven Cook is the right person at this time to lead our school system,” Morrisroe said.
Cook has spent 29 years in public education, beginning in Kansas and continuing with the Douglas County district, which serves 68,000 students in 89 schools. He currently oversees professional development, curriculum, personalized learning such as special education and gifted programs, security, evaluation, academic systems, library and media services, and the career and technical education departments.
“I am grateful to the Coeur d’Alene school board for the opportunity to serve,” Cook said. “My wife and I are truly excited to make our home in the district. I was drawn to the district by the strong sense of community here. There’s so much kindness and a commitment among all adults to work together on behalf of students. The teachers, building leaders and staff are obviously dedicated to providing the very best for their students. There’s such a positive, powerful energy here – it’s inspiring. I am honored and humbled to stand with Coeur d’Alene teachers, building leaders and staff to provide the highest quality educational experience for every child we serve.”
Cook said he will focus on how to effectively meet the needs of parents and students, while providing an innovative educational approach to prepare graduates for college and careers.
“We need to provide students an education that is relevant and useful and prepares them to be critical thinkers, resilient learners and good people,” he said. “Our schools also must meet the expectation to help students achieve and grow to high standards.”
Cook previously served as assistant superintendent for secondary education, overseeing instructional and operational aspects of the district’s nine comprehensive high schools, nine middle schools and five alternative schools. Cook also spent a year as principal of Cimarron Middle School in Douglas County. Prior to Colorado, he spent 24 years in Kansas, including 11 years as a secondary principal and assistant principal and 13 years as a science teacher, mostly in chemistry and physics.
“I believe that all kids are hungry to learn, and that all kids can learn, if only we set them up properly for success,” Cook said. “I believe in igniting kids’ natural passion for learning through powerful school experiences and excellent relationships with staff. I believe we must help all kids discover their unseen potentials.”
Cook received his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Kansas in 2009, his master’s degree from Emporia State University in 2000 and his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University in 1989.
He is married to Stephanie Cook, and has three grown children, one grandchild, and two Catahoula rescue dogs.
Cook will succeed Stan Olson, who was appointed to serve as interim superintendent for the 2017-18 school year. Cook’s base salary will be $160,000 a year, plus benefits.
The board worked with executive search firm McPherson & Jacobson, LLC in the selection process, which began last fall. From 34 applicants, three were chosen for interviews last week. The board met Friday in executive session to evaluate the qualities of the candidates and review the feedback provided by district and community stakeholders.
The trustees offered their gratitude to the two other candidates: Trina Caudle, director of secondary education for Coeur d’Alene Public Schools; and Christopher Hines, deputysSuperintendent of operations for the Conroe Independent School District north of Houston, Texas.
The board also thanked everyone who took time to meet with each of the three candidates and offer their input to the board. They included students, teachers, principals, classified employees, district office staff, business and civic leaders, and other members of the community.