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University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943





Cooke Named to Lead Charter Schools

Cooke Named to Lead Charter Schools

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG - 01/04/2007- Gwendolyn J. Cooke, Kansas City, began her new duties as director of UCM's Office of Charter Schools. Jan. 2. She has worked for 37 years as a professional educator, most recently as deputy superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri School District, August 2004 to June 2006.

Cooke fills a post held for approximately eight years by Doug Thomas, who is returning to the classroom as a professor of educational leadership at UCM.

Gwendolyn J. Cooke, Kansas City, began her new duties as director of UCM's Office of Charter Schools. Jan. 2. She has worked for 37 years as a professional educator, most recently as deputy superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri School District, August 2004 to June 2006.

Cooke fills a post held for approximately eight years by Doug Thomas, who is returning to the classroom as a professor of educational leadership at UCM.

Provides Oversight for Nine UCM Charter Schools

Dr. Gwendolyn Cooke

Dr. Gwendolyn Cooke

As director, Cooke will oversee an office that provides oversight for nine Kansas City charter schools sponsored by UCM, serving 3,097 students in the metropolitan area. She joins the office at a time when it will also benefit from state funding for oversight. The university will receive approximately $329,000 in oversight funding for the 2006-2007 school year, made possible by Senate Bill 287. It is the first time since the institution began sponsoring charter schools in 1999 that it has received state support as a sponsor.

Joins Newly Formed College of Education

Mike Wright, interim dean of UCM's College of Education, said he was pleased that Cooke is joining the university. He noted, "Dr. Cooke is an exceptional hire and we welcome her to the leadership team in the newly formed College of Education (formerly College of Education and Human Services). I am fully confident she will continue to improve upon Central Missouri's tradition as a leader in the sponsorship of public charter schools."

Provides Opportunity to Continue Commitment to Public Education

 "Appointment to the director position provides me with the opportunity to continue my commitment to public education in a different arena,” Cooke said in talking about her new post.

She stressed that charter schools empower families, who often feel disenfranchised, to choose among schools. The successful achievement of academic and social goals in these schools provides healthy competition to other public schools to improve, according to Cooke.

Career in Education Administration

Cooke joined the Kansas City, Missouri School District after serving as superintendent of the Warrensville Heights City Schools in Ohio, a school district of 3,000 urban students. Other professional experiences include senior-level positions for school districts in Cincinnati, Ohio; Savannah, Ga.; and Baltimore, MD. She also served as coordinator of the Office of Gifted and Talented Programs and Services for the Baltimore City Public Schools, taught public school students, and was the associate director of the University Without Walls Programs at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

Published Author, Worked with NASSP

A nationally recognized educator, Cooke has authored a book, Key to Success for Urban Principals, and spent approximately nine years with the National Association of Secondary School Principals in Reston, Va., directing the Urban Services Office and the Urban and Rural Services Office.

Her education includes a bachelor's degree from Alabama State College, master's degree from Morgan State College, and a doctorate from the University of Connecticut.