Dave Cook to Lead Arkansas Leadership Academy

The University of Arkansas said Tuesday that David Cook, a former state legislator, has been named the new director of the Arkansas Leadership Academy, part of the UA's College of Education and Health Professions.

The academy was created by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1991.

Cook participated in training at the academy, and as a state lawmaker authored bills and promoted legislation to expand it.

"We are very fortunate to have David direct our leadership academy," Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions, said. "His experience as a public school administrator and state legislator gives him a unique perspective on what schools need in order to be successful. We are confident he will do a superb job in helping the leadership academy support school districts around the state."

The academy, which has staff in Fayetteville and Little Rock, trains school teachers, principals, superintendents and other school employees. The nationally recognized academy works with 50 partners in education and business in Arkansas, including 15 universities, 9 professional associations, 15 educational cooperative, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. of Bentonville and Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale.

Cook began his career as an educator in 1978 after he was discharged from military service during the Vietnam War.

"My heroes were teachers," Cook said. "They were such a great influence on my life. I was the first person in my family, from either side of the family, to graduate from high school."

Cook worked as a teacher, coach, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent at districts including Sheridan, Bradford, McRae, Hoxie, Bald Knob, Sloan-Hendrix and Osceola. He also directed the Northeast Educational Service Cooperative and taught graduate courses in educational leadership as an adjunct instructor at Harding University.

Cook served in the Arkansas House of Representatives for six years, ending in 2010. He chaired and served on numerous education committees while in the Legislature.

"The academy addresses the need to develop effective leadership in professional learning communities that focus on establishing high-performing districts, schools and classrooms with high-achieving student outcomes," he said.