Posted 2/17/2014 12:00 am
David Cook was recently appointed the director of the Arkansas Leadership Academy in Fayetteville. The academy, a unit of the College of Education & Health Professions at the University of Arkansas, was created by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1991. “We are very fortunate to have David direct our leadership academy,” said Tom Smith, dean of the College of Education. “His experience as a public school administrator and state legislator gives him a unique perspective on what schools need in order to be successful.”
Drafted soon after earning a bachelor’s degree in special education and physical education from what became the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Cook continued to focus on education while serving in the military. While stationed in Guam, he started a program on human resource management offered by Pepperdine University, which later led to a master’s degree. His career as an educator began in 1978 after he left the service. He worked in a number of positions, including teacher, principal and superintendent, at districts including Sheridan, Bradford, McRae and Bald Knob. He also directed the Northeast Educational Service Cooperative in Walnut Ridge and taught graduate courses as an adjunct instructor at Harding University in Searcy.
Cook has participated in Leadership Academy training, and as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives for six years, he wrote several bills to expand it. His time in the Legislature, which ended in 2010, saw him chair and serve on numerous education committees. Cook was the primary sponsor of Act 222 of 2009, which created the School Leadership Coordinating Council; the group works with the Leadership Academy and other state agencies to encourage school districts to pursue leadership development. “My heroes were teachers,” Cook said about why he chose a career in education. “They were such a great influence on my life.”