Bill Cook Jr., Rock Hill School school district’s new superintendent, said Wednesday his focus will be on student and staff safety, teacher retention and student achievement.
“Every school, every place is continuing to work on school safety and making sure the environment is protected as much as possible,” he said.
Cook said Rock Hill also will train teachers and staff on how to deal with Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES.
Schools across the state are seeing more students dealing with mental illness. Rock Hill has established new strategies to deal with the increase in students who have a variety of mental health problems.
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“A child who doesn’t feel safe in the classroom because of whatever is happening before or during (class) is not able to learn at the level that we want to make sure they are prepared to,” Cook said.
City residents, school district personnel and parents officially welcomed Cook during a reception Wednesday at the district’s Central Office.
Cook said he is working to fulfill the district’s mission of “One team. One mission. One Rock Hill” during his first year as superintendent.
“We all work together as a team toward the same goals,” Cook said. “I look forward to continuing the great work that’s already been done prior to my coming here.”
Cook succeeds Kelly Pew, who left to work for Anderson School District One in Williamston. Pew served as Rock Hill school district superintendent for four years.
Cook’s education career spans more than 27 years in North and South Carolina, according to the Rock Hill school district. He served for two years as the executive director of secondary education for Rock Hill.
Before moving to Rock Hill, Cook was assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction in Gaston County Schools, the ninth largest school district in North Carolina serving about 32,000 students.
Rock Hill also has a new chief academic and accountability officer. John Jones will oversee instructional technology, instruction and accountability, professional development and elementary and secondary curriculum. Jones will work closely with Cook in leading the district.
“I can already tell the community invests in the schools and that is so very important,” he said.
Jones said Cook is working on his goals for the district this school year, which include safety, teacher retention, academic success, and the overall culture and efficiency of the district.
“He’s working hard to set the vision and making sure it matches the greatness of what Rock Hill schools is about,” Jones said. “I certainly will want to extend that in academics to support our teachers, students and parents.”