LEE COUNTY, Fla. — The School District of Lee County is proud to announce Rob Cooper, Principal at Bonita Springs Elementary School, as the Principal of the Year, and Forrest Walker Jr., Assistant Principal at Dunbar High School, as the Assistant Principal of the year.
Cooper was appointed principal of Bonita Springs Elementary School in 2018, after previously leading Mirror Lakes Elementary and Rayma C. Page Elementary.
To benefit his students, Cooper is involved with both civic and community groups resulting in school supplies, money, Christmas gifts for all students, a mobile pantry, recess supplies, and supplemental academic materials and resources being donated to the school. He also worked with the Literacy Council to provide English lessons for his students’ parents.
Cooper has been with the District since 2006. Staff at Bonita Springs Elementary say Cooper continuously promotes relationships, collaboration, shared leadership, and respect.
“I am honored to receive this recognition and to represent our highly skilled and dedicated group of principals in Lee County,” Cooper says. “It has been a privilege to serve our students and staff. This has been an incredibly engaging year, where, I have had a wealth of opportunities to participate in many roles within our school, Bonita Springs Elementary, and in our community of Bonita Springs. I am appreciative of Superintendent Adkins and his Cabinet for their confidence in me.”
At Dunbar High School, staff are greeted every morning with words of encouragement from Assistant Principal Forrest Walker Jr. Hid daily emails are a dose of inspiration and motivation.
“Despite these unprecedented times, our current situation continues to strengthen our significance and purpose as Educators,” Walker says. “When we confidently believe in our worth, it gives credence to every endeavor we commit to. Our time is now to become aggressive learners and prove our allegiance in being life-long leaders. Without any doubt or thought, ‘We are the Difference-Makers.’”
Walker was appointed Assistant Principal at Dunbar in 2014 after serving as AP at Success Academy, South Fort Myers High School, and Lehigh Acres Middle School.
Walker uses his daily message to build relationships and mentor both teachers and students. He coaches teachers on pinpointing areas of need and coming up with strategies to increase student achievement. Students are able to master the standards because of his guidance. He is also well known in his community for his good deeds, leadership, and fellowship.
“Forrest Walker Jr. plays a major role in the development of future leaders,” Dunbar Assistant Principal Tamika Woods says in her nomination letter. “He mentors teachers, community members and students. He embodies compassion, charisma, and selflessness in mentoring others, which has resulted in stronger administrators and teachers at Dunbar High School.”
Nominations for Cooper and Walker will be sent to the Florida Department of Education (DOE) by Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins. The DOE will announce the finalists in January and the winners by early March. Each award comes with a $5,000 cash prize.
The district has recently won both awards. Kelly Stedman was named 2017 Florida Assistant Principal of the Year. Ken Savage was named 2018 Florida Principal of the Year after leading James Stephens International Academy from an “F” grade to a “B” in just one year. Savage is now Chief of Operations for the District while Stedman is Principal at James Stephens.