School District Selects Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year

School District Selects Principal and Assistant Principal of the Year
Posted on 12/09/2020
Rob Cooper and Forrest Walker Jr. Headshot

The School District of Lee County is proud to announce Rob Cooper, Principal at Bonita Springs Elementary School, is the Lee County Principal of the year. The District is also proud to announce Forrest Walker Jr., Assistant Principal at Dunbar High School, is Lee County 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 worked with the Literacy Council to also provide English lessons for his students’ parents. “Rob has enabled staff to work as a system focused on student learning and has maintained a climate that supports student engagement,” Bonita Springs Elementary Assistant Principal Jillian Fiora says in her nomination letter. “As a result, Bonita Springs Elementary continues to meet the needs of its Title 1 population and has maintained a school grade of an “A” in FY19.”

Cooper has been with the District since 2006. First as a teacher, then Assistant Principal before becoming a principal in 2014. Staff at Bonita Springs Elementary say Cooper continuously promotes relationships, collaboration, shared leadership, and respect. Teachers are taught how to adjust the curriculum to meet the needs of individual learners. Administrators empowered to lead and grow. Cooper is also a Principal Lead for the District, serving as a mentor to new principals, and is known for always providing advice and assistance when needed. “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. The email is a daily 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. He 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 as Florida Principal of the Year and Walker as Florida Assistant Principal of the Year will be sent to the Florida Department of Education 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 School District of Lee County 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.