NEWARK – Members of the Worcester County Board of Education formally honored their leader Tuesday as Jonathan Cook presided over his last school board meeting.
Cook, whose recognition was followed by a standing ovation from the audience, steps down after serving 12 years on the school board.
“We will miss his leadership,” school board member Doug Dryden said. “He’s been a wonderful president, a friend, an advisor.”
Superintendent Lou Taylor offered similar praise and thanked Cook for the professionalism and dedication he’d shown as leader of the school board.
“You are truly a public servant,” Taylor said.
Cook, who will be replaced by Ocean Pines resident Elena McComas by virtue of last month’s election, said it had been an honor and a privilege to serve on the school board. He said he had no idea when he was approached by a family friend and asked to consider running for the school board that he’d hold the position for 12 years. He pointed out that during his three terms he’d worked with three superintendents, six assistant superintendents, four board presidents and 36 student board representatives.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” Cook said. “I could not ask to serve with a better group of colleagues.”
He said no one could hold a board position for as long as he had and not appreciate the dedication of the people that made up the school system.
“You cannot serve 12 years on this board and not be impressed with the talent and efforts of the many dedicated staff that have made our schools their career,” he said, thanking them for their commitment.
Cook also alluded to the challenges the school system has faced. School system officials and county leaders have at times been at odds over the education budget and, more recently, struggled to agree on plans for a new Showell Elementary School.
“Looking back there were many meetings where nerves were pushed to the brink and difficult decisions were put before us,” he said. “These decisions were some of the most challenging that I have faced, not only in my school board career but in my professional career as well. Be assured this board, we did what we were elected to do.”
Cook said he was honored to have been able to serve the school system and encouraged his fellow board members to continue working to support education.
“This school system, having prevailed through a period of change, is poised to prosper,” he said. “Let’s keep moving forward.”