Bob Cooper

Bob Cooper has been involved in public and private education from kindergarten to post-baccalaureate education systems throughout his 37 years as an artist and educator.  He currently serves as a district-wide arts administrator overseeing a department with a staff of 47 certificated personnel and 11 classified personnel managing staffing, evaluations, and budgeting.  The Department of Visual and Performing Arts has an annual operating budget of over 3.95 million dollars, which touches all children in the school district.  This position also has him sitting on senior cabinet, which manages all the operations of the 16 schools and serves as an advisory group to the superintendent and board of directors.

Mr. Cooper has been instrumental in maintaining a strong public education arts program in the South Kitsap School District in spite of the recent downturn in the economy.  He has been a consummate advocate for providing standards-based arts instruction for all children nationwide.  His work as one of the primary writers of the 2014 NCAS Music Standards has influenced arts instruction across all 50 states. He is again working as a member of the OSPI Arts Leadership Cadre in aligning the state arts standards and national standards.

Bob currently holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music (with minors in Theatre and Visual Arts), two Master’s degrees, a K-12 principal certification, and a Washington State superintendent certification.  He has personally taught kindergarten through college and, in addition to his administrator duties, is the director of the South Kitsap High School String Symphony.

In addition to his teaching and administrative work, Cooper still finds time to compose and arrange musical pieces in a wide range of musical genres.  In the musical theatre realm his original works Bethlehem, Robin Hood: The Musical, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Star Songs have been produced in numerous venues up and down the West Coast.  His works for student performing groups range from small choir to large band and orchestral pieces.

This was posted in the category Board Bios.
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    • PAL Spotlight On: Madrona K-8 School

      Madrona kids picture

      “It was one of the most focused professional development experiences I’ve had as a principal,” Farah exclaims. “PAL brought everybody’s voice together and was a key strategy in our success.”

      The Arts are Alive Thanks to Strong Leadership and PAL

      Throngs of students fill the halls with busy footsteps and the buzz of chatter as part of the daily routine at the Madrona K-8 School in Seattle.

      It’s a familiar scene in schools across Washington state. However, less typical – especially for a school where more than three quarters of its students fall below the poverty line – are the joyful musical strains that fill the air in every corridor.

      At Madrona, the halls are indeed alive with the sound of music and the arts are thriving, due in large part to the leadership of its school principal, Farah Thaxton, and ArtsEd Washington’s Principals Arts Leadership (PAL) Program.

      A Leap of Faith Shifts the Tide

      Prior to Farah’s leadership, Madrona had limited arts programming during the school day. Determined to shift the tide, Farah began to build out core arts classes, community arts partnerships and integrated arts learning opportunities. Farah hired a full time K-5 music teacher and a part-time instrumental teacher to bridge the arts opportunity gap, and build a path for her students into high school music programs. With support from the Central Office she purchased instruments and supplies, and through a Dept. of Education Grant began a 3-year partnership with Arts Impact to provide K-5 integrated arts teacher professional development focused on literacy and mathematics.

      Within a short period of time, the Madrona school day was infused with the arts but Farah recognized resources and strategies weren’t coordinated or leveraged.  She realized that, as principal, she needed to expand her own capacities in arts leadership, if the efforts were to build and sustain. Taking a leap of faith, she then applied to ArtsEd Washington’s PAL Program.

      “We absolutely wanted our commitment and practice of providing arts education to our students to be sustainable,” notes Farah, “which is why I jumped at the chance to get Madrona on board with PAL.”

      Farah paired PAL’s strong support and resources with a new School Arts Team, comprised of teachers, parents, and a community partner from ArtsCorp. Working with their PAL Coach (a PAL Program alumni principal), the team enthusiastically engaged in purposeful arts planning, creating a vision for the arts at Madrona and laying out three-year arts expectations of what the school would provide for students.

      Momentum and Enthusiasm Grows

      “PAL gave us the momentum and framework,” comments Farah. “The program helped us articulate and determine what Madrona should look like around the arts – it was a big achievement.”

      As enthusiasm grew, so did Madrona’s Arts Team, and the group dived into development of the school Arts Plan – including setting actions and benchmarks to achieve the arts vision.

      “It was one of the most focused professional development experiences I’ve had as a principal,” Farah exclaims. “PAL brought everybody’s voice together and was a key strategy in our success.”

      “A-Ha” Moments and Student Benefits

      Efforts are paying off and there are lots of “a-ha moments.” Through the arts, students are increasing their engagement, developing perseverance, and growing in their self-assurance.

      “For students challenged to excel in more traditional learning methods, the chance to shine in their natural abilities is a big thing,” says Farah. “For example with music and poetry curricula, students have to get up in front of their peers and this gives their confidence a boost.”

      Thanks to their work with PAL, Madrona has transformed its climate and culture. Dynamic school-to-neighborhood arts programming now reaches into the heart of the community and includes an Art Walk, showcase of student art at local restaurants, and an Art Room for families at school open houses.

      District Level Involvement

      Farah has also leveraged her PAL involvement to further the arts within Seattle Public Schools. Last year she was one of several district principals involved in the Leadership Work Group. Under the facilitation and guidance of PAL founder and ArtsEd Washington Executive Director, Una McAlinden, the group identified the supports principals need to build and sustain the arts system-wide, leading to vision and planning work at a regional level in the Central Pathway.

      “PAL is really outstanding and I’m proud of what we did at Madrona,” says Farah. “I’m excited about this kind of focused arts planning at the higher district level and committed to see it happen.”

      Madrona Fast Facts

      Location: Seattle, WA
      District: Seattle Public Schools
      Principal: Farah Thaxton
      Grades: PK-8
      Students: 320
      Teachers: 25 Certified

      Student Demographics

      • 76% Free or Reduced-Price Meals
      • 15% White
      • 70% Black
      • 3% Asian/Pacific Islander
      • 8% Hispanic
      • 4% Two or More Races

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