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Who WE Are – Dr. Jon Cooper

Dr. Jon Cooper has had many sleepless nights and very few 8-hour workdays or free weekends since March 13th. That’s the day Delaware’s public schools were ordered to shut down by the governor due to COVID-19. Since then, Cooper, the Director of Behavioral Health, has been coordinating all of the district’s social/emotional and health-related issues linked to the pandemic. Cooper joined Colonial in 1998 as a school psychologist and was quickly put on a leadership track. Today, as an administrative leader, he is facing the greatest challenge of his career as he navigates ways to stay up to date on the ever-changing science while putting safety protocols in place along with overseeing a dedicated team of nurses and school counselors.  Cooper also oversees communications that go out regarding COVID-19 and sees the importance of being transparent with employees, families, and the community.  “As a leader in the district, there’s been a push for full transparency from the superintendent on down…I think that helps address the fear factor because people can genuinely see what we’re doing.”

Cooper says he’s also grateful to be working with staff from all schools and divisions who are pushing past their own fears about COVID-19.  He believes employees as a whole realize the district has done everything possible to keep buildings safe because ultimately they know the best place for many of our students to thrive is in school.  Cooper applauds teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff working in-person and virtually and says unsung heroes like Visiting Teachers Sam Anderson and Jenee Walker deserve praise for personally going to the homes of students to make certain their needs are met during the pandemic, along with transportation and nutrition services workers who go out into the community to make sure that students are fed. He also is extremely proud of school nurses who have proven they are truly essential frontline workers, along with members of Colonial’s custodial staff who go above and beyond the call of duty to keep students and staff safe by following the latest guidelines from the Delaware Division of Public Health and the CDC for sanitized facilities.

“The Power of WE is everywhere and I think that’s what’s translating into Colonial being the school district that our community needs us to be right now,” he says.

As a husband and father of four, Cooper says, “I feel passionate that the public schools are the most fundamental thing about our democracy and about us…being the public school system that our community deserves is being as professional and as proactive as we can be.” 

Cooper wishes he could predict when life will return to normal, especially for the students and staff, but vows to continue doing everything possible to ensure the physical and emotional wellbeing of everyone in Colonial Nation.

“I feel like it’s a privilege and I’m grateful to be a part of that but it’s a lot…a lot, and it can be extremely stressful,” Cooper says. Despite his personal stress, Cooper leans on meditation and his belief that by working together, putting the Power of WE in motion, Colonial Nation will come through these unprecedented times stronger than ever for the sake of all students.