New year begins with Cook at the helm

KATELYN MOORE, Staff Writer, Editor

With the new school year comes a new change in leadership at Gloucester High School as Principal James Cook takes charge of the Fishermen community.

“I am so excited to get the school year started and get students in the building,” said Cook.

Cook recently made the transition from teacher to principal as he left room 2207 for the principal’s office. Students can expect not only a familiar face as a leader of the school, but also a familiar learning environment with the continuation of inquiry learning.

Implemented last year in classrooms, students will begin to be more aware of inquiry-based learning throughout their school day.

“Although it might not be visible to every student during the day,” said Cook, “there should be opportunities for inquiry learning everywhere.”

Another familiarity to upperclassmen is the presence of Chromebook carts in classrooms. According to Cook, Chromebooks will become more accessible and available to juniors and seniors due to the lack of necessity for the carts to be in underclassmen classes.

Along with the Chromebooks comes the continuation of Google training for teachers, specifically aimed at using technology to better foster differentiated student learning.

Even though many things will be familiar to students, some things will be different. A new bell system was installed throughout the building.

“The old system was not fixable,” said Cook. “We can’t have the bells not ringing.”

According to Cook, the old system would slip off time without anyone noticing. Now, a toggle switch allows Cook to change the bell times easily, although the time seen on the central clocks in classrooms may be wrong.

“We experimented with all the bells to find the least offensive sound,” said Cook.

Another change students will experience is SchoolBrains. Replacing iPass, SchoolBrain is the new learning management system where teachers store data, and parents and students can access grades. Unfortunately, parents and students will not have direct access to grades during term one.

“I wish we could go right into having the portal open, but we can’t until everyone is trained on it,” said Cook. “Teachers have to learn the system.”

Cook hopes to have SchoolBrains available the minute it is possible.

“It’s a priority of mine to make sure that access happens as soon as possible,” said Cook. “SchoolBrains is more user friendly. It should be the same as but easier to operate than iPass.”

A final change includes a small change in the consequences section in the compass as a grid replaces the traditional system of a warning, followed by a call home, then a detention policy. According to Cook, communication of a problem between the deans and any student will be administered differently.

Not only will students experience these differences, but Cook will as well as he takes on his new job as principal. Previously the head of the English Department, Cook spent his days teaching students how to go above the curriculum and think outside the classroom.

“What I know is important about supporting student growth as academic learners but also as human beings is essential,” said Cook. “That’s what I learned from sixteen years of teaching.”