By Bill McCauley
Barry Cooper, Woodbridge's new middle school principal, has a unique
background: Not only has he taught in public schools, he's helped
build them. These include extensive remodeling at South Dorchester
High School in Cambridge, Md., and at the University of Maryland,
Cooper, a skilled carpenter, worked at the trade before being offered
his first teaching job - carpentry - at Sussex Vo-Tech, now Sussex
Tech. He estimates that he has built over 40 homes on the Delmarva
Peninsula. That means over 40 happy, satisfied home-owning families.
Cooper came on as middle school principal in early July and hit the
ground running. Almost immediately he was included in the group of
four administrators and four teachers who attended the four-day conference
of Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta July 6-10. Of the
SREB, in which Woodbridge has its own membership, as does the state
of Delaware, Cooper has a long acquaintance. Upon completion of his
master's degree in school leadership from Wilmington College, Cooper
was promoted to assistant principal at Sussex Vo-Tech in September
1990. It was to help vo-tech schools like Sussex Tech that SREB had
its origin. "The initial thrust was aimed at vo-tech schools, but
it has become so effective that other schools benefit as well. Woodbridge
has recognized the need for a comprehensive reform effort. They're
progressive. This is the way to go," says Cooper.
Cooper was born in Galestown, Md., where he attended school through
the fourth grade. His family then moved to Seaford where he attended
Katie L. Handy Elementary School. With a move to Laurel he graduated
from high school in 1967, serving as class president in his senior
year and editor of the school newspaper, "The Bulldog."
Upon graduation he attended the University of Delaware for one year,
whereupon he joined the Air Force. Serving from 1969 to 1973, he spent
the bulk of that time in the Panama Canal Zone.
The year 1973 saw him return to Delmarva Peninsula working as a carpenter.
During the evenings and on Saturdays he continued his education at
Delaware Technical and Community College,Owens Campus, Georgetown.
Receiving an associates degree in civil engineering there, he immediately
enrolled through the G.I. Bill of Rights at Southern Illinois University
extension at Dover Air Force Base. There he studied industrial technology.
followed as code enforcer for the town of Laurel for 1 and 1/2 years
in '81 and '82 where his extensive background in the building trades
proved invaluable. In August 1982, he availed himself of a carpentry
teaching opportunity at what is now Sussex Tech.
Cooper and wife, Faye, make their home just north of Laurel. Faye
is a speech therapist and works part-time with the Indian River School
District. Daughter Jennifer, 20, will be a junior at the University
of Delaware this fall. As a papa should be, Cooper is proud that she
has consistently been on the dean's list. Younger daughter, Brittany,
9, is going into her fourth grade in Laurel in the fall.
Cooper admits to being a golf enthusiast. He also likes racquetball
and does a little gardening. He still likes to do a little carpentry
work and it's evident he would like to have time for more.
For immobile relaxation, he enjoys John Gresham murder-mystery novels
and science-fiction, as well as movies with his family.
Recently the Coopers began attending the non-denominational Gumboro
Fellowship Church. "I have a good feeling about it. Lots of energy
and spirit," he says.
During the coming months Woodbridge students will be given the opportunity
to challenge themselves.
Middle school principal Barry Cooper will help provide effective leadership.
His biography is that of a man continually challenging himself.
Church plans fall events
The Bridgeville Church of God has planned the following events:
Sunday, Sept. 5, 10:45 a.m., Al Taylor from Church of God International
Offices in Cleveland, Tenn., will speak.
Saturday, Sept. 11, 7 p.m., Young adults are invited to attend Cafe
404, a Christian coffeehouse ministry. Tonight's entertainment is
Saturday, Sept. 18, Church of God Family Day at King's Dominion -
Apples of Gold and Brother's Keeper are among the free entertainment.
Tickets are available for $19. Tickets for a concert by Carman can
be purchased for an additional $9.50. To purchase tickets, call 337-3044.