Berta Weathersbee Elementary Welcomes New Principal


LaGrange, Ga., June 27, 2017 – Mr. Willie Cooks is not a stranger to hard work, self-motivation, positive redirection, or education. Even before retiring as a Sergeant First Class from the 11th Infantry Division in Fort Benning, Georgia, he was preparing to teach elementary students at a private Christian school. Now, he will lead the charge at Berta Weathersbee Elementary in Troup County.

As an active duty infantryman, Cooks served most of his military career in the Pacific – Alaska, Hawaii, and Korea – but he returned to his basic training post, Fort Benning, for retirement.

He says, “In 1995, I became a drill sergeant and I was later promoted to train drill sergeants. That helped me transition into the classroom.

Some people say they have a calling on their life, and I feel my gift is teaching and establishing relationships. You can take those skills anywhere, but it really works wonders in the classroom and education as a whole.”
The recreational fisherman is looking to employ those skills before the doors of Berta Weathersbee open in August as he continues meeting and hiring new staff members. The former third grade educator wants to establish solid relationships and ensure they know the school administration supports their teaching and classroom management efforts.
Before coming to Berta, Cooks held a variety of positions within public school education. After teaching special education in Talbot County, he transitioned to Woodall Psychoeducational Center in Muscogee County. Later, he was promoted to Assistant Principal where he worked for two different schools at the same time.

Cooks’ observes the student populations at most of his previous schools are very similar to Berta Weathersbee.“The demographics are practically the same and I expect the challenges are probably the same. The difference between my previous position and now is that I had two different staffs from two different schools to work with. It was a little over 1,000 students total. Now, I am at one location with less than 500 students,” he said.
While he feels there are some differences and similarities in preparing adults for the battlefield and preparing children for academic success in the classroom, the former drill sergeant said, “You are teaching somebody something they don’t know. They all have a listening ear. You have to know how to make it relevant to them and keep them engaged in learning. You have to pique the interest of both the adult student and child student, and you have to make it relevant to their life and future.”

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