Kevin Cook said Pulaski County High School invokes a sense of family and community for him. It’s one of the reasons he has come back to being a Maroon after having both graduated and taught at the school.
In July, Cook stepped into the role of principal of PCHS after serving as the school’s assistant principal for a year.
“I did not have any idea that things would end up working out this way, but they did,” he said, smiling about the turn that fate has brought.
He is taking over from principal Rodney McAninch, who is stepping up to a position at Pulaski County School District’s Central Office.
Having McAninch close at hand has been a boon to Cook, saying that he still asks the former principal questions.
“In this role, things are still new to me,” Cook said. “He’s a good source that I can go to ask questions. He’s still able to help me figure things out in a new role as we begin the new year.”
The PCHS class of ‘95 grad began his education career as a chemistry and science teacher at the school, teaching there for 14 years before moving into administration.
For 11 years of that, Cook also coached tennis.
He worked as an assistant principal at Russell County Middle School and Southern Elementary before being named principal of the Lake Cumberland Area Technology Center (ATC).
That center provides technical skill training in areas like carpentry and welding, and works with students from all over the county, so Cook said he maintained a close contact with PCHS.
“Then the opportunity arose to come back home,” he said of being hired as assistant principal.
“That was a difficult decision [to leave ATC], because I felt like that was such a great opportunity for kids, but coming home was also a pretty easy decision. Difficult to leave a great place, but easy to come to another great place that I had spent much of my career in.”
Cook said he is looking forward to the new year, especially since the district – and the world as a whole – seems to be coming out of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We have a great population of students. We have incredible staff. The last couple of years have been difficult on everybody. It’s been difficult on society. It’s been difficult on the profession of education, but I’m excited about what we can do to get that community feel back and get that family feel back after that time when we were kind of isolated.”
Cook continued: “In education, we feel a burden of getting back to the process of educating students for their future. There for a couple of years everybody was so concerned about their present, and now we’ve got to get back to the task, because we are preparing our students for life beyond high school. Whether it be college, whether it be vocational school, whether it be straight into the workforce, we’re preparing them for that.”
Outside of education, Cook said he enjoys being involved in the community. He currently is very active at his church, Eubank Baptist, and is part of the music department there.