Meet The Principal: Charles Cooper PDF Print E-mail
News - Local News
Thursday, 07 September 2017 09:58
(Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of stories about the principals in the Chattooga and Trion School Systems. The third story is about one of the newest principals, Charles Cooper of Lyerly Elementary School.)
Charles Cooper is in his second year as principal of Lyerly Elementary School.
Cooper was born in Kansas City, Mo.
“My father died when I was 2 and we had family friends in Boaz, Ala. that we visited,” he said. “After he passed away, me and my mom moved to Boaz.”
Cooper went to a Christian school through his church from first grade through seventh grade. The school closed for whatever reason, Cooper said. He then went to Boaz Middle School for the eighth grade and then on to Boaz High School and graduated in 1985.
He played football in high school and had the opportunity with four other guys from his team to play collegiate ball.
“I knew I wasn’t D-1 material, because I was 6 feet tall,” he said. “I had the opportunity to go visit Samford which started its football program the year before.”
Cooper thought he was going to have company going to Samford but ending up being the only one of the four going and playing anywhere.
“I learned a lot of things,” Cooper said. “Through not only my studies there but through playing football and making connections.”
He met Jimbo Fisher, the present coach of the Florida State Seminoles who was the quarterback during Cooper’s junior year.
“He and I played together.”
Cooper’s first teaching job was at Chattooga High School in 1991. He took a long and circuitous path to get there.
“I started my career here and Lord willing, whenever that time comes, I will retire from Chattooga County School System,” Cooper added.
After he finished his eligibility playing football he was a student assistant on the staff at Samford with Terry Bowden and Jimbo Fisher was a graduate assistant as well.
Cooper sent out letters to colleges and universities to try to get a collegiate coaching or graduate assistant job. At a coaching clinic he met the head coach at Adairsville who at the time was the step-father of one of the players Cooper had played football with at Samford. The Adairsville coach put Cooper into contact with Ron Williams, who was the coach of the Indians at that time. Williams told Cooper that he didn’t have a position available for him but told him about a possible position at the middle school.
“I called the late Mr. (David) Jones and talked to him and he happened to be coming to Birmingham and we met at a pizza place and discussed the position,” Cooper said. “I interviewed there with Mr. Jones about what I thought was a middle school position. However, it turned out he wanted me to come to the high school as a coach where Jones would be principal.”
Cooper was at the high school from 1991 to 1998 or 1999. A position came open at the middle school teaching PE and coaching which he interviewed for and was moved there. He stayed at the middle school for around 13 years when Doug Suits and Mitch Williams were principals there.
After being there for two or three years he became athletic director at the middle school. Cooper coached football and track at the middle school as well as being athletic director. At the high school he coached football and tennis and helped with wrestling for a year or so.
After the middle school he went to Leroy Massey Elementary for eight months and taught PE and then moved to the high school in the spring and was over the Academy for a year or two.
The assistant principal position came open at the high school and Cooper was moved there for two years and then moved to Lyerly as principal.
“I fully believe that God has put me where I needed to be,” Cooper said. “He has opened those doors and closed others and put me where I needed to be. It has been really, really great to have started my career here in Chattooga County at the high school and then to be at the high school in an administrative type position and be at the old high school when it was taken down and start in the new school.”
Asked how it has been being a principal in the elementary school, Cooper said, “I have had a lot of support. I can pick up the phone and call another administrator and ask them a question and they are very supportive. I can call the central office staff and they are very supportive. I have an extreme amount of support from everyone. Mrs. Helie has been very supportive. She has been my mentor. A lot through the process of me taking over at Lyerly she has been very, very supportive.”
He said he loved the kids at Lyerly and has loved the kids wherever he has taught.
“I have been blessed in wherever I have been, the faculty and staff have always been very supportive and it makes things easier transition wise and doing whatever we do to educate the students.”
Asked what makes education important to him, Cooper said, “We are always learners; that is what we try to convince the kids that what they learn this year they have to put in that suitcase and take with them next year because they are going to need some of those tools in the toolbox to do what they are doing. When they learn this year they put those tools in there and take it with them, they don’t leave it in the grade where they are at.”
He said that if people are not learning, they are not moving. If you are not learning, people are passing you by.
“I am not the same person I was 26 years ago when I came to Chattooga County,” Cooper explained. “I am not the same educator and I shouldn’t be. I feel like I have learned a lot of things through the experiences through working with kids so that I am not making the same mistakes. I try to make decisions based on what is best for the students.”
People in the school are what makes a good school, Cooper said.
“It is a living, breathing thing,” he added. “It goes from everybody from the students and teachers to custodians, lunch workers, parent volunteers, nurse, counselor and office staff. The whole thing is that we are a family.”
Cooper is married to the former Donna Parker and they have two children, Jorja, a junior at Chattooga High School and Brock, a fourth grader at Leroy Massey Elementary School. He is also a volunteer firefighter with the Summerville Fire Department.

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