Madison Schools Tap Windsor Superintendent to Lead District
Dr. Craig Cooke, who most recently served as Windsor Public Schools’ superintendent, was officially hired as Madison’s permanant superintendent this week. (Photo courtesy of Madison Public School )
Last night, the Board of Education (BOE) announced the hiring of Dr. Craig Cooke as the district’s new permanent superintendent of schools, marking an end to the approximately four-month search process to replace Tom Scarice, who announced he would be taking another job last April.
At the regular BOE meeting—held in-person and with a little more pomp and circumstance due to the occasion—Chair Katie Stein and other members of the school community welcomed Cooke to Madison, where he will be taking the reins from Interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. JeanAnn Paddyfote on Dec. 7.
Cooke had served as the superintendent of Windsor Public Schools from 2014 until this year. A resident of Old Saybrook, Stein said Cooke “shares our love of the Connecticut shoreline.”
“He is calm, thoughtful, and humble, and his answers to some particularly thorny questions demonstrated an ability to resolve issues with utmost professionalism,” Stein said at the meeting.
Cooke was recently named the 2019 Outstanding Superintendent by UConn’s Neag School of Education Alumni Board. He had previously worked in the Windsor district since at least 2009.
“I’m very excited to get started. I am excited to work on all the things that were talked about...There’s a lot of work ahead of us,” Cooke said. “I know that I have a great team.”
Stein also emphasized the “rigorous process” the schools went through in selecting Cooke, including gathering community input through focus groups and surveys. The BOE contracted executive hiring firm NESDEC in May to assist in the search.
One of the leaders of the BOE’s search committee, Vice Chair Kirk Barneby, stepped down from the BOE during the process.
Stein and the BOE also emphasized Cooke’s abilities as a “convener” able to find common ground and problem-solve with stakeholders, as well as his background in business management, which includes an MBA from Clarkson University.
“[Cooke] is well versed in planning and adapting to the circumstances created by the ever-changing pandemic,” the BOE said in a statement. “His past equity work will be key in ensuring that all Madison students are prepared to live in a diverse world.”
Windsor launched in a hybrid model this year under Cooke’s direction, and held a drive-through graduation last May.
“The Madison Board of Education has high confidence in Dr. Cooke’s readiness to transition to the district, even in these challenging times,” Stein said.
The BOE approved a three-year contract with Cooke, terms and details of which were not immediately available.