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Support Principal Cooke

This petition had 198 supporters

Message to Norfolk Public Schools School Board Members:

Thank you for your service to Norfolk Public Schools .

The school board has outlined the following as part of its strategic plan for improving Norfolk Public Schools:

1. Ensure full accreditation

2. Increase academic achievement of all students – raise floor and ceiling simultaneously to close achievement gaps

3. Improve climate, safety and attendance

4. Become a Board of Distinction (board development, regular policy reviews)

5. Promote Norfolk Public Schools in order to improve perception (marketing campaign)

6. Develop and coordinate a capital improvement plan for facilities and technology to enhance teaching and learning

7. Attract, retain, and help to develop strong academic families and highly qualified teachers and staff

In response to your strategic improvement plan we to you this, respectively : 

1 - Accreditation- our school has made growth in 3 out of 4 subjects this school year despite adversity under the leadership of Ms. Cooke. Replacing her will replace our progression towards accredidation with regression.

2- Increase academic achievement - our students are showing significant growth under the leadership of our current administration and in order for us to continue to work towards the attainment of this goal Ms. Cooke is vital to our building 

3 - Climate, safety , attendance - Ms. Cooke not only creates a nurturing & safe climate for students; but takes into consideration the numerous factors affecting them in order to continue to foster their academic success by providing them with consistently & stability - she understands the importance of this as many of our students receive the most  stability of their life during school hours 

4- Board of distinction - the lack of transparency and the fact that the dismissal of Ms. Cooke is unwarranted is not leading us towards a board of distinction. In order for Norfolk to once again have a board of distinction, we need a board who will be the voice for the community & that will be vocal and transparent regarding what is best for the ccommunity 

7 - Attract, retain, and help to develop strong academic families and highly qualified teachers and staff - strong academic families require a multitude of factors, including a strong leader who can inspire and guide educators despite constant hardships. Retainment of educators cannot be fixed with any type of pay scale revamp, if teachers & principals are not treated with dignity and respect as the professionals that they are. Principal Cooke deserves the utmost respect and admiration for her tireless devotion to the enormous feat she undertook by coming to Ruffner. To take on what she has while also continuing to foster the strong academic bond that she has at Ruffner is no small feat and one that is unlikely to be duplicated. In order for Ruffner to continue the growth it has started, principal Cooke needs to remain in place, without her the academic family will be broken and we will be back at ground zero at Ruffner.  


As a School Board Member, we know that you are the voice for the residents in your districts and for many others throughout our county. We are now asking you to be our voice - we ask that you recognize the students, parents, and teachers who have contacted you and voiced their opinions. Most importantly as you review the information before you, we hope that you are able to reach a clear understanding about the process that led to the complete shift of dynamics in our school building & within the community .

We respectfully ask that you reinstate Ms. Cooke as principal of Ruffner Academy for the 2017-2018 school year.  Doing anything otherwise would be completely misaligned with your strategic plan for improvement in Norfolk Public Schools - more specifically, Ruffner Academy Middle School. 

We request better communication and full transparency on this matter from our elected officials and administrators. If Ms. Cooke is terminated this decision will have a significant impact on our children and on our entire community. For this reason, we will continue to fight for Ms. Cooke's reinstatement and full disclosure about the facts surrounding this case. We would like to know the following:

1) Why is Norfolk Public Schools recommending Ms. Cooke's termination as Ruffner Academy's  Principal, despite the gains she has already made in 3 out of 4 content areas - which is no small feat considering the large staff turnover last school year as she implemented her improvement strategies which drove many complacent & lax staff away, allowing her to this school year recruit a much stronger staff that gave us gains this year and will without a doubt increase our gains next year under her leadership & the implementation of her strategies. 

2)  What is the process for acting on this recommendation and reinstatement of Ms. Cooke? 


   The petition will be delivered to:

Mr. Rodney A. Jordan
Chair | 2020
800 E. City Hall Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-769-8680 ext. 230 (office)

Dr. Noëlle M. Gabriel
Vice Chair | 2020
800 E. City Hall Avenue, Suite 1201
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-965-3578 (home)

Ms. Courtney R. Doyle
Member | 2018
1109 Graydon Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23507
757-628-3994 (office)

Rev. Edward K. Haywood
Member | 2018
430 31st Street
Norfolk, VA 23508
757-626-0758 (home)

Ms. Tanya K. Bhasin
Member | 2018
800 E. City Hall Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-628-3994 (office)

Dr. Brad N. Robinson
Member | 2018
239 South Blake Road
Norfolk, VA 23505
757-423-4663 (home)

Ms. Yvonne P. Wagner
Member | 2018
1100 Merrimac Avenue
Norfolk, VA 23504
757-628-3994 (office)

Mr. Torrion R. Espree
Student Representative | 2017
800 E. City Hall Avenue, Suite 1201
Norfolk, VA 23510
757-628-3994 (office)

Dr. Melinda Boone

Dr. Melinda Boone


800 E. City Hall Avenue                                          

  Norfolk, VA 23510                                          757-628-3994 (office) 


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