BOSWELL – School board members have finalized a deal to hire an administrator from a Schuylkill County school district as new superintendent at North Star School District.

School board members hired B. Christopher Cooper, former junior high principal of Williams Valley School District in Tower City for the post, effective Feb. 2.

Cooper, 50, said his top priorities are school safety and creating good morale among staff and teachers, as well as a focus on incorporating as much technology as possible.

“If students don’t feel safe, they can’t learn,” he said.

“I will be taking a look at all procedures and policies for teachers, students and parents. I don’t think there are any problems there, but I’m going to take a look at that. I also truly believe that at any corporation or any school, if people there enjoy their job, you have a higher rate of success. It’s important to me that morale is high.”

Contract details were finalized this week, including a beginning salary of $92,500 and “a benefit package comparable to other district employees,” according to a press release from North Star’s business manager, Ed Denner.

Board members conducted a broad search and interviewed three individuals, the release said, and chose Cooper based on his varied experience, knowledge of curriculum, and his research in computer–aided instruction compared with traditional classroom instruction.

Cooper said he performed a study on a new math program, “Cognitive Tutor,” at Tussey Mountain School District as part of his doctoral dissertation.

He found that, among ninth-graders, standardized test scores were better for those enrolled in the new math program. Students said they enjoyed it more, he said.

“The more you can get technology in the hands of our youth, the more successful they will be,” he said. “Technology is the way to the future. It’s definitely a motivational factor there. When you look at corporate field and jobs are out there, it’s one of those things that students need to be exposed to.

“I know the district has a technology grant in place. I’m going to be looking at that extensively, talking with a technology coordinator and creating some teams to see where we can carry on after the grant is depleted.”

Board President B. Wayne Lohr gave a statement in the release: “The board of directors is pleased to welcome Dr. Cooper to the North Star School District as the new superintendent.”

Lohr would not comment further.

Cooper – who earned a bachelor’s degree in theater from Lycoming College, a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from Lock Haven University and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Gannon University – holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. His areas of certification include superintendent, elementary and secondary principal, health and physical education, and safety education/driver education.

Cooper has been junior high principal at the Schuylkill County school since 2008. He has also held the positions of principal and athletic director at Tussey Mountain School District.

As a teacher, he was employed at Line Mountain and Tussey Mountain school districts in the health and physical education, driver’s education and enrichment programs.

Cooper replaces former Superintendent Shawn Kovac, who was with the district since late 2009.

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