Bridges appoints new interim head of school, elects new board

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comNovember 25, 2013 

Bridges Preparatory School, a state charter school in Beaufort, got its third head of school in as many months Monday when a longtime educator and administrator from Charleston started his new duties.

Bob Cook will relieve Bernie Schein, who became interim administrator for the school after Melesia Walden's abrupt resignation Sept. 6, just weeks after the start of Bridges' inaugural school year.

Board chairman Charlie Calvert said Schein will continue to work for the school on an as-needed basis because of his knowledge of the school's Paideia method, which seeks to match instruction to a student's learning style.

Cook will serve as interim head of school through the end of the school year and could apply for the job on a permanent basis, if he is so inclined, Calvert said.

"We decided Bob would be a really good fit because of his long history in public schools, and he has worked as a startup consultant for some charter schools," Calvert said. "He has great connectivity to the state district."

Calvert said S.C. Public Charter School District Superintendent Wayne Brazell referred Cook to the school.

Cook has served as an assistant principal at several high schools and as an interim principal for a middle school, all in Charleston, Calvert said. He also served 18 months as a startup consultant for a charter school in Charleston, Calvert added.

"So much has been accomplished in the last 18 months at Bridges Prep," Cook said in a news release Saturday. "It's a great opportunity for me to serve, and I fully understand and appreciate the Bridges' approach to teaching and learning. It's why I love education."

Attempts Monday to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.

The board felt Cook was a good pick to help the school prepare to expand its curriculum to seventh-graders next year, Calvert said.

To help him do that, the school also is creating a leadership team of administrators. This includes Kay Keeler, a former principal at Port Royal and St. Helena Island elementary schools. She will be an assistant administrator for curriculum.

The school also plans to add a data administrator soon, Calvert said.

This idea for the team came soon after Walden resigned, citing a spat with a "micro-managing" board of directors.

"When we lost our last head of school, our organizational structure didn't have other leaders that could step up in to those positions," Calvert said. "So we're looking at how do we get to the point where we can have a team so no one person is responsible for everything."

In addition to changes in the school's administration, four new board members were elected at a meeting Thursday, and Calvert was among three incumbents elected to a one-year term on the seven-person board.

"The vote was very close, which I felt showed the voters had confidence in all the candidates," he said. "We're very excited. It's a great mix of people with great business experience and also great education experience."

The new board will review the job description and duties for the permanent head of school before it is posted, likely within the next 10 days. A search committee of board members, a teacher, parent and community member will be assembled to lead the search.

New Bridges Preparatory School board

After Bridges Preparatory School -- a new state charter school in Beaufort -- opened in August, its charter required that the school elect a new board. At last Thursday's board meeting, votes were counted and the new board members announced. Four new members were elected from a slate of eight candidates. Calvert said 79 votes -- about a 20 percent turnout of the parents and teachers who could vote -- were cast.

  • Incumbents: Charlie Calvert, Marty Miley and Amy Roberts
  • New: Brant Huff, Eve Miller, John Payne and Mary Hope Roseneau
The board officers will be elected at its Dec. 5 meeting.

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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