Alumni Spotlight

COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Alumni Spotlight

Today, Spike Cook, Ed.D., is an educational visionary transforming the digital footprint of his school as principal of Lakeside Middle School in Millville, Cumberland County. On the day he graduated from college as an English major, however, Cook had a different plan mapped out for himself.

His epiphany to become an educator happened a few months later, after a rewarding and impactful experience developing a summer program for at-risk middle school kids. “I thought, ‘Wow, maybe I can do this!’” Cook says.

So, Cook headed back to Rowan - this time to earn a teaching certification and then a master’s degree in student personnel services through the College of Education. While pursuing his master’s degree he lived on campus, serving as a resident hall director who managed 20 resident assistants and 300 undergraduate students.

Launching his career teaching elementary and middle school students at Promise Charter School in Camden, Cook knew that he had found his calling as an educator. A lifelong learner with a strong drive for professional development, Cook then earned a second master’s degree, one in educational administration, from Rowan, and slightly shifted his career focus to become a guidance counselor.

In 2009, his successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on integrated thematic instruction as a curricular approach to assist teachers of at-risk students, earning his doctor of education degree from Rowan.

As a principal, Cook finds that technology is a wonderful tool that schools can leverage to connect with parents and community. He encourages teachers and students to use social media. “I don’t see technology as a bad thing,” Cook says. “It is not realistic to say, ‘Don’t use social media.’ Instead, we should demonstrate how to use technology responsibly.”

Cook authored two books on harnessing the power of technology and social media to connect with students, parents and community stakeholders. Breaking Out of Isolation: Becoming a Connected School Leader was published in 2015 and Connected Leadership: It’s Just a Click Away in 2014. As Cook shares on his blog, he believes that immersing students in tech-based learning creates a more interactive experience, which ultimately improves learning and engagement.