R-II adds hometown son

Superintendent Bruce Denney, right, swears in new Seymour R-II Board of Education members Josh Wright, left, and Ashley Kelley.

Nine years ago, Josh Cook was the team captain and invaluable “sixth man” of head coach Joe Easter’s Seymour High School boys’ basketball team that won 20 games and captured the program’s first and only district championship.

Last Thursday night, Cook returned to his alma mater in a variety of capacities as a coach and teacher.

“He’s a quality hire,” Seymour R-II School District Superintendent Bruce Denney said of Cook’s hiring as physical-education teacher, math teacher and assistant baseball coach at the board’s regular monthly meeting.

“With Josh, we’re getting an experienced teacher for the district who I think will be a good fit.”

Cook comes to Seymour from Mountain Grove, where he taught high-school math and worked as an assistant basketball coach for head coach Duane Hiler. Before that, he was a math teacher at Marshfield for three years.

“I’m thrilled to have him on staff,” Seymour High School Principal Jason Duey said. “Bottom line, he’s a great person. He’s also an excellent teacher and coach, but what excites me the most about Josh is his character.

“To me, he’s perfect fi t here. His family has deep roots. He currently lives in Seymour, where he was born and raised. And he cares about the community and the school.”

At the high school, Cook will fill the P.E. position now held by Trent Copling, the girls’ basketball coach, who is moving to the Seymour Elementary School to serve in the same capacity.

Copling will replace Ellisha Hastings, who will change jobs to work as a Title I math teacher at the elementary.

Cook also will teach two upper-level, high-school math classes and will serve as an assistant baseball coach, where he will work with Duey and fellow assistant coach Scott Nicholson.

“Josh adds a lot of versatility to the staff,” Denney noted.

Duey agreed.

“For several months, I’ve been trying to get Josh to take a look at our (staff) openings, and maybe I finally just wore him down,” he said, smiling.

Cook is the son of Greg and Jacque Cook, who own and operate a large dairy farm just west of Seymour’s city limits.

Greg Cook didn’t seek another term of office this spring after serving 18 years on the Seymour R-II Board of Education, while Jacque Cook, who is family nurse practitioner, worked several years as Seymour’s school nurse.

In other action at last Thursday’s school-board meeting, members:

• Hired Amanda Cox as a high-school math teacher for the upcoming 2019-20 school year. Cox comes to Seymour from Aurora, where she is completing her third year as a math teacher. Prior to that, Cox taught math for fi ve years at the Twin Rivers district in Bosley, located in southeast Missouri. She is married with three children and lives in Strafford. Denney said Cox will replace Janet Cain, who is retiring at the end of the current school year.

• Swore in new board members Ashley Kelley and Josh Wright, who were elected to three-year terms of office on April 2. They join a board that includes members Debbie Baker, Bob Crump, Stacy Kleier, Kim Wilkins and Heidi Young. When the new board reorganized, Kleier was elected as the group’s president, with Baker as the vice president. Wilkins is the board’s secretary; Young serves as board treasurer.

• Voted to discontinue the DECA program at the high school for the upcoming school year.

• Approved summer-school dates. The first day of summer school is Monday, May 20, with the final day set for Friday, June 14.

A second high-school “virtual summer school” also was approved to run from June 17 through July 31.

“This is an online program with a teacher, and some of the classes are college classes,” Denney explained.

“The virtual summer school is a win-win for the students and the district. The addition of more college classes is great for our high-school kids, and their attendance in these classes counts toward our ADA.”

• Discussed a preliminary budget for the upcoming 2019-20 school year. Denney said the budget is “a black budget,” meaning there will be no deficit spending.

“It’s balanced ... and that preliminary budget that is black includes a new school bus and a new scoreboard for the softball field.” he noted.

• Accepted the resignation of Hastings as the head softball coach at Seymour High School. As mentioned previously, she will transition from a P.E. teacher at the elementary to a Title I math teacher. Will Austin is the new head softball coach.

He currently is the program’s assistant coach.

“Will stepped up and took on this job,” Denney said.

“He’s done an excellent job as an assistant this spring, and we feel he’ll do a great job in the top spot.”

Austin will continue to serve as the assistant boys’ basketball coach.

Denney said the district still is looking to hire an assistant softball coach.

• Gave cheerleading coach duties to Cyndy Zind, who has held the position in the past. She will coach the middle- and high-school squads.

Zind replaces Cathy Rahder, who wasn’t offered a contract as an English teacher at the high school for the upcoming school year.

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