MONTCLAIR, NJ — During the June 25 Board meeting, outgoing Interim Superintendent Nathan Parker and the Board appointed Damen Cooper as Director of Personnel.
Five days before the departure of Interim Superintendent Nathan Parker, Cooper and a new Assistant Superintendent was approved were approved by the Board during the June 25 meeting.
Cooper's position was effective July 1 and he will join Kalisha Morgan, EdD, Assistant Superintendent for Equity, Curriculum and Instruction, who started on July 6. Unlike other new appointments, Cooper's salary was not listed.
Superintendent Jonathan Ponds sent a letter to parents on Wednesday introducing Cooper and Morgan to the community. Ponds' first day was July 1.
He wrote, "Joining the Montclair team as the Director of Personnel is Mr. Damen Cooper. Mr. Cooper knows our district well as he previously served as an Assistant Principal at the high school."
According to his bio, Cooper has worked in six different school district since starting as a teacher in NYC Public Schools in 1996, where he worked for a year. He then started teaching in South Orange-Maplewood in 1998, where he stayed until 2001. Cooper then took a position working for the NJ Department of Education for three years. He then worked in Jersey City as a High School Assistant Principal for seven years, before leaving to take a position as Assistant Principal of Montclair High School in 2011.
As Assistant Principal at Montclair High School, Cooper has stated that he worked with instructional teams and teachers to create project-based lessons, which enhanced the learning experiences for students, and was the administrator of the BIG Picture, an internship-based program designed to foster meaningful relationships between teachers, parents, and mentors, as well as encourage the diverse mix of students to follow their passions in a real-world setting.
Also in Montclair, Cooper had supervised development of the Business and Entrepreneurial Learning Academy to serve students who were interested in exploring the world of business, economics and entrepreneurship. He also has stated that he was responsible for developing the school’s first Emergency Alert System.
In December of 2015, Cooper left Montclair Schools to begin his tenure as Principal of Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School in January of 2016, but then resigned his position in July of 2018 to work in Hackensack.
According to a Summit Public Schools spokesperson, Cooper left to accept the position of Principal at Hackensack Middle School.
In a letter from Cooper sent electronically to LCJSMS parents in 2018, Cooper wrote, "It is with mixed emotions that I send this communication. I have decided to accept an administrative position with another district and will be resigning from the Summit Public Schools. Please note that I will remain the principal of LCJSMS until a replacement is found. I will continue working with my team to ensure a smooth opening of school for all students and staff."
Cooper's departure had marked the fifth change within the upper administrative ranks of the Summit middle school in the prior three years before his arrival.
Two years later, he is now leaving the Hackensack Public Schools, to accept the central office position in Montclair.
It has been reported that Parker had consulted Ponds on school district matters to ensure a smooth transition, prior to his departure.
Ponds wrote in the statement Wednesday, "He returns with an outstanding combination of strong administrative skills, collegial style, and a dynamic ability to recruit and retain staff through the cultivation of relationships with universities/colleges and key partners to our district. His recent experiences were as a Principal in Hackensack and a state-trained member of the Affirmative Action Team. He has also served as a Middle School Principal in Summit and Assistant Principal in schools in Jersey City."
He continued, "His experiences have come from both urban and suburban communities which will serve him well in Montclair. He is committed to our district and eagerly looks forward to engaging with the community."
Cooper earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Central State University in Ohio and a Master of Arts in Special Education and another in Administration and Supervision from New Jersey City University of Jersey City.