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Historian 11-17-2006 11:46 AM

Central teacher named Indian educator of year
Central teacher named Indian educator of year
By Andrea J. Cook, Journal Staff Writer
Rapid City Journal - 17 November 2006

RAPID CITY, SD — Robert Cook, a teacher at Central High School, was recently named the National Indian Education Association’s Teacher of the Year.

Cook accepted the award at the association’s 37th annual convention in Alaska. He was also elected to NIEA’s board of directors.

“They couldn’t have picked a better person for this award,” Secretary of Education Rick Melmer said. “Robert Cook is completely dedicated to his students. He firmly believes that, if given the opportunity, students can and will succeed.”

Cook is soft-spoken and humble but persistent in seeking solutions to challenges related to American Indian students’ education, Melmer said.

The NIEA Teacher of the Year award honors a classroom teacher for exceptional achievement in teaching Indian students. The winner is also selected for his or her efforts to improve the quality of life for American Indian, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian communities through education.

Cook teaches social studies and English in the Lakolkiciyapi Room, a classroom dedicated to working with at-risk ninth-grade students. Cook also supervises the Lakolkiciyapi Club.

Since joining the Central staff, Cook has coordinated the annual Back-to-School Powwow. He was also instrumental in the hanging of a framed red-and-white star quilt that welcomes students and visitors to Central.

Cook graduated from New Underwood High School, attended Brigham Young University and graduated from Black Hills State University in Spearfish. He recently completed his master’s degree in school administration.

Cook has 17 years of experience in education. He taught social studies at the Crow Creek, Little Wound and Lower Brule tribal schools. He also taught at Red Cloud Indian School.

Cook was South Dakota’s 2005 Milken Award winner.

In October, Cook was named the 2006 Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation Educator of the Year. The award included a $1,000 donation to the Central library in Cook’s honor.

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