On Thursday, Feb. 14, former Valdosta State University graduate and current principal of Clarke Central High School Robbie Hooker was named Georgia Principal of the Year by the Georgia Association of Secondary School Principals.
"I was totally surprised," said Hooker. "However, this award is due to the hard work and dedication of the teachers and staff at CCHS."
In 1989, Hooker graduated from VSU with a B.S. in Psychology and in 1989, received his Masters of Education in Special Education. He later received his Ph.D from Clemson University in 2005.
"I believe my jobs as a Residential Assistant (RA) and Dorm Director of Reade Hall helped me to hone my leadership skills," said Hooker. "I also worked in the Development Office with Ms. Pam Davis and Ms. Joan Dear."
Aside from attending and working at VSU, Hooker was also involved in intramural sports on campus. Hooker has an extensive educational background that includes a stint on the Lowndes County Board of Education from 1989 to 1991.
Prior to Clarke Central, Hooker was principal at Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School, an assistant principal in Barrow County and a classroom teacher in various Georgia counties.
Hooker has been principal at Clarke Central since 2008. Under his leadership, the school has been named as one of the top 7 percent of high schools nationwide by Washington Post High School Challenge. Additionally, Clarke Central won the 2013 Metlife Foundation and National Association of Secondary School Principals Breakthrough Schools Award.
“We have regularly been recognized for our Advanced Placement Program,” said Hooker.
The school was also the recipient of the 2010 Silver Medalist award by U.S. News and World Report and the 2012 Washington Post High School Challenge.
“I am fortunate to work with a group of adults who make decisions based on what is in the best interest of students and how we can make sure they will be successful after high school,” said Hooker.
While Hooker's education and experience is extensive, he has not forgotten some influential professors he had at VSU.
He fondly remembers English professor Dr. Patricia Marks.
“Dr. Marks really cared for her students and it was very easy to approach her when I needed assistance," said Hooker. "I will always remember her being a very special person.”
Hooker also recalls his first graduate professor, Dr. Benjamin McCain. “He taught the Foundation of Education and he had such a presence about him,” said Hooker. “He had just moved from Michigan and he brought a wealth of knowledge about education.”
Hooker will go one to represent Georgia in the National Principal of the Year. Three finalists will be named in July and the winner will be announced in September in Washington, D.C.