Wake County Schools

Garner Magnet educator named Principal of the Year

Posted October 6, 2011
Updated October 7, 2011

— Garner Magnet High School not only has an "American Idol" winner in Scotty McCreery, it also can boast a Principal of the Year. 

The Wake County Public School System named Garner Magnet Principal Drew Cook the 2011 Principal of the Year during a ceremony at the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh Thursday night. 

Cook has been principal of Garner Magnet for the past two and a half years. Before that, he was an assistant principal and teacher at Garner High.

“I have known him as a student athlete, fellow social studies teacher, my assistant basketball coach, my assistant principal and now my principal,” Garner High coach Eddie Gray said in a statement. “Over the years, I have watched him grow from a tall, gangly junior in high school that helped a young varsity basketball coach win a conference championship to an outstanding high school principal that has led our beloved school through some very difficult times.”

Cook, who has worked in education for 14 years, said continuous collection and analysis of data relevant to instructional programming is important.

The husband and father of two daughters enjoys playing church softball, golfing, hiking, and taking weekend trips to the beach.

The finalists for this year's Principal of the Year included Gary Baird of Lead Mine Elementary, Pamela Kinsey-Barker of Brassfield Elementary, Kevin Biles of Pleasant Union Elementary and Wade Martin of Martin Magnet Middle.

Also during Thursday's ceremony, Syreeta Smith of North Forest Pines Elementary was named the 2011 Assistant Principal of the Year.

Smith has been in education for 13 years and been assistant principal at North Forest Pines for five years. Before that, she was an assistant principal and assistant principal intern at Wilburn Elementary and a teacher in a Goldsboro elementary school.

The other finalists for Assistant Principal of the Year were Cheryl Fenner of Hilburn Drive Elementary, Ruth Ann Freeman of Bugg Magnet Elementary, Richard Williams of Davis Drive Middle and Greg Welsh of Panther Creek High.

The Principal of the Year receives a $1,000 check, as well as a rolling cart filled with miscellaneous office supplies and a HP Officejet combination printer/scanner/fax/copier. The Principal of the Year’s school receives a $500 monetary award.

The Assistant Principal of the Year receives a $500 check, as well as a rolling cart filled with miscellaneous office supplies and a HP Officejet combination printer/scanner/fax/copier.


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  • 82ndAAHeel Oct 10, 2011

    Oxxboyy, what does that have to do with Drew Cook being named principal of the year? Take your agenda to another forum and lets celebrate something positive for a change. Drew is fine colleague and supervisor. He has helped me in countless ways when I worked at Garner High School. There are few who truly love what they do and Drew is one of the few. He is leading a school and community he grew up in and that speaks well for atmosphere at GMHS.

  • msajames28 Oct 7, 2011


  • wjcspanteach Oct 7, 2011

    Mr. Cook is by far the greatest Principal in WCPSS...Garner is so fortunate to have him! I've worked in Several WCPSS schools...and he is BY FAR The best!

  • kristyegilbert Oct 7, 2011

    Congrats Mr.Cook couldn't happen to a better principal even though when I was there you were a assistant principal !! I was a pain in school but I always liked you because you were nice and fair never mean

  • mayhem Oct 7, 2011

    "when she decided to retain a kindergarden student October 6, 2010 because of her hate and intolerance." strong words, oxxboyy, any facts to back that up? Wouldn't a decision to retain a student be made at the end of the school year, not a month and a half into a school year?

  • Garnerwolf1 Oct 7, 2011

    Congrats to Mr. Cook. People often look down on Garner High, but those of us with kids there know the great work of not only Mr. Cook, but other staffers and teachers as well. Congrats to all! GO GARNER

  • mdsmks Oct 7, 2011

    Congratulations! Mr. Cook is not only an outstanding principal, but just a really great person. I feel so blessed to have had all three of my children attend high school and graduate under his direction. Thank you Mr. Cook for just being yourself.

  • oxxboyy Oct 7, 2011

    Did ann hooker nominate gary baird because he did not report violations at his school? Kindergarden teacher gayle ausley violated North Carolina State when she decided to retain a kindergarden student October 6, 2010 because of her hate and intolerance. Wake county school system continues to cover up violations and when reported they do nothing. What will the future price be?