Akbar H. Cook Sr. is a devoted educational professional, student advocate and Principal at West Side High School in Newark, New Jersey. Mr. Cook gained nationwide notoriety when he installed washing machines in his school to deter bullying and embarrassment for his students, who didn’t want anyone to know that their families couldn’t afford to wash their school uniforms. Ellen invited him on her show to have him share his incredible story. Since then, Cook has been back on her show a second time and has started the "Lights On" program. This provides students a safe place during peak crime hours and aims to reduce gun violence.
Mr. Cook’s love for children and basketball led him to Newark Vocational School in 2008, where he became head coach of the Boys’ Basketball Team, and in 2012, he was named Vice Principal of West Side High School. Mr. Cook is well known for having a stern, yet caring presence in the lives of many of Newark’s youth. His desire to uplift and educate children is always at the forefront of his work in Newark Public Schools. Mr. Cook volunteers in food kitchens and participates in Christmas tree and toy drives. He also organizes recreational activities for Newark Public School students and works closely with the Newark Police Department to ensure safe transportation for all students after school functions.
Born and raised in Newark’s West Ward, Mr. Cook is familiar with the challenges his students face and therefore equipped to help them in their personal lives and educational careers. He attended Essex Catholic High School, where he excelled as a student and basketball player. Mr. Cook attended college on two basketball scholarships, attending St. Catherine’s College in Kentucky before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Florida Atlantic University, a Division I university in Boca Raton, Florida. He went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Administration from St. Peters University in Jersey City in 2006.
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