Principal profile: Claudia Cooper
Claudia Cooper, the first-year principal of Southeast High School, has strong ties to the school.
Not only was she a graduate, but her five children were as well.
Three of her family members also work in the district. Her son, Gary, teaches social studies at Stucky Middle School, and her daughter, Imandra, is a para at Beech Elementary. Her nephew, Zach, is an administrative intern at Northeast Magnet.
Growing up, Cooper attended Booth Elementary, Curtis Middle School and Southeast High School.
“My parents moved to Wichita in the 1950s during the aircraft boom,” said Cooper. “I’m one of 10 children and my father and most of my older siblings worked in aircraft. In my senior year of high school, my dad told me he could get me a job at Boeing where he worked, but I just didn’t feel like that would be a good fit for me.”
Cooper went on to become the first in her family to graduate college, attending Wichita State where she got teaching degree with a focus on history. A professor in the history department helped Cooper realize teaching would be a good career.
Her first job in the district was as a long-term substitute history teacher at Southeast High School. The following year she joined the staff as a history teacher at Jardine STEM and Career Exploration Magnet Middle School. She has also taught at Coleman and Curtis Middle Schools.
After teaching, she was an instructional coach for two years, dividing her time between Brooks and Allison magnet middle schools.
Cooper progressed into administration, becoming an assistant principal at East High where she served for five years.
“I’ve had some really great administrators through the years who pushed me to consider becoming an administrator,” Cooper said.
This year she joined the staff at Southeast as principal.
“My favorite thing about being the principal of Southeast is my connection to the school,” Cooper said. “We’re really on a mission to highlight all the great things going on at the school. I have a heart for Southeast and want the community to know how great our students and staff are.”
“I’ve always been connected to Southeast whether as a student or parent and to come back and be the principal is a great honor.”