Elm Farm will be a little different come December 2016. Maureen Cooper, Assistant to the Headmaster, is retiring after 24 years at Rutgers Preparatory School.
She came to the school in October of 1992, the same year that Steve Loy, Headmaster and Jim Ackerman, Advancement began their tenures at RPS. In an interview with Tim Cohen, RPS school archivist, Cooper reflected fondly on those early days. “I sensed right away it was going to be different…I knew I was in for a good experience…just the feel of the place.” Looking back, Maureen points to the moments that have stood out to her over the years: Net Day, Okie’s retirement, Demolition Day and even painting the offices in Elm Farm one year. While some of these events are before our time, Cooper points out that those events were all a pleasure in that she got to work with so many people.
While Maureen speaks with joy about seeing so many parents and staff so involved in RPS, Cooper herself is a staple at nearly every school event. “Maureen [comes] to everything…all 3rd grade when I taught 3rd grade, and now, all Lower School plays and events,” said Kathie Rusyn, Lower School principal. Cooper is a driving force behind RPS events running smoothly, and like a true expert, Cooper does so effortlessly. Many would never guess all the hard work Maureen Cooper has done behind the scenes to ensure the success of RPS programs, meetings, events, parties, and ceremonies.
It wasn’t always work for Maureen Cooper. She has a playful side as well. “Water balloon fights…” remembers Kathie Rusyn. “Yes, water balloon fights down the stairs from the second floor to the main level in Elm Farm…” Cooper taught Dr. Loy about Rodger Federer and Manchester United, one of the most widely supported football teams in the world.
Maureen Cooper not only graced Dr. Loy’s office with her friendly smile and calm demeanor, she and Dr. Loy worked as an unstoppable team. “Steve’s been very generous in our working relationship,” Cooper said. She spoke with great respect about the ways in which Loy approaches every challenge, big or small. Of her role in supporting Dr. Loy and in supporting the school itself, Cooper said “He’s allowed me to be a part of it. My opinion counts; I always felt that.”
Similarly, Dr. Loy described learning from Maureen Cooper “an immense honor”. He points to the way she has always carried herself with elegance, style and sophistication. Her stellar attention to detail and class is apparent in nearly every RPS event, and although she’s modest about her role, Maureen Cooper is the mastermind who makes sure every piece is just so.
“Maureen is the consummate teacher, because her lessons are delivered by example, and for that I am forever grateful,” Dr. Loy said. Maureen Cooper has touched so many lives at RPS. For years, she has been a friendly face to all, working with a dedication most of us can only strive for. She leaves behind a legacy of grace and refinement. As Kathie Rusyn says, “Maureen will be missed…Distance between us might change a bit, (no longer a walk to the Elm Farm), by there will be no distance between our friendship.”