June 18 • 09:51 PM

Shaping lives by following the call

Ron Cooy strives toward new goals as new Imlay City Christian School principal

Ron Cooy looks forward to continuing to shape young people’s lives and achieve greater goals in his role as new principal at the Imlay City Christian School. photo by Tom Wearing.

September 17, 2008
Ron Cooy has devoted his entire adult life to Christian education.

Now he's bringing his passion and commitment to the Imlay City Christian School, where he officially began his duties as principal on Sept. 2.

The oldest of four children, Cooy learned early the challenges that life offers. His father died when he was 10 years old, leaving his mother with the task of picking up the pieces and ensuring that he and his siblings followed the right path.

"We were raised in a Christian environment by parents who were both incredible role models for us," Cooy recalls. "Prayer and Bible reading were as much a part of our lives as family dinner. It was how we lived."

Noting the sacrifices parents make to provide their children with a Christian education, Cooy acknowledges things weren't easy for his mother. "It was a great financial sacrifice for her to put all of us through Christian school," he says.

While his father's death was premature, Cooy values the lessons he learned from him, along with one uniquely personal memento he holds dear.

"My father left me a copy of the 23rd Psalm that he'd had with him during World War II," he remembers. "He told me how well it had served him and how much the Lord cares for us. That has always stuck with me."

Stick it did, because Cooy went on to follow his calling, attending and graduating from Trinity Bible College in 1971.

By 1975, he was teaching at a Christian school in the Chicago area, where he was raised. And in 1977, he began a 30-year career as a teacher and administrator in Southern Florida.

It was Cooy's desire to obtain a master's degree with a focus on School Leadership that recently led him to Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

"My mother passed away in 2003, and she left money in her will so I could go back to school and get my degree," he says. "It was the last thing she gave me and it was a fabulous gift.

"I began to look around for a good school and Calvin's leadership program was the best I could find."

After earning his degree, he began searching various Web sites for an administrative position. When he happened onto the Imlay City Christian School site, he immediately sensed he might have found his new home.

"I liked what I saw on the school Web site," says Cooy. "I was glad to see that faith was a priority at the school. After speaking with representatives from the school, I became more convinced the Lord wanted me to come to this school."

His first visit to the school reinforced that belief; being further bolstered by the philosophies, values and goals shared by the school's board members, staff and interested parents.

"That interview demonstrated that what they are seeking here is to provide students with an authentic Christian education," says Cooy. "These people are committed to this philosophy, giving me absolute peace about coming here."

He says a conversation with longtime Imlay City Christian School teacher Karen Hibbler turned out to be the icing on the cake.

"That conversation was big to me," says Cooy. "We discussed some ideas and identified strategies and goals we wanted to accomplish. Our goal is to make students and parents feel that they are always welcome here."

Cooy realizes the challenges that face all schools in the existing economic climate, apply to Christian education as well. He notes that the school once boasted an enrollment of 120 students in grades K-12, a highwater mark when compared to the current enrollment of about 60 students in grades pre-K-8.

"I love challenges," says Cooy. "And I believe none of them are insurmountable. I feel there is always a blessing in the end."

One of Cooy's goals is to readdress and bring clarity to the school's mission and vision for the future.

He'll begin by meeting with local pastors and leaders in the Christian community, to develop a shared dialogue and mutual understanding.

"I'm looking forward to meeting our local pastors and possibly to host an in-service for other Christian schools in the area," says Cooy. "We also hope to reconnect with some of our former supporters and neighbors who have faded away from the school community.

"We'd also like to be able to help our homeschool parents and children," he says. "If someone wants to have their student come here for even one subject, we are here to help them out and grow in faith.

"Our goal is to learn how to live with one another and love one another. Let's make the world better for everybody."

While Cooy admits to having a pragmatic and occasionally cynical side, his natural state is one of optimism and hope. Staying upbeat, he says, is easy when surrounded by a dedicated staff and a school full of youngsters.

"I love what I do," says Cooy. "It's why I get up in the morning. I really love to play golf; it's a passion. But I'd trade any day on the golf course for a day in the classroom."

Cooy and his wife, Gigi, have a married daughter, Kara, who resides in Kansas City.

To speak with Cooy or for questions or information about enrollment at the Imlay City Christian School, call 810-724-5695.

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