END OF A CHAPTER: Diaon Cook retires after 43 years at LBW Community College
Making a difference just came naturally for LBW Community College Director of Student Activities and Cultural Diversity Diaon Cook, who retired after a 43-year career.
“I began in September 1978 after receiving both my bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Alabama. I was hired as a reading instructor for the college and for the Upward Bound Program. Eventually, I became an English instructor for the college as well,” Cook said.
“Working at one college for forty years and still enjoying the work is a big accomplishment for sure. During that time, I have had health challenges I had to work around to continue to do my job.”
Her biggest accomplishment is making a difference in the lives of all her students.
She said, “I think my biggest is hearing about and seeing so many students who were in my classes or in my clubs such as the Ambassadors and SGA reach their goals and succeeding in their chosen careers.”
Cook said she has no definite retirement plans except to rest, read, and visit with her family and friends. “I used to sew and want to return to making things. After the holidays, I want to be available for tutoring and work in my church.”
When asked what she would miss the most, Cook replied, “I will miss working with all the students especially the LBW Ambassadors, for which I was the coordinator for over 30 years, and the SGA. I enjoyed planning programs and activities with them. I will definitely miss getting to know new students who begin their education at LBWCC.”
Her advice to future employees is quite simple and something she always says. “Do your job. You must be able to adapt to change because it happens every day on the job. When changes come, just do your job and do what is right for the students. Be kind to your coworkers. Also, when you are in the community, remember you are an employee of the college. People and prospective students are always watching you,” Cook said.
She said there have been many changes throughout her tenure at the college, but two stood out. “The most significant change has been with the use of technology in the classroom and in the personal lives of the students. The use of social media has also been a significant change in education.”
According to Cook, the institution is a good place to work because of its mission to improve the lives of students and their families.
“LBWCC is student-oriented. Since teaching and working with students has been my life, this has always been important to me. The dedicated teachers work every day to not only share their knowledge and love for their subject areas but also to improve the lives of their students and the dedicated support staff in every area who make every day run smoothly,” she said.
Cook explained her parents were her heroes and mentors and the closeness of her family. “My mother, the late Mildred W. Cook, was an educator in the Butler County School System for over 30 years before she retired. My late father, Rev. James E. Cook, served as an educator and the pastor for 41 years for the Butler Chapel A.M.E. Zion Church in Greenville. I also want to acknowledge my sister Rev. Gloria C. Warren who taught in Butler County for 40 years before retiring and my brother-in-law George Warren who does so much for the family. My sister Roslyn Cook Deyampert was a civil engineer for 25 years with the Alabama Department of Transportation before her retirement.”
“As you can see, job longevity is a family trait, and I want to give a shout-out to a very dear person. Carolyn Nelson taught me how to be a teacher when I was her student-teacher so many years ago.”
Upon graduation from college, Cook began work with the Upward Bound Program at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa. She said, “It was my first job and from there, I came to work at what was then LBW beginning in the fall.”
She offered gratitude and appreciation to several former colleagues. “I must begin with the late former president Dr. William McWhorter who hired me to teach at LBW and also Lloyd D. Henderson, who was director of the Upward Bound Program. I must also recognize the late Jeddo Bell, Dr. Mike Daniel, Lou Rich, Eric Lidh, Dr. Steve Hubbard, Seth Hammett, Dr. James D. Krudop, and Wayne Bennett, Sarah McAnulty, John Croft, and Bev Smith.”
Cook said there were too many past and present coworkers to thank everyone individually throughout her tenure at LBWCC. She expressed gratitude to President Dr. Brock Kelley and Dean Jason Jessie for helping ease her transition into retirement.
“Thank you to the kind words and best wishes that former students and others posted on Facebook. I was so humbled by what so many had to say. As you do your job, you never know how, and in what way, you affect someone,” Cook said.
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