Alumni Spotlight: Robert Cook

January 15, 2017

Robert (Bobby) Cook attended MMFS from 1999 to 2003. At that time MMFS had neither a middle school nor a high school, so he moved on when he was 12 years old. He attended junior high at St. Cecilia’s School in Greenpoint for one year and then moved on to high school at Xaverian, where he played baseball for all four years. After graduation, Bobby attended Wooster State University in Massachusetts for one year before returning to Brooklyn to study history at Kingsborough Community College. Three years ago, he headed north to Buffalo, where he signed a multi-year contract as a swimming instructor for the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Greater Buffalo, teaching children from six months to seven years old to swim and working part-time as an early childhood PE teacher. He jokes that over the years he practically did everything at JCC except accounting.  He left JCC this past summer and is now working as a lifeguard and personal trainer at LA Fitness.

Bobby has remained deeply connected to MMFS ever since he left. As a senior at Xaverian, he helped out in elementary school PE classes as part of Xaverian’s community service program. He also worked in the MMFS afterschool program for several years–helping students with their homework, assisting with the sports programs, and coaching middle school softball–and served as Athletic Director Justin Schumacher’s assistant in bringing elementary students over to the YMCA for gym. More recently he has acted as a beloved substitute teacher. Bobby says that the skills that he learned from working with Justin have proven extremely helpful in his work with children.

In addition to his work at MMFS and the JCC, Bobby has spent the last ten summers working at Shire Village Camp in the Berkshires. He has served as a group counselor, bunk counselor, and water safety instructor, and is a key member of the staff.

Bobby’s learning disability centers around numbers, so he chose a career that does not involve them. Whenever it does, though, he’s not shy about asking a friend for help. Reading aloud, which he sometimes did at his previous jobs, can also be a challenge. He deals with that by finding out what he has to read ahead of time and then reading it to himself until he becomes comfortable with it.

Bobby plans to move back to New York City in the next year or so.  He acknowledges MMFS’s contributions to his life and appreciates them all.  He keeps in touch with many MMFS staff, faculty, and former students, especially during the summers at Shire Village Camp, where many of them work. He says that everything he learned at Mary McDowell has been very helpful up in Buffalo and he is thankful to MMFS for standing by him all these years.

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