WaziHanska aka (Robert Cook) is Senior Managing Director of Teach For America’s Native Alliance. In this role, Cook oversees strategies to grow Teach For America’s impact in school districts serving American Indian and Native Hawaiian students and to build partnerships with tribal organizations and other key stakeholders to work in collaboration improve education options.
Cook has over 30 years experience as a teacher, administrator and advocate for American Indian education. Prior to joining staff at Teach For America, he was principal of Pine Ridge High School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Cook has served as president and board member of the National Indian Education Association (2006-09 and 2014-2017) and board member of the South Dakota Education Association and South Dakota Indian Education Association and presently serving on the Denver American Indian Academy School Board. Cook, serves on the Technical Review Panel of the National Indian Education Study and was previously called to serve by President Obama on the National Advisory Council on Indian Education.
Cook is the recipient of many teaching awards including Teacher of the Year at Little Wound, Lower Brule and Crow Creek Tribal Schools; South Dakota’s 2005 Milken National Educator; Crazy Horse Memorial/SD American Indian 2006 Teacher of the Year; and the National Indian Education Association 2006 Teacher of the Year. Additionally, Cook has been named one of Black Hills State University’s 125 Most Accomplished Alumni.
An enrolled citizen of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (Oglala Lakota), Cook received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Black Hills State University and a master’s degree in education administration from Oglala Lakota College. He is married to Daphne Richards-Cook, and they have two sons.