CARMEL, Ind. – Mark Eutsler, board chair of the United Methodist-related Operation Classroom, Inc., announced the appointment of the Rev. Robert V. (Bob) Coolman of Valparaiso, Ind., as its President-CEO during the organization’s regular meeting Dec. 18 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Carmel.

Eutsler also announced that Coolman’s wife, Sandy, will serve as Operations Manager to OC.

Both appointments began Jan. 1.

Upon this announcement, Eutsler said, “The Operation Classroom board members are delighted to have the Coolmans engaging in this vital ministry and look forward to working strategically to advance and strengthen the ministry’s work in west Africa.  The board’s Strategic Agenda Summit, held in August, defined accountable metrics on what it has determined to be the organization’s priorities in 2013.”

The Coolmans have been serving as associate directors of Operation Classroom this past year.

Previously, Rev. Coolman served as a part-time local pastor at First UMC in Valparaiso from 2002 to 2004 and as part-time local pastor of Tracy UMC from 2006 to 2012.

The Coolman’s take over the staff leadership of the 26-year-old organization from the Rev. Joe and Carolyn Wagner, who served as co-coordinators and co-directors of the organization since its beginning.

Operation Classroom was launched officially by the Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church on Jan. 1, 1987, involving a partnership with four schools in Liberia and six schools in Sierra Leone. The goal was to upgrade these schools until they were able to be self-supporting, then Operation Classroom would move on to partner with other needy schools. The Wagners were selected to be the co-coordinators of the program. (For a brief history of OC’s beginning, see the October 2007 issue of Hoosier United Methodist Together at inumc.org/together.)

In other business, the OC board named Joe Wagner Executive Director Emeritus and Carolyn Wagner Associate Executive Director Emerita.  It also named John Shettle as Chair Emeritus.  He served from the organization’s founding until Eutsler’s election in 2012. They will be formally honored at Operation Classroom’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Sunday, April 28.

Operation Classroom is a non-profit organization partnering with selected schools and health care facilties in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The 2013 budget for Operation Classroom is $107,900.

OC seeks to officially partner with The United Methodist Church in Liberia and Sierra Leone to:

  • Provide a first-rate educational system in United Methodist schools,
  • Develop a viable vocational program in the schools,
  • Train pastors, principals, and teachers in a basic understanding of counseling (WATTS) and
  • Upgrade medical programs and facilities, under the name Operation Doctor, at Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Ganta United Methodist Hospital in Ganta, Liberia (Operation Doctor).

The new address for Operation Classroom, Inc., is 359 S. Franklin Street, Valparaiso, IN 46383. The OC office number is 219-464-8055. Coolman also can be reached by email at robert.coolman@inumc.org. The organization’s website is operationclassroom.org


Sandy and Bob Coolman