BURLINGTON, VT. >> Officials say Joel Cook, the longtime head of the Vermont teachers union, plans to step down from the post at the end of the year.

The Burlington Free Press reports that Cook has been the executive director of the Vermont National Education Association since 2000. He first joined the association as general counsel in 1992.

Vermont-NEA President Martha Allen says that Cook's advocacy on behalf of Vermont's teachers has been "as unwavering as his desire to do what's best for our state's children."

The Vermont-NEA has approximately 12,000 registered members and is the state's largest union.

Officials say the search for Cook's replacement will be launched in the coming weeks.

Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com