|Dr. Jere Hochman
Years of Service as Superintendent: 1996-2003
Years in Parkway:
- I was one of those teachers hired in the years Parkway was hiring 200 teachers a year (1974). I went right from college and student teaching at West Jr. to teaching at West Jr. at the ripe age of 21.
- I was born and raised in Clayton and St. Louis. BA in English from UMSL and then right into teaching in Parkway.
- 1974-1976 West Junior High: Unified Studies 8 Teacher and 9th football and “B” team basketball coach
- South Campus (7-12): Unified Studies 7/8 Deptartment: Chair and teacher, 9th grade football and basketball head coach
- 1981-1984 South Junior: 9th grade English, Assistant Principal
- 1984-1985 East Junior High – Principal
- 1985-1986 (started mid-year) – Interim Asst. Superintendent
- 1986-1993 (changed districts) Clayton Middle School – Principal
- 1993-1996 Parkway Area Superintendent
- March 15, 1996 (Ides of March :-) – 2003 Superintendent
Accomplishments in Parkway:
- I followed Don Senti who did an amazing job at bringing calm and unity to Parkway. That set the stage for work we were able to accomplish in the late '90s getting some consistency across the schools in many ways and an incredible focus on achievement and belonging.
- Everything was based on two premises: everything is connected to everything else and "What matters most is that there is a teacher in every classroom - a driver on every bus - a counselor in every office - a secretary at every desk - a nurse in every office - everyone... who cares that every student is learning every day and feels like a real human being." So, a critical emphasis on professional development to enhance teacher knowledge, pedagogy, and sense of belonging and professionalism.
- A major emphasis was placed on "raising the bar" through the agreements on standards - standards for teachers, administrators, operations folks, professional development, curriculum, safety, and other areas - and then a plan to develop folks to continue growing in those standards areas.
- I am proud that we worked as hard as possible to hire talented people, develop them, and let them grow! Professionalism!
- We worked hard to establish a culture that was substantial - constructive - not one that was illusory or technical. We held the line not jumping on every trend and bandwagon from metal detectors and lock down procedures for safety to a too tightly aligned curriculum to state testing.
- The desegregation case was settled during my tenure and I was proud that Dr. Senti and I were at the table as the two superintendents working to keep the program moving ahead. And - simultaneously putting issues of race and other “isms” on the table for faculty, staff, and the community to figure out.
- Moving past the Merry Settlement and doing special education a certain way not because we had to but because it's the right thing to do and EVERY student deserves to be included.
- The organization of the district changed. We went from five assistant superintendents to three and went from "areas" which was necessary at one point to organizing the superintendents and the work by level providing consistency across the schools and reducing some of the isolation and competition among areas. I organized a "learning support" department connecting all social services, discipline, and others and combined all the operations under one roof and turned John Siemers loose to lead it.
- We collected some of the best leaders in central office administrators, principals, directors, assistant principals, teacher leadership and others - engaged them in a lot of learning and dialogue - and supported their efforts.
What Makes Parkway “Parkway”?
- “Raising the bar”
- A clear and ever-present focus on achievement - academic engagement and school membership.
- A REAL mission statement (not one of those 'meets potential in the 21st century' statements) that people actually live and know: “To reach and teach every student, all students, every day ... together”
- Putting race on the table and efforts to level the playing field
- Hiring amazing people!
- Getting people to think and reflect on their work
- Theory to logically guide practice.
- Learning and democracy. Period.
- New rules for what matters: equity, social justice, professionalism
- Professional development model
This is a trick question!
The question is "What is Parkway?" When I step back and look at the Parkway I know from the incredible growing years to the years of innovation to the union growth years to the schools and teachers doing their own thing years to the connected efforts and focus on hiring and development years --- I think what makes Parkway “Parkway” is that it is constantly trying to figure itself out.
I think the only thing that stays constant in Parkway is a changing attitude about what is Professional work - the culture - how is knowledge defined, work, and leadership/authority.
AND what makes Parkway “Parkway” is that when bad stuff comes down everyone rallies together to help out - support each other - and make it work for kids: snow storms, shootings, bus accidents, tornados, deaths of children, floods.
I could write forever on this one. Hundreds of student stories like seeing the smile on David's face in 1984 when his computer "talked" to him after he typed a sentence (David was a blind student). Another David who did not fit in, doing a slide show presentation and his classmates applauding.
Building domes in my classroom and ecology simulations. Some of my students meeting R. Buckminster Fuller and my class interviewing Robert Lipsyte (author of the Contender) on speaker phone. The government simulation which spread across all the schools at one point.
And seeing some of the same thinking, excitement, and reflection on issues by adults when I was superintendent.
And sadly the tragedies where we had to literally write the book on safety or handling crises AND I hope we handled with care, compassion, and safety: a murder/suicide at South Junior which occurred decades before "school shootings" and CNN; September 11, 2001, Columbine, and others.
People - the dedicated people who knew and know that it's not about the adults, it's about the kids - the dedicated people who knew and know what hard work is all about and connecting the dots to student achievement and belonging - dedicated people who read and research and think and plan and collaborate and contemplate and reflect and learn and grow so every student learns and feels like s/he belongs - innovative, creative, talented, break-the-mold, take the kids (all the kids) into the real world to experience it people -- people willing to know they don't know or don't know it all and who respect learning and learners, adult and kid learning --- people who no one knows: the guys who repair the buses, the people cut the checks and keep the finances and insurance straight, the secretaries in the central office who keep track of teachers development and records and take those angry parent phone calls -- people who just work their tails off with integrity and class -- AND the kids! The kids' music and art and writing and... AND the teachers! The teachers' portfolios and presentations and CFG reflections and willingness to take risks.
Hundreds of people who just step up and work with substance until the last teacher grows; the last bus gets back; the last kid gets picked up; the last kid learns; the last med is administered safely; the last crying kid has a shoulder to cry on; the last phone call is answered; the last principal is listened to and supported. I could give you hundreds of examples of the people --- people who know it's not about image but it's about substance.
- Superintendent of Amherst-Pelham Regional School District in Amherst, Massachusetts