Among those announcing the news that Jay Hoffman ’81 was 2013 Vermont Teacher of the Year were his media students at F. H. Tuttle Middle School.
They grasped the magnitude of his honor, declaring, “He totally deserves it.”
Hoffman came late to teaching. “I’m a hands-on guy,” he explains. “I studied industrial arts education at Oswego to learn building skills.” He ran his own construction company until 1992, when the Wappinger Falls school superintendent stopped by the Hoffman’s garage sale and, after brief conversation, encouraged the carpenter to become a teacher. Hoffman took his advice.
“I walked into that middle school classroom, and I knew it was where I was meant to be,” he says.
Hoffman’s entry into teaching coincided with the shift from a tool-based to a technology-rich classroom. Grasping the potential of teaching skills for the future, he secured a $20,000 grant—the first of many totaling more than $500,000—that launched a network to give students remote access to homework assignments.
“I’m never comfortable with the status quo,” Hoffman says. “I’m a visionary.”
In addition to technical skills, he also teaches civic responsibility and community awareness. His students create informational videos for nonprofits and promotional videos for local agencies.
As a teacher of the year, Hoffman met President Barack Obama, had his profile in American Teachers: Heroes in the Classroom, was appointed to the Vermont State Education Policy Board and saw positive outcomes for his students. He says he appreciates it all.
Hoffman credits Oswego for molding the precepts he implements every day. His philosophy, displayed with his photo on a Teacher of the Year poster, helps explain why he’s a top educator. “Be a student of your students,” it says.
—Linda Loomis ’90 M’97
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