Alum Stays Connected with GSE
The Averill Park Central School District is about 200 miles north of Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE), but every year GSE is represented in the upstate New York district commencement.
Dr. James Hoffman (Ed.M.’86, Ed.D.’93), the superintendent of schools for Averill Park, proudly joins the graduation processional in his red and black Rutgers regalia at commencement. As Hoffman watches the new graduates during the ceremony, he reflects on how GSE prepared him for a successful career.
“I consider myself to be very lucky,” said Hoffman. “I would not be where I am today without the education from Rutgers.”
Hoffman started his teaching career as an English and social studies teacher in 1978. Helping kids grow and become better people is what Hoffman loves about teaching, but he saw an opportunity in administration to do more than just teach. He wanted to help teachers make an impact on students.
“If I do my job, I can help them make their job easier,” said Hoffman. “I wanted to be a teacher’s aide.”
Hoffman secured his first position in administration after completing his master’s degree from GSE. His passion for education encouraged him to continue with his education. The choice to attend GSE for doctoral study was obvious because of his earlier career success.
Hoffman’s doctoral study pushed him beyond the limit, but he learned the skills needed to be a successful administrator. Statistics and data became his strong points. Hoffman enjoys working with data and jokes that his education at GSE has helped him comprehend Mark Twain’s quote “lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
“GSE taught me how to use data and how to use data properly,” said Hoffman.
In addition to sharpening his knowledge of statistics, Hoffman forged strong relationships with GSE’s faculty during his time as a doctoral student. Hoffman has fond memories of the late Dr. Larry Kaplan and adviser Dr. Wayne Hoy. Hoffman recalls that one of his proudest moments was teaching one of Kaplan’s classes as an adjunct. He also shares that he and Hoy published several articles and, along with other classmates, published a book in 1998.
More than 20 years after graduating from GSE, Hoffman continues to enjoy his work in administration. Currently the superintendent of schools, Hoffman formerly served as principal at an elementary school in East Brunswick, NJ; principal at a middle school in upstate New York; and superintendent of schools at another district also in upstate New York.
Residing nearly 200 miles away from Rutgers does not stop Hoffman from staying in touch. He remains active on GSE’s and Rutgers’ social media, following groups and posting.
The GSE's Ed.D. program was developed in 1930 and redesigned in 2007 in partnership with 20 universities as part of the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate. To learn more about how the GSE's Ed.D. program continues to meet the needs of today’s education practitioners and leaders please click here.