By Audrey Richardson
Special To The Standard
HARTLAND — Hartland Elementary recently hired longtime Hartland resident Kevin Cox as the new Dean of Students. Cox replaces former dean Scott Gray. “I am impressed with the Hartland community. It is very forward thinking to hire someone without a certificate,” said Cox. Cox, however, is hardly under qualified. He let his teaching certification lapse as he left his first teaching job and moved in to the field of educational evaluation. In this field he evaluated competitive educational workshops and training programs.
Born and raised in New York State, Cox moved around following his father’s employment with General Electric. His father’s work took the family as far as Paris, France and then ultimately back to Schenectady, New York. Cox graduated from SUNY Albany with a degree in European History and secondary education. In 1992, Cox took a job with Young Life, a faith-based mentoring program that took him to Quechee, Vermont. “This really gave me a sense of the significance and importance of mentoring and in some ways made me uniquely qualified for this,” said Cox about the effect of his past experiences on his new position at Hartland Elementary. Cox’s feels more than 25 years in a public school setting has rendered him ready for the administrative duties at Hartland Elementary.
And when it comes to focus, Cox has that too. Cox centers his administrative theory on three distinct words, “in,” “on,” and “with.” “I am into simplifying things,” explains Cox. The word “in” for Cox, directly relates to classroom support. He feels it is imperative to be present in the classrooms, working amongst the teachers and student body. The second tenet, “On” has to do with the school buses and his involvement with bus schedules, drivers and passengers. Cox was the founding executive director of the Connecticut River Transit Company and therefore he takes the transporting of his students very seriously. In addition, his final concept word, “with” has everything to do with students and faculty working together. “My job here is restoring relationships. They know they come here when there is a problem and I want to be in their life before there is a problem,” explained Cox about his relationship with his students.
Cox’s philosophies on student relationships and discipline are rooted in his mentoring background. Although Cox’s feels his educational foundation is solid, he is still learning all the parts to his responsibilities as dean. “I am always amazed at what goes on in a school and what it takes to make a school run,” said Cox about the transition from Hartland parent to Hartland administrator. As a parent, Cox has raised five children in the Hartland community, with one still in the elementary school starting 8th grade this year.
After a rocky start to the school year with Hurricane Irene, Cox is enjoying the energy and environment at Hartland Elementary. “Kids and families were unsettled for a while. I wanted students to have a voice and gave permission to every one to explain what happened to them,” said Cox about the aftermath from Irene. Cox is most impressed by the teaching practices he sees on a daily basis. “The real story of this school is the teachers who have been doing this for 20 or 30 years and the new teachers who are taking on so much,” said Cox about daily life at Hartland Elementary. Cox gives a lot of credit to teachers like Mary Margaret Hitchcock and the sense of calm he feels when he passes by her classroom. The staff at Hartland Elementary are equally impressed, “Kevin is awesome, a true gift to the school,” said Heidi Potter the administrative assistant. As the Hartland Elementary School moves forward this year they are happy to embrace Cox as a lasting local addition.
This article first appeared in the September 22nd print edition of the Vermont Standard.