St. Paul’s School Community -
It is with great reverence that I enter my inaugural year here at St. Paul’s School. I am so excited to begin working with your children, and meeting the many wonderful families that make St. Paul’s School such a special place to be. It seem that the summer has really flown by, but here we are - ready to make the 2018-2019 academic year the best one yet. What follows is a repeat of what many of you already know, but I find it important to reiterate who I am, and how I find myself here today serving the families of St. Paul’s School.
My educational philosophy is grounded in a lifelong pursuit to exemplify my Christian values. It will be my tireless duty to provide our students a safe and supportive educational community that allows them to develop intentional ethics, academic acumen, civic responsibility, healthy bodies, the attitudes to navigate an increasingly diverse world, and to be compassionate and responsive leaders. This list of lofty educational aims is purposefully holistic, and will only be achievable through the determined efforts of all St. Paul’s School stakeholders. The proverb holds true - it takes a village to raise a child.
The first five years of my professional life were spent in hospitality management. Though I learned a great deal about customer service and facilities management through this experience, I felt compelled to seek out a more personally fulfilling pursuit. Since then, I have spent sixteen years in the field of education acquiring a vast array of understanding. I have taught English, AVID, student advisory, professional development, human relations, and physical fitness; I have served as teacher, master teacher, grade-level lead, department chair, intervention coordinator, program coordinator, and Dean of Education; I have taught in junior high, high school, community college, and graduate level courses; and I have worked in public, private, and charter institutions. I have had the opportunity to see education go profoundly right - and desperately wrong. Through all of this, I have developed a deep seated need to understand the fundamental ‘hows and whys’ of education. Building on my bachelor’s degree in social and behavioral sciences and master’s degree in English, in the summer of 2016, I enrolled at the University of Northern Colorado to pursue my doctorate in Educational Studies: Innovation and Reform.
Since beginning my doctoral program, my motivations, aims, and intentions for education have matured and solidified. Where I was once guided by passing fads, emotion, and innovation for innovation’s sake; I am now more confidently driven by empirical evidence, authentic experiences, and practices deliberately reflective of our aims. In an educational world driven by political grandstanding and eager policymakers, I find it important to heed the wisdom of educational historian Diane Ravitch who warns that we should always be wary of urgent efforts for “catch all” reforms. What I’ve found to be true of education in my classroom is that sound curriculum, purposeful pedagogy, and authentic and caring mentorships are a solid foundation. To be sure, we can always do better by our students, our teacher, and our communities. We can always learn more. But none of this should be done at the expense of educator expertise or practices that are tried and true. As meaningful as science can be to our understanding of education, it is important to understand that education is also equal part an intuitive, artistic endeavor.
When I am not engrossed in education, you can find me with my family, on my farm, or somewhere outside. I am incredibly blessed by the tolerance of my wife, Taryan; my daughters, Savanah and Rylee; and my son, William. We live adjacent to my parents, Larry and Stephanie, on a five acre farm just north of town. We find great joy in raising livestock and great big gardens. We also find the room in our hearts for a few dogs and cats. I have a great fondness for being outside, whether that be backpacking in the Sierra with longtime friends and family, chasing retrievers in the wooded chaparral of the coastal range, or long runs along the St. John’s River. If you’re looking and I’m not there, come find me outside.
Again, I cannot express to you how great an honor it is to serve the students, families, and community of St. Paul’s School. My doors will always be open, and you are always welcome inside. I so look forward to seeing you all soon.
Seth William Yocum