Q&A with Joy Hofmeister

Joy Hofmeister is a former public school teacher with a bachelor’s in education from Texas Christian University and teaching certificates in English and Elementary Education. Today, she is president Kumon of South Tulsa. She serves on the board of directors for the Jenks Public Schools Foundation, Select Committee for Study of School Finance, and has served on curriculum adoption committees at the district level and curriculum advisory committees for Kumon North America. Joy has significant experience working with Special Education teams, parent advocates, and students on an Individual Education Plan (IEP). She also has participated in the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) research testing.

Education Focus: What is public education’s biggest challenge?
Joy Hofmeister:
“The challenges of and need to build a partnership between the classroom, home and community to develop self-motivated, independent learners.”

EF: What do you think the biggest difference is today in public education compared to when you were in high school?
“There are so many differences. Probably the stand out difference is the need to be globally competitive.”

EF: During your time on the State School Board, what has been the most inspiring achievement you’ve seen in a public school?
“There are so many examples that come to mind. Immediately, I am reminded of the opportunity for fifth and sixth graders at Jenks Public Schools to be placed in high school Algebra I – while still in elementary school! I remember how surprised I was when I first learned that these fifth and sixth grade students also take the same ‘End of Instruction’ (EOI) test for Algebra I.”

EF: What do you think has been the State Board’s biggest accomplishment during your term?
“The addition of a "Public Comment" section to the State Board of Education meetings. Since we are a public board overseeing a public agency, easy access to provide public opinion and insight is essential.”

EF: What will be the most significant changes in public education in the next 5-10 years?
“The implementation of Common Core State Standards and the impact for Oklahoma students and teachers.”

EF: Public education is going through a great deal of change via a number of different reforms. Is there a reform that you’d like to see that hasn’t been broached?
“We need to fund the reforms that already exist. Some of the most innovative reforms have come from practitioners in the field. Meaningful and wide collaboration, as well as adequate funding are essential for successful outcomes.”   

EF: If you were a teacher, what subject or grade would you be teaching and why?
“I would love to return to the first grade classroom. Securing strong decoding skills with phonics and foundational math fluency are vital for student's future academic success. I also have a great passion for early childhood opportunities to develop these skills before first grade.”

EF: Why should we care how our student test scores compare to other countries, especially when our education systems and cultures are so very different?
“First of all, I think we should be careful when comparing scores that we are measuring apples to apples. Since our students today will face a global jobs market, and will be more impacted by a global economy, we need to accurately measure their readiness to compete.”

EF: Who was your favorite teacher, and why?
“Mrs. Applegate, my 11th grade English teacher. She ignited a love of writing and influenced my decision to become a teacher.”

EF: What piece of technology has advanced education the most?
JH: “
My first thought is the pencil. Pencil skills should not be minimized. Second thought, and probably most significant – the Internet and our ability to connect.”


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