TROY — Troy has always been a part of Rory Hoke’s life.
He grew up here and attended Troy schools until the end of his freshman year, where he then transferred to Covington High School. Hoke studied at Wilmington College, where he graduated in 2001 with a degree in social studies education and started his junior high teaching career.
“Honestly, when I was in college, I would have never thought of teaching junior high,” he said. “But when I did my student teaching, I was at Wilmington Middle School and the cooperating teacher — just the way she approached kids and made them believe in themselves. She taught social studies and she taught it in a way that related to the kids. At that age they’re independent and trying to be independent, but they still need that guidance.”
He took her example with him. After teaching seventh grade social studies at Miami Trace Schools for four years and working as an intervention specialist at Piqua Junior High for 10 years, Hoke now has a new role: seventh grade intervention specialist at Troy Junior High School.
A day in the life starts with two periods of about 10 students he has in inclusion classes with language arts and math. Afterward he teaches a reading literacy class with another group of 10, and then he teaches reading and language arts to another 10 students.
“I’m teaching more reading than I ever have been, so that’s been a little bit of an adjustment,” he said. “But otherwise it’s just figuring out the place. The staff has been great.”
One of the adjustments Hoke had to make to Troy was logistical. He explained how anytime someone is in a new building with new faces, there is an adjustment period to decide the best way to fit in as a team player.
“The most challenging part of my job is balancing,” he said. “The group of kids that I have are in two different math classes, two different reading classes and trying to keep up with their science and social studies. I make sure everyone is getting their assignments complete.”
Hoke described his students and getting to work with them as being enjoyable, remarking that kids are kids and each student presents their own unique challenges and similarities in some ways.
One way he helps his students is through rapport building, such as taking an interest in his students as individuals and breaking concepts down into the smallest component to find what students can do and build up from there.
“You have to get them to believe that they can achieve more than what they’re doing right now,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing with the students I work with, is building that self-confidence so when you go to teach them different skills there’s not the mindset of ‘I can’t do it.’”
He sees himself staying at Troy Junior High School for the long run, explaining that his children attend school in the district and he wanted to see them come through the school.
“I really like where I am,” he said. “I’ve taught at the junior high level for 15 years. I really like the team that I’m on. The staff has been great and I have two educational aides who are phenomenal.”
In his personal life, Hoke has been married to Sara, an NICU nurse at Miami Valley Hospital, for eight years. They have two sons, Brody and Cooper, who are active in sports, which Hoke coaches. The family also enjoys fishing and being outdoors together.
As a teacher, his goal is to have a lasting impact on his students as someone who wanted to help them make the first steps toward independence and success.
“I just want them to remember that I took a vested interest in them,” he said. “Not just as a students, but as a person, as an individual and I helped them believe in themselves.”