Social Capital aroundKent
Social capital is the sum of good things good people do to make their communities better places to live and work. It’s the result of generous people sharing their time, talent, and treasure with others. Much of this sharing goes unnoticed as generous people tend to be shy about their generosity. The social capital they generate is often an extension of who they are. Considering the non-stop negativity we see these days, it’s time we lift up the importance and value of social capital.
Social Capital aroundKent is a feature that celebrates the many people who provide social capital in the Kent area. It is rooted in the Road Less Traveled (RLT) series from aroundKent. The RLT subjects in that feature and this one share a few common traits. Two of the traits they display are a “quiet confidence” and have turned what they love into what they do. The first segment of this feature celebrates Kent teacher and coach Kevin Hockett. Patrick J. O’Connor is the lead consultant for 3LC. He is also associated with several consultants and trainers who specialize in other learning-related subjects.
Kevin Hockett is a familiar figure in Kent. “Coach Hock” as he is affectionately called is a very popular guy mainly because he is such an engaging person. In addition to Kent classrooms, recreation centers and ball fields, he is often seen chatting on street corners and in retail stores with people of all shapes, colors, sizes, and ages. Everyone loves chatting with Coach Hock.
A Path to Kent and KSU
After growing up in Cleveland as a three-sport athlete, Kevin found himself playing football (strong safety) at Kent State in 1977. After four years he graduated with a recreation, leisure and sport degree and a minor in physical education and coaching. He started out at Kent Roosevelt as a volunteer coach. That has morphed into a 37-year coaching (with 6 football coaches) and teaching career at the school. And he has directed the In-School Suspension (ISS) program for years.
Kevin has coached just about every sport the school offers but mainly football, basketball, and track. In all those years and all those sports no player ever quit or was cut from a team. That’s an amazing accomplishment and testimony to his dedication and coaching skill. He believes a coach should empower a player and never “let them walk through the gate”. He is also the strength and conditioning coach for the athletic department. This assignment seems appropriate since developing strength takes a lot of conditioning. Just ask any of the hundreds of athletes he has coached or students who have studied under his supervision during ISS at Roosevelt.
Meet the Standards
Coach Hock encourages young people and holds them accountable. He believes you bring students up to a standard whether it’s in the classroom or on the playing field. He’s convinced everyone loses when standards are lowered. He believes in the proverb.
“The teacher’s job is to open the door; the student’s job is to go through it”.
He also follows an “each one; teach one” approach to education. This approach is rooted in the belief that each student is different, so they must be taught differently. It demonstrates respect for the individual student. Students can almost sense this respect in a teacher, and they certainly sense it in Kevin Hockett. His approach led to his leadership with Project Unity which supports African American students at the high school. His years of leadership with the project resulted in him receiving the Emilio Ferrara Community Service award in 2017. The award is given to a Kent City Schools employee who exhibits extraordinary commitment to the community.
Coach Hock has also run the ISS program for many years. He expects just as much from a student in ISS as he does from an athlete. In both settings he demands respect and holds students accountable because he knows they can achieve. Kevin believes in students, and they know it. A few of his ISS students (so I hear) refer to him as loyal, confident, occasionally boisterous but always passionate and fair. Every teacher should be so fortunate.
Quite a bit has changed in society and schooling since Coach Hock began his career. As with all change, there’s an upside and a downside. For Kevin, he celebrates the upside and sees the downside as a challenge. Though students are different today he believes they can succeed and view adults, especially teachers, as a critical part of that success. The adults and teachers though must be willing to adapt.
He sees students as living in a “soundbite” world where everything must be communicated in a sort of “shorthand.” Students are less tolerant of long passages. Tactful communication is needed to be sure they clearly understand messages. It’s important for students to understand why standards, manners, policies, and consequences are needed. Effective listening and clear communication enable this to happen.
Most teachers testify that one of the things they enjoy and love most about their profession is to see students succeed. Coach Hock is certainly in this camp and after 37 years, he has seen a lot of students succeed during and after school. Even current Kent Roosevelt principal, Dennis Love, was one of his student athletes.
He has a few specific events he looks forward to each year which are indicators of student success. Mostly these are times when students reconnect with their Alma Mater. Schools are referred to as “alma mater” which is a Latin phrase that means nourishing mother. Kevin believes in nourishment.
One event he likes is going to student graduation parties. He attends each one when invited. He loves seeing everyone celebrate with the recent graduate and considers it an honor to be part of the event. The pride and sense of accomplishment at the party is contagious. A good kind of contagious Coach Hock thinks.
Homecoming is another special opportunity to see former students. It truly is a homecoming when students share their experiences after high school. Whether it’s news about a marriage, a newborn, a job, a promotion or a college update, Kevin is thrilled to see and hear from former students.
A third event that keeps Kevin upbeat is the many former athletes who are now coaching. He has coached hundreds of students in numerous sports, and many have gone on to coach in a variety of settings. Some coach their kid’s baseball, basketball, or soccer teams in a recreation league. Some are coaching in middle or high school programs (some against and some alongside Coach Hock). Some are even coaching at the collegiate level. Success breeds success.
How are the Children?
The children in our society lean on education and educators to provide knowledge, information, and stability. Educators like Kevin Hockett are the backbone of these expectations. The social capital he provides benetits us all as the following summary indicates:
Among the most accomplished and fabled tribes of Africa, the tribe considered to have the most fearsome and intelligent warriors is the mighty Maasai. The traditional greeting between Maasai warriors:"Kasserian Ingera," means, “and how are the children?" Even warriors with no children give the traditional response in Swahili, "All the children are well." This means peace and safety prevail, that the priorities of protecting the young, the powerless, are in place. It means the daily struggles for existence are secondary to proper care for their young.
Patrick J. O’Connor is the lead consultant for 3LC. He designs and conducts most of the services associated with 3LC. He is also associated with several consultants and trainers who specialize in other learning- related subjects. These topics can be discussed as needed. He has leveraged his many years of scholarly experience in higher education to work with organizations to improve employee performance. He has served on the faculty at Kent State University, The University of Georgia, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and New River Community College. In addition, he is an active marketing, training and leadership consultant to business and educational organizations. He is the author of two collegiate marketing textbooks and numerous professional journal articles and monographs, the You Know America book series and “Meet Me at Rays; a celebration of 75 years of Ray’s Place in Kent Ohio”. He also writes a feature column for aroundKent Magazine titled “The Road Less Traveled”. His bachelor and master degrees are from Bowling Green State University and his doctorate is from Virginia Tech. He and his wife, Susan, have four adult children. They reside in Kent, Ohio.