Joel Spruance

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As the son of a youth counselor, new Hathorne Teachers Federation President Joel Spruance had long been steeped in the values of serving young people. Recalling his mother's stories about her "rewarding" job, Spruance says that he came to see his own path along similar lines early on
"I knew I wanted to work with youth and had thought about working in a church," he explains,"but [my mother] encouraged me to explore education."
A lifelong fan of history, Spruance decided to become more involved in teaching it while in college.
"I wanted a way to pass on its valuable lessons," Spruance explains. "Going to school to become a teacher was an obvious career choice to match my passion."
Inspired by the teachers who taught him and also by those with whom he serves today, Spruance says that his own path is constantly shaped by his colleagues.
"The passion, dedication and various methods that teachers use to impact lives has profoundly changed the way I approach my career," he observes, also citing such vital elements as humor and preparation among the most important parts of his educational philosophy.
When Essex Technical High School was created in 2014, Spruance decided to become more involved in staff life and began to move towards his current position as local leader.
"I have always maintained the belief that in any work setting, my goal is to just do my job well," he explains. "But, after we merged schools, some others and I saw an opportunity for leadership and a chance to work collaboratively with our administration for the betterment of our students. And for that reason I decided to become involved."
From day one, Spruance found himself involved in a contract negotiation and on the front lines of engagement with the administration.
"I have really been encouraged by the team effort it has taken to get to where we are now," Spruance says, reflecting on the lessons learned through the negotiation process. "I have enjoyed the relationships that have developed within the teacher-administration collaboration."
That relationship has helped Spruance and his colleagues make progress and make a difference in the lives of their students.
"I still believe that a cohesive team of union officers can set the tone for a new school," he maintains.
When asked what he sees his role to be, Spruance replies, "The goal for our executive officers is to be able communicators with our fellow teachers and the administration."
With that goal as his guide, Spruance says that he and his colleagues have a much larger goal for their school.
"We want to help raise the standard for our school so that our students have access to the best education," he says. "We want Essex Tech to be the best technical high school in the state and we think our union can help accomplish that goal."