“My primary motivation comes from the students, families, and staff that I serve. Every year we have the ability to help prepare our children for a successful future. This is a daunting but rewarding task.”
Dr. Bruce Borchers has been involved professionally in education for 21 years. He started his career as an elementary physical education teacher in Sioux City, Iowa, Community District in 1993. He shares, “I also worked as an interim assistant principal and guidance counselor in Iowa City, Iowa, as assistant principal and principal in Mankato, Minnesota, and as associate superintendent of secondary schools for the Anoka-Hennepin School District (Minnesota). Prior to joining the Oak Ridge School System, I was the superintendent of the Rockwood School District (Missouri) from 2010-2013.” He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, his master’s degree from Wayne State College and the University of South Dakota, and a bachelor’s degree from Morningside College.
This year is Dr. Borchers first school year with Oak Ridge and some exciting things are taking place within the system under his guidance --
This past year, the Oak Ridge Schools announced a new collaboration with Discovery Education, to create authentic digital learning environments in classrooms district-wide. Through a six-year partnership, Discovery Education will support Oak Ridge Schools’ plan to implement a BYOD learning initiative with engaging digital content and sustained, customized professional development.
This new partnership also supports our plan to transform Oak Ridge Schools into the premier preK-12 STEM school district in the nation. The district’s goal is to become a leader in STEM education through continuation and expansion of Oak Ridge’s already well-regarded educational opportunities for students along with additional enhancements to technology infrastructure, professional development and access to devices, which will place dynamic digital content in the hands of each student.
Oak Ridge Schools is also providing its educators robust, customized professional development from Discovery Education experts who will guide them through the process of integrating Streaming Plus and Techbooks into classroom instruction. 50 teachers will join a STEM cohort that will receive 10 days of customized professional development and coaching from Discovery Education each year.
In addition to our STEM initiative, we engaged our community in a discussion about College and Career Readiness. Improving the college and career readiness of all Oak Ridge students will provide them with a better foundation of knowledge and skills, allowing them to be prepared for a more technologically sophisticated and internationally competitive working world. (To read more about the Seven Keys to College and Career Readiness or learn more about this program, please click here.)
While Dr. Borchers is leading his district in new learning initiatives and preparing the students for a successful future when they enter into higher education and society in general, I asked him the most fun thing about his job as a director in TN – “to have the ability to help students develop into successful adults is truly the best part of my job . . . My primary motivation comes from the students, families, and staff that I serve. Every year we have the ability to help prepare our children for a successful future. This is a daunting but rewarding task.”
Dr. Borchers has achieved a lot during his freshman year as a superintendent in Tennessee and I wanted to “pick his brain” for any advice he might have for other new superintendents or those directors that might fill a bit weary as the school year has come to a close, “One of my favorite sayings is ‘make decisions based on the needs of the students … not the comfort level of adults.’ When I’m having a difficult day I reflect on this statement and it gives me the resolve to make decisions for the right reasons.”
I asked Dr. Borchers if he had a favorite teacher as a student and his reply reflected a gift of support and encouragement that he has brought into his own life and career in education. “My favorite teacher was Mr. Craig Ihnen. He was a high school speech/drama teacher and also directed plays. He was always supportive and made me participate in things (one-act, chorale reading, plays, musicals, etc.) that I most likely would not have, had it not been for his encouragement.”
I was curious about a few things that Dr. Borchers believes students are looking to from their leaders that cannot be found in a textbook. “I find students wanting to have ‘real’ engaging learning experiences. They are the ‘I want it now’ generation and tings need to be very relevant to them in order to maintain their attention. Real life solutions to real life problems seem to engage them more than a traditional textbook.”
Speaking of textbooks, I wanted to know Dr. Borchers favorite subject when he was in school, “I was a very ‘active’ young man and was drawn to classes that were hands on and engaging. When I entered college, in addition to wanting to be an educator, I became very interested in psychology and decided to double major in physical education/teaching and psychology. One … favorite book from my college days was, Choice Theory by William Glasser.” Dr. Borchers find inspiration from a quote that came from another favorite book, this being a book that he read growing up. “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” The book was Man’s Search from Meaning by Viktor Frankl who was a Holocost survivor as well as a psychiatrist.
We at TOSS wish Dr. Borchers the best as he continues to serve, encourage, and inspire his students to success in Oak Ridge.