Nine-year computer science teacher and Dean of Faculty Jacob Hazard will join Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, as Academic Dean for grades 11 and 12 in September.
He will also teach one math class.
The position will give Hazard a greater role in school leadership, he said.
“I’m going to the school where I grew up,” Hazard said. “My dad taught [English] at Cranbrook School for roughly 40 years.”
Hazard’s father, who still lives near Cranbrook, made a point of not pressuring him into accepting the offer, Hazard said.
“His being there makes it a desirable location,” Hazard said. “He really did always support me and encourage me to go pursue anything that I wanted to pursue.”
As a teenager, his father’s leniency gained him access to the family car when Hazard and his friends decided to attend a school dance.
But the dance was too full, so they decided instead to cross the border into Canada, just for fun.
Their fun was cut short when the border patrol halted their plans and demanded to see everyone’s driver’s license and social security card.
While Hazard fumed about the situation, two of his friends, who were African-American and Puerto Rican, whipped both documents out. “They said, ‘I frequently need three or more forms of ID just to go about my daily life; I’m getting stopped by the cops for all kinds of stuff,’” Hazard said.
“[If] I get stopped by the cops, driver’s license is sufficient,” Hazard said. The experience led Hazard to recognize the privilege from which he benefitted due to being white and going to a private school.
“The lack of obstacles in my life is a form of inequality,” Hazard said.
Although a teenager at the time, the experience informed his approach to teaching.
“It sensitized me [to] how every person has a different set of struggles and that those struggles are distributed unequally,” Hazard said. “My job as a teacher is to somehow give every student an equal opportunity to succeed.”
Because of this Hazard views academic success in terms of opportunity, not grades.
“I don’t take it personally if a student doesn’t do their homework or doesn’t do well on a test,” Hazard said. “Doing badly doesn’t mean you’re not trying. But they have to understand there is a cost to not doing the homework. It’s not a personal cost; it’s an opportunity cost.”