Jessica Hoptay Brown for DriveMind
You’ve heard all of the complaints before: schools’ administration doesn’t listen to teachers; teachers aren’t doing enough for their students; students are apathetic; parents are doing too much or not enough. It’s hard for each group to see outside of itself. Enter JR Suppes: a man who has been in many different roles in various levels of a school system. Someone whose perspective and experiences give him an edge when it comes to really thinking about what schools (from superintendent through parent down to student) need to thrive and be successful.
Suppes started his career in 1986 after earning his degree in secondary education, comprehensive social studies. He started out coaching and concentrated on athletic administration, but his career took him from coach to teacher, through athletic director, dean of students, building leader, all the way to superintendent. He’s served in nearly every role possible within a school district.
When asked about his biggest accomplishment, you might imagine Suppes to say it was his role as superintendent, prestigious as it is, but that’s far from it. It was his role as a coach, maybe even more than teacher, that has been most meaningful. As a coach he was responsible for helping and influencing students beyond just teaching them a subject; it was an experience. Coaching requires dealing with many different facets of life’s toughest lessons and skills: showing up for yourself and your team, being a part of something bigger than yourself, dealing with disappointment and loss, showing grit and determination, humbly accepting a win.
You can imagine how all of his roles and the impact coaching had on him might lead Suppes to think more broadly about affecting change in a school system. The DriveMind Group allows him the ability to have more of an impact on students beyond just the classroom. Suppes says, “I’ve been there and done it and know what the struggles and challenges are for every position in a school. We want to be there and help.”
Because Suppes has worked in schools so broadly, he’s been able to assemble a team at DriveMind that can truly look in from the outside and show teachers and administrators their biggest blind spots. While this perspective comes from outside of a particular school system, it comes to them through the eyes of an educator, not from a politician, corporation, or inexperienced third party. This is critical at a time when school management is heavily weighed down by politics, regulations, and expectations.
Under Suppes’s leadership, the DriveMind Group has assembled a team that can do a lot of the heavy lifting for schools so that their focus can remain, first and foremost, as his has always been: on the enrichment of students’ lives and the success of their school career.