COLUMBIA — A week into his new job, Troy Hogg has yet to organize his office, but one of his students has found a secret hiding place in his desk.
Hogg is the new principal at Benton Elementary and the student is his five-year-old son, Takashi, who started preparatory classes for kindergarten at Benton the same day his dad started.
Hogg has worked in education for 15 years. He began as a sixth-grade and gifted teacher in West Phalia, Mo. Next, he worked in Sedalia for four years where he met Japanese exchange teachers who convinced him to teach overseas and experience a different culture. He most recently spent five years at Field Elementary as a fourth-grade teacher and assistant principal.
Before going to Field Elementary, Hogg went to Japan to teach English near Hiroshima at four elementary schools, a middle school and in an adult conversation class.
Hogg did not speak Japanese, did not know much about the culture, and was a little worried about moving to a foreign country.
“I’m sitting in a taxi and I’m realizing that I’m in a taxi with a person who doesn’t speak any English at all, in a country where I don’t know anyone, and I did it and I made it,” Hogg said. “It really put things in perspective for me.”
Hogg said that Japanese students have a greater level of independence in school than American students. Because of his time in the Japanese education system, he learned to treat students more independently and applies the lesson in his work.
“I have conversations with kids not telling them what they need to do, but encouraging the kids to think for themselves because that’s what they need to learn how to do,” Hogg said.
Hogg first met his wife, Sanae, in Japan. They have been married seven years and have two sons.
Because his wife is Japanese, they have raised their sons to be bilingual. Hogg says he can “carry on a pretty good conversation” in what is now his second language.
Hogg received his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Lincoln University in Jefferson City and his master’s degree from William Woods University. He just received his education specialist degree and is working on his doctorate at MU.
As a first-time principal, Hogg wants students to be successful and take pride in their school. He plans on pulling teachers together before school starts to build a collective vision for the school and set goals to achieve it. .
“When people hear the word Benton, what do we want them to think? As staff we need to make that definition and decide who we are,” Hogg said.
Hogg encourages the community to get involved with the school.
“This is still part of the community, and they’re more than welcome to come in any time to see what we’re doing here in our school,” he said. “I welcome people to volunteer to be readers with students or help supervise. Anything they could do to help the school would be greatly appreciated.”