LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Ry Hoffman

Position: Director of School Counseling
School: Spaulding High School
School District: Barre Unified Union School District
City, State: Barre, VT

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Music that Describes Ry

Ry Hoffman was nominated by his colleague, Laurie Berryman.

Mr. Hoffman is a LifeChanger in his community because he cares passionately about students in his school. He has been a counselor at the middle school and high school levels before taking on his current role as director of the school counseling office. His community has lots of challenges with poverty, parents struggling to keep their children on the right path, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit the community really hard. Mr. Hoffman consistently approaches his work from a place of students; how will this impact their learning? How will they engage with their learning? Are he and his colleagues doing everything they can to support students and families?

Mr. Hoffman is a positive person who inspires those around him to maintain a positive attitude, even when things get hard. His community has its share of families with traumatic backgrounds, and many of the students aren't ready to learn when they arrive at school. Some are hungry and not emotionally regulated. Mr. Hoffman is a champion for all students who recognizes that sometimes, he and his colleagues have to figure out what is best for the individual student so they can be successful in school.

Mr. Hoffman is a member of his school's leadership team. He provides a constant positive message about putting students first and thinking about all members of our student body, from those who are successful and engaging in the school community, to those who struggle with attendance and issues at home. He is a leader in the counseling department, providing support and positivity during a challenging time to be working in schools.

Mr. Hoffman has a tremendous track record of excellence at the professional level. He is a member of a regional Vermont team of school counselors. His experience and wisdom is sought after by teachers, administrators and his peers.

"We feel lucky to have him here in Barre, but I fear he may be scooped up," said Berryman. "He is a consummate professional and a compassionate, kind leader who takes care of his staff."

Mr. Hoffman is a counselor by trade, but also by his personality. He is naturally easy to talk to, and students are appreciative of his time and attention. Parents feel heard, and his peers in the building know he is a good listener. Mr. Hoffman is the professional teachers seek out to talk through a professional challenge; they know he is caring and that he will give them a safe sounding board without judgement.

"In my first year in this job as a school counselor, I had a particularly tough case load and very challenging parents," said Berryman. "In the first week on the job, I was yelled at by a parent that made me cry, and I remember the compassion and time Ry took to walk me through the situation. He allowed me to be upset and to process what the background of the family was. He professionally supported me to grow in my counseling approach to families that were struggling. His commitment to supporting teaching and counseling professionals is evident in his work and relationships in our building. He is probably one of the most moral, ethical professionals I have ever worked with and why I continue to work in this school. He is a supervisor I would follow in order to keep working for and with him. Ry truly is a LifeChanger for students, staff and teachers. He impacts the Barre community."

Comments (19)

Sam Mishkit Posted over a year ago

Ry has the biggest heart. His compassion towards students and teachers makes him an amazing colleague. I've heard students say nothing but good things about him as a guidance counselor. As a colleague, Ry has been supportive of my needs and concerns, and always takes the moment to have a conversation with me even though he as many other things going on. He works tirelessly to make Spaulding run smoothly and is highly deserving of this reward.

Chelsea Martin Posted over a year ago

As a new member of the Spaulding High School community as the VSAC Outreach Counselor, Ry has been a welcoming and supportive new colleague. Ry works hard for his students and staff. He always has a smile on his face and is warm and welcoming. Ry works hard for the Spaulding High School community and his dedication is admirable. Ry is incredibly deserving of this award. Thank you Ry for all that you've done and continue to do for your students, staff and community.

Margo Austin Posted over a year ago

I was brand new to Spaulding last year as a Flexible Pathway Coordinator and Ry is my mentor. Everything said above is 100% true about Ry. Ry goes above and beyond for everyone. I am not really sure how he does all he does and the way he does it. When Ry is assisting you he is present, helpful, thoughtful and kind. He treats everyone with total respect and professionalism, yet he has a relaxed easy going manner-a wonderful combination. His to do list is long and overwhelming but when he is helping you, you believe you are the only person he has to tend to. Ry is a fierce student advocate. He wants students to have as many opportunities as possible and he is all about removing barriers to make those opportunities available to all. Ry is without a doubt deserving of this award, the positive accolades I share and more! Thank you Ry for your dedication to the Spaulding High School community!

Jim Ferland Posted over a year ago

I have known Ry for many years, dating back to when he was my own two kids' counselor in middle school and my son's middle school soccer coach. He is one of the more positive people I have come across in this profession. He always has one question in mind in his job: Is this good for kids? I find him approachable and humble. He owns his mistakes but is willing to take risks when he feels it will benefit a student and their situation. He is a person I feel equally comfortable bouncing ideas off of or venting to when I need to blow off steam. Ry and is always thoughtful in his responses. He has a great sense of humor that he uses to his advantage and he doesn't take himself too seriously, an endearing quality in a person, in general, and in a leader, specifically. Ry is someone who may not always have the answer but he is always willing to help, a quality that is often overlooked but should be appreciated and valued by all. We are lucky to have a person of Ry's character in our school community. He is someone I value having in my corner. Thank you, Ry, for all that you have done, currently do, and will continue to do for Tide Nation!

Yoko Kishishita Posted over a year ago

As a special educator at Spaulding high school, I work closely with guidance counselors. Just by working with each of them, it is apparent to me that Ry's leadership adheres to being supportive; organizationally, and personally for his department. Ry's creative ability and leadership really shone through the daunting challenge posed by the pandemic this time; I am certain that there is an unspoken amount of Ry's work and time that went into the effort so we all could go into this academic year. In addition to Ry's natural talent as a great supporter of his department and SHS community, Ry deserves the LifeChanger of the year recognition, especially for going above and beyond in this challenging time for education.

Ashley Kellett Posted over a year ago

As a new School Counselor at Spaulding, I had the pleasure of completing my internship here and when a job opportunity presented itself I jumped at it. It was evident that the positive environment in the school counseling department was/is a direct reflection of the support, leadership and professionalism that Ry shows his staff, students and colleagues. Ry, works with a smile on his face everyday no matter the situation. He is an advocate for students and has their best interests at heart. He understands the community in which he serves and wants nothing back in return. Ry, is a shining example of what a School Counselor is, does and strives to be. I wholeheartedly support the nomination for Ry to be the LifeChanger of the Year and what a year it has already been.

Joanna Condon Posted over a year ago

Just doing what comes naturally. We are so proud of everything you have accomplished. Your students and colleagues are lucky lucky people. Congratulations on your nomination. In these increasingly difficult times, you are that breath of fresh air that keeps people energized and hopeful. Simply the best.

Michelle LaFrancis Posted over a year ago

Ry echoes the tenets of a LifeChanger. He cares about this community: the students, the staff, and parents as if they were his family too. He is capable of juggling many administrative tasks while providing the emotional and academic supports for his students. He takes time to listen, listen again, and reflect upon what his students are saying and wanting without passing judgment. He has been an exceptional advocate for them and we are truly blessed to have him at Spaulding. Congrats!

Jesse Carpenter Posted over a year ago

Ry is one of the kindest most genuine people I know. He works tirelessly to help students and colleagues alike and always does so while maintaining a positive attitude. Ry is always looking for ways to connect with students and has had many outreach successes even during these COVID times. I cannot think of a more deserving individual for this award!

Cathy Printon Posted over a year ago

I had the great fortune to work with Ry in a new partnership. The purpose was to bring resources and supports to students and staff at Spaulding High School. It was a new venture with a lot of possibilities. Working with Ry just makes you better as a person and as a learning partner with students. His approach to students and colleagues is one of compassion, caring, and generosity. Ry is truly one of the most positive people I know. He not only looks for the silver linings, he creates opportunities to thrive. His attention and drive is for students first - always. He is tireless and patient always bringing positivity to every task and challenge. With quiet and fierce determination he steadies the ship, keeps people focused, and seeks out avenues for students to experience success.

Emily Graham Posted over a year ago

Ry problem solves creatively and coach supportively- sometimes both at the same time. He cares deeply about those he works with and is constantly attentive to how his message is being received. The work is very hard right now, and Ry steers the course and allows me -and others - to achieve goals and feel great while putting in the effort. I am grateful and very happy to be working with him.

Jennifer Ballard Posted over a year ago

This is so well deserved and true! Your dedication is an inspiration to many. So glad to know you!!!

Peggy Roy Portelance Posted over a year ago

As a School Counselor, I have worked with Ry for many years, collaborating on 8th grade transition when he was a middle school counselor and as a high school counselor and supervisor at Spaulding High School. He is by far one of the most professional, knowledgeable and thoughtful individuals I have ever worked with and for. He cares tremendously for our students, ever ready to assist each School Counselor in his department the opportunity to best meet their student caseload's individual needs. He leads by example, never expecting anything from us that he is not on board doing himself. His style of leadership is collaborative, not top down, lending to a department that reflects the very best from each counselor. It also allows the School Counselors to serve every student and family in the unique manner that may be required. He trusts our judgement and respects our professional independence in doing our jobs and in best serving our students. He never micro-manages but is always at the ready to support the School Counselors in their mission to provide quality, sensitive attention to their students. Ry is a gem. Having Ry employed in our district, allows our Spaulding community to be a higher caliber school and the Barre community at large to be a well served population. I am confident there are many students, past and present who would back this statement up!

Alicia Tosi Posted over a year ago

I first met Ry when he coached soccer for the 7th grade team my son played on. His kind nature and dedication to working with kids on the soccer field or in the counseling office are to be admired. I was thrilled when Ry made the move to our high school, and his hard work and dedication continue to help our students and faculty. Ry is very worthy of the Life Changer award.

Dianne Bouchard Posted over a year ago

I have had the pleasure of working with Ry Hoffman since he was a school counselor at Barre Town Middle and High School. Ry has always been passionate about "doing the right thing" for his students and their families. He is a dedicated, caring, compassionate advocate for students, his staff and to those of us "on the outside" who have attended various types of meetings. Ry is always respectful of my opinion and will hear me out rather than cutting me off mid sentence stating, "we don't do this or it's not going to happen because of time, funding, etc." Ry is always willing to find a solution and has proven to be very creative so that students have the best possible school experience. Ry is a tremendous asset to the Barre community because he is dedicated, hard working, leads by example and follows through on any commitment that he puts into place. We are very lucky to have such a good human in our community.

Jayson Capobianco Posted over a year ago

I couldn't agree more with the narrative. I find Ry to be a truly selfless person which is truly a rare thing. His positivity also shines through. It's more than the typical educator positivity - he's kind, supportive and makes time for people even though he has no time - it's something you feel in his presence. He knows the students and staff by name and will always look you in the eye, greet you and make you feel meaningful. His dedication and work ethic is obvious, his office light is routinely the last one on in the school counseling / learning services office space. Perhaps most notably for me though is that he doesn't preach any of this, he just practices it. Day in and day out he does the things that we all know are best but that most of us struggle to do consistently, and he doesn't seem to be looking for credit.

Lora Gaudreault Posted over a year ago

I am new to working under Ry's leadership and in his department. I have found him to be honest, open, fair and enjoyable to work with. During the summer (uncontracted time) - Ry donated his time to making sure that we had all the tools and elements needed to help our students be successful. Covid-19 was a game changer for everyone and it put me in a place where I wasn't sure I wanted to make a change. The more I was able to work with Ry and his team, the more "at home" I felt. I believe that your team is as good as your leader and visa-versa. Ry projects positive energy and the team knows that he's a safe person to talk to and when needed, vent to. He advocates for his team and follows up with the team on the outcome. If Ry ever chose to move into another district - it would be a huge loss to our students, our community, our staff and our faculty. He is a great example of a team player, a team leader and would be hard to replace - hopefully wherever he goes he has room for six team players because I see us all wanting to follow him.

kerry stabell Posted over a year ago

Through all of this, he also still carries a pretty heavy caseload. As an employee here, I have witnessed his professionalism. As a parent of a child on his caseload, I have witnessed his professionalism from another perspective as well. He's a great listener and offers calm, sound and wise advice. My child has great respect for him.

Tiffany Tillman Posted over a year ago

I've worked with Ry over the past three years as a community partner with VSAC's Aspirations Project. Ry's vision for Spaulding is centered around his deep empathy for his students with the goal of employing equitable practices that meet the needs of all students so they can have the resources, information, experiences and support to successfully plan for their future. He's a systems thinker who keeps the big picture in mind and advocates for changes that ensure all students have equal access to information, services, resources and experiences. He goes above and beyond and connects with students, families, collegues and partners deeply. In short, he is a tireless champion for equity and students in his community, and understands what systems and practices are needed to support students and their families.