TROY — New Troy City Schools Superintendent Chris Piper’s education philosophy is simple — learning should be fun and engaging.
Piper was selected from 16 candidates by the Troy City Schools Board of Education last April to replace Eric Herman, who reitred. He began his four-year contract on Aug. 1.
“I always thought having fun in school was important,” he said.
Piper is originally from Richwood in Union County. Piper, the first in his family to go to college, shared how he originally pursued a degree in engineering, but switched to education to teach history and social studies, which he enjoyed as a student.
“I studied engineering for two years, one year at Ohio Northern and then I went to Wright State and I just really didn’t like (engineering). We didn’t really do much engineering in classes, it was all just math and science and I just got burned out. So I took a semester off and thought ‘What in the world do I want to do?’”
It was during that time frame that Piper reflected on his own educational experience and recalled how many of his high school teachers who took an interest in him and he decided he wanted that same connection with students.
“When I did decide to pursue education, I decided to be a social studies teacher and so I completely dropped the math and science thing and went a whole new direction,” Piper said.
He said he enjoyed the history classes he took at Wright State and fell in love with social studies and pursued a teaching degree in history, government and economics.
Piper received his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Wright State University in 1997, and his master’s degree in education leadership from Wright State University in 2003. He is currently in the process of completing his Ph.D. program at the University of Dayton.
Piper said he found his philosophy of education paper when he was applying for the superintendent job at Troy, which brought him back to his roots in pursuing a career in education. Piper said he shared his philosophy with teachers on their first day back in the classrooms.
“I remember writing it and one of the first sentences was ‘I believe that school should be fun,’” he said, noting how he was worried future employers would envision a circus of a classroom if he was to be hired. “I still believe that and what I mean by fun is that learning is fun and intrinsically people like to learn things.”
Seeing students have their “light bulb” moments when a lesson connects with students is rewarding and Piper said he wants to bring the learning process back to its fun, engaging and rewarding roots.
“It should be fun. I think we’ve lost sight of that as a profession and I think that’s something we need to bring back. We need to help kids find their love of learning,” he said. “I think with education, I’m glad to see the pendulum swing a bit. We are coming out of this phase where I think, and I hope, where testing has been such an emphasis. There’s a place and a need for standards testing, don’t get me wrong. As a superintendent I want to know that our kids are mastering the content. I want to know if our kids are academically prepared and they can do math, have critical thinking skills and they can write and speak well. That will never not be important, but it was so focused on those test scores that I think it took away from teachers and their need to be innovative in their classroom. I want to help bring that back.”
Piper enjoys golf, reading and outdoor activities such as kayaking in his spare time.
Piper, his wife, Nichole, and their two children moved to Troy last summer. His son Jakob is a freshmen engineering student at The Ohio State University. His daughter Lexi is a junior at Troy High School.
Piper previously served as the superintendent of Triad Local School District in North Lewisburg for four years. Piper also served as junior high principal for Jonathan Alder Junior High School in Plain City and middle school principal for Canaan Middle School, also in Plain City. While serving at Canaan, Piper also held the role of district transportation director. His administrative career began at Jonathan Alder High School, where he served as assistant principal and high school athletic director. Piper was a high school social studies teacher for eight years, sharing his time between Wayne High School in Huber Heights and Jonathan Alder High School.
He will be holding monthly coffee gatherings to meet members of the Troy community. The next event will be from 1-2 p.m. Oct. 29 at Starbucks on West Main Street.
“It’s a top notch community. I couldn’t be more excited to be here,” Piper said of the city of Troy.