New City School dedicates new classroom to UMSL Scholar in Residence

Tom Hoerr Innovation lab

The New City School is naming its new innovation lab in honor of its former head Tom Hoerr, now a scholar-in-residence at UMSL. The new lab will place an emphasis on STEAM education and teamwork and include plenty of materials and tools – such as a 3D laser cutter – for students build and tinker. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Before becoming scholar in residence at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Tom Hoerr was the longest serving leader of the New City School in St. Louis.

Hoerr led the independent elementary school from 1981-2015 and was instrumental in implementing multiple-intelligences-based curriculum and character education. In honor of the crucial role he played in advancing the school’s mission, the New City School has announced the official dedication and opening of The Tom Hoerr Innovation Lab.

The new 2,500-square-foot classroom will place an emphasis on STEAM concepts and also empathy, compassion and teamwork.

“In the early stages of designing this new classroom it seemed only fitting that it be named in honor of New City’s longest serving head, Tom Hoerr,” said Alexis Wright, the current head of school. “I can’t tell you how special it is to have a piece of the school named after Tom, particularly given his dedication and devotion to this institution that we all know and love.”

The classroom is designed to be an adaptable space that includes plenty of materials and tools – such as a 3D laser cutter – for students build and tinker. It also features a full kitchen that will be used in conjunction with the campus vegetable garden, incorporating lessons on nutrition and food science.

That’s in line with the hands-on and interdisciplinary curriculum Hoerr helped implement at the New City School.

In addition to his work there, Hoerr has also authored several books on education theory and leadership and more than 140 academic articles. Hoerr believes that successful education leaders create school cultures where everyone grows. At UMSL, he has worked to do that by giving educators the tools to instill character education and social-emotional learning in students.

With Mindy Bier, co-director of the Center for Character and Citizenship, Hoerr created and co-taught a graduate-level education course designed for prospective principals and administrators, “Leaders Cultivating Virtues.”

The curriculum is primarily based around the concept of servant leadership and focuses on ways to establish a particular set of virtues, including humility, courage, forgiveness and gratitude.

“Our shorthand is that we know how important education is,” Hoerr said of the education model. “We would argue, I believe, that it’s even more important than most people think. Our focus is helping children become not just good students, but good people.”

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