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Sup with the Sup
Episode 42: Tommy Hirschi, New Shoreline Middle Principal
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Welcome everyone to the next episode of Provo City School District’s What’s Up with the Sup podcast. I am Superintendent Wendy Dau. This week, I will be visiting with Tommy Hirschi, the new principal of our new middle school, Shoreline. But first, let’s go over our updates.

  • It is officially summer. Each of our schools have summer hours. If you need to visit with someone at your school, visit your school’s website for hours of operation, or you can contact our main district line and they will also have that information available for you.
  • June 3rd through July 18th, our district provides free summer meals. Children ages 1 through 18 that live in Provo can receive a free breakfast and free lunch. Visit Franklin, Provo Peaks, Spring Creek, Sunset View, Timpanogos Elementary Schools, or Independence or Provo High Schools, whichever school you live closest to, Monday through Thursday for a free meal. Visit our website for times and details.
  • If you are interested in hearing updates regarding the construction projects happening throughout the district, please visit the district website and click on the New Construction Newsletter sign up link. The next newsletter will be sent out following the June 11th board meeting.
  • Our next board meeting is Tuesday, June 11th. Study session will be held in Boardroom one starting at four o’clock. Business meeting will begin at seven o’clock in the Professional Development Center. Public comment is welcome at the business meeting, and during this meeting there will be a public hearing for both our budget and the boundary adjustments at Heather Lane and Osprey Towns Park.
  • Watch for the summer newsletter coming to your home in Provo the first part of July.
  • For complete updates during the summer, visit us on our website or on social media.

And now, on to our guest.

Wendy: Well, welcome Tommy. Thank you so much for being on our podcast.

Tommy: You bet. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Wendy: So, tell us a little bit about your educational background. Like, how did you end up… What is your career path to becoming the principal of Shoreline Middle School?

Tommy: Yeah, kind of a little bit different path, I think. So I studied my undergrad at BYU, here just around the corner. And I was actually studying to become a physical therapist.

Wendy: Oh, really? I didn’t know that.

Tommy: Yeah, so I took anatomy, physiology, a lot of those tougher classes. And something just didn’t feel right. And so one day I’m just sitting on the grass there on campus and I thought, Is this really what I’m supposed to do? And through some conversation with my wife and my parents, they had kind of mentioned like education, my dad’s work is in education, so I’ve kind of always been around it. And I thought, okay, special education feels right. Like I’ll go talk to the people. And so I went up to the education building, talked to the, his name was Dr. Gibb, um, talked to him and he’s like, yeah, classes start in about two weeks. So here’s your to do list. If you want to do this, let’s do it. And so I did it. I didn’t really know what special education was or what the classroom would look like or that process, but it felt right. And so I did that. And then after that, I was able to intern here in the district at Edgemont Elementary School.

Wendy: Oh my goodness. This is exciting.

Tommy: Worked there for a couple of years and went to Canyon Crest, Timpview, and have been at Dixon for the last five, so.

Tommy: So you’ve had K-12 experience in Special Ed.

Tommy: Yep.

Wendy: That’s exciting.

Tommy: Yeah.

Wendy: So been able to see, see the full spectrum of how students are moving through our system.

Tommy: Yeah. Yeah. It’s really fun. Middle school is a fun age. I really like it there. The kids are fun. They’re unpredictable. You never know what they’re going to do.

Wendy: They are very unpredictable.

Tommy: Which is fun.

Wendy: That’s very, very true. And it’s hard to tell that you’re a BYU fan. Based on your lanyard and the shirts that you wear, I mean,

Tommy: I try and hide it.

Wendy: Once in a while, but yeah, okay. It’s good. It’s good that you’re a BYU fan because they’re right here. So it’s great.

Tommy: We’ve got to have some, right?

Wendy: Yeah, we do for sure. Okay. So tell us a little bit about maybe your experience at Dixon Middle School as an assistant principal. You kind of mentioned it a little bit about what you love about middle school, but talk to us a little bit more about that. Like, what is so appealing about those middle school years?

Tommy: Yeah, I think the biggest thing is that kids, they, they, number one, they still want to be there. They still want to learn. They have that fire for learning that they have at the elementary school, and that’s still there and a part of it. But they’re also kind of growing up and turning into adults. And so, some of that mindset’s there and so you can have a little bit deeper relationship with the kids and, and you can impact them for good, I think at almost a greater level, because as they’re planning for high school and, and post high school, you’re able to have some influence on, on the decisions that they make in that regard. As far as just what draws me to middle school, so when we went through COVID and we didn’t have any students in the school, that was really hard for me. It was like, what am I doing here? Is this really what I want to do? Like sit in this building. And then when the kids came back, it was like, okay, this is why I’m here. This is why I want to do it. It’s for the kids. That’s what this is all about. Making a difference and just seeing change, seeing kids change their lives, knowing where some of these kids come from and the challenges that they face. It’s just so rewarding to be able to have an impact on their life and, and be a good spot in their life and help them make good decisions and, and achieve greater things than they maybe even thought possible.

Wendy: That’s awesome. So you’re kind of hinting at this. So what’s your why? Keep going with that.

Tommy: Yeah, so for me, my why, I mean, it kind of goes back to, um, my parents and specifically my dad. So he grew up in basically an alcoholic household. I’ll try not to get emotional, but, uh, education was huge for him, right? So he graduated high school, went to college. He’s really the only one of his siblings that went to college, went on to get a PhD. But education is the thing that has got him out of that life and been able to, to kind of give us as his kids a better life. And so that’s really my why is I want to impact obviously every student that we have at Shoreline, but especially those kids that are going through a hard time. I want to be there and be a champion for kids that need somebody to kind of give them that hand up and help them move along and see that life can be better than what they’re going through.

Wendy: That’s incredible. That’s a great story. What are you most excited about as you move into this new role as principal of Shoreline Middle School?

Tommy: That is a great question. I think, I mean, number one, obviously the building, the facilities. It’s just going to be incredible to have a nice new building that’s going to fit all of our student body, have space for everything, have classrooms that are designed for the subject areas. So a lot of that.

Wendy: Yeah, there’s a lot of weird shaped classrooms at Dixon Middle, for sure.

Tommy: Yes, there are.

Wendy: Yes, yes.

Tommy: Little small ones and great big ones. But I think what I’m most excited about is just being able to have a bigger impact on the whole school. We have absolutely incredible teachers. They’re just phenomenal. Our students are incredible. And so I feel like we finally have a building that meets and kind of is on par with the our teachers and their quality and the quality of students that we have. And so that’s exciting, but really the biggest thing is just being able to dig in and help people be a champion for teachers, be a champion for our students and just help go to work, helping people every day.

Wendy: That’s awesome. It’s interesting. When I ask teachers about what they love about being at Dixon Middle School, your name comes up a lot. They’re like, Tommy’s amazing. Like he is the best administrator. He’s so supportive. He is right there. I just want you to know that like you have a reputation already as an assistant principal, so I’m excited for you to be moving into this role as a principal.

Tommy: So thank you. I appreciate that.

Wendy: What are you most nervous about?

Tommy: Yeah, I think it’s probably this move that we have coming up this summer. There’s just so many unknowns that it’s like, okay. What what? We don’t know what every day will look like. I guess being a middle school assistant principal has prepared me for that a little bit. But, and I was at Edgemont when they moved, but it was that summer that I moved to Canyon Crest. And so I’ve done the packing up and putting the boxes on the pallet, but I haven’t seen the other side of it. And so I think just the unknowns of the move and that kind of thing. And then also just being able to adequately meet the needs, meet the needs of every student, just because the needs are so diverse. Um, just wanting to be able to, to get to know and meet the needs of every student that we have coming to Shoreline next year.

Wendy: Yeah. What would you like your parents, um, to know about you?

Tommy: The biggest thing is come talk to me if there’s a problem. My door’s always open. I’m happy to chat with you. We want to work together to help your child and your student have an amazing opportunity and have a great middle school couple years with us there at Shoreline. So, if there’s something going on that we need to know about, come talk to us. We’re going to try and visit as many students this summer as possible.

Wendy: Oh, that’s awesome.

Tommy: In their homes. And so that gives us an opportunity to talk to at least some of the parents. So if we knock on your door this summer, that’s why, but, uh, yeah, we want to talk to you. Come, come communicate with us so that we can help resolve any issues that you do have.

Wendy: So they’re not in trouble.

Tommy: They’re not.

Wendy: No. No.

Tommy: Just get to know you. We want to know as many students as possible. Wendy: What do you, what do you wish students knew about you that maybe they don’t know?

Tommy: I’m not a mean, old grouch. Does that count?

Wendy: Yeah, that absolutely counts. Absolutely counts.

Tommy: Yeah. I think the biggest thing that I want students to know is kind of the same thing. Come talk to me. Come talk to the assistant principals. We want to know you. We want to get to know you. Come chat with us. We’re, we’re nice people. Uh, we want to support you, but it’s hard to know if we don’t know, so come, come chat with us.

Wendy: That’s awesome. What overall vision do you have for Shoreline now that you are, you

Tommy: Yeah, I think the biggest vision that we have right now is we just want to take Shoreline to the next level. Our teachers are incredible, students are incredible, and so we just want to take learning to that next level, where every student is coming out with just a phenomenal education and prepared for high school as they move to Provo High. So that’s going to be really the main emphasis, the main focus this next couple years. Yeah, we just want to continue to build on the great history that we’ve had at Dixon. The culture at the school is amazing. It’s really like a family over there. And so we want to continue that and just take that family dynamic to Shoreline and continue to excel and just get better and better.

Wendy: Yeah, you feel that whenever I walk into Dixon, it did, it just felt like family and it felt like everybody takes care of one another and there’s a great, a great love and a great feeling for one another from the students, from the teachers to the students everywhere. It’s pretty incredible. So I’m excited for that to continue over at Shoreline. Well, tell us something fun you’re going to do this summer to just relax and disengage for even if it’s like a day.

Tommy: Yeah. So the big summer trip that we have planned right now is we are taking, so I have three kids, two of them go to Lakeview and then one’s just two years old. We are taking them to Disneyland and California adventure. So that will be super fun.

Wendy: Yep.

Tommy: July. That’s, that’s our big July plan. So we’re excited for that.

Wendy: That’s great. And then you’re also taking a group of students to Washington, DC.

Tommy: We are. Yeah, we leave, we leave tomorrow morning at three in the morning.

Wendy: Okay. And tell us a little bit, because I think it’s one of the things that’s very unique about Provo. I have not come from a district that allows middle school students to travel in this sort of way. So maybe tell us a little bit about, What’s so great about this particular experience that we offer kids?

Tommy: Yeah, I think the biggest thing with it is that the students learn the history so well because, let me explain kind of the process. They’ll, they’ll apply to go on the trips and once they’re accepted, then they start attending these classes where we really dive deep into the history of whichever location we’re going to. And we have two different spots that we go to, Washington DC, which is obviously starting tomorrow. And, uh, next year we’ll go to Boston. And so they dive in and they know the history so well that when they go, it’s a real experience for them because they’ve spent so much time learning about these different places that we’re going to. And then also just the amount of stuff that we’re going to see every day is jam packed with. different museums, different sites that we’re going to see. And so we are just go, go, go for six straight days. Like tomorrow we’re going to get to the middle school at three in the morning, fly out at six, we get over there at about five or six in DC and we go do things for like three or four hours.

Wendy: Oh my gosh.

Tommy: Because there’s so much to do.

Wendy: Yes, there is.

Tommy: And that’s what people say, that it’s the best trip I’ve ever taken, but I’m also exhausted and need like a week afterwards to recover.

Wendy: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think it’s an incredible opportunity that you provide our students. That’s awesome. Do you guys have a theme for the upcoming year? When is our open house happening? Things that you want people to know as we’re moving everything over to Shoreline?

Tommy: Yeah. The biggest thing that we want people to know is number one, we want students and parents to feel like they can be involved. We have a great PTA, great PTA president. Come be involved with us there. The open house is planned for July 29th. And so we’re going to do a ribbon cutting ceremony that day. And then directly following that, I believe at six o’clock, we’ll do a community open house from six to eight. And so we would love anyone in the community that wants to see the building to come on over and be a part of that ribbon cutting and the school tour.

Wendy: That’s awesome. Well, you have a lot to prepare for as you’re working through the summer. So I do hope you enjoy your trip to Disneyland and that you do get some time to just relax and rest.

Tommy: Thank you. Appreciate that.

Wendy: Thank you so much, Tommy. I’m looking forward to you being the principal at Shoreline Middle School next year.

Tommy: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you.

Wendy: Thank you everyone for joining me for this week’s episode of What’s Up with the Sup. As always, all episodes will be posted on the district website, YouTube, and anywhere you get your podcasts. If you have any topics or questions you would like us to discuss on the podcast, please email us at podcast@provo.edu.

Join me next week for an all new episode. Have a great week, everyone

Shauna Sprunger
  • Coordinator of Communications
  • Shauna Sprunger
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