Doing the Hard but Necessary Work
Kurt Hatch brings his skills and knowledge as an anti-racist educator to the School of Education's Educational Administration Program.
“My mom was a teacher, in fact most of my family is in education, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, my wife, my sister and my brother-in-law,” says UW Tacoma School of Education Educational Administration Program Director Kurt Hatch.
Born in the Seattle area, Hatch moved to University Place at age 15 so his father could take a position as executive director of the Tacoma Boys & Girls Club (now part of Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound). “I spent a lot of time in Boys & Girls Clubs and got to see how the organization helped young people and that instilled in me a desire to get involved,” said Hatch. “I just got the bug.”
Hatch graduated from Curtis High School. Afterward, he moved to Pullman and earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Washington State University. A few years later Hatch completed a master’s in educational leadership at Western Washington University before receiving an Educational Doctorate Degree (Ed.D.) from the University of Washington in 2021.
Hatch’s career in education spans more than twenty years. “I started out student teaching in Tacoma,” he said. “I taught first grade and I remember thinking, ‘I would do this job for free.’ The feeling of satisfaction that comes from working with students and their families is why I started in this profession and why I’ve stayed in this profession.”
During his time in the field, Hatch has served as an elementary school teacher in Tacoma and Puyallup. Hatch and his wife also taught in China for a few years before returning to the United States where Hatch became an assistant principal, first at Scenic Hill Elementary and then at East Hill Elementary, both of which are in the Kent School District.
A few years later Hatch became the principal at Sunset Primary School in the University Place School District and would later serve as principal at Mt. View Elementary in North Thurston Public Schools before transitioning into the role of Associate Director of the Association of Washington School Principals (AWSP) in Olympia. “AWSP allowed me the opportunity to lead at a state and national level,” said Hatch. “Collaborating with agencies, organizations and legislators on policy and governance issues, leading professional learning for principals across the state and dismantling inequitable aspects of the system was all part of my work.”
The Educational Administration Program at UW Tacoma is a year-long and cohort-based model. “Our program places an emphasis on preparing those who want to lead in an urban setting; however, it also equips aspiring school leaders to serve in suburban and rural communities,” said Hatch. Students in the program gain credits towards a master’s degree and earn a principal or program director certification.
Hatch takes over the program from the recently retired Dr. Rob MacGregor. “It [the Educational Administration Program] is a wonderful blend of teaching and leading, so it feeds both of my passions,” said Hatch.
This is a unique moment in the history of American education. Public and private school systems are rethinking not only what to teach, but how to teach. The recent dust-up over Critical Race Theory, what it is, what it isn’t and why it matters, is the most current example of the shift currently taking place.
The next generation of school administrators will not only need to understand the issues, they will also need to know their community if they are to affect change. “One of the goals of our program is to help aspiring leaders understand the sociology and the psychology of these things, because it’s nuanced,” said Hatch. “There are deep emotions and complex systems at play and changing the status quo requires bringing people together around a common issue and giving them the knowledge and tools they need to do really hard, but necessary, things for kids.”
Rachel Endo, Dean of the School of Education, says, “I am delighted and honored that a leader of Dr. Hatch’s caliber has joined the School of Education at UW Tacoma. In addition to his many years of successful experience as a school leader and teacher, he is highly respected leader in our state for advancing policies that support anti-racism, equity, and inclusion."
An understanding of self is a core component of the program. “We lead based on who we are, and so self-awareness and situational awareness are critical,” said Hatch. Hatch knows who he is and what he wants to achieve. He is an educator, one dedicated to finding solutions and helping others do the same. “I feel blessed to be in a profession that allows me the opportunity to work on these problems, to make things better in this way, with a focus on anti-racist leadership,” he said.