Henry Van Putten Jr
A native of Jamaica, New York, Hank Van Putten earned his B.S. in Education from Northeastern University (1974), and a M.Ed. from Cambridge College (1989). He has also completed Wheelock College’s Leadership Program (1994), and Harvard University’s The Art Of Leadership (2004). Hank’s career of more than 30 years in the Newton Public Schools began in 1974 as an elementary physical education teacher at the Bowen School. In 1993, he made a voluntary transfer to teach middle school physical education at Brown Middle School. In 1997, he was appointed Assistant Principal at the Oak Hill Middle School, and he served as an Acting Principal at the Williams Elementary School for the 2002-2003 school year. In May of 2004, he was appointed to the position of Principal of the Oak Hill Middle School, and he remained in that role until his retirement in June, 2009.
Over the course of his career, Hank has directed Y.E.S. (1978-1987) a summer Day Camp at the Cambridge Family Y.M.C.A. for inner city girls and boys ages 5 to 12. Additionally, he was a Coach for Boys’ Track and Field at Newton North High School (1982-1986). Hank has served as a member of Newton’s Black Achievement Committee, and participated in Dr. Jeffrey Howard’s Four Day Efficacy Seminar. Since the mid 1980s, Hank’s interests have focused on the impact of race on the academic achievement of African American students. As a result, he received training from Dr. Beverly Daniel-Tatum (President of Spelman College in Atlanta, Ga.), and Dr. Jonathan Saphier (Research for Better Teaching in Carlisle, Ma.) to teach a graduate course offered by EDCO entitled “Active Anti-Racism and Effective Classroom Practices for All Students”. During the summers of 2002-2004, he brought this knowledge to Lesley University, where he taught the Foundation Course in the Graduate Program of Conflict Resolution and Peaceable Schools. Hank has been an invited panelist and speaker on many occasions, most recently in January of 2009 at the Harvard Law School’s "PASSING THE TORCH: The Past, Present and Future of Interdistrict School Desegregation."
Hank is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions including Horace Mann Grant for “Sharing the Concepts of the Efficacy Approach with Teachers,” a Charles Brown Fellowship where he co-taught issues of racism with a sixth grade social studies teacher, culminating with a visit from members of the New England Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen. He has also received grants from the Newton Schools Foundation to create a Peer Leader Program at Oak Hill Middle School and from the Foundation for Racial, Ethnic & Religious Harmony to co-teach an anti-racism course to Newton educators. In 2000, he was given the Newton Public Schools Outstanding Anti-Racist Educator Award and in 2001, he was honored with the Newton Human Rights Commission Annual Award.
Greatest amongst Hank’s blessing are his partner Gail, his four children (Jamal, Hank, Deanna, and Matt), and seven grandchildren (Chanell, Isis, Zeke, Paige, Jamal, Nylah and Emmah) .
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