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Back Home In Texas

Hockaday welcomes the Curtis Family after their move from Cleveland to Dallas

When new Director of Technology and Information Resources Jason Curtis worked as the Director of Technology at Houston Christian High School from 2004-2007, he used Hockaday as a gauge to measure the school’s own technological advancements.

“If Hockaday was doing it, we wanted to do it,” he said.

Little did Curtis know, only five years later, he and his family would join the Hockaday community.

A FAMILY AFFAIR (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) Abigail, Melissa, Ben, Jason and Emily Curtis have adjusted well to Dallas and the Hockaday community. Photo by Alaina

Curtis, his wife Melissa and their children Emily, Ben and Abigail moved to Dallas three months ago from Cleveland, Ohio. Melissa Curtis works at Hockaday in the College Counseling Department as Administrative Assistant to College Counseling and Fine Arts Logistics Coordinator. Abigail and Emily Curtis are first and sixth graders at Hockaday, respectively.

Before working at Hockaday, Jason Curtis taught the first, fourth and fifth grades at Houston Christian High School. In 2007, he moved to Cleveland with his family. There, he worked as Director of Technology at the Laurel School, a K-12 all-girls school.

The Laurel School was a founding school of the Online School for Girls, the board of which Jason Curtis was a member. Hockaday was not a founding school of OSG but joined in 2010 shortly after OSG’s inception.

Melissa Curtis also worked at the Laurel School as Director of Auxiliary Services, organizing such programs as the afterschool and summer school programs. Emily and Abigail Curtis attended the Laurel School as well.

Because the Curtises lived in Houston for 14 years before moving to Cleveland, the move to Dallas was not completely alien to them.

“Ohio was our little adventure across the country,” Melissa Curtis said.

Before taking full charge of the Technology Department, Jason Curtis met former Technology Department Chair Richard Bradley. Bradley worked with Jason Curtis for about a month before handing over the reins.

“It was great to have a resource like Mr. Bradley and be able to ask those questions as they came up and to have some help in getting adjusted,” Jason Curtis said. “He was really a big part of making the transition successful.”

Eugene McDermott Headmistress Kim Wargo noted her expectations for Jason Curtis. She said they are similar to the expectations she has of others who assume leadership positions at Hockaday.

“First and foremost, you have to get to know the school and the culture of the school,” she said. “Even though the Laurel School and the Hockaday school have some things in common, they’re also two different places.”

In accordance with Wargo’s request, Jason Curtis does not have any plans to change the Technology Department as of yet—he first must understand the technological culture at Hockaday.

“I have my personal preferences, but I can’t let my personal preferences be the deciding factor when it comes to the school—it really has to be about the kids and the community,” Jason Curtis said. “I don’t really know the school and the students and the teachers, so it’s hard for me to say, ‘here’s what we’re going to do.’”

Unlike Bradley, Jason Curtis has also taken on additional duties in charge of libraries.

“My goal is to make sure the libraries are as up-to-date and well-used as possible and to identify how we can encourage people to come in and use the resources,” he said.

At Laurel, Jason Curtis worked with Ryan Rucker for five years in the IT Department. Rucker worked as Systems Administrator.

“I am very sad he left because I loved working with him a lot, but I am also very happy for him because he’s from Texas and he’s able to take his family back to Texas with him,” said Rucker, who recently left Laurel to work at Case Western University as Projects Analyst. “[Jason Curtis] has a great personality, is very funny and is able to laugh at himself and make others laugh at the same time…I wish him a great first year.”

Jason Curtis’s wife Melissa has never worked in a college counseling office before. She has, however, 10 years of teaching experience. Raised in a family of educators, Melissa worked in public schools as a music teacher before working at Laurel.

She said that she encountered many surprises as she learned about the rigor of the college admissions process.

“It’s so different from when I applied to college,” she said. “Hockaday is really fortunate to have this department and have the one-on-one attention they give each student.”

Despite all working and studying in the same place, Jason Curtis, Melissa Curtis and their two daughters rarely see each other during the day. Melissa Curtis noted that Hockaday is structured unlike the Laurel School, which has only one main building.

Six-year-old Abigail does not often see her parents and sister because of Hockaday’s layout but likes Hockaday “because I like my classes and my teacher Mrs. Hogan.”

“At the dinner table, we’re talking about our day even though we’re in the same place because we had four different experiences,” Melissa Curtis said.

Nine-year-old Ben, the only family member not working or studying at Hockaday, attends Brentfield Elementary in Richardson. Although the rest of his family has a common connection with Hockaday, Ben does not feel excluded “because I go to Brentfield Elementary School and I like it there,” but sometimes wishes he went to Hockaday because “it’s a great school and my dad and mom work there.”

Melissa Curtis said that returning to Dallas is much like returning home. Their relatives in Houston live only a few hours away.

The Curtises are a family dedicated to the all-girls school environment for their daughters.

“It’s really nice having all girls go to a school instead of boys,” said Emily, who has attended all-girls schools since the first grade.

“[Jason and Melissa Curtis] are committed to the school not only as people who work here but also as parents,” Wargo said. “I think that’s a great thing: when you can work and parent in the same community and really have a commitment to a school.”

-Tiffany