For Tahon Ross, the first order of business after being named principal of Stacy Middle School in Milford, MA in July 2019, was to learn the names of each student and staff member — and how to spell them correctly.
“I need to get to know everybody’s name, for students and staff alike, and know what their role is and what beautiful gifts they bring to the school,” Ross said at the time.
The power of paying attention to detail is something Ross first learned about as a child in a HopeWell foster home.
“The quality of intensive foster care cleared a lot of hurdles for me,” Ross told attendees at our When I Think of Home Gala. “It provided me with opportunities, supports and privileges that children in DCF care would not normally get.”
Having a weekly allowance, his own room, and money for haircuts — things many teens take for granted, but which few teens in foster care experience — made a tremendous difference in his life. A HopeWell social worker also found a therapist for Ross who was such a good fit that Ross saw the therapist weekly for three years.
“This helped me with problem solving and life skills,” said Ross.
Before being named principal of the Stacy Middle School, Ross, who grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, served as an assistant principal at public schools in Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. Before that, he was the Dean of School Culture for D.C. public schools. In those positions, Ross honed his teaching and curriculum-building skills. He also developed a student-centric perspective and learned how to work with all members of a community to build positive school cultures.
His professional success belies a difficult upbringing and family life that resulted in his eventual placement in foster care. When he was finally placed with a HopeWell foster family, he found the structure and support he needed to thrive. That placement also put him on a path to success. He earned both his undergraduate degree in English Literature and master’s in Education Administration from UMass Amherst. There, he gained the knowledge of how to translate his desire to support youth in education into a career. Ross shared that this work is “my way to pay it forward. Hopewell provides the best that foster care can be.”