Remembering Marc Hull

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(Host) Commentator Nick Boke recalls the many accomplishments of Marc Hull, the former Vermont Commissioner of Education who died earlier this week.

(Boke) With the death of Marc Hull, Vermont has lost an outstanding public servant.

As a teacher, State Director of Special Education, Superintendent of Caledonia Central Supervisory Union, Commissioner of Education, and finally State Director of Federal Programs, Marc revealed two qualities.

He was the ultimate professional, always asking the most of himself – and of others; always insisting that decisions be well-reasoned and well-articulated; always thorough in his research, clear in his communication, and willing to go far beyond the extra mile. Finally, always interested in the well-being of children.

But Marc had another, equally important quality: his remarkable kindness. A part-time minister, he brought deep respect and affection to his dealings with everyone he met. Literally thousands of Vermonters saw him as a friend and mentor, a thoughtful man who helped them shape the work they did, the paths they took, and the decisions they made.

When Marc Hull listened, you knew he was listening fully. When he spoke, you knew he was speaking to you.

For the last couple of decades of Marc’s career, he hobnobbed with the elite of this country’s educational leadership, as well as becoming deeply involved in the politics of education on the state, regional and national levels. But none of this affected who he was and how he was with people.

He might have just finished a meeting with the governor, or flown back from a conference in Washington, DC, but he was quick to shift gears and give his full attention to everyone he encountered.

Marc Hull’s first love was literacy. As superintendent, he supported a dramatic beefing up of early literacy instruction in his district and region. As commissioner, he brought this same commitment to the rest of Vermont.

He used the Department of Education to help teachers enrich their knowledge about early literacy, and learn how to put that knowledge into practice, and he supported work designed to improve reading beyond grade three with the same dedication he had brought to early literacy.

Among his last jobs was helping Vermont maneuver the shoals of the Reading First grants that are part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Marc worked diligently to enable the state to remain true to the instructional foundations it has laid in recent years, while honoring the stringent federal requirements.

Marc resigned as commissioner several years ago when his health declined. Operations and therapy followed but nothing worked and he was often in pain.

But he kept at it, always committed to creating schools where all children could thrive and learn. And always committed to making sure that the people working in those schools felt valued, inspired to do their best.

Marc Hull’s work as an exemplary educator will live on for a long, long time. His impact on the many lives he touched is immeasurable.

This is Nick Boke in Weathersfield.

There will be a remembrance service for Marc Hull in the House Chamber at the Statehouse Friday afternoon at 12:30.

Nick Boke is a reading consultant and free-lance writer who lives in Weathersfield. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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