John Hoch (second from left) has been named the new president at St. Thomas More High School. Pictured with the 1987 STM graduate are (from left) daughter Madeline Hoch, wife Lori Hoch and daughter Katherine Hoch. (Submitted photo)
A former St. Thomas More High School graduate, teacher, coach and athletic director was recently named the new president of his alma mater.
John Hoch, a 1987 graduate, utilizes his vast experience to lead the school with the same passion and integrity in his classrooms and sports teams.
“I never expected to be in this position, but Mary McIntosh, our former president, encouraged me to apply for the job,” he said. “I still wasn’t thinking that I would be a good fit, but last November, a board member asked me to apply. When they do that, I think you had better apply.”
Hoch became president after a lengthy interview process, including a final interview with Archdiocese of Milwaukee School Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Cepelka. Though the waiting period and multiple interviews were a bit nerve-wracking, Hoch said his work as a busy athletic director and basketball coach kept him occupied.
After Hoch assumed the role of president in April, McIntosh stepped up to mentor and advise him through the end of the school year.
“I thank Mary for her outstanding service to St. Thomas More High School, and I wish
her well as she begins the next chapter of her life,” he said. “I look forward to working with my
colleagues as we continue to build upon the legacy of faith, service and leadership that our school community has cultivated over the past 150 years.”
Catholic schools have been a part of Hoch’s life since he was in the first grade. He attended Saint Veronica School on Milwaukee’s south side before graduating from St. Thomas More. After earning his master’s degree in business education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a bachelor’s degree in business administration for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he began teaching business and technology at St. Thomas More in 2001.
After nine years in the classroom, Hoch was named athletic director in 2010 and became head boys basketball coach in 2012.
Under Hoch’s leadership, St. Thomas More significantly improved its athletic facilities, many of which reached the end of their usable life. The school completed many long-overdue projects, including replacing its 50-year-old gymnasium floor with the new Rick Majerus Court, establishing a state-of-the-art fitness center and modernizing the girls’ locker room. Additionally, Hoch also led the efforts to develop the Coach Jim Haluska Wall of Champions, which has reengaged alumni from their predecessor schools, helping them recognize St. Thomas More as their alma mater. Named after St. Thomas More’s legendary football coach, the Wall of Champions honors exceptional athletic teams representing Don Bosco, Pio Nono, St. Francis Minor Seminary and St. Thomas More during its 150-year history.
Hoch plans to lean on his vast experience with the school in his new role as president.
“All of my past work has helped me understand the culture of the school and what its needs are,” he said. “It has helped me to get some ideas and direction where the school should be. At the same time, as a teacher, coach and athletic director, I have learned that it’s important to empower people and give them the autonomy to do jobs and hold them accountable. I look for people with a passion for school and education as we want to pass them on to our kids and give them a great experience where they are in a position to succeed.”
With St. Thomas More on solid footing, Hoch said he wants to focus on bringing the high school to the next level, so they are flourishing as a school serving students and family and remaining an integral part of Milwaukee’s south side.
While Hoch has no immediate changes planned for the school, he is first focusing on the typical faculty and staff turnovers that accompany the end of a school year.
“This sort of turnover normally happens in the summer, where different teachers move on, and new ones come in,” he said. “Our principal, Nick Kelly, is leaving as well. He did a great job, and I give him tons of kudos as he guided us through last year with COVID. We were well ahead of the curve in trying to get the kids through the year. I hope his next job is one he enjoys very much. He is going out on his own terms, and we are hoping to find someone who will continue where he left off.”
In the 2021-22 academic year, Hoch will update the strategic plan, envision where the leadership wants to bring St. Thomas More and meet with the stakeholders to determine what is best for the school.
“I am a team guy, and it is important to come up with what is important for all, not just what John wants to do,” he said. “Additionally, Mary is just a phone call away if I need her input.”
Hoch and wife Lori have twin daughters, Katie and Maddie, who graduated from St. Thomas More in 2020. The family attends St. Mary Catholic Faith Community in Hales Corners.