A Family Tradition: Jackson County Superintendent’s Son Joins Education Ranks


JACKSON COUNTY MI – The Denney family tree has several branches of educators.

John Denney is the superintendent of the Hanover-Horton School District. His wife Stephanie has been a preschool teacher for decades. Both of their mothers worked in schools in Jackson County.

On Sunday, the next branch starts its career.

Evan Denney, son of John and Stephanie, graduated on May 15 with a Bachelor of Education from Concordia University in Ann Arbor. He graduated from Christian College in three years.

“I’ve been surrounded by so many educators since before I could remember,” said Evan, who also turns 21 on Sunday and remembers being passed from his father to his mother in the classrooms. from his grandmother in a single day when he was young.

“I have seen the positive impact teachers can have on students and what a difference they can make,” he said.

Evan started school in the Columbia School District and graduated from Hanover-Horton High School in his father’s district. Her interest in social studies and teaching others began during her K-12 days, her father said.

“Teaching is definitely in the blood,” John said. “He always had an interest in history, politics, geography and things like that, so I wasn’t surprised that that’s what he ended up doing.”

Evan’s degree focuses on social studies and he is in the process of finding a job teaching in the Jackson County area to be close to home. He never felt pushed into the teaching profession despite family ties, Evan said, but he did strive to emulate his father’s “level-headed” demeanor.

“He’s just a phenomenal leader and he’s done a great job with Hannover,” Evan said. “I see I have a lot of the same qualities as him, so I knew I could be a good teacher too.”

Concordia tapped Evan because of its beautiful campus near Geddes Road in Ann Arbor, as well as a hands-on education program, he said. His father also came away impressed.

“I was impressed with what I saw (with) their teacher training program, just based on how they set it up and how they provide students with opportunities for learning. ‘teach before you go out into the world,’ John said. “It’s not just lectures.”

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Concordia has done a good job of showing how a classroom should be “led and managed,” Evan said. It wasn’t just about knowing the material to be taught, and the one-on-one instruction helped a lot, he said.

“You’re not going to get a great learning environment when you’re in a lecture hall with 200 or 300 kids trying to learn how to be a good teacher,” he said.

Evan graduated in three years due to dual high school enrollment, earning him nearly a full year of credits before he even reached the Concordia campus. It’s a point of particular pride for his father, who also marvels at how his son seems unfazed by the more difficult aspects of a teaching career.

“When he was in freshman year, I wasn’t 100 percent convinced that was a good angle for him,” John said. “It was around the time when teachers’ pensions were ‘adjusted’, to be politically correct. I said to him: ‘you have to know what you’re getting yourself into.’

Although he knows all the downsides, Evan told his father that teaching was his calling.

“It was what he knew he wanted to do, and there was no hesitation on his part,” John said.

For Evan, at this young stage of his career, money is not the top priority.

“If someone gets into teaching for the money, they’re doing it for the wrong reasons,” Evan said. “I care more about the impact I have on these kids and how I help them learn and grow.”

Her perspective like this makes Evan’s father beam with pride, knowing that his son will take over the family profession and run with her.

“He’s going to make a hell of a teacher,” John said. “Some districts are going to be lucky to be able to hire him.”

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