In 1976, Tom Bloch joined H&R Block, the world's largest tax services provider, where his father was CEO. In 1981, after introducing automation to the company's office network, he was elected President of the Tax Operations. Later, he oversaw the company's innovative practice of filing tax returns electronically to the IRS, which revolutionized the industry. Bloch was promoted to President of the corporation in 1989 and CEO in 1992. His second career began in 1995 as a middle school math teacher at St. Francis Xavier, an inner city parochial school. Five years later, he co-founded the University Academy, a public charter school in Kansas City. Bloch continues to teach 7th and 8th grade math at the urban college prep school he helped design and launch. He is also President of the school's board. The Academy has grown from 200 students in grades seven through nine in its first year to over 1,000 students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The school moved into a new, $40 million facility in 2005, and it became the first school in Missouri to receive a ten-year extension of its charter. Over the last five years, all but two graduates of the Academy have gone on to attend college, an almost unheard-of success rate for an urban school. Bloch is the author of Stand for the Best, a memoir about his journey from CEO to inner city teacher and school founder. He graduated cum laude in 1976 from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California.
Tom Bloch: Yes, it was founded in 2000. Originally, we had Grade 7 through 9, for 200 students designed as a college prep school, and in 2005, we expanded the school and moved to a new location. And so today, we’re serving 1,100 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and these are inter-city kids. I started teaching back in 1995 and did that for 5 years in the urban core of Kansas City, and then another fellow and I, also a former CEO, got together and decided to start our own school. And this was at the time when charter schools were starting to take the country by storm, and so we did some planning and, sure enough, we were able to give birth to a school.
Recorded on: October 13, 2008