Interview with Lamplighters Honoree Hugh Roome of Scholastic Inc.
The Lamplighter Honors celebrate individuals in various stages of their careers who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of learning resources and the community that creates them. This year, the Honors will be celebrated along with the PreK-12 Learning Group REVERE Awards during the annual Content in Context (CIC) conference. Registration is still open. Hugh Roome, Executive Vice President and President of Consumer and Professional Publishing at Scholastic Inc., will be inducted into the Educational Publishing Hall of Fame to honor his focus on expanding reading and learning resources into global markets.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career and why?
Betty Roome. She spent her life fighting for women’s rights and civic engagement. She was president of Planned Parenthood in Connecticut when basic family planning services were illegal in the state, and she engaged in a number of court battles to ensure the availability of women’s health services.
She was a town mayor and later, in an effort to promote civic engagement, was president of the League of Women Voters for her state. In addition to that, she was a wonderful and inspiring mom.
Can you remember a specific teacher or learning resource that influenced your education experience?
Sylvan Barnet. Sylvan was a famous Shakespearean scholar, who I had in my freshman year and knew until he died last year. He had a great sense of humor and a passion for teaching which he carried into his nineties. He broke ground as a Jewish man seeking a professorship in English at a time when the English Department Chair at Harvard said that, although he was in awe of Sylvan’s scholarship, the Department would not promote a Jewish man. Luckily for me and innumerable others, that took him to Tufts University where he became the Department Chair.
What most excites you about working in education?
Obviously, you’re challenged every day to help teachers and children. It gives your work a high purpose. You also get to spend time with the type of people who care about that mission. Working for a company like Scholastic truly means having the opportunity to make the world a better place.
What advice would you give someone new to the education industry?
Two things. First, keep getting into classrooms. When your work becomes either very hard or somewhat discouraging, classroom visits are guaranteed to recharge your batteries. Second, don’t make concessions to Neanderthal ideas. Global warming is real; air and water pollution are huge dangers; Planet Earth is billions of years old. Diversity and equity are the cornerstones of our society.
How do you like to continue learning in your everyday life?
I teach as an Adjunct Professor in New York and after many years at it, it is still an intense learning experience for me. And, most satisfyingly, at this stage in life, I work to mentor a host of managers and grad students.
What trend or issue do you think will have the greatest impact on education in the next 5-10 years?
Digital technologies, of course, but also something rather basic: a greater national appreciation for the importance of teachers to our society.
What accomplishment are you most proud of and why?
Training and promoting our management team and trying to help empower them with access to a 360° view of digital and print publishing. We need editors and designers who understand the business and become comfortable with the numbers as well as marketers and business managers who appreciate and help facilitate the creation of inspiring (and sometimes expensive) digital and print content. Also, my wife Katherine and I have worked to create scholarships to study arms control, environmental science, civic engagement, veterinary medicine, and artistic achievement. Helping kids is what it is all about!