John J. Hoover ’73, is a fierce advocate for students in special education and equity in teaching and learning. His passion for service and research has fueled accomplishments that have made an international impact on diverse educational communities.
The educator is among three alumni who will be recognized for their career accomplishments through induction into the College of Education’s hall of fame during Illinois State’s 2018 Homecoming celebration.
Hoover earned his bachelor’s in special education and elementary education from Illinois State in 1973. Over the next 45 years, his career in education has taken him to Illinois, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas.
Hoover’s first position out of college was with the Kaleidoscope Alternative Public School in Bloomington, teaching children identified with severe learning and behavioral challenges. He also developed the school’s remedial programming across four content areas. In 1976 he headed west to teach students exhibiting significant emotional and learning challenges at Pecos Junior High School in Thornton, Colorado.
Hoover earned his master’s in special education from Northern Arizona University in 1978. His next professional challenge was to develop programming supports for elementary and secondary-level students exhibiting emotional/behavioral needs for Gila County Special Services in central Arizona. He also supervised special education teachers in seven districts, including the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation.
Hoover earned his doctorate in curriculum, administration and supervision with a specialization in special education from the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder in 1983. He was hired as an assistant professor for the special services teacher education program at the University of Texas at Tyler shortly after, earning promotion and tenure in 1989.
Hoover was recruited back to CU Boulder in 1990 to become the director of research and evaluation for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). In addition to supervising the unit’s research and evaluation, he was responsible for the development of grant, teacher preparation, and curriculum projects. Another major aspect of the work was to lead a project funded by the National Science Foundation that educated elementary and middle level American Indian students about the science of alcohol’s effects on the body.
Building off his work with AISES, Hoover co-founded Electronic Pathways in 1996. The CU-based organization provided teachers of American Indian students with training on educational technology.
In 1998, Hoover rejoined the faculty ranks as part of the CU Boulder School of Education’s BUENO Center for Multicultural Education, first as a research associate, followed by a promotion in 2011 to his current position of associate research professor. There, he leads a special education leadership and quality teacher initiative and a unique graduate level training project. That project prepares educators for two state teaching endorsements addressing the combined qualities of exceptionality and diversity in the classroom.
Hoover’s nationally-recognized research on special education referral, assessment, and IEP instruction of culturally and linguistically diverse students has helped to reduce the special education disproportionality of diverse learners, particularly in rural community schools.
Over his career, he has produced more than 100 publications, and his work has been cited over 1,500 times. In 2015 he was awarded the Research Article of the Year Award from the American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES). He has also been the principal investigator or project director on more than $15 million in grants.