Dr. David Hoffert, Superintendent of Warsaw Community Schools (WCS), is kind of a homebody. While not lacking an adventurous spirit, David maintains an affinity for the familiar as well as a certain connection with the past – and for good reason. Combine a fond nostalgia over his hometown upbringing with a continuing enthusiasm for history, and it’s no mystery why he relishes the past. Yet, in both his professional as well as his home life, David also welcomes the endless possibilities of the future.
David expresses a deep gratitude for having grown up in the community of Warsaw. “I am a 4th generation Warsaw resident,” David proudly notes of his family history. “My great Grandfather moved to Warsaw right after the Spanish American War and his service in Cuba. He built one of the first houses on Market Street,” he discloses. Even after leaving for a time to begin his career path, David felt an assurance that he would eventually return to Warsaw. “I have always loved this community,” David admits. “It was always my dream to return home and raise my family in this community.”
A proud 1998 Warsaw Community High School graduate, David went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Anderson University. “I had a number of teachers and coach who impacted my life while at Warsaw Community High School,” he shares. And, in 2002, David accepted a US history teaching position at WCHS, also signing on as the boys head track coach. “That started a whirlwind career, full of many unexpected turns, leading to my current position as the Superintendent of Warsaw Community Schools,” David notes. David continued to achieve a master’s of education degree from Olivet Nazarene University, received his principal licensure from Indiana Wesleyan University, and earned education specialist and PhD degrees from Indiana State University. Before settling into his role as superintendent, he gained valuable experience in the field, first as Principal of Northfield Jr./Sr. High in Wabash, IN and then as Assistant Superintendent/Chief Academic Officer for WCS, both positions serving well to prepare David for his current title.
David has held his position as Superintendent since 2014, steering WCS in the mission of “inspiring and equipping all students to continuously acquire and apply knowledge and skills while pursuing their dreams and enriching the lives of others.” He maintains a vision for the future, seeking to continually meet the needs of an ever-developing community. For his work in advancing STEM-based education and pursuing industrial partnerships, David was recognized at the White House as a top 100 Future Ready Superintendent. David continues to help shape and pursue various education initiatives, acting on behalf of his hometown school corporation at the local, state, and national level. He also serves as an adjunct professor for the Indiana State University Doctorate of Educational Leadership program and serves on multiple PhD dissertation committees. David contributes to numerous service, civic and professional organizations, continually investing his time and skillset to a variety of causes.
David admits to having a strong support system along the way. Kindred spirits from the get-go, he remembers an immediate connection with his wife, Rachael. The couple met during their freshman year at Anderson University. As Rachael had just been diagnosed with mononucleosis, their first date almost fell through. Fortunately, Rachael did not pass up the opportunity, though she was not feeling well. “It was a great date that started a forever relationship,” David recalls. “No first-date kiss though,” he says with a smile. Of the development of the relationship, David comments, “It was easy to see right away how well we connected. We would talk for hours about future plans, careers, travels and family.” He confesses, “From the moment we started dating, there was no one else.”
David asked for Rachael’s hand in marriage, choosing Center Lake Park as the location for his proposal. “I asked Rachael to throw a penny in the fountain and make a wish,” he recalls. “As she did, I got down on one knee and proposed,” he continues. Confident that their lifelong connection was undeniable, it seemed David was banking on Rachael’s acceptance. For, to add to Rachael’s surprise, he had invited both sets of parents to join in their celebration that day, giving her an immediate opportunity to show off that engagement ring. Prior to their senior year of college, the couple wed in Rachael’s hometown of Grandville, MI. “It was simply a beautiful night with family and friends,” David remarks of the ceremony. “All went according to the script and we started our wild and crazy adventure together.”
From the start, David and Rachael meshed well as a couple and shared a common vision. “We both had the same passion for education and taking calculated risks to change the world, even if one child at time,” David shares. While David started down his own career path, Rachael served first as an elementary teacher for both Goshen and Warsaw Community Schools and then became a district-wide literacy coach. “Rachael is a passionate advocate for public education,” David comments. Currently working towards her doctorate, with plans to finish over the next year, Rachael also begins the 7th year in her current position as an education professor at Grace College. In addition, Rachael is pleased to hold the role of Vice President for the Baker Youth Club board.
“Rachael is my best friend, biggest supporter and super mom/wife,” David remarks of his bride. The couple not only share a vision for education, but also for family. Their family became a threesome with the birth of their first son, Ryun – 12, a 7th-grade student at Edgewood Middle School this year. Both a history buff and a running aficionado, like his dad, Ryun has participated in cross country, track and student council. At a national competition held recently in Washington DC for National History Day, Ryun took part in an award-winning presentation of Pearl Harbor, his group gaining the opportunity to present their findings before the Office of the Vice President, Senator Todd Young, and Congressman Jim Banks.
One of the most significant chapters in the Hoffert family story occurred in 2007, as David and Rachael determined to adopt internationally for the first time. It all started with a church sermon entitled “Big World, Little Me” that resonated with both, continuing to linger in their thoughts and conversation long after the service. “The next day we drove to an adoption agency in Michigan and 9 months later we found ourselves in Ethiopia,” David shares. Fairly new at the time, the Ethiopia adoption program lacked many of the precautions that are currently in place. “We were asked if we wanted to travel the country to find out more about our son’s heritage in Alaba, Ethiopia,” David reveals. The Hofferts accepted the opportunity, venturing for two weeks to even the farthest ranges of the country, close to the Sudanese border. During their journey to villages whose inhabitants had never laid eyes on Americans, the Hofferts spent their nights under mosquito nets, encountered the threat of an armed hijacking, and noted how drought and disease had ravaged the country. “We came back to American with the blessing of our son Robinson and the understanding of how thankful we are for the United States,” he recalls.
And so, the threesome became four. Robinson - 10, is a 5th-grade student at Eisenhower Elementary this year. He has participated in track and field for Eisenhower and has also played in the WCS Flag Football League. “Robinson is one test away from obtaining a Black Belt in taekwondo,” David remarks, taking pride in his son’s accomplishments. The Hofferts eventually grew to become a family of five, after a second adoption and the addition of their third son. Roose, short for Roosevelt, was born in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia. And, at five years of age, he enters kindergarten this year in the Spanish Immersion Program at Eisenhower. “Roose is full of energy and life,” David fondly notes. “He loves basketball, swimming and any other high energy activity.”
Of their family dynamics, David comments, “We believe that family is much more than blood.” He continues, “Each of our children came from very unique circumstances. It is a trait that makes them and our family so special. Each has taught us as parents new lessons, understanding and empathy for others.” The Hofferts truly appreciate the home they share, located in the Park Ridge subdivision. “It is our dream house in a thriving and growing neighborhood. We never want move!” David remarks. And the Hofferts continue to welcome others into their home, whenever an opportunity arises for them to do so. “Our family has a heart for hosting students with various needs for extended periods of time as temporary parents,” David shares. “This has led to many wonderful experiences and a way to give back to our community,” he notes.
The Hofferts consider their annual post-Christmas trip to Florida to be a favorite family vacation. “It has become a family tradition each year to spend a week in the warmth and at least a Day at Disney World. It is just a magical place for our family.” he discloses. While some aspects of travel can be a bit less “magical” than others, they are memories in the making nonetheless. “This last year was especially memorable as we were driving out of town and one of the kids threw up all over the van,” David recalls. “The rest of the trip we called it the “puke van” and nobody was allowed to eat for the next 24 of the trip.”
The Hoffert family expresses a continued love and appreciation for their surrounding community. “This is a community of love, caring, community values, and programming to meet a diversity of interests,” David recognizes. “It is the ideal place to raise a family,” he concludes. The family attends Mission Point Church, where David notes, “We have a collective passion to advocate for the needs of orphans and children in crisis.” And, in the purest form of lifelong “Tiger Pride”, David admits, “I am excited that all my boys will be WCS future Tiger graduates.” The family regularly attends a variety of the local sports, arts and academic events hosted throughout the school corporation.
The family appreciates physical activity as well, favoring a run and walk on the Winona Lake trails. David, whose love of running had taken somewhat of an interlude, returned with gusto to his sport of choice last year. David can be found running around town during the early morning hours, joined by friends and fellow runners. He has qualified and participated in the 2017 New York Marathon as well as the 2018 and 2019 Boston Marathons, marking the accomplishment as a family celebration.
The Hofferts see themselves as lifelong learners, regarding life as a beautiful journey. “The U2 song City of Blinding Lights has become a motto to both Rachael and myself,” David shares, relating to the lyrics:
The more you see the less you know
The less you find out as you go
I knew much more then than I do now (U2 – City of Blinding Lights)
“We are continually learning each day,” David comments. “We believe that God continues to open up doors in our lives to impact others around us,” he adds.