MSU President's column for Traill County Tribune

September 24, 2016 

Craig Hockenberry, leader of transformation at Oyler School in Cincinnati, to visit Mayville State


We will have the distinct pleasure of welcoming Craig Hockenberry to Mayville State University Monday, Oct. 17 and Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. Hockenberry is the former principal at Oyler School in Lower Price Hill of Cincinnati (Ohio) Public Schools. He led a transformation of the school and the neighborhood. He left Oyler School in 2013 to become superintendent at Manchester (Ohio) Local Schools. The district includes Manchester High School and Manchester Elementary.

The story of Principal Craig Hockenberry’s mission to transform Oyler School, located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Cincinnati, to a “community learning center” that provides services for the entire neighborhood is the subject of a film. “OYLER: One School, One Year” is a documentary film by Amy Scott that shows day-to-day activities at Oyler School during the 2012-2013 school year.

Before 2006, very few kids from Lower Price Hill finished high school, much less went to college. The neighborhood is Urban Appalachian – an insular community with roots in the coal mining towns of Kentucky and West Virginia. The local Oyler School only offered classes through eighth grade. After that, rather than ride the bus out of the neighborhood for high school, most kids dropped out.

Under long-time Principal Craig Hockenberry’s leadership, Oyler School was dramatically transformed and now serves kids from preschool through twelfth grade. Oyler is open year-round, from early morning until late at night. The school provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and sends hungry kids home with food on weekends. Students can walk down the hall to access a health clinic, vision center, and mental health counseling. 

​The documentary highlights challenges and the slow transformation of the school and community in a troubled neighborhood after its renovated, permanent building opened in 2012. Hockenberry is shown spending long hours in and out of the school, engaging the community and promoting improvements.  “OYLER” takes viewers through a year at the school, focusing on Hockenberry’s mission and on senior Raven Gribbins’ quest to be the first in her troubled family to finish high school and go to college. When Hockenberry's job is threatened, it becomes clear it's a make-or-break year for both of them.

“There were no easy days in Lower Price Hill, but thanks to hardworking students, parents, staff, and the community of supporters, Oyler accomplished things many would have believed impossible,” Hockenberry said in a letter to Oyler School staff and supporters announcing his decision to become superintendent at Manchester in 2013.

During his tenure at Oyler School, which began in 2001, Hockenberry forged more than 130 public and private partnerships to provide services that benefitted the Price Hill community inside and outside of Oyler.

We invite you to attend the screening of “OYLER” Monday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. The film will be shown in the Mayville State University Classroom Building Auditorium. Everyone is welcome.

After the screening, Craig Hockenberry will host an open discussion and question and answer forum.

Hockenberry will spend the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 18 conducting a workshop for Mayville State University students and faculty, along with area public school teachers. The workshop will cover the topic of schools and poverty and the reality of K-12 educators in the United States.

The screening of “OYLER: One School, One Year” and the appearance of Craig Hockenberry at Mayville State University is sponsored by Mayville State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Byrnes-Quanbeck Library, Mayville Area Teacher Center, and the MSU Division of Education.

We hope you will join us in welcoming Craig Hockenberry to Mayville State University by attending the screening of the film on Oct. 17. For more information, contact Donalee Strand at