Thomas M. Bloch
Former CEO, H&R Block
In 1976, Tom Bloch joined H&R Block, the world's largest tax services provider, and eventually succeeded his father, Henry Bloch, as its chief executive officer. He had it all, or so it seemed. Then, he stunned his father, his company, and the business community by stepping down in 1995 to become a teacher in the inner city.
Bloch had risen rapidly through the ranks at H&R Block. 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.
Tom Bloch's career change from CEO to inner city teacher drew national media attention. He appeared on numerous television shows, such as Today and Oprah, and his story was featured in many publications, including the New York Times and People.
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. Tom Bloch continued 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 1,100 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 seven years, all but four graduates of the Academy have gone on to attend college, an almost unheard-of success rate for an urban school.
Tom Bloch's book Stand for the Best is a memoir about his journey from CEO to inner city teacher and school founder. In the book, he shows what can be accomplished when teachers, students, and the community all stand for the best. He is also the author of a new biography, Many Happy Returns: The Story of Henry Bloch, America's Tax Man.
Bloch has been involved in a variety of other education initiatives in Kansas City since he became a teacher. He and his wife, Mary, co-founded the Youth Service Alliance of Greater Kansas City to encourage and recognize outstanding community service through school-based programs. In addition, he is vice chairman of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Trustees, president of the Endowment Fund for the Henry W. Bloch School of Business at UMKC, and a founding board member of the UMKC Foundation.
Tom Bloch graduated cum laude in 1976 from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, Calif. The Blochs have two sons, Jason and Teddy.