Farewell to Dr. Hill

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How did you get to Demopolis and what did you learn along the way?

First, I would like to say that family is the most important thing to me. My wife is special to me and she has been a big part of my career.

My background is that I was born on a mountain farm, and my whole life during my early life was that farm, school and church. I learned a strong work ethic. When I wasn&8217;t working or playing basketball I had a lot of time to ponder about the future. What I got out of it was that I wanted to be somebody.

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That wanting to be somebody drove me to college and drove me to sports, anything that drove me out front to be like a preacher. That was my concept of being somebody at the time. I drove it to the extreme in my early days. I was an expert in a short period of time on many subjects, and I was just a self-promoter.

I soon learned people didn&8217;t respond to that, so I had to change as time went on.

Farming and education were the only two careers that I knew anything about. I got work ethic from farming and that was all I wanted or needed from farming, so I chose education.

My parents had instilled in me an appreciation, respect for others. When I started in education I had an intense ambition and career goal to move up the ladder. In education I was armed with this goal, work ethic and a sense of loyalty to my supervisors. I was determined to perform well, and I went many places.

I found achievement and efficiency served the children and school well. It doesn&8217;t necessarily make you popular. People don&8217;t always appreciate exactly what you are doing and don&8217;t always agree with you. Disagreement is a fact of life.

A strong step in maturity in the school business though is to understand that no matter what you do you can&8217;t please everybody.

A resume in education must be provided by performance. A bad political experience or misstep can put you in a gutter and a political friend or Samaritan can help you out of the gutter, but the consistently most powerful tool in education is performing well if you want job advancement.

Each difficult job that I did or have to do has made me a little more humble, and I think being humble and finding humbleness is important to be an administrator.

I have sought and obtained virtually every job in education that you can have, from teacher, coach, elementary principal, one-12 principal, cooped for board of superintendents, supervisor at central office, principal at a large high school. I sought those jobs and did the best I could. That was my preparation before I came to Demopolis.

The doctorate was a personal objective, but I also thought it would accelerate my climb to the superintendency. I believe the fact that I went to the University of Alabama helped people identify with me even though I was 400 or 500 miles away. In think that is part of what lead to me being the superintendent of Demopolis.

I have learned such things as this: Change is more likely to happen if you improve the convenience of that change, such as put books in the classroom don&8217;t put them all in the library.

In doing anything, the most important thing is to have the facts. A knowledgeable teacher well prepared will be the most creative teacher, it is highly related to creativity.

Education causes you to be more tolerant of people. Education can be formal, it can be by just meeting a bunch of people of a diverse background or by moving around among people. You become more tolerant, liberal of differences of others with education.

You keep an open mind. And perhaps the best decision on a given problem in your life is don&8217;t show up. Decisions should be made properly. There are few that shouldn&8217;t be made so quick. Making no decision at all is a decision &8212; a decision of not being involved.

Honesty practiced over a long period of time will serve to create a lot of trust with fellow man. It is important to serve at the level of superintendent or any other level.

An effective leader is only slightly ahead of those involved. They may be a bit more clever or a bit more daring or something, but if they appear too different they won&8217;t be effective.

Keep the big picture because the big picture is of the utmost importance. Keep the whole schools system in mind and once you do maintain and protect it and promote it. Don&8217;t spend so much time on details that you lose the big picture.

Setting priorities is important and children have to be the number one priority, choosing personnel number two and maintaining personal relationships with all of these people number three. That is the way I operate.

When disagreements between parties occur the central issue has got to be the child. You have to go back to that just like the preacher goes back to God.

Appearance matters because it is most likely the first impression. Good grounds set a good impression by the school.

Don&8217;t try to supervise too many people. It is easier to supervise 10 teachers than it is 400 children.

My dissertation studies were very important to me because it was about the problems of superintendents in Alabama. I learned what I have always thought, the small city systems generally have the best systems. So I was really pleased to land in a city system like Demopolis. I think my work at jobs in rural areas and small cities served me well for Demopolis, so when I went down to Demopolis I felt like I had reached my goal. I had climbed the ladder to the highest rung, and I was really satisfied to be here. I never aspired to be in a place like Birmingham. I am forever appreciative that I got to serve here all these years. We have done some good things while we were here.

I think we have an outstanding superintendent coming in. I think he will find those places where we are not that good and will improve them. I think he will try to maintain what he thinks is already good.

I will miss the school system. Miss thinking about it so much. I operate the system like the little fellow sitting dreaming in the apple tree. I spend a good portion of my time thinking about the system, and I will miss that. It was my way of monitoring the system. I feel good about the replacements we have made, where we are going. I think we have a great school system and great people to work with.

What are you doing after your time is up?

I am staying in Demopolis. I have the old home place. The little house was deeded to me in North Carolina, so I can slip off. My son and I have a little place at the beach so I can slip off down there. I&8217;ve got a daughter up in North Carolina, but my son lives here and most of my grand children live here, I&8217;ve got one more to send to college. I like golf. I like anything to do outside. I like reading. I need to a little more exercising, plan to do some of that.