For George Hill ’99, being a teacher is a vital role in a student’s life. “We help shape values, character, passions and life goals. It is mission-critical work as we are creating the leaders of the next generation now.” That drive to better students is why George is now serving as a principal.
When George was at The University of Olivet, he majored in music education. He was involved with many different organizations and programs campus, such as the Performing Arts Society, Black Student Union, Choir, Alpha Phi Kappa, Alpha E honorary member and school musicals, and he was an RA in Blair Hall.
Growing up in Detroit, George had faced struggles in his home life and preparing for college. Being one of the first in his family to go away to college was an intimidating choice for him, but to George, The University of Olivet was worth it. He said, “I chose Olivet because I connected with the College’s early commitment to diversity, and I wanted to learn in a small place where I would be more than a student number.” George was also drawn to Olivet because of their premier education program.
“I have an intense amount of gratitude for the opportunities that Olivet provided for me. While life at Olivet was sometimes very complex, I do not regret the choice I made to attend there because Olivet shaped me and has allowed me to have a great career as a servant leader and, in general, a great life,” George emphasized. “I am forever grateful to the people at Olivet who believed in me — who pushed me to be better each day and to carve out a way to impact the world in my own way.”
George’s professors at The University of Olivet helped shape his own life and passion for teaching others. George recalls how Dr. Evon Walters pulled him aside to give him some advice. “While I was completing work and participating, he felt I was not living up to my true potential in the class. He shared that I knew the material enough to teach the course and that it was important for me to share my knowledge and to serve as a model for other students. That moment has shaped me ever since,” George said.
It wasn’t just the professors at OC that had an influence on George, he also had deep connections with the staff. He said, “Nurse Mary Kohl, Ron Thatcher, Judy and Mike Fales, and Nancy Bassett were strong connections for me at Olivet. I was not a number and these individuals helped me during the struggle to complete my education.”
After graduating, George got to fulfill his goal of teaching music to hundreds of students. But teaching is more than a job to him. In his early years, George had a first-hand experience with a teacher who helped him through some of his most challenging times. That is when he realized what an impact a teacher can have on a student. “That is why I became a teacher. A teacher saved me, and I thought I could repay that teacher by doing the same thing for at least one student. I knew that would make my life mean something,” George said.
After teaching music for many years, George took on the role of elementary school principal for Plymouth Canton Community Schools. He said, “I took on this role to be a part of a dynamic learning community that is committed to diversity and equity for all students and to prepare each student for a life of excellence. We serve over 17,000 students in the Plymouth Canton School Community and it is truly a place where students are thriving.”
It took George years of hard work and dedication to build his career in education. He also previously served as an assistant principal and principal in other districts and as a central office administrator in D.C. Public Schools. These positions helped propel him further along in his lifelong journey to be a leader in education.
“I continue in this field, because education is the great equalizer, and it can take a student and help them find their path and the way that they will contribute to our global society, George said. “In fact, we need more teachers that will shape our next generations.”
As an educator, George’s goal for his students is to be the best version of themselves. He said, “I encourage students to go to college and to find out what they are passionate about. I want them to be productive citizens in their communities and to be lifelong learners.”
George sees attending college as an opportunity to explore different subject areas and to find your passion. “I believe that learning about yourself is truly the key to fulfilling your destiny. When you are surrounded by a positive support network that can give you the tools, once you discover your path, you are moving toward greatness,” said George.
George knows attending a small college can be beneficial for students. “A small college, such as Olivet, can feel like a home away from home for students. There are many opportunities at small colleges and you can develop relationships with faculty and staff that you would not be able to at a larger university.”
Those lifelong relationships motivate George to stay connected to OC, and he encourages other alumni to do the same. “I have lifelong friends from Olivet. When I am able to return to campus, it always feels like home. While it is not the buildings or the scenic view, for me, it is the relationships and the self-discovery and personal growth that happened for me at Olivet,” George said. “When I go back, it reminds me of where I have been and where I can continue to go. It is important for all of us to stay connected to Olivet to lead by example and to be sure Olivet can continue to be a place where students can thrive and become great productive citizens with purpose!”
In the future, George plans to continue his studies to obtain his goal of earning a doctoral degree in education. George also hopes to be a superintendent of schools one day. Even after he retires, he would love to be a college professor teaching the next generation of teachers and leaders.
Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or email@example.com.
This feature was written by Audrey Helfrich, a senior majoring in media production and communication. She serves as an intern in the marketing and communications department and is especially interested in photography. After graduation, Audrey plans to continue her work as a freelance photographer, specializing in wedding, senior and family portraits. She also hopes to work in a marketing department for a small business or nonprofit organization.