A lifelong love of learning led Holly Hill, newly named principal at Wayside Elementary School, to become a teacher and stay in education as a career.
“I found school a fascinating place. …There is so much promise in a school,” Hill said, talking about her early school experience.
Hill was appointed principal of Wayside Elementary in Potomac at the June 29 meeting of the Montgomery County Board of Education. Previously she served as principal intern at Ashburton Elementary School in Bethesda.
Hill grew up in Washington, D.C., graduating high school from The School Without Walls of Washington, D.C.
“The city is your classroom,” she said of The School Without Walls. “You learn through real life experiences.”
After high school, Hill graduated from the University of the District of Columbia having studied political science.
At the time, she said, there was a teacher shortage in D.C. Public Schools, so she took a job teaching high school conversational Spanish.
“I grew up speaking Spanish so thought I could teach conversation,” she said.
After earning a teaching certificate, Hill switched to teaching elementary school. She did earn two more degrees.
She has a master’s degree in Integrated Studies from Cambridge College in Massachusetts and another, in administration, from Trinity Washington University in Washington, D.C.
“From a young age, it’s education that opens up so many doors and a place to change your mind,” Hill said explaining her love for working with elementary age children.
“[It’s] an interesting pivot place … there is so much promise in a school. … it’s hard to take away what someone’s learned, what we teach them is theirs, they can take it and use it.”
After years of teaching, Hill said she moved into administration because it allowed her to have an impact on more children.
Switching to a new school during this time of COVID-19 and virtual education is a new challenge for Hill, her staff, students and their parents.
She has met most of her staff virtually – schools are officially closed – and is meeting with grade level teams, also virtually.
“You do it differently, being creative and accessible in different ways so people know you are here for them,” she said. “If my staff isn’t okay, you can’t expect my students to be okay.”
Hill is the mother of two children, a college graduate, and a high school student. She shares parents’ concerns about how the current pandemic is going to play out.
Hill said she enjoys reading and traveling. Travel is on hold for now and, most of her reading is for school.
She relaxes by spending time with the family pet Bulldog, “Pretty Pete,” she said.
Hill is looking forward to the start of the school year and for the school year in the future when everyone can be together again in person.
“I can’t wait until everyone gets to come back when it's safe,” she said. “We’ll be here with open arms.”