Dave Hill knows the only career for him is in school
By Bill Richardson
Nearing the end of his 32nd year in education and his 27th as an employee of the Vincennes Community School Corporation, Dave Hill finds it amusing that none of it was a part of the family plan.
His parents were in education, as were numerous older siblings and other relatives. The tradition is ongoing with his daughter, Ali, who is now a sixth-grade science teacher at Clark Middle School.
“Dad wanted me to be the one Hill to make some money,” he said with a chuckle. “He didn’t want me to be a teacher.”
Since 1986, and with the VCSC since 1991, Hill has been a teacher and much, much more. He’s been in administration off and on since the start of the 1998 school year, and is currently in his second year as the corporation’s Director of Assessments, State Reporting and Title Programming.
He’s primarily responsible for all corporation testing, including ISTEP and WIDA, for students whose background is with a foreign language. He’s in charge of state reporting to the Indiana Department of Education for the corporation, and thus submits 25 reports or more annually “to keep the corporation in line with the state.”
A big part of his job pertains to Title programs, which deal with government funding.
“There are a lot of federal loopholes I have to navigate through,” said Hill, who will turn 55 years old in May. “With all the change in the Department of Education at the federal level, it’s made for a lot of changes for us, too.”
It’s been quite a journey, from junior high school teacher and coach, to various administrative positions — including a long stint as Lincoln High School’s athletic director — back into the classroom, to Lincoln’s assistant principal and finally, to his current job.
That wasn’t the original idea. After graduating from Lincoln in 1981, Hill’s plan was to pursue a business path. He was well on his way, thriving in the business school at Indiana University, when in the summer of 1983 he had a change of heart.
“I came home to tell Dad that I wasn’t cut out to be a businessman,” he said. “It was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.”
Robert Hill, a 30-year teacher in the VCSC and the long-time athletic director at Lincoln, told his son not to get discouraged, that he was meant to be a teacher, and that he should change his major to education.
The change in direction afforded Hill the opportunity to spend three weeks at home that summer. At the end of the three weeks his father died, unexpectedly, at the age of 56. Today, the Lincoln High School baseball team plays its home games at Robert M. Hill Field, in his honor.
“Had I not changed my major, I wouldn’t have been able to be home for those three weeks,” Hill said. “And I wouldn’t give those three weeks I had with my dad up for anything.”
When he first became a teacher and coach, Hill said it was in the “back of his mind” that he’d like to be an athletic director someday.
Not only did his father, who was in the U.S. Navy during World War II, serve Lincoln in that capacity, but his mother, Colette, also played a big part. She was her husband’s “unofficial assistant” for the duration of his tenure as AD, and even served in his interim for a year upon his death. She continued to work as the school’s athletic secretary until her death in 2004.
“I’d learned a lot about it, just from following my dad around,” he said. “I was kind of like a gym rat, going everywhere with him when he was AD.”
It wasn’t the first time for Hill to follow in his father’s footsteps, though. Robert Hill had been his team’s student manager at Lincoln. Prior to Dave Hill’s senior year at Lincoln, legendary coach Orlando “Gunner” Wyman asked him to serve in the same role.
“Dad used to brag about himself being the best Lincoln High School manager ever,” Dave Hill said. “(Wyman) came into his office one day when I was there. He looked right at me and said, ‘I want you to become my manager.’”
Hill said he had no desire to take the job, but he did.
“When Coach Wyman asked you personally to do something, it was pretty hard to say no,” he said.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions Hill would ever make, in more ways than one. Not only did the Alices win the 1981 Indiana state championship, the second in school history, but Hill learned all kinds of things that he’d be able to put to use later in life.
“I’ve taken a lot of things right off of (Wyman’s) page,” Hill said. “It was just a great experience. I learned a lot, especially about planning. To this day, I don’t go anywhere without having a plan. I’m always prepared.”
He could prepare to retire at any time, if he wanted to. At his age, and with so many years in the business, he’d receive a nice pension.
While it’s tempting to leave for a nicer climate, Vincennes always seems to be beckoning.
“We love to vacation in Hilton Head (South Carolina), and we’ve floated around the idea that it would be a great place to retire to,” he said. “But when it’s all said and done, when you think about leaving where you’ve lived all your life, it’s pretty tough. Reality sinks in.”
So he’ll probably stay with the VCSC for a while longer, as long as he’s “healthy and productive.”
“I hope to be involved in the community for a good number of years to come,” he said. “This is a community that’s been great to my family. I’ve enjoyed growing up and living here, and having the opportunity to give back.”
Even if it was as an educator, and not a businessman.