Teacher Tuesday: A snapshot of LASD’s Cindy Hill’s 4 decade career.

April 28, 2020

From left: Teresa Erickson, Cindy Hill and Kara Jensen using their M&M costumes as “Math Motivators.”

Teacher Tuesday: A snapshot of LASD’s Cindy Hill’s 4 decade career.

Teacher Tuesday is a presentation of Metalworks. Metalworks is a small, family-run company with facilities located in Ludington and Manistee, manufacturing metal office filing systems. Be sure to show your support by liking the Metalworks Facebook page here.

By Kate Krieger, MCP Staff Writer.

LUDINGTON – Lucky enough to find a teaching job right out of college, Cindy Hill moved to Ludington in 1980 and started her 40-year career teaching for Ludington Area School District.

I moved to Ludington right out of college in 1980,” she said. “It was a time when teaching jobs were hard to come by so I felt lucky that I got a job, especially in a beautiful city like Ludington right on Lake Michigan. I came from Grand Haven, another city right on Lake Michigan. I soon felt right at home in Ludington even though I wasn’t ‘local.’ My new colleagues, students and parents were very friendly. I will always remember that first year in Ludington.”

Hill loved working in Ludington so much that she told her soon-to-be husband, Mike, that she wasn’t leaving and that he’d have to figure something out.

When I became engaged, I told my fiance  I am not leaving Ludington Area Schools and he moved here when we got married in 1983,” she said. “Mike loves Ludington also.”

Hill started out teaching fourth-grade at Franklin Elementary School. 

“I was only there a year and since I was the low person on the seniority list, I was moved around. I then taught at Lakeview Elementary for one year. I was then pink slipped due to budget cuts. The district hired me as a permanent substitute and I was told that there was ‘probably’ going to be a retirement after the first semester. Luckily, there was a retirement and I taught first grade at South Hamlin Elementary for the rest of that year. I was at South Hamlin for one more year and then moved back to Franklin for several years. 

I then decided I wanted to teach a different grade level. I transferred to Lakeview to teach sixth-grade for several years. When the chance came to teach math at the junior high school, I decided it was time to change grade levels again. I was told that I would be teaching more than just math because there weren’t ‘only’ math classes open. I also taught science and reading classes. Those are my minor subjects and I enjoyed those classes. Finally, I had enough seniority to move into a position where I was teaching all math classes. It is interesting because ‘back in the day’ as they say, seniority did mean something. Now, due to changes in the education laws over the years, seniority doesn’t have as much weight when applying for different teaching positions. I do love math and I have been at OJ DeJonge Middle School teaching math ever since and loving it.”

Hill comes from a family of educators and she said she knew she wanted to become a teacher at a young age.

Both my mother and my father were educators,” she said. “My dad was a high school principal and my mom was an elementary teacher. I respected them and admired them, and of course, I thought they were the best teachers ever. I remember playing school when I was young and of course I was the teacher and I made up students. I also remember my mom would pay me a penny for each paper I corrected for her and I felt I was getting paid for fun. I can’t believe I actually thought correcting papers was fun at one time in my life.”

Hill has decided to retire at the end of this school year. She said there have been so many things that have contributed to her amazing career as a teacher in Ludington.

I love working with kids of any age,” she said. “I love the interaction with students. Each student has so much to offer and it makes the classroom a unique experience every day. I love watching students grow from the beginning of the year to the end. Teaching is never boring, each hour in each day is different. I remember as a beginning teacher (and still today) sometimes I wouldn’t know how to handle something that came up unexpectedly in a class conversation for example, but you do the best you can and learn. 

“One of the things that I love about teaching is learning from the students. Teaching is not a one-way street. When you create a safe classroom atmosphere, kids blossom, and we all learn so much from each other. Yes, teaching math is important, but there is more to life and education than math. 

“The most important thing I love about teaching is building relationships with students and staff. I have been blessed over my years of teaching to have met many wonderful people. I know I have made a difference in some of their lives, and they have made a difference in mine. I have a humble sense of happiness knowing that I have helped students. I have kept in touch with many of them and every once in a while, I hear from a former student and it makes my day.”

Retiring after 40 years in the classroom will be bittersweet for Hill, especially leaving this year with all the school buildings being closed due to the pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic is difficult for all of us,” she said. “I think of my students and their families and I know it is tough for many of them financially and emotionally. As for actually not being able to teach, I really miss my students and colleagues. We are doing the best we can with continuous learning, but it doesn’t even come close to being at school and learning together. I don’t think it will really hit me until I went into my classroom and cleaned it out. I didn’t get to say goodbye to my students, my colleagues, my friends. There will be tears.”

Hill has touched the lives of hundreds of children throughout her teaching career and she has enjoyed her experiences so much and encourages anyone who believes in themselves and wants to make a difference to consider becoming a teacher.

“There is a saying that I didn’t make up but once I heard it and it always speaks to me: ‘They don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care,’” Hill said. “So, what I would tell students wanting to go into education is that in college you will have what they call methods classes that teach you how to teach subjects. The most important thing is getting to know your students and truly caring for each one of them. Let them know that you are there for them and that you will help them in any way. 

“Your day doesn’t end when the bell rings, you have after school math help, you go to choir and band concerts, sporting events, clubs, art displays and dodge the robotics club creations in the hallways at 5 p.m. Then you go home and do your work to get ready for the next day or catch up on correcting papers that have been in your tote bag for a few days. And, you’ll love teaching.”

Working with so many colleagues and students over the years has given Hill so much and she said she can’t even begin to thank everyone for all that they have done for her throughout her career.

“Oh my goodness, how do I tell everyone thank you for everything they have taught me and shared with me?” she asked. “Those that know me know I talk a lot and am usually not at a loss for words. I guess just by saying that I have a happy heart when I think of all the special people I have met and the vivid memories I have of my wonderful colleagues and awesome students. Bless you all for blessing me.”

Anyone who has met Hill knows she loves photography and she’s always taking pictures for the school district at different events and she has some plans for retirement.

My hobby is photography, so I will have more time to take pictures,” she said. “I will clean my house. I have piles in my basement that need to be sorted. I know that doesn’t sound very exciting, but I will do that. I will also spend time with our children and grandchildren.”

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