Board taps Hill as GMS principal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 9, 2005

At a called Butler County Board of Education meeting Monday, Greenville Middle School new principal, while Greenville Elementary lost one.

Greenville High School's Jai Hill, assistant principal for the last five years, was named principal to succeed Don Yancey, who is retiring.

The decision was announced after an approximate 15-minute executive session.

When the board returned from the closed session, Interim Superintendent Wayne Boswell made the recommendation that Hill be named principal at the school with the largest student population in the county.

Board member Billy Jones asked how many applications were received for the position and Boswell said there were eight applicants.

Board member Joe Lizenby moved to accept the recommendation and board member Terry Williams seconded.

The motion passed with a vote of 4-to-1 with Jones casting the nay vote.

According to Board President Linda Cook-Hamilton, the decision to place Hill at Greenville Middle School concluded a long interview process.

Since Yancey announced his decision to retire, the search for a replacement was on.

"Mr. Boswell went through the long interview process with eight applicants," she said.

"We made this decision to place Mr. Hill so that we could get some overlap between the new principal and Mr. Yancey.

This will allow them to spend time together to help ensure a smooth transition."

Yancey's retirement becomes effective later this month,

"Now that Mr. Hill has been hired, we'll arrange for him and Mr. Yancey to go over the procedures and such for the school," she said.

As for it not being a unanimous decision, she said she believed the board overwhelmingly made a good choice for the position.

"It would have been great to have been unanimous, but each board member makes up their own minds," she said.

"I think it was overwhelming with 4-to-1 and that it is clear the majority is behind Mr. Hill."

As for the man who will lead Greenville Middle School, she said he continually gets high praise from teachers he works with and also from the students.

"He is known as a collaborator, not a dictator," she said. "We think he'll be great at he middle school."

On Tuesday, Hill continued his work at GHS where he expressed his excitement over the opportunity to work with middle school students.

"I'm really excited about starting this new endeavor and I'm just anxious to get started," he said.

Hill, who began his teaching career at Harrison Elementary School teaching fourth grade, is the first to tell you that he is far from home.

He is originally from Brooklyn, N.Y&gt

"I played basketball for Alabama State and my wife is from Alabama," he said.

"So I stayed here."

Hill completed his master's degree at Auburn University Montgomery and will complete his education specialist degree later this summer.

He said because of his time at Greenville High and his time teaching elementary school students, he is ready for the middle.

"I've had a good mix of experience," he said.

"I know what it is like working with children who want to be big children and, at the high school, I've worked with children who thought they were adults.

Now I get to work with those who think they're big kids."

Hill is fast to tell you that he is mild-mannered and understands that yelling gets you nowhere.

"That just isn't my personality," he said.

"I'm not a person who hollers."

Also, Hill said a challenge will be to get parental involvement up at GMS&gt

"I think the main challenge is getting the community involved with the school.

It seems sometimes like parents think when their children leave elementary school, that their job is done."

Hill will begin work as soon as the board completes his new contract.

He is married to Peggy Hill and they have one son, Adrian Hill, who begins kindergarten at W.O. Parmer this fall.