Jai Hill ready for first year at GMS

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2005

Upon entering the halls of Greenville Middle School, one can just feel the excitement stirring in the air.

One of the reasons for that excitement is Jai Hill, the new principal of GMS.

"I have so many ideas, many, of which, I have already put into place," Hill said.

"This is a really great time for GMS because of the new things we will be implementing this year.

There have already been a lot of positive responses from the faculty, staff, parents and students."

Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Hill played basketball while obtaining his bachelor's degree from Alabama State University.

He received his master's degree in Educational Leadership from Auburn University at Montgomery, where he is currently working on his Education Specialist degree and his doctorate, simultaneously.

He taught for four years at Harrison Elementary in Montgomery, then served as assistant principal at Greenville High School for the last five years.

While heading into his tenth year in education, he is using that experience to make his transition to middle school a smooth one.

"One of this year's goals which is already in place is the curriculum framework," Hill explained.

"Our teachers have their lesson plans already made out according to the objectives in the Alabama Course of Study and according to the objectives needing to be covered for the Alabama Reading and Math Test (ARMT).

Of course, the teacher will be able to implement his or her own creativity when it comes to presenting those lessons, which is very important," Hill said.

"Also, there are testing reviews that are set up within the curriculum framework for the teachers to use. In addition, each classroom will have an observation station where the lesson plans for that week will be available for parents, administrators or for the superintendent to see at any time," Hill said. "It is important for our parents to know that we are here for them as well as for their children, and we have adopted the 'Whatever it takes' policy in order to successfully teach and meet the needs of our kids."

Hill went on to explain some changes in the discipline procedures at GMS.

"We made a change in the break duty assignments," Hill said.

"All of the teachers will be supervising the students during break time.

I have stressed to the faculty and staff the concepts of family and teamwork, and they have responded positively to those."

"Also," Hill continued, "I have adopted a new administrative motto: 'We, as administrators, will not do paperwork before 3:30.' The administrators need to be visible as much as possible, either with classroom observations or with constant monitoring of what is going on in our school.

Our assistant principals, Jennifer Burt and Kent McNaughton, and I will ride the buses at least once a week.

I want the students to know that we are always around for them."

When asked about the school system's new dress code, Hill said, "Oh, yes. We will definitely be enforcing the dress code."

In addition to academics and new routines, Principal Hill wants his students to have other things to look forward to with the new school year.

He plans to have a dance to be held at the end of each nine-week period.

The 5th and 6th graders will have theirs on Friday nights, while the 7th and 8th graders will have theirs on Saturday nights.

"Our first dance will be around the third week in August, but we'll let everyone know a specific date very soon," Hill said.

"The students' ticket to get into the first dance will be to have no office referrals. I have different ideas for each dance, but that will probably be for the first one. And, I've made plans for May Day activities at the end of the school year, so that will be something for everyone to look forward to."

Not only are there new projects and ideas being implemented at GMS this year, but there are also several new faces on campus.

"One-fourth of our faculty is new this year," Hill said.

"Plus, we have two new assistant principals and two new counselors, Arlene Adams and Michelle Myrick.

All of these new people are bringing in lots of ideas and lots of energy."

"One thing I do want to make clear is the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed working with Principal Don Yancey, who retired this summer.

We were together at Greenville High School for two years, so he is not only a colleague but also a friend.

I'm looking forward to being able to either continue many of his great ideas or to implement those that had not been put into place yet."

With thoughts of leaving the high school, Hill added, "I'm going to miss the teachers at Greenville High.

They were very encouraging, and they made my job there easy because of their support.

Of course, Dr. Kathy Murphy is my mentor," Hill said with a smile.

"All of it leads up to being here," Hill concluded.

"I couldn't be any more excited than I already am."

Greenville Middle School will have its Open House next Thursday, August 11, from 6 to 7 p.m. The faculty and staff of GMS encourage all parents and students to attend.