Tish Hill Eclectic Elementary

Daniel Dye / The Herald

Eclectic Elementary School teacher Tish Hill prepares for her next group of young students.

For Eclectic Elementary School teacher Tish Hill teaching goes to the core of who she is as a person.

Hill, an AUM graduate, began her career at the school in 1993. For 26 consecutive years she has taught Eclectic Elementary students in second and third grades.

The first 12 years she taught second grade and requested to move up with her students to third grade the following year.

“I had a really special bond with those students,” she said. “I was not ready to let them go so I asked to loop to third grade with them. It was wonderful group of students and parents.”

As fate would have it, a reading interventionist position opened up following that first year as a third-grade teacher.

“I thought if I was going to make a change I wanted to have a really good year in the classroom,” Hill said.

As for the post she has held for 13 years now, Hill works in small settings with second- and third-grade students who need extensive help with reading comprehension, writing skills and vocabulary development.

“Once we identify a need, that’s where I come in,” she said. “Whatever we are doing in the classroom, if it is not helping those students, they come to me to get more help.”

While the reading challenges she helps her students overcome may be more complex than what she faced as a second- or third-grade teacher, she recognizes all students share a lot of similarities.

“In a lot of ways, kids are kids,” she said. “There are certain things about kids that have always been that way.

“I think a big thing a lot of teachers see today is there is almost a need you have to entertain them. Their attention span is different. We all lead such busy lives. (I’m) talking about myself here. We have to slow down sometimes. I think we are all a little too busy.”

According to research from The Center for Public Education, children begin learning and reading long before entering school and children who are fluently reading will be more successful in school.

Hill said the key is exposing kids from an early age to reading and language. She offered several recommendations on how to prepare children for entering kindergarten.

“To me, it is really simple,” she said. “They need to be read to. Parents need to use words they think their kids do not understand. 

“If their vocabulary is rich when they start school, they will do well. I tell people all the time a word is just a word to a kid. It does not matter if something is funny or ludicrous. They will pick it up.”