Shannon Hill believes and demonstrates that physical health improves classroom performance. But kids will tell you they’re just having fun. In student climate surveys, they have rated her class as their second-favorite part of school for two years in a row. And that’s no surprise. They enjoy 45 minutes of adventure every day as they swim, hike, bike, canoe, and even try archery.
Hill redesigned the Physical Education classes to promote safety and improve physical and mental health. She has presented its success during state and national conferences, including the National School Board Conference in March 2017. As students have become more active, math and reading scores at Thermopolis Middle School have steadily climbed. Five out of nine core areas at the school ranked top 10% in the state, and administrators credit this to the positive culture Hill has helped to create.
Hill's PE model teaches kids skills they can use for a lifetime and maximizes various activities available in small towns that get students outside and on the go. She incorporates cross-curricular concepts, supporting math and literacy standards, within her physical education and health classes. Hill arranged to purchase 40 bikes so students could ride during class. The bike rides own a dual purpose: Reinforcing Hill's health lessons, students bike to the grocery store (one mile each way) and purchase fresh foods. The next day they learn how to cook healthy meals in class and use their math skills to calculate nutrition values. For mental stability, Hill engages students through lessons and surveys to improve self-perception and body image, stand up to peer pressure and avoid the pitfalls of drugs and alcohol. As an end-of-year treat for eighth-graders, Hill sponsors an overnight camping trip. The trip has to be earned and students keep their behavior in check to not jeopardize their standing.
Hill mentors new teachers on building strong student relationships and effective classroom management, and partakes in school duties beyond the classroom. She is the student-council advisor and an active member of the Bobcat Booster club raising funds for school activities. Hill also supports the high school as the head varsity girls’ volleyball coach, and hosts open gyms for other athletes to work out during practice. Active and visible throughout Hot Springs County, Hill has also changed the community. She coordinates the Ready, Set, Run program to get kids running and the annual Running with the Buffalo race, while her PE methods have extended to the high school. She hosts Challenge Days to teach at-risk students how to self-reflect and make better choices, and volunteers with students and community members to deliver Meals on Wheels on Sundays.
Hill earned her Bachelor of Arts in Health and Human Performance/Exercise Science in 2009 and her Master of Education in 2012, both from the University of Montana.
Press release: Thinking outside the classroom box, Shannon Hill earns a $25,000 Milken Educator Award
"My definition of success is reaching a goal not just with hard work and dedication, but by making mistakes, learning from them and..." (read more)