And The Lifetime Achievement Award Goes To…

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| Emalyn Bergeron

Dr. Hill accepts an award at the Pinkout volleyball game.

Dr. Hill is one of North’s Spanish teachers. She was born and raised in Oklahoma City, on the south side. She graduated from Capitol Hill High School in 1963 before going on to spend her first two years of college at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri. Originally her ambition was to be a professional singer and in accordance with that aspiration, she did gigs with a friend throughout high school and actually earned some money going places and singing very small scale. Eventually, a couple of years later, Dr. Hill came to the realization that for her standards, singing would be too narrow of a life so she decided as she was already familiar with foreign languages to stick with Spanish and add German. She spent her third and fourth years of college at the University of Oklahoma. After getting her bachelor’s degree she went on to get a master’s in German literature and whilst getting her master’s in German she simultaneously taught German to college students as she had been hired as a graduate assistant. Her first husband, Hernando Romàn Punto was a Cuban refugee during the time Fidel Castro took over, and together they moved to Tampa, Florida where the rest of his family had relocated. In Florida, her second and third children were born and she had gotten a job at the University of South Florida teaching German, during that time she decided to go to St. Petersburg, Florida, to go to law school. In total, she earned four degrees which included an Associate Degree, a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts, and a Juris Doctor. Although it isn’t incredibly common for a lawyer to use Dr. in the United States, despite them having earned a Doctorate degree, in Europe, it is common to go by Dr. So since beginning her sojourn in Europe, Dr. Hill decided to remake herself with the new title.

Latin is what initially got Dr. Hill into foreign languages and it was essentially a right of passage for her to learn Latin as her older siblings had also learned it. After realizing she had a knack for Latin, she decided to add Spanish on after her dad went to the school board to fight for her right to be able to take two foreign language classes and likely presenting her as the first, if not one of the first people at her school taking two foreign languages. She ended up being really good in Spanish and randomly decided to add on German in college as she had thought it sounded cool. Latin ended up getting dropped by her, but she did continue to refine her knowledge of Spanish and German. In between her first and second years of college, she went abroad to Germany and lived with a family there for the summer. Dr. Hill’s Spanish and German background got her hired to teach at the Department of Defense Dependent Schools in Europe. Between the German medical community that she interacted with due to receiving surgery and the Women’s choral that she was a part of, both groups were surprised at how well she spoke German as it was unusual to them that an American would be able to speak it at the skill level she did. Whilst in Europe, she started out in Germany and then moved to Portugal before moving back to Germany. The town she lived in had some ancient Roman Ruins. 

In Portugal, her youngest daughter, Katy, graduated from high school in the year 2000 and Dr. Hill was her U.S history teacher junior year. Although it might sound easy that the entire junior class the year she taught Katie contained only 19 kids, it was a challenge as it was kids of the Air Force with many students coming and going every week which affected class sizes to a great extent. Living on an island fascinated Dr, Hill and she enjoyed being able to learn some Portuguese. Moving to new places and having to adapt to a variety of different environments made Dr. Hill learn the ability to simply roll with the punches. Growing up as the middle child in a relatively large family helped with people skills. Although she grew up financially comfortable, she wasn’t spoiled and every Saturday morning like clockwork her dad would wake her and her siblings up for garden work which was a humiliation to them at the time, but ended up instilling labor skills and the value of hard work. Her dad was one of the founders of the Diamond Ballroom and she even worked there for a bit and got to meet Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis. It turns out that Fats Domino really did have all of those rings and that Jerry Lee Lewis was indeed wild, but nice. One experience that stood out during her time at the Diamond Ballroom was when Jerry Lee Lewis was up on stage when a drunk guy got up on stage with him and tried to shake the piano Jerry was playing. After the security guards had escorted him out, the drunk guy proceeded to attempt to come back in by trying to crash through the glass. She and several family members have even been quoted about their experiences with the history of the Diamond Ballroom.

She practiced law for 15 years in Tampa, Florida, and graduated from Stetson College of Law, and she lived in Florida for 18 years. There was a program of meditation that Dr. Hill was a part of and through that she was appointed by a judge to meet with people to aid them in reaching an agreement outside of the courtroom. Mediation helped her to better learn how to handle things without losing control and aided her in learning to deal with legitimate reality and gain better experience rather than just simply training. Mediation was hands-on and required her to get a feel of each group similar to getting a feel for temperature as each group was different and often each needed its own adjusted approach. 

Being around different settings and different cultures has helped Dr. Hill to learn a lot in relationships with others as she has been exposed to many different cultures. Her first husband was Cuban and marrying into that family was an interesting experience for her as she learned to navigate how to approach and handle them as they had been through lots of stress with the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro and them managing to leave with just a small suitcase. She and her first husband ended up divorcing and she later got married to her next-door neighbor from her childhood prior to moving overseas when he retired. After they moved overseas, Dr. Hill worked for the Department of Defense Dependants Schools for 18 years. While teaching high school one of her daughters was her student three times and essentially took advantage of her mom working there and utilized the classroom as her locker. She has managed to stay in touch with a lot of her former students and now many of them are married, have, kids, and some of their kids even have kids. Its been rewarding for her to see how various students of hers have turned out and there are some of her students that now reside in Oklahoma in Shawnee or other nearby towns that she occasionally gets to see.

Overall Dr. Hill has learned a lot from various parts of her life and she has valued all of the lessons past students, former clients, and family members have provided her with. Dr. Hill is an incredible woman with an interesting past. Education has been a big part of her life whether she was the one getting the schooling or the one teaching, but in both cases, she took something away whether it was book knowledge or more social knowledge. Living in a variety of places has not prevented Dr, Hill from leaving her mark, whether it was Florida, Tennessee, Germany, Portugal, or even Oklahoma, she has not failed to leave a positive influence.