Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Pender County Schools superintendent to retire this fall after 32 years of public service

Dr. Steven Hill has served as Pender County Schools superintendent since 2017 and will retire in October. (Courtesy/PCS)

PENDER COUNTY — Pender County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill announced Tuesday he will be retiring this fall.

Hill told the school board his plans during a closed session at its regular meeting, saying Oct. 10 would be his last day. He’s taking a leadership role with the Greater Topsail Chamber of Commerce.

READ MORE: ‘Building to catch up’: Pender’s proposed multi-million school bond will alleviate overcrowding, increase taxes

“After 32 years of public service it’s time to start giving back to my family full-time,” Hill said in a press release. “Pender County Schools put its faith in me five years ago and over that time the district has been through a lot. I’d like to think that we came out of it all stronger and I have no doubt the district will continue to thrive.”

Assuming the position in 2017, Hill has helped the district meet the needs of students amid rapid population growth, as Pender County has become one of the fastest growing counties in the state. He’s also balanced issues of funding, natural disasters and an international pandemic.

During his 32 years of public service, Hill has served as regional executive director, district director, principal, freshman academy administrator, instructor and public safety official.

Hill also spearheaded the initiative to have a $178-million school bond referendum included in the November 2022 ballot. If passed, the bond would help construct two new schools and fund expansions and renovations at three others. Pender County Board of Commissioners gave the greenlight last month on working to add the bond to the ballot. A final vote is scheduled for Aug. 1.

“The work that Dr. Hill has done will live on for years to come, and if the bond is approved in November the schools that will be built will be his legacy and help with his vision of providing a pathway from the classroom to careers,” PCS Board of Education chair Brad George said in the release.

Hill guided PCS through the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, which caused schools to close for a month and resulted in $8 million worth of damage. This work included PCS serving more than a million meals and providing housing for local families in need.

The release states Hill was also instrumental in lobbying legislators and collaborating with government and private entities to gain recovery funds for a two-year rebuilding effort. During the crisis PCS raised student’s overall state achievement by more than a full percentage point.

Under Hill’s leadership, Pender Early College became the first school in the county history to be named a National Blue-Ribbon School. Additionally, renovations and additions were completed at Burgaw Middle, Cape Fear Elementary, Cape Fear Middle, Pender High, and West Pender Middle. Penderlea, Surf City Elementary and Surf City Middle schools each opened for the 2018-2019 school year.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, Pender County Schools ranked 11th in education and met or exceeded all state standards, despite tracking 114th out of 117 districts for overall funding. In 2021 the North Carolina State Board of Education recognized PCS as a Top Ten school district graduating 93.2% of students overall. PCS was also ranked 4th overall by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction by percent of student Career & Technical Education credentials earned.

When the pandemic hit, Hill helped to remodel schools by developing a monitoring dashboard and assisting PCS administrators through development of a 100% online education format. Within just a few days, PCS created a three-tier educational system allowing for in-person daily attendance, modified in-person cohort attendance and virtual attendance instruction. The Pender Innovative Learning Academy was advanced to full development and continues to serve students as a full alternative education school.

Additional accolades for Hill include:

  • Being named as a U.S. Delegate for the International Beijing Science competition in China
  • Serving on the North Carolina team for the national STEM Funders Network
  • Receiving the International Association for STEM Leaders’ International Leadership Award for economic and community engagement
  • Being named as 2020-2021 NC School Based Health Alliance Superintendent of the Year

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