Local teacher sees importance of reading

Columbia College - Lake of the Ozarks

By Dianne Steingrubey
Lake Today

Like us on facebook at www.facebook.com/cclakeozark

Columbia College-Lake of the Ozarks, in partnership with the National Coalition for Literacy, invites everyone to celebrate National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week through Sunday.

For the fourth consecutive year, this weeklong observance was declared by act of the U.S. Congress. The purpose is to raise public awareness of adult education and family literacy, assist adult learners in need of literacy services, leverage local resources, and support increased access to adult education and family literacy programs.
While celebrating National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, it’s important to recognize the impact that college professors have on adult learners and literacy. Brian Hill, an English instructor at Columbia College’s Lake of the Ozarks campus, works rigorously to instill a love of reading in all his students.
Hill’s advice for people who want to become more involved with reading is to “try to find an author you really like.”

“You may have several ones that you try and you don’t just click with, but keep trying, don’t give up and listen to people around you. Hear what they’re saying about it and see if it’s a fit for you,” Hill suggested.

Hill, an Eldon native, said he enjoys learning and has ever since he was a child. Early on in life, he decided that he wanted to help others to learn. To help attain his career goal, he earned his bachelor’s of science degree from Lincoln University. He taught English at various junior high and high schools for eight years. During his time instructing high school students, he worked on several dramatic projects including director of plays such as “Grease” and “Arsenic and Old Lace.”

Furthering his education, he also earned a masters of arts in English from Fort Hays State University in Kansas. In 2008, Hill began teaching an evening class at Columbia College’s Lake campus. It turned out that there was a need for more English classes to be offered, so he decided to teach at the college full time.

“I came here and I really enjoyed it,” Hill said. “It’s a vast mixture of people that really do want to learn. I initially hoped I could get a master’s degree and teach at the college level eventually, so that was kind of like a dream I had; the opportunity presented itself, so I couldn’t turn it down.”

Hill offers several English composition and literature classes as well as a senior education course. He has also served as an editor for several English/literature text books and serves as proctor for all of the online testing at the Lake campus.

“I’ve reviewed some manuscripts that are in forthcoming editions and soon to be published editions of different college text books. I enjoy being able to have an input in the content because I get to hear what people are saying. And then, I’m able to contact the publisher and give some input,” Hill said.

“I’m kind of like the connection between the students taking the class and the publisher.”
For Hill, his passion for the subject and humorous personality are what makes him a popular instructor with students. Dawn Swarts, a student who has taken several classes with Hill, said Hill was her favorite teacher by far because he cares about what he does.

“I think that he is the best English teacher out there. He’s very respected and it’s very hard to get into his classes,” she added.
With his hands-on approach to learning, students are active participants in Hill’s lessons.
“I try to use different games and things that help them to get actively involved like Punctuation Bingo,” Hill explained. “I think that helps a lot of students that are used to the hands-on learning approach. They come to college and a lot of times at college you have to sit and listen to lectures hour after hour, so this helps them have an easier transition.”

Hill enjoys visiting historical literacy sites and bringing back artifacts to use in class. He has traveled to more than a dozen authors’ homes, which have been turned into museums, ranging from Edgar Allen Poe, Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and William Faulkner.

“I try and make it come alive to where that way they can actually see that the person lived, where they person lived, and how the person lived; it just helps it to be more alive to them,” Hill said.