HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - After her resignation last week, surprising to many within the Huntsville education circle, Pam Hill wrapped her last board meeting on Tuesday as an elected official on the Board of Education.
Citing painful illness, a distaste for political drama that followed her, and the desire for more family time, Hill is ending her term that would have lasted into the fall of 2020, early.
"I had every intent to my four years out," she said. "But health and some family issues have changed my mind. Especially the health issues. When you think it's the very worst, and doctors think that too, your priorities change."
Tuesday, Superintendent Christie Finley and other board members recognized Hill for her contributions to the district as first a teacher, and then elected leader.
"Your passion, your advocacy for teachers and students, that is one thing that you will leave this district better," Finley stated. "We appreciate that."
Hill said that as a child, school became a safe place for her.
"A teacher saw some problems I had that others hadn't noticed, and I knew that day that school was my safe place. I wanted to make sure it was that way for all Huntsville City Schools students," she said.
That's why being a board member was a dream of hers. She takes pride in leading the way in district transportation with the ousting of Durham School Services as a bus contractor, and the district's decision to change contracts for temporary staffing and support services.
"I take all of those as feathers in my cap. I did not do them alone, but I did not shut up about them," she quipped.
Hill said as she prepared to exit the board room, there were no tears.
"I'm glad. I have peace. And I didn't think that would ever happen," she stated. "I treasured every day, and it was an honor. But it was the hardest thing I ever did. I thought it was going to be about the students, but being on the school board is political."
She said her future will include her six grandchildren, her son and his church, and her loving husband. We asked her if she will make time to watch the board meetings now she is back on the other side of the dais.
"I probably won't watch the board meetings. They were painful in attendance, and I can't imagine not being able to speak. But I will always pray for Huntsville City Schools. I would in any way I could, volunteer, if there is time and energy after my six grandchildren," she stated.
The rest of the board, now down to four but still able to have a quorum with three members present at a meeting, will wait for the next step to determine her replacement. That will come by appointment from the Huntsville City Council.
Beth Wilder, Huntsville City Schools Board of Education president, said, "It's in the hands of the city council. We will eagerly await the revelation of their process to find that candidate."
The city has not yet released its process, but Hill has repeatedly said the mayor's office will take applications. She added that she wants to see someone with certain values fill out the remainder of her term.
"The qualities I wish they had were that they were honest, they were not a politician, they were not looking out for themselves or their own pocketbook, and they were transparent. That is another thing I think I have helped change on this board, is some transparency."
Hill's last day on the job will be May 24, when she will close on a new house outside of her district. She said she wanted to wait until the district's graduation ceremonies were complete.