A Chat with Tonia Hill, Principal of Bethany School
What sort of purpose do you feel in your job and/or why do you believe your line of work is important and meaningful?
As Principal of Bethany School I oversee all school operations, including daily school activities. I coordinate curriculums, manage staff, and provide a safe and productive learning environment for every student. I maintain reports for the Elder/school board and balance the budget. Most importantly I get to positively impact the minds and lives of our youth.
Being a Principal allows me the honor to make a difference with every enrolled student. Bethany school has three campuses; preschool, elementary and middle school. I am able to be a part of the progression and growth of the students, in most cases from the formative years to pre secondary education and it is amazing. I ensure that my staff and I partner rigorous academia with morals and values. When you combine the two you create leaders. The leaders of Long Beach are being cultivated here at Bethany School and I could not be prouder to facilitate this.
What is the most exciting part of your day-to-day work?
The most exciting part of my day is interacting with the students. No matter if I am dancing with the preschoolers, talking to 7th grade students in my office, or if I am observing 5th graders learn math. Nothing feels as complete than to see the heart of each child. I see them and I hear them.
What do you think the future of your industry looks like, let's say in 15 years? What impact will it be making? How will it be different from what you do now?
Pursuant to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the demand for Principals is projected to grow 8% from 2020 to 2030. The need for Administrators will remain essential. Due to the effects of COVID both socially and academically, Principals will need to devise a plan to assist those students with holes and gaps in learning. Our children have missed two years of standard learning – two years! We cannot ignore this. I do not know if we fully grasp the detrimental ramifications of COVID on the lives of our students and the effects in years to come. We must prepare to help them.
When did you decide you wanted to enter this field? What steps did you take to make that decision a reality?
To be honest, I never planned on being a Principal. In fact, I wanted to be an educator when I was a ‘Stay At Home’ mom of three children. While helping our children with their homework and volunteering at their school, I developed a deep seeded love to teach. It brought me immense joy to help facilitate learning. To see a child’s ‘light’ come on when they finally grasped a concept. I must admit becoming a Principal was not an initial calling that I pursued, but I will say it definitely pursued me. I am not your conventional Principal. I am hands on, I speak to each student, I take care of my staff (they are phenomenal), and I am enjoying every moment.
For any student, age 12-18 who thinks your job sounds interesting, what advice would you give them to help them learn/train/explore your field?
For students 12 to 18 years of age with an interest in this career, I would advise them to find a Principal and shadow him/her for the day. I would also advise them to explore the educational requirements for the job. Lastly I would ask them if they are ready to make a difference in the lives of many. This job is not for the faint of heart.
Are there any organizations, communities, or movements that create synergy between you and others in your field, here in the city of Long Beach?
Community is vital to the culture and climate of Bethany School. It is important for students to see our campus partner with local organizations, our community helpers and local small businesses. Bethany School partners with the fire department, police department, Long Beach Health Department, Long Beach Rescue Mission, Long Beach Community Band, and more. Each student must understand the importance of giving back to the community via their education. As each generation gives back, we ensure longevity and preservation for generations to come.
What makes Long Beach a great place to live and work as it relates to your industry?
You never meet a stranger in Long Beach. Most of the residents are locals and have received their education right here in the community. From Grant Elementary in North Town, to Wilson High School near 2nd Street and all the private schools in between; there are no strangers. This makes my career as a Principal quite rewarding. No matter if you are at a concert in the park, shopping at the LBX, or taking a casual stroll in your neighborhood, Long Beach education is the common denominator that brings us together.