Meghan Hillen teaches third grade and serves as the Cultural History domain coordinator for Ross Lower School. Prior to joining Ross, she taught both third and fourth grade for 10 years with the Howard County Public School System in Ellicott City, Maryland, and taught a science enrichment program at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. Meghan wrote math curriculum for the National Security Agency that was distributed to all Maryland schools. Meghan also wrote science curriculum for all fourth grade classrooms in the 40 elementary schools in the Howard County Public School System. She is a graduate of Gettysburg College and Johns Hopkins University.
What inspired you to pursue a career in education? I came to education after pursuing an undergraduate degree in social work. The more I studied, the more I realized that teachers have such a direct influence on children’s lives. I interned in Washington, D.C., my junior year of college and worked with a variety of social workers both in and out of schools. After this, I decided I wanted to become a teacher and be in a school setting every day. So after graduating from Gettysburg College, I enrolled in Johns Hopkins University’s School Immersion Masters of Arts in Teaching program.
What do you find most rewarding about your job? Our school is a family. I love getting to know the children and their parents, and relationships among the staff become very important with an integrated curriculum. Everyone collaborates and works really well together.
What’s your favorite unit of the Spiral Curriculum to teach? Units 3 and 4 of third grade Cultural History, “Human Bands” and “Development of Ice Age Settlements,” because the units are so fascinating to students. Third graders love learning about where they come from. This unit allows them to imagine our past as well as our future. I also love the wax museum; every year the class makes it their own. I am so proud of them!
What is something your students might be surprised to learn about you? I participated in simulated astronaut training at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. While teaching in Howard County, Maryland, I was offered the chance to accompany a student to space camp. I went for a week and took part in teacher space camp while there.
Who were your favorite teachers growing up? I have two: my middle school social studies teacher, Mr. Flater, and my high school religion and social services teacher, Mr. Donnellian. While we were studying world cultures with Mr. Flater, he invited all of the students and their parents to meet at a restaurant that represented that culture we were learning about. He was the first of my teachers who brought curriculum out of the classroom. Mr. Donnellian ran a summer camp at our school for inner-city youth, and he regularly took students on walks through the city to pass out lunches to the homeless. He took his students—all girls from the suburbs—into the housing projects of Baltimore to show us life outside of our bubble. He was the reason I first pursued social work.
What are some of your hobbies and passions outside of the classroom? I am the mother of a five-year-old boy, so most of my time is spent taxiing him between basketball practice, ninja class, and playdates. In our free time, we play superheroes! I also love to read and enjoy being involved in my community. I have served as the secretary of the Hampton Bays Mothers’ Association, and I am currently on the Hampton Bays Economic Development Committee.