West Bloomfield School District Superintendent Gerald D. Hill is pictured with his wife, Cindy. Hill is set to retire from his position in June.

West Bloomfield School District Superintendent Gerald D. Hill is pictured with his wife, Cindy. Hill is set to retire from his position in June.

Photo provided by Gerald D. Hill


West Bloomfield School District Superintendent announces retirement

‘It’s been a fantastic 10 years’

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 13, 2022

Advertisement

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A career in education that has spanned more than 48 years is set to end next summer, as West Bloomfield School District Superintendent Gerald D. Hill announced that he will be retiring June 30.

Hill has been the district’s superintendent for the last 10 years.

“It was a point in my career, toward the end of my career, where I thought I was still healthy and wanted to spend time doing other things, and the district’s in a good position,” he said. “So, a good time to recruit a new leader for the district. It just seemed like a good time, so I started working with the board some time ago, toward the end of last summer, in terms of working out the details of the transition.”

West Bloomfield School District Board of Education President Stacy Brickman shared some thoughts about Hill in a press release.

“Words cannot express how grateful we are for Dr. Hill’s vision and leadership,” she stated. “He has been instrumental in right-sizing the district, utilizing a financially sound plan to position WBSD well for the future. His forward thinking has created a collaborative organizational structure that has paved the way for student innovation and growth. I have genuinely enjoyed working with Dr. Hill.”

Hill shared more details about his life-changing decision.

“It was a mutual decision that we felt was best for all parties. I could go on more, but 10 years is a good amount of time; time for a change for me and different point in my career, and the board can find another successor to me to carry on what we’re doing here,” he said. “I’m in the position or place in my career where it’s time to look at other things and spend more time with my wife, our son and his family, and traveling. So, from my personal perspective, the time is right, and that coincided with the board, too.”

Although it can vary, Hill said he believes the average tenure for a superintendent is about three years.

Prior to coming to West Bloomfield, he was a superintendent in Illinois for two different school districts. After that, he was looking “coast-to-coast and north to south” for his next opportunity.

Hill discussed what appealed to him about the opportunity with the West Bloomfield School District.

“We saw the West Bloomfield opportunity, investigated the community and loved the diversity, loved the engagement of the community,” he said. “There were certainly challenges here, particularly on the finance front at that point in time in particular. I knew that (I) could make some positive contributions to stabilize and enhance the school district. No regrets at all; it’s been a fantastic 10 years.”

It was around 49 years ago that Hill graduated from the University of Minnesota.

He was born in Milwaukee but was “basically” raised in Minnesota.

His career in education has taken him from Minnesota to Texas, from Missouri to Illinois, and ultimately, to Michigan.

He has been a teacher, an administrator, a principal, an assistant superintendent and a superintendent.

“I feel like I’ve had a very fulfilling career, very challenging career, and look forward to retirement, where I can (focus) on travel — (being a) minor chef, if you will,” Hill said. “I love photography. So I’ve got other interests, not to mention our son and his family. … We plan to spend tons of time with family, so it’s just moving into the next adventures in our lives.”

When he arrived at the West Bloomfield School District, he said the financial situation was “pretty dire,” with a fund balance at 2% or lower.

“Today, we have a fund balance of 19% of our operating budget,” Hill said. “We have much stronger financial health than when I started. The financial part is very important, because that (gives) a strong foundation to be able to do what we need to do in terms of teaching and learning.”

Aside from the district’s improved financial situation, his observations of staff relations have also brought Hill satisfaction during his tenure.

From his perspective, the district has grown a lot over the last 10 years, although there is still work to do before he retires.

“In the last six months of my tenure, the school board, myself, the leadership team, we are working on updating and creating a new strategic plan,” Hill  said. “That strategic plan will be the roadmap for the future. So, whoever my successor is, when they come into this position, they will have a roadmap that the organization, the school district, the school board, the administrative leaders, the teachers and community members have agreed to.”

Hill and his wife, Cindy, have a son who lives in California and two grandchildren, who are ages 7 and 10, respectively.

He said they are leaning toward moving to California but “haven’t made any final decisions.”

Hill shared some thoughts about the career that has played such a big part in his life.

“I think education is rewarding because you’re contributing to quality of life for students, a higher quality of life in the community, and a lot of impact in the world,” Hill said. “Our society, if you look at it today, is so divisive; we’re polarized on many fronts. What we try to do with our students is, we need to have cognitive diversity, if you will. In other words, being able to deal with different ideas; being more flexible in one’s thinking, working through issues, and not get so ideologically stuck in a certain position.”

Advertisement