ST. PETERSBURG — Our latest A+ Teacher combines her love of space with a passion for music.
You can feel the rhythm with every beautiful note in Marie Hill’s classroom at Jamerson Elementary Center for Mathematics and Engineering.
"I've got 58 kids in a band program, the drum ensemble, chorus,” Hill said. “I'm spoiled here. I get to do extra."
She has been boosting kids' confidence and creativity -- through music education -- for more than 30 years.
"The big payoff is when we can capture the reluctant learner,” she said. “The big payoff is when we get a third-grader that we're knowing, uh-oh, if we don't capture their heart now, their future is bleak. That's where the payoff is because we can change their life now."
The award-winning teacher couples her love of space with music instruction. In fact, she's been honored with the aerospace educator of the year award.
"We are a steam school where the arts are just as important as the engineering lab and the math program,” Hill said.
"The design process and composition in music - they're the same thing. My dad was an aerospace engineer, my mom a chemist and I defected to the arts, so I was raised on the space program."
She even knew back in elementary school that teaching was her calling.
Her gift for creativity honors her mother's legacy.
"The creativity is the way I was raised,” Hill said. “My mom was a very, very different thinker. A concert pianist, evening wear designer and chemist, and she just gave us opportunities, anything we were interested in. So I take passion of showing the great big world and I bring it to these kids. Anything they look slightly interested in, we say, ‘yes you can, and here's how!’"