IN the Classroom: Educating. Preparing. Inspiring.

By Sarah Novlan, Director of Academics

November 17, 2022

Dear Hill Country Families,

By the end of every school year, my English students know one of the highest commendations they can receive from me is an underlined sentence with the word “excellent” annotated in the margins of their papers. I use it to commend their vocabulary, sentence structure, analysis, or thought processes. In class, we openly point out and praise excellence when we see it in examples of writing. To me, excellence can be defined as greatness, the very best standard we could possibly attain. I remind students that as followers of Christ, we must steward our calling to think and communicate with excellence, not for our own glory, but for His. Therefore, we strive for excellence.

As our school continues to grow, one part of our strategic plan is to promote and develop Teaching and Learning Excellence. Again, not for our own glory, but because we recognize that we send our students into the world as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). As Director of Academics, one of my goals is to highlight the teaching and learning excellence already happening in our classrooms. Where do we see excellence so we can study it and then systematically improve on what we already have? We have incredible teachers here at Hill Country— teachers who demonstrate greatness in the classroom as they shape our students’ hearts and minds. We recognize the tremendous privilege and opportunity we have to cultivate a love of learning what is true, good, and beautiful at every stage of development. Furthermore, we recognize that as the chief learners in our own classrooms, we are never done learning, never done striving for excellence.

In the Classroom: Educating. Preparing. Inspiring.

In this new series, In the Classroom, I’m interviewing six teachers about their philosophy of education, why they choose to teach at Hill Country, and their favorite things about working with students. These interviews progress chronologically by grade, providing unique insights and thoughts from the hearts of our educators and giving a glimpse of what it’s like to learn in their classrooms.

In our first interview, I sit down with first grade teacher, Sherrie Reichenau, to ask her about the joys of teaching first grade, how she encourages her students’ curiosity and wonder, and how she models lifelong learning in the classroom. I hope it’s a blessing to you.

With excellence,

Sarah Novlan, Director of Academics