Teacher Profile Series: Meghan Hillen
Meghan Hillen, Middle Primary Facilitator
Meghan Hillen joined PCS this fall as the Middle Primary facilitator, bringing with her 18 years of teaching experience in third and fourth grade classrooms, extensive experience writing Math and Cultural History curriculum that emphasizes integrated, project-based learning, and an abiding interest in community building and social justice. We are absolutely thrilled to welcome her aboard! Joining PCS, Mrs. Hillen is excited for the sense of community and focus on children, “I love that PCS is student centered,” she says. “Every decision that is made here first starts with ‘What is best for the students?’ The students feel empowered, supported, and loved every day.”
And, it is this celebration of students’ abilities and interests that Mrs. Hillen describes as her goal in teaching at PCS: “I hope that my students know how much I love and respect them. I hope they know that I will forever be one of their biggest fans. I want them to know that I believe they can accomplish so much, and I hope to be a part of helping them reach those accomplishments.”
Reflecting on teachers who made her feel respected and empowered as a student, Mrs. Hillen remembers a teacher from her Catholic high school, Mr. Donnellan. Though religious education was his subject area, Mrs. Hillen remembers his commitment to social justice and service learning, and the impact it continues to have on her. “He led us to soup kitchens and government assisted housing projects in Baltimore to not only pass out bagged lunches or serve hot meals, but to stop for a while and chat with the people that lived there. He spoke to us about social issues as future voters. He empowered us to fight for what we believed was right. He was one of the first teachers to tell us we can make a difference.” Coming full circle, it seems, Mrs. Hillen now finds herself in the epicenter of PCS’s service learning and community action program – Middle Primary – ready to help her students discover how they make a difference.
Along with immersing herself in civics, politics and citizenry for this trimester’s integrated unit and finding new ways to get herself, her family and her class involved in the community, Mrs. Hillen is also an avid reader who loves finding new children’s literature to share with students. In fact, her PCS students are already deeply absorbed in lively book clubs, exploring what excites them most about books. Mrs. Hillen believes whole-heartedly in reading aloud with children of all ages and reading abilities: “read aloud models fluency, but it also allows children to escape into the book and truly enjoy the story. No lessons on decoding, no written response to literature, just reading for the love of reading.”
Besides serving as the facilitator in the classroom, Mrs. Hillen’s deep respect for children’s integrity and ability inspires her to listen and learn from her students as well. Asked what she learns from her students, “to slow down!” was her immediate response. “I often get caught up in to-do lists at work and at home. Children remind me to slow down and focus on the moment. They remind me to stay centered and not worry about the past or the future, to just enjoy the moment, and the people participating in it with me.”
Wow. How lucky are we to have such an inspiring and inspired facilitator in our midst? Please join us in welcoming Mrs. Hillen to PCS!