While education may not have been on Mahomet-Seymour School’s Superintendent Dr. Lindsay Hall’s radar as a young woman, being a part of education is built into her DNA.
“Maybe I couldn’t quite overcome the draw to education,” she said. “My grandparents were educators. My grandfather was a junior high principal and my grandmother was a math teacher.”
“That has come down through the generations,” she continued. “My dad and my brothers are educators.”
Hall said it “took me longer than the average to get my Bachelors degree.” Her dad, “probably more out of frustration than anything” suggested that Hall get her teaching certificate.
“I wasn’t opposed to it; I guess I’d just never been encouraged in that direction,” she said. “And once I started taking education classes, and then when I started doing classroom observations and field work with student teaching, I was hooked and I really loved it.”
Hall landed her first and only teaching job at Danville High School where she taught health education and general science. Hall has a Master’s Degree in health education.
“I love to teach health, first of all, because it’s a requirement in Illinois so I got to see almost all of the students come through the classroom; I really just liked that,” she said.
“I don’t know if there is any more important decision we make about our own personal health: whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual,” she continued. “I just felt like I love teaching that, and hopefully, I could get kids to reflect and think about their choices and behaviors in life. I hope I made an impact.”
At Danville High School, Hall was mentored by the principal, who was also a female.
“Females are underrepresented in the principalship and as superintendents, but she was a great role model,” Hall said. “And so I really wanted to pursue my administrative degree.”
Although Hall missed being in the classroom as a teacher, she believed she could influence classrooms, teachers, and students on a greater scale as an administrator.
Hall was hired as Assistant Principal and Athletic Director at Mahomet-Seymour High School under the leadership of Del Ryan, who believed in Hall.
She kept those titles for three years until she was able to accept the Principal role at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High for the following eight years. Then in 2006, Hall moved to Morton where she took on the Assistant Superintendent then Superintendent role.
“Administrators are instructional leaders. The most important part of a principal’s job is evaluating teachers,” she said. “Hands down. What that means is helping teachers to grow professionally, coaching them, providing meaningful feedback, exchanging ideas. Administrators can learn from teachers. I can tell you as I have become further removed from the classroom, that going into classrooms and seeing the amazing and innovative things teachers are doing has helped me grow as an educator.”
She said superintendents also have the same obligation to provide support for principals within their district.
“Again it’s about professional growth and helping and supporting people that you work with to grow and become better,” she said. “And again, I always just go back to I want to hire people I can learn from and surround myself with quality people that help me grow as well.”
While superintendents also have to advocate for their districts by communicating with local, state and federal legislators and sticking to the district’s budget, Hall said she “always want(s) to be viewed as the instructional leader.”
In order to do that, Hall said she needs to also be visible in the schools and in the classroom.
“Being in classrooms now is what keeps me connected to the students, which is the reason we are all here,” she said.
Establishing visibility, approachability and open communication with the teachers, parents and community are the first steps for Hall as she comes back into the Mahomet-Seymour community.
“I would identify those as things I am strong in. I’m not perfect. I’m always looking for ways to build and grow on the skills I have,” she said. “The relationship part of this job is of top importance, and so when you talk about the fact that a principal or a superintendent is an instructional leader, that really just comes down to your relationships with kids, teachers, parents and the community.”
Although Hall began her Superintendent role on July 1, she attended school board meetings, met with building principals and attended a few staff meetings since her November hire. She has also established summer office hours for teachers and staff to come in and “shoot the breeze” over the summer and the Mahomet-Seymour School Board will set up a meet-and-greet for the community in late July.
Hall hopes that as she opens her doors, community members will also feel comfortable in coming to talk to her.
“I want to hear about what’s going on. What are the things people are pleased with, and then I want to hear about areas where we can grow,” she said. “For any organization that’s always there. How can we get better? How can we continue to grow and improve? As soon as we lose that passion and fire for growth and improvement, that’s not an okay thing. We always want to be looking for ways to get better.”
She also wants to know, “How can I help to support to make things happen? I look at myself as being part of a huge team of people. I have a unique role in my relationship with the school board, but I don’t want to do anything in isolation or alone. There are a lot of moving parts. It’s helpful for me to hear from people in knowing how can I help and best serve the community and the kids who go to our schools.”
While Hall is not walking into completely foreign land in coming back to Mahomet, she did say the community has changed in the last decade. When she lived in Mahomet in the early 2000’s, the Halls built the last house on the end of Deer Run Road in Country Ridge Subdivision. That subdivision is now in its sixth phase of growth. She also said there are more businesses and commercial growth in the Mahomet community.
But, she is happy to have previous knowledge of the school district and community as she walks into the Superintendent role. As many of the familiar people, including her own, have “more grey hair” and “are grandparents now,” she is elated to see those faces around town.
Hall said that coming back to a school district can “also work against you.” She said that while she made decisions that some community members did not agree with while she was principal at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High, she is always working in the best interest of students.
“There will definitely be times when decisions are made that people do not agree with, that’s just part of the job,” she said. “I think my approach is that we will always make decisions that are in the best interests of the kids and families that we serve. And that sometimes is not what everybody else wants or needs at the time, but I like to be able to fully rationalize and explain why we do what we do.”