Neil Hill, an advanced placement history teacher at Putnam City West High School, will receive a 2013 Southwestern Region AP Award from the College Board later this month in Dallas.
The award recognizes educators who have demonstrated significant positive impacts with the advanced placement program.
AP classes are college-level courses students take while in high school. If they pass end-of-class AP exams with a sufficiently high score, they can earn college credit. Because AP classes require students to use college-level critical thinking, problem-solving and writing skills, and because they must adopt the time-management skills, discipline and homework habits of college students, succeeding in high school AP classes helps students succeed at the next level.
Brenda Chapman, the district's social studies coordinator, said Hill's influence in building the program at Putnam City West has been powerful.
“Neil is instrumental in recruiting and retaining students in the social studies classes and encourages all students to try an AP class. He strives to always stay informed by going to conferences every year, and he is a reader for the AP U.S. history exam. I couldn't imagine the success Putnam City West has had without the hard work of Neil Hill,” Chapman said.
Helped program grow
Hill's influence has increased advanced placement social studies opportunities for Putnam City West students through the years. When he began teaching AP European history at Putnam City West in 1999, the school had only one other AP social studies class. In 2001 he took on leadership of the social studies program, prompting the addition of more AP social studies classes.
Now, Putnam City West advanced placement students fill two U.S. government classes, three U.S. history classes, three European history classes and one psychology class. Efforts are under way to launch a human geography class for the 2013-2014 school year.
Hill doesn't wait for interested students to show up. He goes and finds them. He recruits freshmen with the promise that if they want to try an AP class at the 10th-grade level, they will be accepted no matter what their class rank or grade-point average.
Building on previous efforts to bring more Hispanic students into his AP classes, this year Hill attended one of Putnam City West's Hispanic Parent Nights. Joined by Jennifer Pasillas, head of the English Language Learner (ELL) department at Putnam City West, he met with parents of potential AP students to answer questions about the classes.
Hill said the satisfaction of working with students in AP classes are many.
“I love that many of my students have earned a score on their AP tests that qualifies them for college credit, but it's just as gratifying to see those former students who had a bad day when they took their AP test to go on and graduate from college and be successful in their careers,” Hill said.
Steve Lindley is communications director for Putnam City Schools.