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Doray Hill

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Doray Hill is taking a different approach to teaching at Howard College this semester: less lecture, more learning.

An associate professor of government, Hill is new to the teaching profession, having joined Howard last year after heading San Angelo’s transportation planning agency. He’s been surprised by students’ thirst for knowledge … and his stamina for educating.

“I like to lecture,” he admitted. “This semester, I’ve taken a different approach – tried to step back and get the students more involved so they can understand and realize their role in society. Like I tell them, ‘I’m going to shut up and let y’all learn.’”

Hill, 38, is also tapping his own college experience as a coach in a course that’s meant to help new students avoid pitfalls that can derail them socially and academically. Hill volunteered to teach the course because he initially struggled in college.

He said he fell into a rut of rotating between classes, his dorm room, the cafeteria and the library, failing to get involved with campus life and extracurricular activities. Too, he had no one to show him how to manage his time between classes and work to ensure he studied adequately.

“I had to learn the hard way,” he shrugged.

He does, however, see a definite maturity gap between his Howard College students and his dual-credit high school pupils.

“It’s interesting how that one year makes a difference,” Hill said. “Students right after graduation just tend to grow up a little more, it seems. Once they set foot into that college classroom, their attitudes change, their behaviors change. They understand, ‘I’m not in high school anymore.’”

Away from campus, Hill is involved in a host of community endeavors.

He graduated from Leadership San Angelo last year and, despite having lived here 15 years at the time, “had no idea there were so many great things in San Angelo.”

He serves on the board of Community Re-investing in Educational Opportunities, an effort to provide scholarships and other resources to high school and college students.

He’s been involved with the United Way of the Concho Valley, serving on its board and the body that recommends which programs should receive how much funding. And he has served as an officer of the Young Professionals of San Angelo.

For 10 years, he was a big brother mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters. In 2013, he was named the group’s regional Big Brother of the Year.

“It was just great to know you played a role in helping somebody improve his life,” Hill said. “Everybody should have a mentor, no matter what age you are. Everybody needs somebody they can talk to, somebody who will give them an honest opinion, somebody that will help them think long-term.”

He points to his parents, stalwarts in their community, as his mentors and leadership role models.

“Leadership to me is doing what you say you’re going to do,” Hill said. “You have some leaders who say a lot, but never actually do anything.”