Belmont High School teacher Ben Hill was recently named the Business Educator of the Year for the State of New Hampshire. Holding the plaque he received at a recent statewide conference, Hill stands before a bulletin board for the Belmont High School Future Business Leaders of America. Hill founded, and has been the faculty advisor for, the FBLA at BHS, which has received many awards and recognitions in the few short years of its existence at the school. (Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
November 22, 2011BELMONT — He has come to be known as the quiet force behind a very successful Future Business Leaders of America club at Belmont High School, but now the popular business teacher Ben Hill has been rightfully brought into the spotlight as the New Hampshire Business Educator of the Year.
His nomination for the award came from a fellow teacher and FBLA advisor from Nashua, and was a complete surprise to Hill when he attended the annual New Hampshire Business Educators Association's conference this month.
When his name was announced, Hill said he was humbled as he looked at a roomful of fellow business teachers he greatly respects.
"I had no idea whatsoever. The people I've seen receive the award have usually been teaching for 20-25 years, so this was a total surprise," said Hill. "I don't think of myself as being above anyone else who was in the room that day."
A graduate of Pembroke Academy, and later from Bryant University as a business major with a concentration in finance, Hill began his post-graduate career as a consultant for Accenture in Hartford, Conn., where he worked for eight years. In 2000, he took a year-long leave of absence, and to supplement his income, began substitute teaching and coaching in the Hartford area.
"I always knew I would end up becoming a teacher one day," Hill said.
As his leave of absence drew to a close, he and his family returned to New Hampshire and Hill enrolled in Franklin Pierce University's Teacher Conversion program to take the basic education classes he did not have in college. From there, he went through the Alternative 5 certification process, and completed his competencies in order to begin his next career.
Hill came to Belmont High School at the start of the 2004-2005 school year, and brought with him a great enthusiasm for the world of business education. He eventually initiated a new FBLA club at the school, and over the last few years, has been watching with pride as the group is met with growing success in the state.
"We were awarded a Gold Seal for the second straight year, and at the Spring Conference last year, all the students placed in the Top 3 in their events. It was awesome — I didn't expect that," said Hill.
Statewide, the Belmont FBLA has been named one of the top three clubs in New Hampshire for the past two years, as well. Not bad for a group that has only been in existence for three years.
The world of business is fast paced and constantly changing, Hill said, making it a challenge for he and other New Hampshire business educators to keep up with the field. Thanks to an open line of communication amongst them, however, they are able to bring the latest information to their classrooms to help their students succeed in the business world.
"We challenge our students to push beyond their limitations — what they think they're capable of doing. As teachers, we have to push ourselves also to stay current and relevant. There's a group of us who been supporting each other and working together very well to do that," said Hill.
Students have been benefiting by the curriculum Hill has put together to give them sound, practical and relevant information. Among his offerings are a popular Introduction to Business course, Financial Literacy, Marketing and an independent study course in accounting.
"The Marketing class is pretty popular, too. It gives students the chance to be creative because it's very project-based. Marketing is something they can relate to in their every day world," Hill said.
Financial Literacy contains a curriculum that is gaining a lot of attention, he said, and there has been talk of making it a state graduation requirement sometime in the future. Comprised of topics such as personal money and risk management, insurance, credit card debt, car loans and other daily expenses students will soon face, Hill said it is a topic full of information that is very important in today's world. While a statewide proposal to require it for all high school graduates has been set aside for the time being, he hopes to see it return to the forefront.
"With all the debt kids are facing now in college, buying cars and all of that, it's something they can really identify with and could help them. I hope it'll be given serious consideration in the near future," he said.
In the meantime, Hill continues to give his all toward educating students of Shaker Regional School District in finance, business management and all the ins and outs of the financial world, as this year's top business educator in the state.