Longtime principal retiring after 18 years leading Epperly Heights
By Jeff Harrison
Sports and coaching got Kevin Hill into the career of education.
But his passion for young children kept him there.
Hill dreamed of moving up the coaching ranks when he was hired as a physical education teacher and coach at Epperly Heights Elementary in 1986.
“I thought I’d be the big high school coach, but I’m so thankful this is the first job I got, and it was the right job,” Hill said. “This is who I was meant to be with from the beginning.”
After 38 years in education, Hill is retiring. Much of his career was spent at Epperly Heights.
“I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to serve but it’s time,” he said.
Hill grew up in Del City and graduated from Del City High School in 1981. He earned an athletic scholarship at Southeast Oklahoma State University where he competed in football and track.
After college, Hill pursued a career in education and coaching. He was hired at Epperly Heights as a physical education teacher and coach. His passion gradually shifted from coaching to education.
“The coaching part drew me in, but teaching was my true calling,” Hill said. “That’s why I tell kids to find your interest and latch on and see where it leads you.”
Hill’s interest soon led him to school administration. He served as an assistant principal at six different schools in the district before landing his dream job as principal at Epperly Heights before the 2005-06 school year.
“As a young man, I said to myself that one day I would be the principal of Epperly Heights, even though I didn’t really see it nor did anyone at that time,” he said. “A seed was planted in my heart.”
Hill served as principal at the school for 18 years. He is the longest serving principal in school history.
“I’m not saying I was the best, but I was here the longest and I’m proud of that,” Hill said.
Working at Epperly Heights was full of rewards and challenges. The school serves many children who live in poverty. Hill said he took pride in providing a solid education for all children.
“When you choose to be at a school like that, in my opinion, you take on a lot of things that maybe some people don’t understand,” Hill said.
Hill said he’s strived to stay positive through negative trends in education. Schools are being asked to handle many social and behavioral issues in addition to their role as educators. Many schools are having trouble filling vacancies, especially with new college graduates.
“We don’t mind teaching kids but is it our job to raise kids?” he said. “I don’t want to be about doom and gloom, but we need help from parents.”
Hill learned a lot about education and service from his family. His late Aunt Thelma was a teacher in Texas for 42 years, working in all Black and underprivileged schools.
“She was always so inspirational,” Hill said of his aunt. “She always taught in all Black schools on the poor side of town and those kids thrived and respected her.”
His wife Rachinda, mother and grandmother were also inspirational and encouraging throughout his career.
In addition to his career in education, Hill served 25 years in the Oklahoma Air National Guard, recently retiring as Senior Master Sgt.
In 1997, Hill joined the military at age 35. He was working as an assistant principal at Highland Park and completed basic training during the summer.
“That was some of the most rigorous training, but it was a dream to join the service,” he said.
Hill had several overseas deployments including in 2020 when served 7 months in the Middle East during Operation Freedom Sentinel. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his actions.
In retirement, Hill said he plans to continue serving the community, travel with his wife and possibly publish a daily devotional book.
His family recently started a non-profit organization that supports students at Del City High School. Their first project was donating money to purchase state championship rings for the Del City High School boys basketball team which won the Class 5A state title in March.
“The whole thing is to help kids at Del City High School,” he said. “We want to help with dreams that those kids have.”