The Barbara Hill Fund for Innovative Teaching in Economics and Financial Literacy

Barbara HillThe Barbara Hill Fund for Innovative Teaching in Economics and Financial Literacy provides at least one annual grant to support creative instruction in Orange County Public Schools that focuses on financial literacy or economics. The grants are awarded each spring to teachers who have proposed lessons that they will implement during the subsequent school year.

The Fund was established by Orange County Public School employees and other friends of Mrs. Hill in recognition of her retirement in 2011 and of her eight years of excellent service to the School Board. “It is an honor to have a grant sponsored in my name to help give teachers an extra tool to add excellence in the classroom,” Mrs. Hill said. “At a time when schools are challenged with continual funding cuts, it is very rewarding to offer help.”

Mrs. Hill served as Chief Financial Officer for Orange County Public Schools for eight years beginning in the fall of 2003. She started her professional career with the public accounting firm of Lohrey & Jay in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1984 after graduating summa cum laude from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor of science degree and a major in accounting. She became a certified public accountant in 1985. After six years in public accounting, Mrs. Hill had various jobs in a rapidly growing telecommunications industry, first with WilTel Communications as manager of revenue, cash receipts and commission accounting. Following WilTel, she moved to IXC Communications in Austin, Texas, to initiate a sales and contract administration department. Splitrock, an Internet company, drew her to The Woodlands, Texas, to lead a sales and contract administration department. She was recruited to Cambrian Communications, a telecommunications start-up company, in Fair Lakes where she directed the sales administration department and performed all service billings. Wishing to have a career that made a difference in the lives of children, Mrs. Hill accepted the position of Director of Finance with Orange County Public Schools in 2003. In 2009, she became the chief financial officer with oversight of both finance and human resources. During her tenure with OCPS, Mrs. Hill:

  • worked with four superintendents
  • oversaw the development and management of eight budgets
  • served as treasurer of the Orange County Education Foundation
  • developed comprehensive pay scales
  • implemented the Aesop substitute tracking system and a paperless purchase order system
  • centralized textbook purchasing;brought food service operations in-house
  • helped the school board, administration and community plan for and open a new middle school.

“Barbara Hill has effectively managed the myriad of new federal and state requirements that have emerged under her tenure,” said Matt Benefield, Mrs. Hill’s successor as director of budget and finance and as treasurer of the Orange County Education Foundation. “It was my good fortune to spend some time learning from and working with the best school finance director in the state.”

Barbara has been married to Dr. Jerry Hill, former superintendent of Spotsylvania County Public Schools, for 31 years. It was Dr. Hill who encouraged her to lend her skills and devotion to school finance. The Hills have two adult children: Leslie is a professor of performing arts at Stanford University in Palo Alto. Jason and his wife, Allison, live in Canton Ohio with their two small children, two of the joys in Barbara’s life. Jason followed in his mother’s footsteps and is a CPA with his own tax practice. His wife, Allison, is a doctor of physical therapy. Barbara and Jerry Hill now live in Placitas, New Mexico, in their dream home. Placitas is just north of Albuquerque and south of Santa Fe.

Past Recipients

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Jenny Bond2015 – Jenny Bond, OCHS, Raised Garden Beds

Ms. Bond will use her $300 grant to allow her students to expand their Hungry Hornet Cart business to include the production of fresh produce. Students will use raised bed gardens to grow vegetables and flowers to be used in the Hungry Hornet Cart business.

2013TIG_Liz-Osterhout2013 – Liz Osterhout, Unionville Elementary School (UES), How Much Does it Cost?

Ms. Osterhout will use her $250 grant to purchase hands-on materials intended to bring math skills in subtraction and money from discussion to comprehension.

“We’ll use this money to buy some money so we can learn about money,” Osterhout said following the presentation of her award. “We are very grateful,and the kindergarten students will benefit from the generosity of the Orange County Education Foundation.” “Ms. O took the grand prize,” one of her students

2012TIG - Mary Freeman2012 – Mary Freeman

Mary Freeman, Orange County High School teacher, received the first-ever Barbara Hill Grant for Innovative Teaching in Economics and Financial Literacy. The award will allow her students to conduct on-line and in-class research related to the purchase of a vehicle. Students will be introduced to such tools as the Kelly Blue Book and NADA web sites where they can determine market value while they factor in down payments, monthly payments and finance charges, as well as registration and license fees. After completing their research, students will participate in a field trip to a local car dealership where they will meet with dealership personnel and review their decision-making process. They also will be able to apply their new-found knowledge to the evaluation of new automobiles at the dealership.