When the school bell rang on June 3, 1971, ending classes that year for Rowlett Elementary School, it also marked the final day for Ernest Hill (1906-2003), who had served as principal of the school since 1947.
Hill received his High School diploma from Burleson H. S , his Jr. College diploma from Jacksonville College, his B. S. degree from TCU, Ft. Worth, Texas, and his Master Degree in Education from East Texas State University, Commerce, Texas.
Hill retired after 24 years as principal of Rowlett School. Six of these had been with Garland Independent School District since the Rowlett School consolidated with Garland Schools in 1965.
In 1942, Hill gave up school teaching after 15 years and moved to Garland to work for Southern Aircraft Company, Garland’s first defense plant. He had formerly taught for 15 years in Johnson County, two years at Egan, one year at Burleson and 12 years at Bethesda, all common school districts.
Looking back Hill recalls many changes since he first became principal of the Rowlett school, which was then Rowlett Independent School District. There was an enrollment then of 135 students in total in grades one thru eight.
“There were only five teachers including me,” he smiled. “In addition to being principal, I was the bus driver, parttime janitor, and also taught the 7th and 8th grade classes.
He remembers vividly the day he was interviewed for the job by Jim McEntee, a member of the Rowlett School Board. He tried hard to sell me the idea and I bought it,” continued Hill.
The building was practically new, built in 1939, but the facilities then only included eight classrooms “and a path.” (to the boys & girls outhouse)
“You might say that I was also athletic director too,” he saidd, “since I played touch football with the students to keep them busy.”
Hill recalls too that some of his first students were Golf Pro Lee Trevino, also Henry Meazle, Dwayne McCreary and Joe Smolka, who are now all officers of the First National Bank. Other students included the Coyles, Schrades, McCallums, Merritts, Welks, Mills, Hargraves and Rodgers, all pioneer families of the Rowlett community. Elmer Grisham Sr., was Rowlett’s first bus driver, according to Hill.
In comparing teaching in rural schools with city schools, Hill states: “The students seem to have more respect for both the school and the teachers. Most of them have to go straight home after school and help with farm and household chores and we seldom have any discipline problems.”
In August of 1971 after his retirement from Rowlett Elementary School, Mr. Hill went to work for the Dallas County Schools as Supervisor and Assistant to the County Superintendent. He is now Director of all Instructional Services.
Ernest and his wife have been married for 47 years. They have a son, Boyd Hill and he and his wife, Ozell, have two children, Jan and Jim.