Art Teacher and Technology Coordinator Marcie Hull has remained a stable pillar in the SLA Center City community since its beginnings. This year, however, will be her last at the Center City Campus.
Why is she leaving? Currently, she has a lot of responsibilities within her positions at the school, and wanted things to be less complicated professionally.
“The easy answer is I’m simplifying my life. There’s a lot that goes on here, we built an awesome thing and now that I’m getting my EDD [a doctorate on policy and administration] over at West Chester, I need to simplify stuff a little bit and have one job at my job.”
However, she’ll be staying within the school family. As of next year, Ms. Hull will teach Art at the SLA Middle School in West Philadelphia.
Part of why Ms. Hull is making more time for her graduate studies is because she hopes to make more schools like SLA.
“My real hope and one of the reasons that I’m getting my doctoral work done is to make more schools like this in Philly, where kids have a chance to be who they are and get what they need out of the school instead of being told what to do and being pushed through a system.”
Ms. Hull feels as though she has created the layout for how technology is integrated into SLA Center City, and that it is now time to allow someone else to build off of her work.
“There’s a lot of back-end work that goes into making sure that everything that plugs into the building is up and running,” she explained.
“Every time you guys walk into the building, and 12 years of doing that I’ve set up the systems and structures in such a way that it’s now time to pass that torch.”
While she may be ready to leave the operational parts of her job behind, Ms. Hull will sincerely miss her students and colleagues.
“I think the thing that makes it difficult though is that I really love my colleagues and I really love the students here, like we all take care of each other, and it’s going to be hard to leave. It will be like leaving home.”
The feeling is mutual for other members within the community. Junior Ethan Larrabee, one her art students, is sad to see Ms. Hull go.
“Aside from her teaching style, she relates to the students a lot more than most teachers and is definitely just a good person to talk to about kind of anything. She’s fun as well.”
What stuck out to Larrabee about Ms. Hull was her unique teaching style. Her approach to teaching art clicked well with Larrabee.
“She’s kind of lenient with what you hand in for an assignment. She’s really kind of hands off and sort of lets you do your own thing and I think . . . for an art class since self expression is so important being hands off is the better way to go.”
In addition, her empathy towards the differing situations that students had was a key part of what made her so likeable to Larrabee.
“ . . . I personally have issues with getting work in on time as a result of various learning disability type stuff, and she was really accommodating about that sort of thing. I think she really gets mental illness,” Larrabee explained.
Principal Chris Lehmann, who has been working with Ms. Hull since the founding of SLA, will miss her dearly as well.
“On a personal level Ms. Hull is one of the founding teachers of the school and someone who I really love working with on a day to day basis, so I’m gonna miss having her here . . . She is a dear friend in addition to a colleague. She’s one of the biggest personalities we have on campus.”
Although it is sad that Ms. Hull is leaving, her departure does come with a silver lining. For one, Mr. Lehmann believes that Ms. Hull will be a valuable asset to the SLA Middle School.
“I also think for SLA middle school to get someone who has such a deep understanding of and development of the SLA model is such a wonderful thing for SLA middle school, so I think it’s a really good thing for the SLA family of schools.”
In addition, Mr. Lehmann is excited to see what her successor, Ms. Alvarez, will bring to the school, as she takes on both the roles of Art Teacher and Technology Coordinator.
“She comes with a wonderful variety of experiences from high school teaching to university teaching . . . She brings an artistic background, she brings a design background, she brings a tech background, so I think all of that is really exciting . . . She’s gonna reimagine that role in ways that allow us to grow.”
“It is ok to both be sad to lose such a stalwart member of our community while excited to see what the new person brings . . . Communities continue to grow and evolve, and you can miss the people that aren’t with you everyday anymore while also being excited for the people who are,” Mr. Lehmann added.
Though Ms. Hull is physically leaving SLA Center City, she still plans on having a presence in the school.
“I’m not going anywhere. I plan to keep my email address, I know people will probably ping me when they need help. And just because of the nature of my job I’m in everything, so it’s gonna take a good year for me to fully step out of the position, and I’ll probably be sending people different documents and helping with some tech stuff here and there, but I’m never gonna truly be gone.”
According to Mr. Lehmann, Ms. Hull will continue to have a standing not only with SLA Center City, but with the entire school of SLA families, both current and future.
“She’s gonna continue to have a hand in the sort of big thinking around the way all of the SLA schools think about technology. She’s not going away . . . And I think for kids who might wanna do their ILP in the art program at SLA middle school we’ve got a natural connection.”
Though Ms. Hull is leaving the SLA Center City campus, she remains touched by the impact it had on her.
“I guess my favorite thing is that this school realized a childhood feeling in me. I went to a school where it was like a family, and you just felt at home in the building, and I didn’t ever think that I would ever feel that way again,” she said.
“I think that is one of my favorite things that really fulfills an innate part of just being a human being where you have community and people. I never thought that that would happen again and it happened in this school.”