BCSI School Staff Spotlight—Mrs. Juliane Hillock

Juliane Hillock is the founding principal of Hozho Academy, a K-5 BCSI school that opened in 2018 in Gallup, New Mexico. She graduated from Hillsdale College in 1991 with an English major and history minor. She also holds a master’s degree in school leadership from Harvard University.

 

Juliane Hillock, Hozho Academy PrincipalWhat did you do immediately after graduating from Hillsdale?

I knew I wanted to teach, but most teaching jobs at the time were in special education. I never thought I could teach special ed; I was afraid of what I didn’t understand. So I worked as a substitute teacher for a while. However, after one of my children was born with a disability, I realized that I could indeed teach special education. I taught special education in Maine and Arizona for about 12 years.

 

What led you to school administration?

I wanted to learn what it takes to run a great school. After I received my master’s degree, I served as the principal of a STEAM elementary school in Arizona. My staff and I traveled around the country to attend seminars on project-based learning and STEM/STEAM schools. About the same time, I connected with the BCSI team at Hillsdale and began learning about the classical education model. With my background in special education, I noticed that vulnerable students got left behind in a project-based learning model. If a school is to be successful, it must benefit all students, including the most vulnerable. I realized that a classical model is the only one that benefits all students.

 

Describe how you came to Hozho Academy:

I was working with the BCSI staff at Hillsdale on starting a charter school in New England. When the bottom fell out on those plans, Phil Kilgore told me about a charter group forming a school in Gallup, New Mexico. Because of my background in special education and working with students with emotional challenges, it was a natural fit, as many of these students have dealt with emotional trauma. We opened last fall with 110 students and ended the school year with 176. This fall, we will have over 200 students enrolled.

 

Why is classical education relevant?

If we want our students to have the highest level of opportunity, we have to give them a broad, rich, and rigorous curriculum. A one-sided education won’t provide them those opportunities. A classical education shows us those things that are common to our humanity, those things that are timeless and that unite us. It helps to develop our character, and it enriches our lives.

 

What did your time at Hillsdale teach you, and how does it influence you today?

I’m so grateful for what I learned at Hillsdale. The ability to think and reflect made me wiser. I learned how to solve problems, to navigate obstacles, and to persevere. Even my extracurricular activities, such as serving as president of my sorority, gave me leadership skills and helped form me into the person I am today.