Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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HILL, James Mac (1912-1992)

HILL, James Mac (1912-1992)

School Principal and educator, Mac Hill was born in Colac to parents Rev. Samuel James Hill, a Presbyterian Minister, and Mabel Netta nee McMeikan. He was educated as a boarder at Geelong College for two years from 1928 to 1929.

In a lifetime of dedication to teaching he changed residence thirty-one times spending time at Gooram near Euroa, Cobden, Scarsdale, Napier St, Fitzroy, East Melbourne, Yackandandah and Seymour before finally moving to suburban Melbourne where he married a fellow teacher Hazel Hill in 1939. He attended the Geelong College as a boarder from 1928 to 1929 after having previously been at University High School. He first taught as a junior teacher at Avenal Primary School and at Seymour but moved to Rathdowne St Primary School in order to attend the Melbourne Teachers’ College which he did in 1934. Thereafter a series of short appointments followed to Waurn Ponds, Strathfieldsaye and Wyuna South. Eventually he was appointed to Barundah near Wodonga and from there commenced university study.

War Service interrupted both his teaching and his university studies. During World War II he served with the military forces and narrowly avoided being sent to Singapore just before its fall when only half his unit was sent forward. As a battery commander in the 44th Field Battery he was involved in experiments with 25 pound guns - expertise which he was able to put to use in fighting around Lae, New Guinea. Upon his return he accepted a position within the Education Department under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme assisting former soldiers returning to study. This led him to an appointment at Northcote High School and then to a position as liaison officer with the Australian Broadcasting Service (ABC).

Prevailed upon to move into teacher education he accepted a position at Ballarat Training College from 1951 to 1962 before a brief period in 1963-4 as Vice-Principal at Bendigo and then Principal of Bendigo until 1969. His move to Burwood as Principal in 1970 was, in the words of Dr Curry to give Mac a dominant role and enable him to ‘become one of those working for a new approach to teacher education – an approach which would see teacher education freed from the restrictions of Education Department control and established in its proper place as part of the tertiary education sector’ . In 1973, Mac became the inaugural Principal of the new State College of Victoria at Burwood from which he retired at the end of 1977.

Various boards and community associations also benefited from Mac’s involvement. He was National President of the Australian Association of Principals of Teacher Colleges in 1972-3; Vice-President of the State College of Victoria and Chair of its Academic Board; and a Member of the Accreditation Board of the Post Secondary Education Commission as well as Treasurer of St Andrews Church, Ballarat and President of Box Hill Rotary.

Sources: Dr Norman Curry. Eulogy at Memorial Service for Mac Hill, East Kew Uniting Church 24 November 1992.
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