Please take a moment to get to know the June Rotarian of the Month - Barbara Kopack-Hill!

Home Town: Downers Grove, IL 

Current Home: Olathe, KS

Occupation: 42 years as an educator in various positions.  Retired educator and full time Volunteer for the Johnson County Christmas Bureau – Current President of the JCCB Board

What I like most about what I do: Working in the classroom and encouraging students to discover new learnings is an absolute joy. Volunteering with JCCB has expanded my capacity to connect with others from all walks of life and to work together to help neighbors in need.

Joined Rotary: Member since 1999 – OP Rotary since 2015

Sponsor: Kristy Stallings

Family: Ed Hill, hubby – son, Ted & wife Carrie – grandson ,Edward (8), son – Jeff & wife Michelle – grandson Abdiel (11), grand daughter, Gabriela (8)

Favorite Family Time: Watching the grandkids in sporting activities, playing Board games, spending time together exploring new places

Personal Achievements: Learning to become a wife and mother has been my biggest accomplishment.  Other accomplishments include earning my doctorate in Leadership, Learning, and Service, Serving as the State President for Wisconsin Association for Gifted and Talented, Serving as past president for the Burlington Rotary Club, earning my PADI certification, serving on several city, county, and state commissions as well as  several non-profit boards.

Hobbies: Golf, gardening, reading, hiking in the mountains, traveling, organizing

Interests: Visiting museums, participating in unique experiences, attending live performances, Love of learning

Past Experience: I loved being a teacher and loved learning from my students. Later I worked with a team to develop the nationally recognized Lighthouse program for Gifted and Talented youth in an urban setting – concentrating on teaching students to think creatively and to think in systems.  After coming to the conclusion that there are many good ways to learn my path led me to develop an intermediate program that was the first “shopping mall” school in WI.  Parents could select from among 4 very different learning approaches for their student (including Montessori). Later I was asked to serve as the High School Principal. We developed the Burlington Learning Campus. This involved multiple partnerships including one with Aurora Health to provide a shared facility for use by community members and high school students. A second partnership with Gateway Technical College provided shared facilities and programming. High School students became trained EMT’s serving as the second school in the nation to have such a program. A Career Construction Academy led to students building various structures throughout the community including various shelters, a learning lab, and other community projects. A partnership with Roseland Medical College led to a mentorship with high school students and medical students. The development of a High School Chemicals Business where students created various bath and beauty products as well as cleaning solutions. Over 11 years each of the departments developed a partnership with one or more businesses to engage in real world problems solving and learning. Eventually my role morphed into that of a college professor where I was able to return to the classroom – what a joy.

What ‘Service Above Self’ means to me: Being totally present to listen to and hear what others need is difficult for many of us that are “take charge” people. Being humble enough to set aside our personal agendas and to respond to the needs of others is one example of “Service above Self.” Working side by side with others to accomplish the task and to experience great joy in the work is the byproduct of “Service above Self”.  To show up and do whatever it takes to lighten the load of others is how we achieve “Service above Self”

Why I recommend joining Overland Park Rotary: When we moved to KS, I visited several clubs. I had been an active Rotarian for many years and was looking for a club that was welcoming and that was actively helping others in the community. While several of the activities have changed over the years, OP Rotary remains a Club that is reinventing itself, maintaining a vital commitment to the community, and seeking additional talented individuals who are interested in serving others. We honor the founders of our club and are building on the strong foundation and legacy while purposefully transforming into a responsive and fully active service club.

My Rotary Moment: One of the activities I have most enjoyed in our club is when we filled a room with Rotarians and high school students. The students went around the room and interviewed each of us about our careers and our leadership. This exchange created a synergy of conversation that energized us for weeks.