Shaping Future Leaders at Hillsboro Elementary

by | Mar 2024

ENTER THE doors of Hillsboro Elementary, and you’ll find more than mere classrooms. You’ll discover a lively and inviting oasis crafted by the hands of remarkable educators like Julie Bobo. As an educator, exceptional cheerleading coach, and mentor, Bobo immerses her students in a nurturing environment that emanates warmth and camaraderie. 

As you enter her classroom, you’ll find it adorned with personalized educational decorations, math and science charts, and an atmosphere that breathes comfort and breeds imagination. You’ll soon realize Hillsboro Elementary’s former substitute, now fourth-grade teacher, has masterfully transformed it into a retreat for learning, development, and growth. 

The cheerful voices of fourth-grade students reverberate through the classroom as they engage in partner work, group projects, and interactive activities, transforming their school days into an educational experience where every voice is heard, and every individual journey is celebrated. 

As the dismissal bell rings and students disperse for extracurricular activities or home at the end of the day, Bobo transitions into “coach mode” and prepares for cheerleading practice. 

The gym is alive with energy. You can hear the rhythm of chants and the squeak of sneakers on the shiny floor. It’s like the close-knit feeling she creates in her classroom. With her leading the way, a real sense of team spirit starts to spark. 

For Bobo, taking on the role of cheerleading coach wasn’t just about sideline routines; it was about building another layer of trust and connection with her students, allowing her to interact with them in a different light and provide support beyond academics.

“I was a cheerleader in high school. I always loved it,” she said. 

As a cheerleading coach, Bobo bridges the gap between academics and the community, cultivating a sense of school spirit that reverberates beyond textbooks. 

She isn’t just a teacher; she’s a mentor, a confidante, and a pillar of the Hillsboro Elementary community. She sets clear expectations for her students and cultivates a classroom culture built on mutual respect. This translates to both her academic and coaching roles, creating a space where students feel safe to learn and grow.

“The classroom management is probably one thing that I’m the most proud of in my room, and so that definitely carries into coaching.” 

Keeping the students engaged is a highlight of her efforts; helping them develop problem-solving skills in the classroom and on the court is one of her proudest achievements.

Bobo’s dedication has touched countless lives, from helping students overcome academic challenges to providing a much-needed emotional support system. Her stories, like one of a young boy who found a safe space in her classroom, represent the value of refreshing mentorship in education.

The young student came to school with baggage, but Bobo met him with a clean slate. Years later, his connection endures, proving it wasn’t just about academics but creating a haven for a kid who needed it most. 

“I told him at the beginning of the year, ‘I’ve heard from past teachers that we may have some struggles this year, but hey — new year, clean slate. Let’s start fresh,’” she remarked. 

“He tested me for the first probably nine weeks to see if I would hold true to that. And we just developed a really good bond. He got probably the best grades he had ever gotten that year. And even though he’s in middle school now, I still get emails from him every now and then just checking in.” 

Other stories trace back to special holiday memories that gave her students that special touch of home. 

“We had a Jewish student this year, so I decorated my classroom [for] Hanukkah. Everything that we did Christmas-wise, I made sure that she had the Hanukkah equivalent and things like that.” 

She cultivates a warm and inviting classroom environment, treating her students with the same care and attention she gives her own children.

Juggling teaching and coaching alongside full-time motherhood isn’t always easy. Long days spent at work and coaching cheer often make fun times with family harder to come by. Still, Bobo persists, finding small moments to breathe and recover from eventful days while spending much-needed time with her family. 

While academic success is important, Bobo prioritizes individual growth and celebrates each student’s journey. Her goal is to help every child reach their full potential, regardless of their starting point.

“You always have those kids with disabilities, difficulties, and struggles. They won’t all be in the same place at the end of the year. But my philosophy is helping each kid gain confidence in themselves and grow in some way through the year.”

Julie Bobo is more than just a teacher or a coach; she is one of many leaders in the Hillsboro Elementary community. She’s an individual whose story resonates far beyond the confines of the school, illustrating the transformative power of one person in the lives of many. GN 

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