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PODCAST: Get to know Superior Educators and Capturing Kids’ Hearts with Hillary Sundblad

February 28, 2022 | By Michael H. Babcock

Hillary Sundblad has turned into a real MVP of sorts when it comes to Portage Health Foundation. She’s a process champion at Ontonagon Area Schools with Capturing Kids’ Hearts, she’s on the committee that makes Superior Educators a reality, this winter she took her students out to the PHF-funded Adventure Mountain for some winter fun and last summer she worked on the school garden to introduce kids to the wonderful world of growing their own food.

22-02-25-HillarySundblad-CapturingKidsHearts-SuperiorEducators-FacebookTwitterAll of that and more gets talked about in Episode 55 of the PHF Podcast!

Superior Educators

Sundblad dives into her experience as a committee member, including sifting through the dozens upon dozens of nominations. “I wasn't expecting (the nominations) to be so heartfelt and in depth,” she said.

She also offered a great piece of advice for those who want their nomination to be chosen, “When you’re doing the write up, think about the reasons why you think this person deserves this,” she said. “They’ve obviously affected you deeply, so write about that. Don’t hold back from the emotions, because that must be why you’re nominating them."

Learn more and nominate a great educator you know at

Capturing Kids’ Hearts

As a process Champion at Ontonagon Area Schools, she’s part of the team that leads the way. It’s led to incredible things for her and her students. 

“I’ve implemented so many different things that they suggest that we do in the trainings, and I’ve seen a remarkable difference in my students,” she said. “They are more considerate, kinder, more deliberate in what they do and I can’t say enough good things about it."

A few examples of it in work are detailed in the podcast including her students taking charge in revamping their social contract, a story about the students starting a new affirmation tradition and host Michael H. Babcock doing a pop quiz on how she would handle a difficult student. She handles it in stride as a great example of why this works. 

“I’ve read a lot of classroom management strategies,” she said. “I’ve never come across anything quite like this, and I haven’t come across something that works so well for me in my classrooms.”

More from Hillary Sundblad

  • She took her students on a field trip to Adventure Mountain in Greenland Township this winter. That's the site of a large grant we finished up in early 2021 with the reopening of the mountain's tow rope. “We went skiing and sledding, and they had so much fun. I still have kids that say that was the best day of school they’ve ever had."
  • Last summer she helped teach summer school, which included lessons on the PHF-funded school garden. The raised beds were something she was able to incorporate into her teaching, and the benefit was felt immediately. “A bunch of them went home and asked their parents to start a garden.” Speaking of that, don’t forget to make plans to go to the Portage Lake Seed Library’s Seed Swap on March 19! 


Find a full archive of the PHF Podcast on Anchor, and make sure you don’t miss a future episode by subscribing wherever you listen to podcasts including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart and more. Want to hear more from Portage Health Foundation? Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Michael H. Babcock

Michael H. Babcock