Missy Davis Hill

2021 EdD in Educational Leadership Cohort. Virginia Commonwealth University

Learning while Leading and Living

Throughout my life, I have found success. I did well in school. I was competitive in both dance and music. I found leadership roles in extracurricular activites, and I grew older, my career. Typically, when I decide to do something, I do it. That’s not to say that I don’t have to work for those outcomes, but with effort, I have found that I can achieve.

I have lived by the old mantra, “You get out of things what you put in.” School, while it took effort,  gave me positive reinforcement in the form of good grades, impactful relationships with teachers and peers, and future opportunities. My career, while I’ve had to work through obstacles and climb the ladder, provides me similar positive reinforcement in the form of income, influence on and from students and colleagues, and continued future opportunities. Reflecting on these experiences, I realize that I’m never really satisfied with what I have right here, right now. Instead, I’m looking for ways that I can keep learning so that I can enjoy the growth that has always seemed available to me if I just do a little work to grow a little more.

This EdD program, though, is forcing me to learn, lead, and live in new  and challenging ways. While I have had experience with failure, in most cases, my path has wound its way toward success. I entered the EdD program as I was beginning my role as a school administrator, when my son was 3 and my daughter was 6 months old, when my family was moving into a new community. The timing was iffy, but as I have so many times before, I decided I was going to do it, so I started.

At the school where I serve as an assistant principal, change is at every turn. Demands are high from my students and families, my faculty, and my team. Demands are ever-present, and each demand asks for immediate action and response. My husband and two small children are equally deserving of my time and energy as the people I serve at my job. But still, I want to continue honing my craft through this program. Even so, I feel a bit like a circus performer attempting balance delicate bottles of glass on the tips of my fingers and toes. There are days when I am not sure I can balance learning, leading, and living simultaneously, but I am also not willing to let my job, my family, or my future goals drop.

My father taught me when I was younger that things that are worth doing are often difficult. Right now, the days are long and hard. To be honest, to be an accomplished person and then be thrust into an environment where I am challenged to learn new things, to think and approach problems of practice different, and feel uncertain about my abilities is scary. My fear of failure is at a peak for my lifetime. The good news? I’m stubborn. I know that I can do difficult things, and like Daddy said — it’s worth doing.


  1. You are resilient. I identify, as probably most do, with the juggling balance. Two small children, new job, new community. Wow. That’s a lot of juggling and a lot of stress.

    • As a new Ed.D. student at VCU (Class of 2022), I enjoyed reading this blog and can relate to many of the same feelings that you express. It sounds like you are taking a lot on but your attitude seems to be exactly what is needed to accomplish your goals. Good luck!

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