Mary Hull began her teaching career during World War II. She began teaching temporarily at Locke Hill Elementary School on De Zavala in San Antonio. She was a creative and inspiring fourth grade teacher that received great enjoyment from her teaching. She found herself to be truly happy helping children to learn. She also found herself ahead of her time.
During World War II, when Mary Hull believed she was just teaching "temporarily," she came to have a great understanding of the realities of teaching. She began to form her own ideas about teaching and how children learn, especially how they learn best. Her opinions about learning coming "from books" was perhaps what made her such a great teacher. Mary Hull believed that children learned best when excited about learning and when learning something that had personal meaning to them. She decided that bringing reality and fun into learning would motivate the students into reaching their potentials.
One such lesson was when she combined math, history, social studies, and geography (and a little English along the way) and taught an entire year on a theme about the study of spices and how men went all over the world to find the sweet-scented and helpful herbs and seeds. The students traveled to China, Africa, and to the South Seas in their journey to find the spices. This brought the children closer to their lives and situations as many of them had family members overseas fighting in the war with the Japanese. The students felt closer to their families and their lives as they knew it and this in turn helped to motivate them to higher levels of learning and thinking skills. The students used math skills to multiply recipes and measures to make spice cookies and cakes. What student wouldn't want to learn if they got to eat along the way?
Northside named a school for Mary Hull because she held an opinion about teaching that was worth noting. Today, this type of learning and teaching has a name. It is called "Teaching Across the Curriculum" and is still found to be very beneficial to students. She also found that the differences in the students learning and in their lives made teaching more fun and enjoyable for both the teacher and the student if the teacher used these differences to teach. Today, we call this "Differentiated Instruction," and Mary Hull Elementary is very active in finding the ways to teach using the differentiated instruction that leads to the highest potential in the students.