Like broccoli

Math interventionist and volleyball coach Agnello steps into special administrator role during an extraordinary school year


Chelle Ignraffia

Hilary Agnello poses with the McHenry High School Warriors logo. Agnello is the Varsity volleyball coach, a math interventionist, and a teacher on special assignment.

Kennedy Tetour, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The morning is chilly and brisk, and as the leaves start to change color, the reality of autumn sets in. Hillary Agnello puts her car in park and strides up to the front door of a truant student’s house. She knocks on the door, and with strength and confidence as McHenry High School’s new “Teacher on Special Assignment,” or TOSA, she talks to the student inside about being present and involved during the school day. 

Up until the 2019-2020 school year, Angello had been a math support teacher in the Math Resource Center (MRC) as well as McHenry’s varsity volleyball coach. But, towards the end of the 2019-2020 school year, she was asked to assist West’s associate principal Terry Fitzgibbons with student discipline after assistant principal Justin Stroh left last year. 

Because of her willingness to help kids, and her disciplinary nature as a coach, she explains that she was especially qualified for her new position. 

“When you coach, you have to be, in other words, the ‘bad guy’ to be the good guy. So, I have to make them run sprints, I have to make them work harder than they want to because I have a good goal in mind,” Agnello says. “It’s the same philosophy with kids. I don’t ever want to punish kids, I want to help them do a better job.” 

Angello likes to say that she’s like broccoli. “Nobody wants to eat it, but you have to because it’s for your own good,” Agnello laughs.

 She also says that getting to know students individually as a teacher and coach has helped her figure out what the best way of helping them is. Working in the MRC has aided her in getting to know small groups of students, and assisting them in finding new ways to learn and achieve their goals. However, now that she’s working in the MRC and coaching much less frequently, and connecting with students mostly online, she says that it’s much harder to get to know students the way that she used to.

“I’m calling a lot of families to talk to them about what’s going on with their kids, [and] offering some ideas on how to improve things. Kids well-being is my number one top priority, and everything branches from there,” Agnello says. “If that means getting them to school, if that means getting them transportation, whatever it is, my main role and responsibility is to make kids better in their environments. That means sometimes giving a consequence, or giving an opportunity, or creating a new schedule; anything I can do to make a kid’s life better.”

Helping kids is Agnello’s top priority, and working in the MRC and being a TOSA has helped her to achieve that goal. Angello says that the reason she likes to help high school students in particular is because kids in that specific age range are going through a unique point in their life. 

“I really like working with high school kids, because they have gone past the initial phase of establishing their own identity… they’re at that second phase in my mind, where they are really giving more thought to the kind of person they want to be, [and] not just reacting to the people around them,” Agnello states. “I think it’s a perfect opportunity to influence kids; [they] are not past the opportunity to be influenced in the right direction.”

As the new TOSA for MCHS, Agnello vows that she can and will do anything she possibly can to help make our school a better and more productive learning environment for every student. She is prepared to do everything in her power to help each and every student to accomplish their goals, and influence their life in a positive way. So far, it seems that Agnello is doing just that; after all, she isn’t afraid to come knock on a students door and get them up for school.