Alumni Profile: Connor Blelloch
When Connor Blelloch’s Hill Learning Center teachers told him he would soar to new heights someday, he took it literally.
An aspiring commercial pilot now in his third year at the highly-competitive Embry-Riddle Aeronautical School in Daytona Beach, Connor remembers his middle school years at Hill as supportive and challenging. He recalls his parents explaining that attending Hill would help him cope with his dyslexia and develop his reading and executive functioning skills. He also remembers the kindness of his teachers as he began sixth grade in a setting that was vastly different from other schools he had attended.
Specifically, he remembers the support of Geraldine Pesacreta, who taught him during all three years he attended Hill. “She took me under her wing to make sure I was taken care of,” he reminisces, adding, “She understood me the most out of all my teachers.” After several months, Connor’s parents began to notice improvements in his skills and confidence. He recalls proudly, “They saw growth in my WPM [words per minute reading fluency] and comprehension in terms of reading and then relaying what I had just read.”
In addition to reading skills, Connor remembers how his Hill teachers coached him to become more organized. He believes that the structured middle school systems — the red homework binder, the explicit note-taking instruction, the weekly filing check-ins — helped him feel more prepared and responsible.
In fact, he still uses versions of those organizational strategies today, along with the knowledge gained from the middle school’s financial literacy program, MoneyWorks. He remembers how the program’s engaging, regimented format taught him basic skills like “managing your money, making a budget, working with fractions, and giving tips” and that these skills readied him for more responsibility in handling his own finances. He also appreciates that the math program at Hill taught him critical thinking skills and “different ways to approach problems.”
Furthermore, Connor is grateful for the close-knit learning community at Hill, where he made friends he still talks to occasionally. “Even though it was such a small school, you could still find plenty of friends and make close connections.”
After Connor graduated from Cardinal Gibbons High School in 2019, he moved to Daytona Beach to pursue his longtime goal of learning to be a pilot. The influence of his beloved uncle, who retired from the army and now flies for UPS, sparked Connor’s interest in planes at a young age.
Connor has already earned his pilot license, instrument rating, and commercial license and is currently working towards earning his multi-engine rating. While accumulating training hours, he has visited beautiful destinations, including St. Simons Island, Savannah, Sarasota, and Key West. He has earned spots on Embry-Riddle’s Honors List and Dean’s List. He hopes to graduate a semester early in December of 2022 and apply for an Ameriflight UPS FlightPath internship, which would culminate in an interview for a First Officer Position at UPS.
Connor knows he would not be where he is today without hard work, dedication, and teacher support. He advises current Hill students to “take advantage of what Hill has to offer because it’s not really offered at any other school.”