Teacher, loved community member Rob Hall injured hiking

Oak Park students, families raise funds to support the Hall family.

Oak Park High School government teacher and assistant varsity baseball Coach Rob Hall suffered severe injuries during a hiking accident Friday, April 14.

Hall was injured while hiking on a trail that he had walked many times before; however, this time, an opening in the fence leading into the trail was closed. Hall attempted to hike around the fence, but fell more than 25 feet, sustaining severe injuries.

Hall is currently in the Intensive Care Unit. While his condition is still critical, it has been steadily improving, according to Principal Kevin Buchanan.

“His injuries are significant. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him. We don’t expect him to come back this year. We hope that he will recover fully, and completely,” Buchanan said.

Hall has been teaching at Oak Park High School for 26 years, and according to biology teacher Winnie Litten, has had a massive impact on the Oak Park community.

[Hall] is one of the columns that supports the Oak Park School District. He’s made such a difference in so many students’ lives.”

— Winnie Litten

“He’s made such a difference in so many students’ lives. He’s just been so invested in this district, and it really speaks to his legacy as an educator and his impact on the district [that those students] do remember him fondly,” Litten said.

Through a GoFundMe fundraiser initiated by social science teacher Tim Chevalier, current students, former students and community members united to raise, by the date of this publication, more than $76,000 toward Hall’s recovery.

“The idea for the GoFundMe was something that I worked on with [Mr. Creason and Mr. Kinberg], and we put our heads together. . . we started to think about and anticipate some of the questions that we would get, mostly ‘how can we help,’” Chevalier said. “And the important thing is that he needs his family by his side. . . So, we thought, why not set up a fund to allow Mrs. Hall and his kids to be there with him, and help him recover, not just for the coming week, but for the weeks and months after that?”

Buchanan said the fact that Hall’s previous students still remember and care for him speaks to his character.

“The GoFundMe account — it [was] up to $65,000 in three days — that speaks to the impact that Mr. Hall has had. When you look at the account, not all of it is staff. There are past students who are now in college or parents of students who remember him,” Buchanan said. “He’s touched the lives of many, many kids.”

Litten said that she and Hall were hired the same year.

“We walked into this district at the same time, and if there was ever a hurdle of time, we walked through it together,” Litten said. He is one of the columns that supports the Oak Park School District. He’s made such a difference in so many students’ lives.”

In addition to influencing student’s lives academically as a government teacher, Hall has always been very involved in the athletics program, first coaching the boys’ basketball team, moving on to become assistant coach for the boys’ baseball team and game manager for both the volleyball and basketball teams.

Senior and varsity baseball player Matt Williams said that Hall is an inspiration to the team.

“Hall has been a monumental part of the baseball team. Hall cares so much about each of us and I’m glad to call him our coach,” Williams said. “Each game, we think about Coach Hall and play the way he would want us to play. We care about him so much and pray for a quick and full recovery.”

In addition to coaching, Hall also attends the games of many other sports teams, showing his support for Oak Park athletics.

“He is one of our biggest fans and everyone knows he cares at the deepest level,” varsity girls’ lacrosse Coach Dru Gilliam said. “I can speak to the fact that my entire team loves him. He is a caring, loving, sincere individual.”

Chevalier, guest teacher Ellen Kinberg and another guest teacher have stepped up to cover Hall’s government classes in the coming weeks.

Chevalier will be setting up and grading Hall’s classes for the rest of the year.

“Our first impulse was to get a social science substitute teacher — someone with a credential in the area. But when we looked at [Hall’s] plan, he has it all mapped out, we don’t need to do that,” Buchanan said.

We want him to get better … [Hall]’s not just a teacher. He’s part of this community, this family.”

— Kevin Buchanan

Kinberg and the substitute teacher who will take over afterward will supervise the class, and make sure the assignments are progressing.

“For the next two weeks, Mrs. Kinberg will administer the presentations and supervise the class,” Buchanan said. “For the week after that, Mrs. Kinberg has to come out because she’s proctoring AP exams. For that week, we’re bringing in a guest teacher.”

In addition to classes and sports, Hall has led a trip to Europe for seniors every year. This year, however, the trip will be taken over by social science teacher and interim department chair Todd Creason.

According to Buchanan, amid the fill-ins and remedies for Hall’s absence, the Oak Park community “wants him back.”

“We want him to get better. Everyone is sad. We know his family is hurting, we know the school is hurting,” Buchanan said. “We’re a family. He’s been here a long time. He’s not just a teacher. He’s part of this community, this family.”