Teacher, Coach Rob Hall recovers from fall

Hall projected to return for second semester

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After incurring severe injuries from a fall during a hiking trip Apr. 14, government teacher and assistant varsity baseball Coach Rob Hall is in the process of his recovery.

Hall survived a traumatic brain injury as well as 22 broken bones — approximately a dozen vertebrae in his neck and back, half a dozen ribs and several facial bones. He was then rushed by an ambulance to the Intensive Care Unit at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, where a neurosurgeon temporarily removed a portion of his skull to relieve the pressure building up inside his brain from the fall.

“That surgical procedure likely saved my life,” Hall said.

Hall then remained in the hospital for 47 days and was released May 30. He returned to the hospital July 13 for a cranioplasty — in which a synthetic implant replaced the portion of skull removed in the initial procedure — and returned home again July 16.

With the assistance of former social science teacher Kevin Smith, Hall has been undergoing physical rehabilitation at his home ever since.

“We go to the gym together several days per week and do a series of exercises designed to rebuild my cardiovascular fitness, my core strength, my balance and the range of motion in my shoulders,” Hall said.

[Smith and I] go to the gym together several days per week and do a series of exercises designed to rebuild my cardiovascular fitness, my core strength, my balance and the range of motion in my shoulders.”

— Rob Hall

Interim AP U.S. Government and Politics teacher Tim Chevalier was able to observe Hall’s recovery on multiple occasions.

“He goes on walks every day and he walks miles, not just steps,” Chevalier said. “He’s continuing to build back that muscle mass and stamina. He gets tired, but that’s to be expected after you lay in a hospital bed for 50-something days.”

Hall has not lost any brain function.

“I’ve sat down with him on a number of occasions since his accident, and I can say that he’s improved a lot,” Chevalier said. “Intellectually, he’s just as sharp as he was before the accident.”

Chevalier initiated a GoFundMe fundraiser Apr. 15, the Saturday after Hall’s accident. Since then, 864 people have donated over $79,000.

According to Chevalier, the fundraiser was on behalf of the entire social science department at Oak Park High School.

“The only reason my name is attached to that campaign is because it was [set up on] my computer. But it was a team deal,” Chevalier said. “People in the department, we were collectively [thinking] come Monday, there are going to be a lot of people who are going to be like, ‘What can I do to help?’”

History teacher Todd Creason was the one who raised the idea. He accompanied Chevalier in launching the fundraiser.

“We set it up on the dryer in my garage on Saturday morning. It was 8 a.m. or something and within minutes, it generated thousands of dollars,” Chevalier said.

The money allowed substitute teacher Gretchen Hall, the wife of Rob Hall, to take time off from work and care for her husband.

“The response to the campaign was extraordinary and greatly appreciated,” Rob Hall said. “I have read with much satisfaction all the wonderful comments made by over 800 community members on the GoFundMe page.”

Among those comments were ones left by Max Hirsch and Tracy Donahue, two Oak Park graduates who once had Hall as a teacher.

“Coach Hall was one of the best teachers I ever had and one of the reasons I became a lawyer,” Hirsch, who donated to the campaign, wrote in a comment. “I have many great memories with him, including watching the last time the Padres made the playoffs.”

I was [Class of 2001]. I learned so much from Mr. Hall and am so grateful that he shared his passion for government with me … I have used it to lobby legislation on behalf of my patients.”

— Tracy Donahue

Tracy Donahue, who also donated, cited Hall as an inspiration in her current occupation.

“I was [Class of 2001]. I learned so much from Mr. Hall and am so grateful that he shared his passion for government with me — I have used it to lobby legislation on behalf of my patients — and I credit Mr. Hall for keeping me interested in the process,” Donahue wrote. “I hope he has a speedy recovery.”

Hall received support from various Oak Park teams. The girls’ lacrosse team donated $350 from the proceeds generated by the Senior Night game against Agoura Apr. 18. The donation was accompanied by a hashtag: #ballforcoachhall.

Chevalier said he was not surprised by the amount of money the campaign brought in for the Hall family.

“It’s a testament to all the people Coach Hall has interacted with in Oak Park,” Chevalier said. “Some people who donated to that campaign had him for a government class [over twenty] years ago, and people don’t do that unless it’s for something, or somebody, that really changed them.”

Chevalier, himself, said he has been influenced greatly by Hall.

“Everything I know about teaching, I learned from Coach Hall,” Chevalier said.

Even in Hall’s absence, Chevalier, who has taken over Hall’s government classes, is still learning from Hall.

[The money generated by the campaign is] a testament to all the people Coach Hall has interacted with in Oak Park.”

— Tim Chevalier

“I’ve spent a lot of time on my own preparing for [AP U.S. Government and Politics], and the help that Coach Hall has given me has been amazing,” Chevalier said. “Giving him a call, bouncing ideas off of him, seeking guidance on how to approach different assignments or different lessons — it’s been a continuing support system, and it’s ongoing.”

Hall plans on returning to school the first day of second semester in January. Upon his return, he will be teaching classes and coaching varsity baseball again.

In the meantime, he offers his support to the seniors of Oak Park — even if he can’t deliver the message in-person just yet.

“Senior year of high school is such a special time in a person’s life,” Hall said. “The message I’d like to give to the members of the Class of 2018 is to enjoy every minute of it. It goes by so quickly and you only get to live it once.”

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