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Special Place to Be

I first came to Hess as a parent of a 5th grader who needed an alternative learning environment to his public school. Hess is an amazing place for children to learn, grow, be creative, foster friendships with peers, and cultivate meaningful relationships with their teachers. This week we had parent- teacher conferences. During this time, we often reflect on the students' growth and development thus far. This year, I did some intentional self-reflection on my own growth and development during my time at Hess.

Lynitia, the parent

As a parent, Hess provided the perfect environment for my child to grow into his own self-confidence, express himself freely, and have the opportunity for an open-minded educational experience. It gave me such great joy and peace of mind knowing that my child was surrounded by people who genuinely cared for him and his well-being. It has been 6 years since my son graduated from Hess, yet the relationships he has today with his friends, and even a couple of teachers, were built at Hess.

His fondest school memories were all produced at Hess. To quote him directly, "The reason I like Hess is because at my other schools, the teachers would give us homework without even teaching us first, so it was hard for me to do it because I didn't understand it. But at Hess, the teachers actually teach us first, then give us the homework, so it's easier to do."

Lynitia, the teacher

As a teacher, Hess gives one the freedom to be creative, following the lead of the students, while also maintaining academic standards. The small class sizes allow teachers to provide individual support for those who need it and extend learning for students ready to explore more deeply. We can follow students' interests, making learning extremely engaging and fun for the students. Co-teaching is one of the many distinctive elements of being a teacher at Hess. This allows us to be the best version of ourselves, employing our strengths while

simultaneously collaborating and learning with another educator who is also fully invested in the students who fill your class. Also, we are surrounded by an amazing support of specialists. This can range from a teacher who is passionate for and holds deep knowledge of Math to a learning specialist or speech language pathologist both of whom are exploring all the different ways to help children succeed.

Lynitia, the administrator

Now as an administrator, I have been afforded the opportunity to experience Hess from another perspective. I have seen retired public school teachers come out of retirement to work at Hess (and express their joy over this decision every day!) I have seen our community grieve over the death of a beloved faculty member who meant so much to not only the students at Hess, but children all over Atlanta. I have seen our community come together to help a family in need. And yet, in my 9th year at Hess, the most amazing thing I have witnessed was the vision of our principal, Dr. Kristen Hess, and her creativity in keeping students in school, face-to-face, during the unpredictable and unprecedented times of Covid. While so many schools were still virtual, we were going back to school, outside, in tents, with heaters!

I could say a lot about Hess and the impact it has had on my life personally and professionally, but to sum it all up, whether you are a parent, teacher, or student, Hess is a very special place to be!

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