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A Homecoming for Herron Classical Schools Alumni

A Homecoming for Herron Classical Schools Alumni

March 24, 2020 by Herron-Riverside High School

Come spring, most high school seniors have a full-blown case of senioritis. In the hallways, they’re overheard bemoaning one more test, essay, sports practice, or performing arts event. As much as they may love Herron Classical Schools, they’re ready to move on to the next chapter of their lives.

Yet, year after year those graduated seniors return… to a homecoming game, a fundraiser, or simply to visit a former teacher. Several alumni show up every day. Not as visitors, but as Herron Classical Schools employees.

According to Jonathan Harris, Vice President of Academics, hiring former students is ideal. “These folks possess the habits that were cultivated while they were students with us. What better way to maintain and perpetuate the culture we strive for by employing the people who were nurtured within our organization?”

Among the reasons these alumni have chosen to work at Herron Preparatory Academy, Herron, or Herron-Riverside High Schools, here are the top five: 

1. Dedication to Student Success

Chloe Woodard (‘12), Herron High School world history teacher, returned to Herron after student teaching in a large, urban public school. “During that time, I reflected on how Herron High School’s smaller class sizes, classical principles, and dedication to student success impacted my growth as a student,” Woodard says. “At the core of every class, teachers are equipping students to critically engage with the world around them, to invite creativity and curiosity into their hearts and minds, and to become informed citizens.”

Classroom technology coordinator and choir teacher at Herron-Riverside High School Domonique Wickware Kelly (‘11) loves when his students have an “Ah-ha” moment. “It’s beyond rewarding. They are hungry for creativity and are very receptive to the process.”

2. Relationships with Scholars 

According to Hannah Boswell (‘13), theatre teacher at both Herron and Herron-Riverside High Schools, the students are the reason she returned to teach. “I feel like I’ve learned more in my past few years teaching than ever in my life. We have such meaningful class discussions that constantly open my eyes to new viewpoints and ideas. I’m lucky enough to teach content that allows for so much creativity and expression. Each class ends up becoming its own family.” 

Joi Officer (‘11), who teaches math at Herron-Riverside agrees: “I love that every morning I had at least three students in my room eager to tell me about some current events in their lives. This tells me that we are doing our job in creating an environment where students feel respected, valued, and safe.”

3. Relationships with Former Teachers, Now Colleagues

Amber Ellis (‘12), who works in the business office, recalls her relationship with her freshman English teacher, Katie Dorsey, now the head of school at Herron-Riverside. Dorsey encouraged Ellis to take Advanced Placement™ English because she felt she had the skill set to succeed. “I told her I didn’t think I was smart enough.” Ellis explains. “Finally, she called my mother and told her that it would be a shame if I didn’t take the course. I have never forgotten how she fought for me when I wasn’t even fighting for myself.”

Olivia Reuter (‘14), art teacher at Herron-Riverside, says that having the support of many of the teachers she had when she was a student is an incredible experience. “I love the community. Everyone is here because they truly love what they do.”

4. Passion for their Subject Matter

“I could not imagine teaching anywhere else, “ says Molly Earnest (‘12), art teacher at Herron High School, who not only gets the chance to teach but also create art with her students. “Working at a school that truly values the arts is an absolute dream.” 

Officer, who claims she is a math person, remembers how she learned to love English because her teacher made it fun. “I think this is a trend at Herron and Herron-Riverside High Schools. Teachers are passionate about the topics they teach and will do their best to make the content engaging for all students.”

5. Commitment to College Preparation

Woodard explains that the Advanced Placement classes she took at Herron were similar to the format of a typical college class. “Most of my classes in college were discussion-based, and Herron’s focus on critical thinking allowed me to be an active and engaged participant in all of my classes,” she says.

Officer concurs, “I knew what it meant to work hard and to strive for excellence in academics.”

Ellis refers back to her freshman English class, “Because of that experience, I took chances and pushed myself further than I thought I could. My education at Herron taught me important lessons — for college and for life.”