Dr. Kathy Hess has been a full-time faculty member at NHU since 2002, where she develops and teaches educational methodology and theory courses in the Teacher Education Department. Prior to joining NHU, Dr. Hess was a classroom teacher, instructing students in grades K–12 in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and California. She also served as a school principal and an assistant superintendent.
Read on to learn more about Dr. Hess, including her love of design, construction, and chocolate!
Q. From classroom teacher to school principal to assistant superintendent to, now, professor—you have a long history in the field of education. What drew you to this sector?
What drew me to education is a very good question. Some students enter college hoping to find a vocation or profession, while others graduate from a university still looking for a path. I was one of the very lucky ones who knew I wanted to be a teacher before I entered kindergarten. My mother tells the story of coming to pick me up after the first day after kindergarten and finding me in a pool of tears. When she asked me what was wrong, I replied that kindergarten was horrible. I was there all day and we didn't even read or write. I was the child who wanted the big box of Crayola crayons—you know, the one with the sharpener in the back—colored pencil sets, and paper of all kinds, when other little girls wanted dolls.
Q. What makes you proud to be part of the NHU familia?
As you probably surmised from my love of teaching, I have enjoyed all aspects of my professional journey, but the NHU familia is something above, yet encompasses, everything I ever hoped to do. Here at NHU, our focus is on maximizing learning for each student, with the student clearly at the center of the program. NHU is a place where we know that each student brings extraordinary gifts, and those gifts come in a variety of packages. We have a richness of diversity that expands learning and relationships in ways I had not previously experienced or could have predicted.
One of the many surprises I have encountered here at NHU is the variety of students' backgrounds. On an educational continuum, at one end, I have the honor of working with students who are completing or have just completed their undergraduate work and are entering the credential program on the path to their chosen profession At the other end of the continuum, I work with engineers, attorneys, and entrepreneurs who have had very successful careers in Silicon Valley and come back for a teaching credential to fulfill their dream of always wanting to teach. What a gift it is to be a part of a familia large enough to support all of those goals.
Q. What's your best piece of advice for students pursuing their degree?
It has been my experience that advice is best given when you have actually been in the other person's shoes. I stand in such awe of our students who are managing families—many of which are multigenerational—holding down full-time jobs, and taking courses. For that reason, my first piece of advice is for each student to notice the incredible job they are already doing. The next step is to breathe and complete the degree program like they are eating an elephant: one bite at a time and with lots of friends to help out. Additionally, I suggest students stay close to their professors. At NHU, we know each student and are eager to provide the support they need while we celebrate their successes.
Q. Finally, can you tell us three surprising facts about yourself?
The faculty members at NHU are very close to their students and their families, so I am not sure anything about me would be surprising. However, besides my family, teaching, and travel, I do love design and construction. If you give me gloves, a sledgehammer, and a demo saw, I can take a building down with any crew and then help pour the foundation and lay brick to build it back up. I especially like building when it is from a design I have created myself. I can spend hours wandering the tool aisles at a good hardware store, and I am currently finishing a 189-square-foot master bedroom closet. Oh, and I love dark chocolate.