Hess named as ORJSD’s Citadel Heart of Learning finalist

Pictured left to right is Dr. Will Stout, OJRSD superintendent; Amy Hess, Citadel Heart of Learning finalist; Dr. Malinda McKillip, French Creek Elementary School principal; and Dr. Kathy Soeder, OJRSD assistant superintendent.

The Owen J. Roberts School District (OJRSD) announced Amy Hess, an elementary teacher at French Creek Elementary, as one of 15 outstanding Chester County educators and 31 Greater Philadelphia area educators selected as a finalist in the 2022 Citadel Heart of Learning Awards. This year, thousands nominations were submitted for more teachers in the region.

“I am so honored to be recognized as the Owen J. Roberts School District’s Citadel Heart of Learning recipient this year,” said Hess, who is celebrating her nineteenth year in the classroom. “I have been so blessed to work with such amazing colleagues, administrators, parents and most importantly, students.”

Hess started her career upon her college graduation at the school that she student taught at, 13th and Union Elementary in the Reading School District (RSD). After three years years at RSD, she applied for a position at OJRSD and was ecstatic when she was offered a position teaching at French Creek Elementary.

“Mrs. Hess is an extraordinary educator who goes above and beyond for her students, said Dr. Malinda McKillip, principal of French Creek Elementary School. “Her dedication and commitment to the teaching profession is evident in her daily practice. She is truly very deserving of this special recognition.”

This year, Citadel Credit Union expanded its 21-year Citadel Heart of Learning Award program, which honors local teachers who are nominated and clearly go above and beyond. The program traditionally honored teachers exclusively within Chester County, where Citadel founded the program in partnership with the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) in 2001. Beginning this year, Citadel will award teachers in counties across the Greater Philadelphia area in addition to Chester; including Bucks, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. This expansion more than doubles the number of teachers recognized each year – from 15 to 31.

According to Hess, one of her main goals is to establish a community within the classroom. “I want everyone to feel accepted, welcomed and appreciated in my classroom,” she said. “At the end of the day, I want every child to feel cared about and welcome in my class. I want them to feel like they accomplished something that day. Most importantly, I want every student to leave my room wanting to come back the next day to see what adventure we will take next.”

Each finalist receives $500 to use in his or her classroom. The finalists will also be honored at an awards ceremony in May, where the three grand prize winners (one high school, one middle school and one elementary school teacher) will be announced and awarded with the Citadel Heart of Learning Award and an additional $1,500.

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