Hess, who retired from Columbia, decided to teach as a first-grader
MADISON – Cora Hess has good suggestions for future teachers: have a passion about children, willingness to grow and change, desire for continual learning and patience.
She retired as a first-grade teacher at Columbia Elementary School.
Her own first-grade teacher exerted “profound impact not only on my education but my career.” Hess couldn’t read but the teacher “willingly spent extra class time and after-school hours working with me to practice and help me.”
“She saw within me my potential. Before long, her hard work, patience and dedication paid off … I was reading,” Hess said.
In first grade, Hess developed “a passion for teaching that grew into a career choice. It became my desire to impact the lives of others just as (my teacher) had impacted my life. That wonderful, beautiful lady is the reason I became an educator,” Hess said.
In 1990, Hess was named “Teacher of the Year” at Lawsonville (N.C.) Elementary School. In 2000, her colleagues at Heritage Elementary School named her “Teacher of the Year,” leading to her title as top teacher for Madison City Schools that year.
However, Hess is most proud of “terrific young people I’ve encountered and had the honor and privilege to meet.”
At Arkansas State University, she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education.
During her career, Hess taught in Arkansas at Nathan Bedford Forrest Academy in Forrest City, four years; Earle Elementary School, two years; and Wynne primary and intermediate schools, six years. She taught in Lawsonville, N.C. six years.
In Alabama, she taught at Kilby Laboratory School on the University of North Alabama campus, four years; Heritage, five years; and Columbia, 9.5 years.
Her husband John J. Hess is superintendent at National Copper LLC in Huntsville. Their son John J. ‘Joey’ Hess Jr., 37, is a global automation technology expert for Dow Chemical Company. Joey and Cindy Hess have one daughter, Alivia.
As a retiree, Cora Hess will spend time with her granddaughter, pursue volunteer work, travel, relax and enjoy life.