By: Brianna Lucciano

Most teachers write lessons, assignments, and tests, grade the work and then move on. Heather Hillesheim, better known to the student body as Mrs. H., goes beyond that. She not only teaches she makes certain her students understand their work. She also gives her opinion on our work, and sends a weekly message; and most importantly makes every one of her students feel as though they are her favorite. When I asked students what words came to mind when they thought of Mrs. H the words included kind, caring, unique, patient, and funny. Mrs. H is an amazing teacher, not only am I lucky to have her as a teacher, but our whole student body is lucky enough to have her in our school.

 Mrs. H was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer my questions about her life and FTA. 

What made you want to become a teacher?
I originally wanted to be a teacher because I love chemistry. I also had a young chemistry teacher in high school that I think really set me on my path to getting my degree in chemistry. After about a year of teaching I realized that I really love high school students. I love seeing them trying to decide what kind of an adult they're going to be. 

How long have you been a teacher?
This is my 6th year teaching, though I took a year off before teaching at FTA. 

I know that you have taught in a traditional school, what made you want to teach in an online school?
When my husband got a new job I was finally able to stay home with our daughter, which had been the plan since we'd gotten married. However, after just a year I realized I really missed my work. Teaching for FTA allows me to have all of my kids, my daughter and my students too. Its the best of both worlds!

What are the benefits of online versus traditional schooling?
I think the major benefits are allowing students to work slower or faster than they would in a normal setting and flexibility of scheduling. It wasn't until I started teaching for FTA that I realized how many online students are in online courses because their schedules don't allow for traditional school. Students who are athletes, actors, and dancers. I think its wonderful that we provide a way for all students to have their needs met.  

What was your best subject in college?
I did well and really enjoyed physical chemistry and the electricity and magnetism half of physics. I also shocked myself by loving my biomedical ethics class! 

In high school, were you ever awarded, "Best Dressed", "Most Likely to be Famous", "Class President", etc...? 
I think I got smartest girl in junior high. I was the treasurer of the Science Club, but I didn't tell many people about it because it was terribly nerdy. I was also the valedictorian when we graduated. 

Do you run any other clubs other than the NHS for FTA, and what is your favorite thing about FTA?
NHS is the only club I'm running, but I am the club coordinator so I help organize things for all of the clubs, like the new forums and chat rooms. 
My favorite thing about FTA is that I feel like the administration really wants to do the best that they can for teachers and students. 

So as you can see Mrs. H is not your typical teacher, she wants what is best for each of her students and really does care. Mrs. H continues to do beyond her best for her students and her students continue try their hardest in her classes because of the teacher she is.

This is Mrs. H pictured with her husband Daniel, and adorable daughter Keely.       


Forest Trail Academy Accreditations

Forest Trail Academy, one of the most renowned college preparatory schools, is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). This bears testimony to the fact that Forest Trail academy maintains high standards with respect to the quality of education they are providing to students - worldwide.

SACS CASI is an accreditation division of Advanced, which is a globally recognized education community, serving public and private schools spread over 69 countries and educate more than 15 million students. Advanced has more than 100 years of experience in evaluating education systems with the aid of research based tools and techniques. The National Study of School Education provides necessary inputs to Advanced for deciding on the parameters based on which the course curriculum, the overall performance and progress of a school/education system is assessed

The process of accreditation should add value to the education system by
  • aligning the systems and processes with the core values of the organization,
  • providing insights as to how an organization can improve
  • by setting up a research based set standard for the organization to adhere to
Forest Trail Academy does not take this accreditation as a one time phenomenon or just a hallmark on their education system. It has taken the accreditation as an ongoing process through which they will continuously thrive to improve their education system based on the set parameters provided by SACS CASI. Such improvement is always directed to the core objective of the organization to provide alternative education to students worldwide from all walks of life and different life circumstances.

Forest Trail Academy is also accredited by Middle States Association – Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools (MSA CESS), National Association for the Legal Support of Alternative Schools (N.A.L.S.A.S) and Accreditation International (Ai).

Online education provided by Forest Trail Academy is reviewed and updated on a periodic basis keeping in mind the ever changing scenario in the education world and job market. Dedicated teachers and faculties of Forest Trail Academy are available to educate, motivate and groom students for a better future. Since online school students receive education in seclusion at their home, to keep them motivated, the faculties often get into the role of a mentor and put in their best efforts to guide the students and boost up their morale as and when needed.

Online learning is a sought after alternative for students who cannot attend a regular school however it is utmost important for parents to enquire whether an online education system has been accredited by the proper authorities or not, before enrolling their kids. Only this can give sense of assurance to the parents that their kid’s future is in safe hands.

Forest Trail Academy is accredited online school which is committed toward providing education through an online environment which meets the quality standard laid down by the appropriate governing bodies of the education system.