30 years and thousands of students later, Chrissy Hester continues to impact the lives of members of the College Station ISD (CSISD) community.
In 1979, Hester and her family moved to College Station. As a counselor, Hester began working on her administrative certification and doctorate in educational administration at Texas A&M University.
Hester later became a principal at A&M Consolidated High School. Because of a bill passed by the Texas legislature, Hester was required to leave her principalship and be out of a school district for one year in order to have rights to her husband’s social security. During that time, Hester was hired by the College of Education and Human Development to work on a grant helping low-performing schools.
“It was fabulous. I loved it. I helped a lot of schools but my heart was always in the school district,” explained Hester.
She went back to CSISD as a coordinator part-time. The next year, she was asked to be a personnel director before being named Director of Student Services. Hester has served in that role for the past 12 years.
Hester always knew education was her future. As soon as she could, she began working at the YMCA in the after school program working with children.
“I never wanted to do anything different than teach. I always knew I was going to teach and that’s all I ever wanted to do,” explained Hester. “Everyone asks me when I’m going to retire. I always tell them I will when it’s not fun anymore. It’s still fun so I don’t plan on retiring any time soon.”
She believes her greatest contribution to CSISD is the relationships she has built with families of students in the district.
“They call me when they need help and they call me when they don’t need help. I built those relationships and they see me as a conduit for this school system and someone to help them navigate it,” she added. “I spent more time with a lot of people’s kids than they did because I started in elementary school and went all the way up to high school. A lot of these students I knew for 13 years.”
Those connections are also what led to the creation of Chrissy’s Closet, a place for low-income families in CSISD to find clothing and shoes for their children.
Nearly 35 percent of CSISD’s population qualifies for free or reduced lunch and may not have access to clothes that fit or other personal hygiene products. Thanks to generous donations from businesses and others in the community, Chrissy’s Closet is working to change that.
“While working on plans for a place that would help countless students and families in our district- one name kept coming to mind- Chrissy Hester. There isn't a person in CSISD that helps more families and staff members on a daily basis than Chrissy does,” explained Shannon Long. “We thought naming the closet after her would be a great way to honor a truly amazing woman for all that she does and all that she means to us in CSISD. “
Created by Long and Kelly Kovacs, Chrissy’s Closet first opened October 3, 2016 at College View High School. Each Monday, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. students and their families are invited to come shop. They can take five items per child free of charge.
“The first night we were open, within minutes, we had kids trying on clothes and dancing in front of the mirrors. It was so great. We know if these kids look good they’ll feel better about themselves and do better in school,” Hester added.
More than 250 families have been served by Chrissy’s Closet and Hester anticipates hundreds more families will also benefit. She sees donations roll in on a daily basis in the form of clothes or even cash donations from her former students.
“It is just the most rewarding thing ever. It is the greatest honor of my life actually.”