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Prevail Kindergarten Teacher Doesn’t Take Students’ Growth for Granted

Note: This is one in a series recognizing winners of the 2020-21 NHA Excellence Awards, a program that honors educators, deans, and administrative teams across our network.

Lindsey Shehu is grateful to experience such a formative time in her students’ lives each year as a kindergarten teacher at Prevail Academy.

“They don’t know their letters, and then when they leave me they’re reading 20 and 30 words a minute,” she said. “That’s the part that I find every year so successful. I don't ever want to leave kindergarten. It’s like that every year.”

Lindsey Shehu teaching students at a table
Lindsey Shehu is in her fourth-year teaching at Prevail Academy charter school.

Witnessing and being part of that growth is an everyday success story for Shehu, who was an Excellence in Teaching winner in the 2020-21 NHA Excellence Awards. She is in her fourth year at Prevail and has been at National Heritage Academies for nine years, previously having her first teaching job at Pathway School of Discovery in Dayton, Ohio. She also taught at a public school after her time at Pathway but was eager to return to NHA in her move to Michigan.

“I like that there is a lot of support,” Shehu said. “It doesn't even matter what it is, if I need help with a behavior, there’s support. If I need help with curriculum, there’s support. If I just need supplies for the classroom, there’s whatever I need. There's always somebody that can either coach me on what I need to do or get me what I need, and I really, really like that. You don’t find that in a public school.”

Because her scholars experience so much growth in a short amount of time, Shehu is happy to be back teaching in-person. That level of development has firm roots in social cues, something she hasn’t taken for granted.

Lindsey Shehu with her arms around her students
Lindsey Shehu is an Excellence in Teaching winner in the 2020-21 NHA Excellence Awards.

“Especially this past two years because of COVID. A lot of them didn't go to preschool, so they don't even know how to sit in the chair and just be normal functioning because they’ve never learned how to be a student and to have them come in and basically be like a squirrel and just running all over the place. Now they're active students, they sit they raise their hand, they do their work. There's a lot of growth that comes with kindergarten that I just love.

“We have Moral Focus time every day, but I feel like it has turned into more of a longer Moral Focus because they just need to learn those character skills, those nine pillars of Moral Focus. We talk a lot about them and we spend more time on it than probably we ever have before.”

Shehu’s approach to teaching is an extension of parenting at home. By treating her scholars with the care she gives her own children, she gives them an environment with the right mix of compassion and accountability.

Students playing during recess

“I have a very firm, but fair way of running my class,” she said. “I love them like they’re my own babies; I have two little ones at home and so I want to give them that love and affection, but I also hold them accountable. There’s a line that they don't cross. They know that I’m very firm, but I’m also fair and that has always worked for me.”

Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Shehu!
About Prevail Academy
Prevail Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Mount Clemens, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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