Back to School is an Exciting Beginning to New Academic Year

Back to school season offers parents and students an exciting beginning to a new academic year.  An opportunity to start fresh, learn new concepts, and reconnect with friends, school can be welcoming after a summer lull. Some parents anxiously await to the return of a routine and students are excited to socialize on campus. While some students are looking forward to their friends, others may have some apprehension to staring the new school year.

No matter what the sentiment may be, Hillsides Education Center teachers and administrators are here to meet the individual needs of each student. In this highly structured learning environment, students learn instruction using various methods. HEC is committed to reflective teaching and fostering an ethic of caring about each student’s uniqueness. Teachers at HEC focus on academic content as they relate to the students’ past experiences. Artistic problem solving is also encouraged in an effort to make the student’s educational experience more meaningful. Teachers are continually finding new ways to adapt the curriculum to relate to a student’s background, interests and needs.

Our teaching community is very stable with a low turnover rate. Staff includes credentialed special education teachers, instructional aides, licensed clinical social workers, and a speech therapist. Credentials vary from Learning Handicapped Specialist, Clear Level-II Education Specialist, and Preliminary Level-I Education Specialist. Staff members share the teaching philosophy that all children and teens regardless of their behavioral issues or/and challenges can learn in the appropriate setting. Here’s a look at a few of our administrators.

Jay Bechtol, M.S.W., director of Hillsides Education Center, supervises the HEC staff that consists of seven teachers, 28 teacher’s aides and five support staff. He also coordinates access to the services of nurses, therapists, psychiatrists, and music and art therapists through Hillsides’ residential treatment program, which is located on the same campus. Jay has been with Hillsides for twenty years. 

Kerry Webber, assistant director of HEC, is responsible for student admissions, facilitates student enrollment based on openings, and provides student counseling. In addition, Kerry oversees the therapeutic component, developing behavioral plans that are integrated in the individualized education plan. Kerry has been employed by Hillsides for more than twenty years of which 14 years have been with Hillsides Education Center.

Jay and Kerry cultivate relationships with many school districts and inform them on the curriculum and extracurricular activities we offer our students. Students are referred from 31 school districts, including Los Angeles and Pasadena. For a complete list of our school districts and to learn more about our special education, nonpublic school, visit

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