Kurn Hattin Homes for Children was established in 1894 for children whose families are not able to care for them. Lyssa Jackson was such a child, born to parents with mental illness. “I lived with my mother until I was about eight and at that point, I wasn’t going to school very often. My mother was keeping me out of school because she was not feeling secure with my teachers because of her own internal issues.”
Around that time Jackson overheard a conversation between her mother and a neighbor, who was singing the praises of Kurn Hattin and recommending it for the eight year old. Not long after that Lyssa moved in with her grandmother, but she didn’t forget the name her neighbor had mentioned. “I started researching Kurn Hattin to see what this place was. I actually went on their website and read its mission statement.”
She eventually approached her grandmother about the school, “I’m really interested in this place called Kurn Hattin. I want to learn more about it and I want to go see it.” She convinced her grandmother to take her for a visit. “When you walk onto the campus, there’s a certain energy there, you know that everyone really loves the students there. And I immediately got that feeling even though I wasn’t a student, yet. I just knew that was where I was supposed to be.”
The school made a positive impression on Jackson and her grandmother and she enrolled the summer before fourth grade. “It was so different from anything I’d ever experienced. I’d gone from being the head of my household, and taking care of myself and making sure that I got to school.” It even fell to Jackson to find her own meals.
But attending Kurn Hattin meant she could deal with – and only with – the responsibilities of a child. “Suddenly I didn’t have to worry about where my next meal was going to come from, whether I was going to go to school that day or whether I would have clean clothes things like that. I really was able to focus on my studies and for that reason was able to excel.”
Jackson quickly saw the many opportunities presented to her at the school. “I did some amazing things. In my science class I dissected a pig; I was in a program called StarBase where I learned all about different types of planes and rockets, and I actually ended up co-piloting a plane, in fifth grade!”
After graduating Kurn Hattin, Jackson attended Putney Academy and is now studying business and English at Skidmore College. “Kurn Hattin didn’t make me the person that I am but it allowed me the space to be the person I had always been motivated to be. It’s a space for someone to grow. And I wouldn’t be at Skidmore, I wouldn’t be where I am today without that.”