Retired Wesley Prep leader inspired to do ‘right for children’
When Linda Altick started teaching at Wesley Prep some 45 years ago, she could not have foreseen the story of educational success and expansion to come.
Lovers Lane United Methodist became her home church when she moved from Houston, joined in 1964, and eventually became a volunteer.
“My undergraduate degree was in education, and my master’s degree was in special ed,” Altick said. “In 1977, they said they needed a teacher, and I said, ‘I can do that.’”
In 1981, she agreed to become preschool director, as long as she could also be the Mother’s Day Out director and combine the programs.
Requests from families in the late 1990s prompted the school to expand into elementary grades.
“It was a controversial move for the church at that time,” she recalled. In 1998 came the initial first-grade class, and in 2007, “Miss Linda” became executive director.
Today, the preparatory school has expanded to sixth grade, averaging 450 students. Students are primarily from Preston Hollow and the Park Cities, though some have come from as far away as Lakewood and Irving.
“I had always thought I would work until 70, and we had plans for that,” Altick, now 71, said.
COVID changed that.
“I wasn’t going to abandon the school during COVID,” she said. “We closed for the required three months, but we knew, as educators, that children learn best in the classroom. The last two years have been the most difficult I’ve had in 45 years.”
Her passion for the needs of the students is as palpable as it is infectious.
“The whole reason I’m here is to be an advocate for the children, to be a voice for them,” Altick said. “Our motto is the yellow chair. The yellow chair always sat in my office as a reminder of — Is this decision right for the children? — because we only get one shot with them.”
But 12-hour days didn’t leave much time for relationships outside of the work environment, Altick admitted.
She hopes that changes with retirement. Her last day at Wesley Prep was May 31.
“I’ll be cleaning my house,” she said, chuckling, “reconnecting with friends, traveling, enjoying our granddaughter, and finding a way to give back. I’m not sure what that will be, but I’m certain it will be something advocating for children — to be a voice for them still, just in a different place.”
Her legacy at Wesley Prep? She hopes that’s defined as “making a difference in people’s lives” and “just doing right by folks.”
“I feel very honored and blessed to have been a part of this great school for 45 years — amazing teachers, friends, and the most wonderfully engaged parents,” she said.
Indeed, some teachers have worked alongside her for more than 30 years.
Pondering winsomely, she added, “I’ll miss the children — the hugs and the kisses.”