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I’m a PARENT looking to Enroll my child.

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Hear from Houseparents


Erik & Jacqui Niel
Student Home Bethune
Houseparents since 2009Student Home Bethune Elementary Milton Hershey School

What did you do before arriving at Milton Hershey School, and what attracted you to working here?

“Before arriving at Milton Hershey School, Erik worked as a business manager and I was an elementary school teacher.  I learned about MHS while I was teaching, and we were both so inspired by Milton and Catherine’s selfless act and mission.”

“We were surprised that we had never heard of the school, and we only lived about 40 minutes east of Hershey.  Once we applied and visited the school, we were convinced it was the absolute most amazing place on earth.  The fact that we are able to be a part of the Hershey’s mission as houseparents and are able to teach, nurture, and be role models for our students, is an honor and privilege.”

What’s the most fulfilling part of being houseparents?

“The most fulfilling part of being a houseparent is knowing that you have the opportunity to change lives every day. For us, seeing students learn, succeed and give back just as Catherine and Milton Hershey did is incredible.  Their story is truly a powerful testimony of the gift they shared so selflessly that continues to positively impact the world.”


Will and Clare OgleRidgeview Student Home Milton Hershey School
Student Home Ridgeview
Houseparents since  2011

How did you arrive at Milton Hershey School, and what attracted you to working here?

“Clare first heard about the school when she was a student at Big Spring High School. Her brothers would wrestle here for big tournaments. After we got married, we thought house parenting might be something cool to do “some day.” A few years ago, we had an unplanned adoption that caused us to really think about where we wanted to raise our son and where we could best use the gifts that God had given us. We felt like the Milton Hershey School was the perfect fit. It champions some of the things we value most in life: integrity, mutual respect, diversity, and being “others minded.” After being a youth pastor (Will) and   teaching in the inner city (Clare), the thought of living with students and having the opportunity to mentor them daily really appealed to us.”

What’s the most fulfilling part of being houseparents?

“It’s hard to pick the most fulfilling part of being a houseparent.   There are numerous things that make our job fulfilling.   Seeing a student “get it” is awesome. It’s great when they do something like make their bed or do their chore, but it’s so much better when you see them put another student before themselves or tell the truth even when it’s difficult. Those are the things that really stand out. When you see them develop the skills and habits that are going to help make them successful human beings — to know you played any part in that is an amazing privilege.”


Leno & Karen Washington
Student Home King
Houseparents since 2000Student Home King Milton Hershey School 2014

“Before coming to Milton Hershey School, college-educated Karen and Leno Washington worked in administrative and managerial positions in the Harrisburg, PA area. Karen, a girl scout teacher and Sunday school teacher, and Leno, who formerly worked directly with school students as a behavior management specialist, longed to pursue a life’s work where they could have the greatest impact on children in need.”

“While the hours are longer and I don’t leave my work behind at the end of an eight-hour day, I find this work is easier for me. I thrive helping others. It’s rewarding and fulfilling—that’s why I do it and that’s why I love it,” said Karen.

Leno says being a houseparent isn’t about choosing a job, it’s about choosing a lifestyle. “We’re a family,” he says of his students, his wife, and their children. “We treat the Milton Hershey School students as if they were our own. It’s a great joy to see them develop in positive ways due to your influence.”

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