Why HCES

"I have come to realize the greatness of a journey can be determined by the sadness you feel when that journey is over. Perhaps what I am most thankful to HCES for is giving me the opportunity to enjoy these years with my children.  Having such complete confidence in HCES, I do not worry about my children's future.  For, I know they will enter high school with faith in God, a sound education, wonderful friends for life, and fond memories of their primary school experience."

Read Our Stories...

List of 8 items.

  • For the Blalocks, it's about Community.

    "We became a part of the Holy Comforter family when our older daughter entered PK3. We were initially drawn to the beautiful campus and the welcoming and professional teachers and staff. During our first campus visit, I remember being impressed by the excellent manners of two middle school students who stopped to ask us if we needed help with directions.
     
    As our daughter approached kindergarten, it was important to us that she attend a school where the teachers had a positive work environment and the ability and freedom to be creative and make decisions based on what they saw as best for the children. We also didn’t want her time at school to be wasted - we wanted to know that she was busy learning, playing, and just engaging with her teachers and classmates. We had witnessed these things at Holy Comforter. We also loved that it was a small, but not too small, school and that it encompassed preschool through 8th grade.
     
    Now that we have been a part of Holy Comforter for almost five years, with children in PK4 and 2nd grade, I would say that we found what we were looking for, but also so much more. There was the phone call from Mr. Klekamp and the get-well video from her teacher and classmates when one of our children had to be in the hospital for a few days. It's the comfort and fortitude found in praying for our school and its people with other parents. It's the special traditions throughout the years - chapel, the sock hop, Kindergarten Circus, Daddy Daughter dances, and so on - memories we will forever cherish. It's the teachers and staff members who have recognized particular interests or characteristics of our children, and gone out of their way to encourage them and communicate with us. Children at Holy Comforter are really “known” in a sense, and appreciated for who they are as people. They seem happy to be there. We value the strong sense of community, wholesome atmosphere, and high level of parent involvement, as well.
     
    I asked my children what they like best about Holy Comforter:
    Anna, 2nd grade, said the library, because there are lots of good books and it’s quiet. Eleanor, PreK4, said the playground, especially the swings and the balance beam. Both girls agreed that they love the teachers because they are nice and they make things fun!"

    - Jennifer Blalock with husband Adam and daughters Anna '23 and Eleanor '26
     
  • For the Davises, it's all about choices.

    "We – the Davis Family – moved to Tallahassee from Boston in 2005 when our children, Khari and Aaliyah were two years old and six months old. When we arrived in Tallahassee, we were in search of a place like the preschool we left, one that would enrich our children – a true home for young students. As we began looking towards Kindergarten for Khari, we heard more and more about Holy Comforter Episcopal School. After several recommendations from friends, colleagues, and even a few strangers, we made an impromptu visit during the middle of the day. As we arrived, our first impression was the beauty of the campus. It reminded us of the schools in Boston: the red brick, the architecture, but there was something more about HCES. The campus was simply peaceful, not the quiet, asleep kind of peaceful but the confident, knowing and self-efficacious kind of peaceful. We scheduled our tour, went to Lower School Chapel, and we made the decision that there was no other choice for our family.     
     
    From that first day, we were happy, we all were happy. We had – and still have –  very busy and demanding jobs, and each time we dropped off our children, we felt safe and didn't look back. Throughout that first year, we experienced the natural feelings of change to a new city, a new school and making new friends, but we also witnessed the attention and focus on the individual child and a moral and ethical foundation being established with our children. Teachers and administrators got to know our children and challenged them to be the best that they could be, in the most nurturing of ways. During those first few weeks, a three-year old Aaliyah, in PK4, often missed Khari. Her teacher would take her to visit him, easing her transition.
     
    Over the years, the faculty and staff recognized our children’s skills and strengths. They encouraged their individual gifts and then taught them to use those gifts to help others. The HCES faculty and staff recognized the uniqueness of our children, helping them grow and mature, not only academically, but also as citizens, children of God and as human beings. We have been blessed to witness how our children have thrived - and as they thrived, we were thankful and pleased with the how their teachers provided the time, and established an environment for our children (and their friends) to think freely while challenging them to think deeply.
     
    For example, in the fourth grade, Aaliyah and her friends had the notion to create businesses, complete with their own currency, and they expressed their desires to their teacher. Aaliyah’s teacher embraced it, engaged it and integrated the businesses into the curriculum. For us this is a prime example of why we are grateful for HCES. An opportunity was seized for students to not only to create and be creative, but also to learn hands-on through trial and error, problem solving, teamwork, and collaboration. Similarly, we saw Khari grow from a reticent child standing up nervously at his first kindergarten chapel to being asked to be the first eighth grade male student to present a "This I Believe" speech. He was chosen to encourage and inspire his classmates so that they, too, could do the same. These examples are a tangible illustration of the beauty and practicality of Holy Comforter Episcopal School.
     
    During our children’s middle school years, we have watched them blossom. Our children and their peers have become confident characters, focused scholars, and empathetic leaders. The beauty and practicality on display in the Lower School was also present in the Middle School. In a Kindergarten through eighth grade school, the students – lower and middle school aged – can be and are the primary focus. For our children, this intentional focus was good for them. It allowed them to transform, gain confidence, struggle, excel, be frustrated and learn a few life lessons all while in a safe environment. It also allowed them a chance to support and be supported, to admire and be admired, and to lead and serve in their matriculation at HCES.
     
    We are confident that our children are (and will be) prepared for high school. Khari is completing his eighth-grade year and he is ready for high school. He will leave HCES joyful, he will leave HCES confident in his skill, he will leave HCES with a secure spiritual foundation, he will leave HCES with strong academic and social skills. And he will leave HCES ready to spread his wings.
     
    As with any truly enriching and rewarding experiences, there are challenges and struggles. It was not different at HCES and when we struggled, expressed an opinion, or displayed frustration, the faculty, staff and administration were always responsive. The culture at Holy Comforter is centered on family. Because of that culture, our children were and are surrounded by people who cared about them and who are willing to work through any challenge. Our children learned resiliency not only at home but at school. We are hopefully confident and excited to see how they make their lives.
     
    We are also proud to have been at the genesis and the revelations of HCES becoming a leader and innovator in STEM, especially technology. Our family is a partner and co-conspirator in the development and expansion of HCES STEM. And we could do so because parents are cherished for, and welcomed to, share their expertise with the school, its students and faculty. Personally, we have been valued as parents, for our input as experts in our professions and in our own little way, we have been allowed to contribute – a little bit – to the education of all students and to make HCES an even better place. When you are part of a community like this, amongst different-minded but similarly action and goal-oriented people, and you engage and embrace the community, life is splattered with drops of goodness and God-ness.
     
    As our time at Holy Comforter comes to an end, we still feel that same sense of peace, calm and security that we did nine years ago when we first looked across the courtyard. With the closing of our HCES chapter, we know we have given our children a superb academic and spiritual foundation. And with that, wherever they go, they will excel and soar.

    It has been a beautiful story, here at Holy Comforter Episcopal School. Holy Comforter was a choice we made, we believed in and we never looked back."

    - Shairi Turner-Davis and Jimmie Davis, Parents of Khari '17 and Aaliyah '18
  • For the Fernandez kids, it's about Family.

    "Our HCES journey began when my husband and I were looking into middle school options for our eldest daughter. She had been a strong student in elementary school, and our only real criteria at that point was a well-designed curriculum that would challenge her academically and prepare her for advanced courses in high school. We began looking during her fourth grade year, and our considerations included both public and private school options.

    We had gradually come to know Holy Comforter over the years through friends whose children attended, as well as the repeated known successes of HCES alumni. Holy Comforter was on our preliminary list of middle schools, but with three younger siblings following closely behind her, we knew the financial commitment could be a challenge in the future.
     
    When I first contacted Holy Comforter to learn more, I was immediately struck by the warm professionalism of the administration.  When I arrived on campus for a tour, I witnessed how that warm professionalism permeated the entire community.  As I walked through the halls and visited classrooms, I quickly became enamored.  I saw teachers speaking to fully engaged students; I saw student work of impressive quality pinned up in the hallways; I encountered several students who welcomed me to their school; and perhaps most noticeable of all was the general sense of happiness everywhere I turned.
     
    After touring Holy Comforter, our criteria for a middle school expanded to include more than just academics.  We realized that the learning environment was of equal importance.  We not only wanted our daughter to learn, we wanted her to enjoy learning, which is exactly what I saw happening in each and every classroom I visited at Holy Comforter, regardless of grade level or subject matter.
     
    After allowing all the information about the various middle schools to set in, we realized we had a big problem.  Not only had we found the perfect middle school for our daughter, but we had also found the perfect elementary school for our three younger children.  Since sending all four children to Holy Comforter at one time was not what my husband and I had previously discussed, we needed to figure things out.  If we followed our hearts, our finances would certainly be tight.
     
    My husband and I have always maintained, though, that the two best gifts we can offer our children are faith in God and a sound education.  We found both of these to be present and thriving at HCES.  Therefore, after much thought, prayer and discussion, we decided to do whatever was necessary to make HCES our school for the entire family.  In short, what began as a hunt for a middle school for our eldest daughter turned into a full family transfer.
     
    As our first day of school at HCES approached, we could hardly contain the excitement we felt for our children and the wonderful opportunities that were in store for them.  Naturally, though, we worried how they might fit in as new students in classes where the majority of the children have been there from the beginning. However, not only did our children settle right in and make new friends, but the parents were just as welcoming and ready to establish new friendships with my husband and me.  Needless to say, we instantly felt part of the HCES family.
     
    We are now in the third year of our HCES journey and our high expectations have been far exceeded.  The love and support felt between the administration, faculty, parents and students is a defining characteristic of our school. Moreover, the academic progress and character development of each of our children have been awe-inspiring.  They have learned so much in such a short time.  So, when people ask me how we like HCES, I say, "We love it!"  And when I say "we," I mean all of us: my husband, me, and each of our children.  We honestly could not be happier.
     
    I have come to realize the greatness of a journey can be determined by the sadness you feel when that journey is over.  Our eldest daughter's HCES journey will end next year when she moves on to high school, and although I am confident she has been fully prepared, I know she will miss this uniquely all-around loving and supportive environment.  Thankfully, our youngest child's journey is just beginning, and as a family, we have many more years at HCES to come.
     
    Perhaps what I am most thankful to HCES for is giving me the opportunity to enjoy these years with my children.  Having such complete confidence in HCES, I do not worry about my children's future.  For, I know they will enter high school with faith in God, a sound education, wonderful friends for life, and fond memories of their primary school experience."  - Bobbie and Segundo Fernandez (Diana '18, Sarah '20, Henry '21 and Peter '23)
  • For the Harrells, it's about building a foundation.

    For our boys, HCES was a foundation. A platform which would enable them to find and launch their own successes. Our boys have been blessed to be able to attend HCES.

    From day one, they were met and nurtured by loving teachers - often over qualified - but caring, dedicated teachers who pushed and challenged them to be their best academically and personally.  To not only know the answer to the equation, but to know empathy, show compassion and find inspiration.

    As parents, we seek to provide our children a solid foundation that gives them the confidence, the security and the tools they need to succeed.

    In today's world of political correctness, it is nice to have a place where children can explore their own beliefs and convictions in a safe, spiritual environment. It gives them greater confidence in who they are and what they can become when given the right tools.  

    We believe that HCES has this unique ability and distinguishes itself because of its rigorous academic programs in a Christian environment.

    As a non-Episcopalian and public school grad, I was anxious as to the parochial aspect of the school. But I learned quickly it is the secret sauce. Just visit a chapel and you will see. When the innocent young voices unite in song or eighth graders stand to tell "what I believe", there are few dry eyes to be found and what makes this place so special is divinely apparent.

    Today's public school environment can often hinder the ability of educators to tackle difficult life issues. This doesn't mean that students don't face them. They just go unanswered or left for another time.

    Because HCES can use all the tools in our faith based setting, students grow up with an incredible sense of security that comes from a strong foundation in one's faith. They get to explore their own convictions and beliefs as they begin to face life's challenges. They gain confidence and become secure in who they are and in their choices.

    So not only do they leave HCES with the exceptional academic prerequisites for a strong future, but they also leave with some sense of who they are as a person and the excitement to seek who they can become.

    Our future leaders are made from the students of today who have the confidence and the inspiration to make a difference for tomorrow.

    Mallory and Mike Harrell
    Parents of Bennett, Hayes and Shelby Harrell
     
  • For the Hightowers, it's home.

    My family moved to Tallahassee in 1975. I was 4 years old and my father, George Kontos, became the priest of Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, as well as the Head of School. I can still remember my first day of nursery school (what is now our PK4 program) and Miss Kat Oven was my teacher.
    My father walked me into chapel that day saying, “Ok, Elizabeth, we are going to teach them ‘Good Morning, Church.’ Are you ready? They will love it” - and, of course, everyone loved it.
    Now, 40 years later, all three of my girls attend HCES (my oldest graduated last year) and when I am in chapel, I still tear up a bit each time we are welcomed with "Good Morning, Church."

    My father had a tremendous influence on my life. Many in the HCES community constantly and lovingly remind me of the impact he had on this church and school. I want to tell you about the impact that this place had on him and, therefore, on me and my family.

    You may not realize that this school is truly steeped in tradition. I could tell you about my own 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. I could tell you that it rained during my May Day dance and that it was still glorious and a “Right of Passage.” I could tell you about a brand new, 22-year-old teacher named Karen Wells (still teaching 4th grade). I could tell you about the fact that to this day Mary Lois Mayfield was the hardest history teacher that I EVER had and that the “A” I earned from her meant more to me in the years to come than any other grade.

    But, I'll tell you this...I was 10 years old when I first saw blueprints for the new school. It was a serious dream for everyone at Holy Comforter for a very long time. In 2006, when my husband, Hilton, and I returned to Tallahassee with our two girls and Lily on the way, Dad was with me as we walked these very grounds. Dad was a big guy, didn’t cry ever; he was always wearing his huge Greek smile. That day, his eyes were bright, tearful as he was in awe.

    “This is your home, my home, anyone’s home just as God intended for it to be,” he said.

    Anyone’s home. Holy Comforter is a family; and they, we, want everyone and anyone to be a part of this family, to know that they will be accepted and nurtured to be all that they can be. My daughter, Sophie, entered high school this year and Hilton and I have absolutely no doubt that her confident, caring nature, along with a stellar education is due to her “family.”  Her HCES family.

    Elizabeth and Hilton Hightower
    Parents of Sophie (2016), Ava (2017) and Lily (2021)
  • For the Krizners, it's about Kids Being Kids.

    "We are more impressed than EVER with the STEM education our children are receiving at Holy Comforter Episcopal School. Recently, we accompanied our daughter to the Middle School Astronaut Challenge at the Kennedy Space Center in early February. I have to admit I was more than a bit intimidated when we arrived and realized we would be competing against top notch students from engineering magnet schools all across the southeast. While there, we met a team between our challenges that travels all around the country participating in engineering and robotics competitions. This particular team had just placed 1st in an engineering competition of 50 teams all across the Southeast - we then knew the competition would be stiff. However test after test, our kids rose to the challenge and succeeded moving into the semi-finals and then to the finals. I was simply amazed, not only by our children's passion, perseverance and hard work, but also that our well-rounded, sports playing, Latin-learning HCES students can hang with the very BEST in the STEM community. Our students are not only receiving a top notch education, but they get to be kids; they get to go to dances, study playwriting, learn about the stock market, participate in speech and debate, explore in 3D Art and more... Holy Comforter is truly one of a kind!"

    Kristen and Bill Krizner
    Parents of Kate (2018), Sophia (2020) and Isabella (2023)
  • For the Levesques, it's about Teachers.

    Our family started at Holy Comforter three years ago and we love it. When friends ask about the school, I always start by saying “How much time do you have?”, because I can talk for hours about the things I appreciate.

    I love that the students go to chapel three times a week.

    I love that in addition to great academics, the school is focused on building good character and well-rounded kids.

    I love that teachers begin working with the children in PK3 on their first public speaking appearances when each class leads Chapel twice a year.

    I love the traditions that occur each year by grade, with PK4 students experiencing the marriage of the letters Q and U, kindergarteners doing the egg drop, authoring their first book and reading it at an Author’s Tea to the 5th graders that build and design their own games (complete with the rules and rewards) that they then operate at the Fall Festival. 

    I love that all of the activities are designed to develop critical thinking skills and give the kids hands-on activities where they are experiencing and learning.

    I love that the school wants parents to be on campus - to come and visit the classrooms and be hands-on in their children's education. 

    But most of all, I love the teachers and staff who believe that it is their job to help my children succeed. My children are safe; they are pushed and helped to excel. We love Holy Comforter.

    Patricia and George Levesque
    Parents of Luke (2023) and Isabella (2025)
  • For the Strayers, it's all about Love.

    "Our family chose Holy Comforter Episcopal School because we were looking for a school that our children would be happy and excited to attend, especially during the challenging middle school years. We knew that the teachers and administrators at Holy Comforter would be focused on the academic success of our children, and also on their emotional, physical, and spiritual development.

    The middle school at Holy Comforter has a unique block scheduling that allows for longer class periods and gives teachers and students the time needed to more fully engage through projects and class participation. The middle school teachers know the names of every middle school student and continually work together to meet the academic and social needs of each child. The students at Holy Comforter are taught a challenging and high-interest curriculum that is not tied to high-stakes, state-mandated testing.

    Their time at Holy Comforter is joyful and enriching. Their classroom time includes important discussions, opportunities for speech and debate, and a chance to reflect on their own learning. Our children are given the opportunity everyday to be outside with their friends, eating lunch, taking a break, or throwing a football. They celebrate with pep rallies, center-court chapel, and grade-level challenges that include relay races and silly games. They are treated to cookouts and dances. Our children are happy at Holy Comforter.

    If you are considering Holy Comforter, you probably already know about the strong academic reputation. But equally important is the focus on the individual student. We are confident that the joy of learning and the well-rounded education our children received at Holy Comforter will serve them throughout their academic life and beyond. Our family loves Holy Comforter Episcopal School and we will treasure our time at this wonderful school."

    Corinna and Wayne Strayer
    Parents of Neil (2015), Annika (2017), and Eli (2020)

HCES At a Glance

  • 570+ students
  • Over 80 Faculty and staff
  • Over 50% of our faculty hold advanced degrees
  • HCES is located on 85 acres safely tucked away in the heart of northeast Tallahassee
  • Classroom highlights: Each classroom is equipped with a wireless short throw projector, DVD player, Apple TV streaming box, LightSpeed audio enhancement system (for teacher voice amplification and projection)
  • Knight STEM Facility, a two-story 12,385 square foot building is the only one of its kind for an independent school in the area featuring two fully equipped science laboratories for Middle School and a Lower school STEM classroom/laboratory for grade PK4-5th
  • Lower School has a 1:1 device program, with students in first and second grades each having access to their own iPad, and students in third through fifth grades having access to their own MacBook Pro laptop.
  • Middle School has a cutting-edge BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program 
  • Library equipped with over 17,000 physical volumes and iPads for student use
  • Athletic program boasts an 85% participation rate with state of the art facilities including an FHSAA Approved Gymnasium, beautiful Cross Country Course and Trails, and more
  • One of a kind iEducateTM Technology Program, a unique integrated, teaching system, designed to incorporate technology applications and instruments into our curriculum
  • Christian education including classroom devotions, religion classes for grades 4 – 8 and age appropriate Chapel services three times a week (student led services are featured each week)
  • Preschool and Lower School students enjoy 4 playgrounds designed to be age appropriate and covered with uv protection shade sails to minimize exposure to the Florida sun
  • Theatre is one of many elective classes open to Middle School students
  • Various enrichment opportunities are available for students after school through our extended day program and summer camps participate in annual musical production, Musical

Why HCES?

Holy Comforter Episcopal School | 2001 Fleischmann Road | Tallahassee, Florida 32308 | 850-383-1007
www.holy-comforter.org