Tess Hegedus


Dr. Tess Hegedus believes education should be creative and innovative.
Dean, Instructional Leadership & Innovation

Dean, Instructional Leadership & Innovation, Theresa (Tess) Hegedus, Ph.D., comes to R-MA with a rich background in education. After six years as a physical therapist in Virginia, she became a substitute teacher in Durham Public Schools and Duke School in North Carolina, eventually earning her North Carolina teaching licensure. She moved on to become a full-time middle school science teacher at Sherwood Githens Middle School in 2002, then a year later shifted to private education at Triangle Day School, where she taught seventh and eighth grade science for the next eight years. Towards the end of that time, she began working on a master’s in gifted education at Elon University.

In 2011, Dean Hegedus completed her master’s degree at Elon, and immediately began her Ph.D. work in Science Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, while serving as a research assistant, adjunct faculty, and teaching assistant. From 2013 to December 2017, she taught undergraduate and graduate courses as an Assistant Professor at High Point University, where she also served as the Coordinator of Gifted Licensure.

Having taught at a K-8 school, working with teenagers through her research at Elon, and finally, working with both pre-service teachers and veteran teachers at High Point University, Dean Hegedus found herself with a deep and rather unique understanding of teaching. “I felt like I was getting this ‘whole picture’ of what it means to work in education and what it means to teach for best practice,” she explains.

Concluding that a return to the independent school setting would be right for her, Dean Hegedus came to Randolph-Macon Academy in January of 2018. “I decided I want to come back to the environment that I love, where I felt the most inspired, and see how I can support teachers in this environment, and how can I help students become critical thinkers and problem solvers,” she says.

Dean Hegedus believes that today’s students are challenged in a different way than their parents or grandparents were. “Kids are receiving information fast, everything is very fast-paced,” she says. “How do we develop a student holistically, to be prepared for the world, and to be prepared for these careers that might not even exist yet? I think if we cultivate disciplinary skills and practices in that way--how to think and how to question--they can be ready for just about anything.” 

Dean Hegedus believes teachers need to move beyond the traditional view of the classroom--students sitting at desks in rows, listening to a lecture. Rather, she wants to see teachers using a variety of strategies to reach their students, including project-based and problem-based learning, where students can create, collaborate, communicate, and think critically.

“This is all innate ‘stuff,’ the qualities that are in all of us,” she exclaims. “If you look at kindergartners playing, the imagination is there, the creativity is there, you don’t have to tell them how to explore or how to question. But eventually we ‘school’ them out of it. Productive failure is something we should be shooting for. Definitely, that is the key to learning, the key to success. We’re unlocking what’s already there. We need to move away from a culture of standardized testing, to focus on what’s relevant, to help students productively apply their innate abilities. They’ve got it. We just have to provide direction. We are coaches. We are facilitators. I think our role as an educator is one that allows for a collaborative learning experience.”

When not exploring new teaching methods, meeting with students and parents, or assisting teachers, Dean Hegedus may be engaged in fitness and outdoor activities including running, yoga, kayaking, or hiking. She also enjoys drawing, painting, and reading. This Great Dane owner and enthusiast has been married to Eric Hegedus for 27 years; Eric is the Professor and Founding Chair of High Point University's Department of Physical Therapy. They have two children: Haley, who is a North Carolina State University Doctor of Veterinary Medicine candidate, scheduled to graduate  in May 2018, and Ryan, who is a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in the department of Physics and Astronomy. 

  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • M.Ed., Elon University
  • B.S., University of Pittsburgh
  • R-MA Mentor