By Grace DeSeta, Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing
Growing up in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, Lexie Hanna was exposed to many animals at a very young age. She believes that every child should have the opportunity to explore the amazing world of animals, not only to increase their knowledge base, but also to experience firsthand the gifts that animals have to offer. That’s why the veterinarian, parent and former teacher introduced an animal science program to Tower Hill’s Lower School this year.
“Animals teach us compassion, relieve our stress and offer skills to the world of health and science that we are just beginning to discover,” she said.
With the encouragement and support of fellow animal lover and Lower School Head Susan Miller, Hanna designed a program for Lower School classes that is both instructional and hands-on with real animals. She meets with students once a month during 20-minute small group sessions. Lessons focus on farm animals and companion pets and incorporate many aspects of health, math, language arts and social skills.
At her first session, Hanna introduced herself and her profession to students with the help of her family dog, Laval. She demonstrated a brief physical exam, allowing students to examine different parts of the dog and learn about the human senses and instruments used to make diagnoses. Students explored the dog’s eyes and ears, listened to the heart and counted respiratory rate. In the months following, Hanna shared chickens and rabbits and planned to bring a pony and “Baby Doll” sheep before year’s end.
She uses three rules of kindness during her sessions: Be kind, stay calm and try to be quiet. Students are taught to respect animals and others by sitting quietly and making observations. Hanna explains that just like people, animals have feelings, and expressing and understanding feelings is an important part of being healthy.
Hanna studied French in college and taught at West Nottingham Academy in Maryland before deciding to pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian. With the support of her husband, Thomas Hanna ‘91, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine and became a certified veterinary acupuncturist. In 2015, she started her own acupuncture house call business, called Peaceful Pet, LLC, which allows her to visit dogs and cats in the comfort of their own homes. Two of her three sons, Tommy ‘24 and Sam ‘27, attend Tower Hill.
“Tower Hill School is an academically challenging, well-rounded school where students are encouraged to achieve their individual best, while being supported by a caring, intelligent and passionate faculty,” she said. “It is my hope that the students’ educational experience is enhanced by making connections between animals and humans.”