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Thrive Center for Success welcomes New Principal, Alicia Hernandez

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Established in 2022, Thrive Center for Success was born from a mother’s conviction that children with autism can thrive with high-quality therapies and the right academic environment, preferably in one setting. Elizabeth Goldsmith translated her passion into a mission to create a school where children like her son Sean would have every opportunity to realize their potential through a specialized educational experience. Today, Thrive is a charter school, free to its students, in a 46,000-square-foot facility situated on ten acres in Magnolia, Texas. The school plans to extend its classes to include seventh grade in the 2024-2025 academic year.

As the Founder and Executive Director, Goldsmith found the perfect match to lead the school when her current principal announced that he was leaving to pursue other opportunities. “I am excited to welcome Alicia Hernandez to our team. Her extensive experience leading and teaching in charter schools makes her an important addition to Thrive as our new school principal. I am grateful for her expertise and enthusiasm!”

Elizabeth Goldsmith, Founder and Executive Director of Thrive
Center for Success.
Elizabeth Goldsmith, Founder and Executive Director of Thrive Center for Success; Photo Credit: Thrive Center for Success

Alicia Hernandez joined the Thrive team in February of 2024. Before she was appointed principal, she spent seven years with the Sam Houston State University Charter School as a teacher, specialist, and principal. She is experienced in public school compliance and best practices, opening new charter school campuses, developing teachers and teacher pipelines, increasing capacity for high-quality programs, and fiscal and academic accountability. Within her first year as District Testing Coordinator for the SHSU Charter School, the District Accountability rating increased from a D to a B in a single year. SHSU Charter has maintained a district Accountability rating of B or higher every year since.

Alicia Hernandez was appointed principal of Thrive Center for
Success in February 2024
; Photo Credit: Thrive Center for

Prior to her time with SHSU Charter School, Mrs. Hernandez was a junior high and high school band director in Bellville ISD and Waller ISD, while also serving as a Percussion specialist and performer. She moved from Florida to pursue a career in education in 2009. She received a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Florida, a master’s degree in Instructional Leadership, and Principal certification from Sam Houston State University. She is currently working towards her Superintendent’s license.

Mrs. Hernandez is passionate about whole-child development and student success. She is invested in advocating for and serving students with autism at Thrive and in Texas. She lives in Montgomery with her husband and two sons, who will also attend Thrive during the 2024-2025 school year.

When asked why she chose Thrive, Hernandez attributes her interest in joining directly to the school’s founder, Elizabeth Goldsmith. “I was not looking for a new job, but this opportunity found me. I always knew Elizabeth from a distance. We shared similar contacts and would attend some of the same meetings. One day we finally met for lunch, and we just clicked – the stars aligned. I fell in love with her and the vision for Thrive: a charter school for students with autism, started by parents. I love the student-centered mission and model.”

Hernandez goes on to discuss that children with autism can be successful, independent contributors to society. They often experience many barriers within traditional school modes. Thrive breaks down those barriers and offers a solution that changes their trajectory for long-term success.


When asked about her experience with the Thrive students, Hernandez remarks, “What I love about Thrive students is that they share so much in common with other public school children with whom I have worked. They all want to feel loved unconditionally, heard, and understood by their friends and teachers. For example, fourth grade is a tough year developmentally both with and without autism. Fourth graders might start thinking about crushes on boyfriends, but then they also want to play with stuffed animals at recess. It’s important for teachers and school leaders to maintain a delicate balance of kindness and firmness and know when to attend to student conflict as a coachable moment. It is up to us to meet them where they are.”

The Thrive Center for Success continues to expand to meet the overwhelming demand for the school. According to Hernandez, “Everybody has a connection to someone with autism. It touches all of us in some way shape or form. We have a societal responsibility to care for those who are underrepresented. This is something that everyone can get behind and support. Elizabeth Goldsmith is brilliant and selfless, and we are both very driven. With our network of supporters, we can take this to the moon.”

Source: Thrive Center for Success