Teaching Ambassador Fellowship
2008 Alumni Washington Fellow
Los Angeles, California
Bio/Overview: Hicks currently serves as Special Assistant on Early Learning in the Office of Early Learning in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education, having contracted Potomac fever after his first year here in the nation’s capital. The eldest of eight children, he had always planned on becoming a business tycoon and leaving his poverty-stricken childhood as a forgotten footnote. Alas, the son of two former teachers, (though his mother is now a minister in a small rural church in Oregon), there was no denying his fate. After a short and terribly misguided detour as an actor/singer/dancer (yes, a triple threat) upon arriving in Los Angeles, Hicks entered the noble profession of teaching. Landing the plum role of substitute teacher with absolutely no experience or background (save caring for his seven younger sisters), Hicks’ third assignment was in a second/third grade combination class, made up of specially-selected students from the other overcrowded classrooms. It was November, and his assigned room had become a revolving door of temporary teachers with a different character playing the part each day since the first day of school. The peeling, dull-painted walls were bare, with nary a text book in sight. Children were literally jumping off of the desks caught up in a carnival atmosphere of which all were taking full advantage. These were the days before NCLB. The principal was so excited (and amazed) that Hicks had survived the three day endurance test that she raced down to the district central office – though this was L. A., and with freeway traffic, it is more of a crawl - and pushed through an emergency teaching credential. So began his illustrious career of performing before a live, captive audience five days a week. The year before coming to Washington, Hicks taught kindergarten and first grade at The Accelerated School, an independent charter school in South Los Angeles.
Achievements: Hicks has been named a Los Angeles County Teacher of the Year and is a member of the USA Today All-USA Teacher Team. He also served as the Pre-K/K on-line mentor for Scholastic.com for one year, posting monthly unit plans, book connections, and technology links on the Web.Leadership Experience: At the state level, Hicks trained early childhood educators across the great state of California for three years on effective literacy practices. At the local level, he helped shape Los Angeles County’s universal pre-school policy and then founded his school’s Reggio Emelia-inspired early learning center, for which he sacrificed a week in Italy to master the approach.
Education: Hicks recently renewed his National Board Certification in Early Childhood Generalist and received his Master's degree in primary and early childhood education. He also holds an Early Childhood Director Permit.Areas of Interest/Expertise:
- Early learning
- Early literacy
- Project approach