It has been 15 years since Deborah Hicks first began teaching kindergarten. The 22-year teaching veteran of the Oakdale Joint Unified School District was recently honored with the Audrey Sanchez Teacher Enhancement Award at the annual California Kindergarten Association (CKA) Conference in Santa Clara.
Close to 800 were in attendance at the annual event. Hicks was nominated for the honor by fellow teacher and CKA Executive President Michelle Jones.
“You know you feel like you don’t deserve it,” Hicks shared candidly from her Sierra View kindergarten classroom. “There are so many awesome teachers out there. But it’s an honor to have someone think so highly of you.”
Jones presented Hicks with the award during the conference, offering words of admiration and inspiration gained from her colleague. She told the audience that it was Hicks who inspired her to be a teacher.
“It was nice to be recognized by such an effective teacher,” Hicks added.
Hicks first joined OJUSD 22 years ago as a Bilingual Resource Teacher at Oakdale Junior High School. She also spent time at Magnolia Elementary as a second grade teacher, as well as Cloverland teaching kindergarten. She has taught kindergarten at Sierra View since the campus opened.
“They’re just funny, energetic, happy people,” she said of her kindergarten students.
“I’d love to see all day kindergarten,” Hicks added. “Just so we don’t have to rush them so much. If you had a full day you could slow down a little bit.”
Yet, 15 years later, the veteran kindergarten teacher shared she enjoys attending the CKA conference each year for both the camaraderie of other educators, as well as her fellow colleagues from OJUSD who also attend.
“Our district’s very supportive,” she said. “They send us almost every year.”
The ASTEA award was established to honor Audrey Sanchez for her spirit, talent, leadership and dedication to kindergarten, as well as CKA. Recipients of the award are acknowledged for their achievement and overall excellence in early childhood education. In addition to the plaque, Hicks was awarded $500, which she intends to spend on special events/outings for her classroom.