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Teacher profile: Mr. Hicks

Photos by Claire Duarte

Nineteen years ago this month, Mr. Hicks began teaching at ERHS. “But I've been teaching since 1993. I started my teaching career in south central at Bethune Middle School, on 69th and Broadway.” Encouraged by his mother, “who suggested that maybe I get into teaching [due to the fact that] they were offering emergency credentials”, he “went in and applied to about three schools. I got a job offer and I took it, not thinking that I would teach for very long. I thought maybe I'd do it for a couple of years, and then find my real calling. Well, here I am. 30 years later.”

From the outset, he taught English. “I was an English major with a journalism minor [at Cal State Chico] so I've always been into literature and writing. [However, I wasn’t taught] much about methodologies or pedagogy. I did do my credential program at Cal State LA, but they didn't prepare [me] very well for teaching kids. I honestly feel like I learned on my own, crafted my own methods.” Luckily, he was surrounded by teachers. “I learned a lot from some great teachers along the way. Teachers like Ms. Ortiz, Ms. Clark, Ms. Youngblood-Jarman. We have such a great staff of teachers here that [I’ve learned a lot] by absorbing the practices around me.”

Mr. Hicks is known for hosting the annual Titanic Trial, founding Essaypop, and perhaps most importantly, his prominently displayed record collection. He described his taste in music as diverse, with titles ranging from the Beatles’ Rubber Soul to Joy Divisions' Unknown Pleasures. “If you [were to ask] me about jazz, I [would probably] say Coltrane or Miles Davis. Going back to my roots, it’s Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Rush.

He recalled going to a Rush show at the Forum back in 1980. “I drove from La Cañada to Inglewood [on] my first day [of having a license] with nine souls aboard my Chrysler Cordoba, and it was amazing because it was my birthday, and they were my favorite band at the time.”

Around the same time he says “I was really knocked out by the punk movement and bands like the Ramones and the Talking Heads and Devo. I also love the Replacements, they’re a band that I really rock out to. And of course the Stones and Black Sabbath as well.” Besides music, his favorite noise is that of a potato chip being crunched.

Freddy Mercury once said “I want to ride my bicycle”. So does Mr. Hicks. “I love riding my bike. I love hiking and traveling with my wife and whenever we have a chance we're strapping on the boots and doing a hike. I don't play as much music as I used to, but I pick up the guitar from time to time and play. I also really enjoy fantasy football, which is kind of funny, but I've been in the same fantasy football league for 30 years with some of my friends from high school and college. So it's really enjoyable to play the game and have that competition but also to stay in touch with my old friends.”

His love for nature blossomed during his time at Cal State Chico. “That part of California is gorgeous, [there are] rivers and forests everywhere. I got my first mountain bike when I was in Chico. All I would do was ride around on days when I wasn't studying.” He was also a DJ for the college’s radio station. “That gave me so much to listen to and be influenced by. It was fun to be a DJ, and I'm not talking about a party DJ. I'm talking about a radio station DJ, a four hour show where you're playing music and people are calling in for requests and stuff like that. A lot of fun.”

It’s great to still have a teacher like Mr. Hicks at our school after nearly 20 years. “Turns out I really enjoyed this work after all.”

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