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The Call to Teach: Justin Hicks '09

Q&A with Amy Reynolds, Communications Specialist
This article appeared as part of a series in the Spring 2018 issue of the Tower Hill Bulletin

Tower Hill’s alumni database turned up nearly 200 alumni who entered the field of education, and the more we researched, the more we found. They are early childhood, elementary, middle and high school teachers, college professors, psychologists, coaches, admission counselors, non-profit administrators… The list goes on and on, remarkable in its variety and breadth. Here we highlight just a few across the decades, representative of the many alumni who chose to make teaching their life’s work, and in turn, make a meaningful impact on the lives of young people.

Justin Hicks ‘09 is a Middle School teacher at The Lovett School in Atlanta, Georgia, where he teaches life science and coaches football, basketball and track. He graduated from Bucknell University in 2013 with a B.S. in neuroscience and also received an M.Ed. in special education in 2015 from the University of Delaware. He was a Teach for America corps member and taught fifth-grade math and science for two years at Kuumba Academy Charter School in Wilmington. 

Why did you decide to go into education?
I always knew I had a love for the sciences. I developed that love at Tower Hill. Science just kind of came naturally to me, and I enjoyed it. So going into college, I knew I wanted to do something in the sciences. Neuroscience was a new program at the time, so I dove right in and decided to try out that major. I was potentially planning on going out west to a startup or looking into going into nursing or med school—those were my plans as I was going through school at Bucknell. I was approached my junior year by a rep from Teach for America. It caught my interest, and I decided to take her up on the experience and was fortunate enough to end up back in Delaware. That truly changed my career trajectory. I’ve really enjoyed teaching, and I think it’s because I’m teaching science. I get to bring my neuroscience background to the classroom as well. 
What was your Teach for America experience like?
Teach for America was a challenging experience, but like most challenges, once you complete the challenge, it’s very rewarding. Although the day-to-day could be difficult—and it was difficult because you’re a first-year teacher and you’re in schools where they don’t always have the best resources—but over the course of my two years I experienced a lot, and I learned a lot. It was totally different than my experience now, but it was super rewarding.
What’s the best part of your job?
Being able to share my passion for science with the students. I enjoy that most. It’s definitely exciting for me to wake up and go to work every day. Having studied the brain at school, I do think I work firsthand with fostering the minds of the leaders of tomorrow and really teaching them all that I’ve learned. 
What aspects of education are timeless?
The relationship-building aspect of education. I believe that’s something that’s always going to be there within education—your student-teacher relationships and the relationships you have with your peers. Building relationships, building memories and building lifelong friendships with people—those things are valuable and timeless in education.