By CRISTINA JANNEY
Sondra Hickert, teacher at The Learning Center, was honored with the Hays USD 489 February staff Best of the Best award.
She was nominated by Beth Ziegler, Learning Center administrative assistant, and Keri Petersen, Learning Center coordinator, who spoke on her behalf at the school board meeting Monday.
“Regularly, students of ours are dealing with things such as eviction or they simply do not have any food to eat in their homes. There are indeed many heart-wrenching plights a fair number of our students are up against,” Petersen said. “What they find in Sondra is a very smart woman who can connect them to community resources. Then once they are stable, she is able to fire up or refire an indignance in them against the insidiousness of giving up pressures.”
Petersen said she regularly sees Hickert use words of affirmation with her students.
“She is a one-of-a-kind servant in terms of working with and often counseling the population we have,” Petersen said. “Our students come in with many, many challenges. Not only does she calmly give them some rays of hope for their current predicaments, and there are a myriad of family and student challenges, she follows through and helps them elevate up from the dilemma and navigate to post-secondary enrollment and eventually success.”
Hickert is comfortable serving as a liaison between the program’s young people and adults and community organizations set up to help the students, Petersen said. She said Hickert is the poster teacher for learning center and high school teachers everywhere.
“Sondra makes sure our Learning Center students are well positioned with confidence and they are embraced, supported and boosted up for all of the good things in life,” Petersen said.
Hickert thanked the school board and the district for valuing alternative education and making sure no children are left behind.
Hickert also thanked her husband and children for supporting her in her work and allowing her to take the extra time and effort to help her students, including taking breaks out of family trips to deliver or pick up laptops or proctor tests.
Gavin Jacobson, Hays High School senior, was awarded the student Best of the Best award.
He was nominated by HHS administrative assistant Sue Rouse.
“It makes my day to see Gavin every day in the hallway with a wave and smile and a ‘Hi, Mrs. Rouse,'” she said.
Rouse met Jacobson when she was working as a job coach at HHS. Although he was not one of her students, Gavin always waved and smiled at her.
“Whenever I saw Gavin, I knew I could always count on that smile to pick me up and keep me going,” she said. “I loved it when he said, ‘Hey, Rouse.'”
She said she was thankful to have such a positive student as Jacobson at the high school.
Gavin said through a prerecorded digital recording “Thank you for this special award. Thank you to my family. I love them. Some of my favorite activities are playing basketball and music and dancing. I like to go to school and have many friends. Go Hays High!”