Last month, the Milford School District announced one nominee from each school in the district to be considered for Milford Teacher of the Year. Amidst stiff competition, school officials announced that Mispillion Elementary’s nominee Julie Hickman has been awarded the honor of Milford School District Teacher of the Year.
“I couldn’t be more proud to represent the teachers of the Milford School District. It is an overwhelming feeling of joy and excitement that I am still trying to wrap my head around,” said Hickman. “Knowing that I have the support of students, staff, administrators, and the community makes the title that much more worthwhile. It feels great to be recognized and to know that hard work and dedication pay off. Milford holds a very special place in my heart.” Milford is where Mrs. Hickman did her internship while attending the University of Delaware. It was such a positive experience that she did not bother applying to another school district.
Ever since she was a little girl, Hickman had an infatuation with the teaching profession as she would constantly play school and knew from a young age that she would be a teacher one day. There is one teacher, though, that helped further instill her love of teaching, her fourth and fifth grade teacher Mrs. Morgante. “She was engaging, funny and made even the most challenging problems seem doable. Mrs. Morgante took an interest in me and believed in me,” said Hickman. “I hope to have the same lasting impression on my students that she had on me.”
According to Mispillion Elementary Principal Teresa Wallace, Mrs. Hickman is fulling that hope to live up to her inspiring elementary teacher. “Mrs.Hickman is a genuinely caring person whose positive, uplifting nature makes everyone she comes in contact with feel comfortable and at ease,” said Wallace. “She naturally motivates her students to do their very best and provides them with the strategies needed to persevere through difficult tasks.”
Originally from New York, Ms. Hickman’s father is a retired NYPD officer who moved the family to Delaware a few years after 9/11. She attended Cape Henlopen High School and graduated from the University of Delaware. Her husband owns Hickman’s Meat Market in Rehoboth and they have a one-year-old daughter, Alivia, who Julie says is the “love of my life.”
Ms. Hickman has taught in the Milford School District for five years and has spent her entire career at Mispillion Elementary. She said she loves being a Terrapin and is honored to represent the school as the Teacher of the Year. She said that her greatest achievement as a teacher is helping students who are struggling or who dislike school and inspiring them to be more confident, helping them enjoy the learning experience. Ms. Hickman is constantly trying to think of innovative ways to motivate students by incorporating technology, creating engaging lessons, differentiating and using centers. She says she does “everything in her power to help them love learning.” However, one of the biggest challenges she faces in the classroom is the different level of learners she teaches.
“This is something that is time consuming, but the effort I put into the planning process becomes worthwhile when the lessons are implemented,” Ms. Hickman said. “I feel confident that my lower-leveled learners are getting the support that they need and my higher-leveled learners are being challenged.” Ms. Hickman advises anyone who wishes to become a teacher that they must be selfless, encouraging, patient, intelligent and hard-working. She says teaching is not the type of career that ends with the bell at the end of the day. Ms. Hickman says that there is a significant amount of work and emotional commitment involved with educating youth because classrooms are not just filled with youth, they are filled with future leaders.
The Teacher of the Year Award was established by the Delaware Department of Education in 1965. Mrs. Hickman will now compete at the state level, against her peers from across state of Delaware public schools, where the winner of that competition will face distinguished teachers from the region and around the nation. Since its inception in 1965, three Milford teachers have been named Delaware Teacher of the Year: Mary Decker in 1973, Penny Shockley in 1988 and Mercedes Ferrari in 1992.
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