Walking on sunshine


photo by Emma Bjorkman

Allie Hickenbotham, copy editor

Her job description is “being the school mom.” Cindy Ricks, head walking counselor, planned to retire three years ago but said she was not ready because she loves her job. She has been working at KHS for 14 years and said she enjoys her job because of the relationships she forms with a variety of students.

“[My job is] very fulfilling because I enjoy working with kids,” Ricks said. “I enjoy seeing them progress, and I love seeing when it comes together and they know they’ve done something well.”

Ricks said she encourages her students in Study Focus, a class that helps students who struggle academically. She said she makes sure they get to a place where they can be their own advocate and can have more confidence in themselves.

“[My students have] taught me to listen and not to assume things,” Ricks said. “Everybody has a story, and everybody has gifts and talents. They may not be the best in the class at certain things but [there are] gifts and talents there.”

Alexis Berry, junior, said Ricks pushed her to do new things such as cheerleading and taking AP English Language and Composition. Berry said her grades are better because of Ricks, and she likes the little things she does to help her out.

“[While] being a part of the Riverview Transfer Program, [Ricks] makes me feel like the [KHS] staff actually does care about us,” Berry said.

Because she is the head walking counselor, Ricks said she does the scheduling and training for other walking counselors. Before school, during lunch and after school, Ricks said she walks around campus to deal with students acting out or misbehaving.

“As a whole, I like that I’m doing different things during the day, and every day is not the same,” Ricks said. “I [also] feel like the walking counselors have added value in that kids get to know us in the hallway.”

Ricks is also the junior class sponsor. She said she likes being a class sponsor because she gets to work with a different group of students.

“I love seeing kids come together and work and create,” Ricks said. “When you look back on high school, it’s [going to] be about the memories. I want my class to have really good memories of class spirit, [and] the hallway [decorating] is a really good way to do that.”

Mike Wade, associate principal, said Ricks is committed to the kids at KHS. He said Ricks has done things behind the scenes that many people do not know about. He said she has allowed homeless students to stay in her home and has gone to the hospital to visit teenage parents.

“I think 99 percent of the kids [who] are touched by Cindy are better being around [her],” Wade said. “She’s really good at guiding kids and not giving up on [them].”

Ricks’s husband, Tom Ricks, is the lead pastor at Greentree Community Church, and said around Christmas time the church pairs up with KSD to help families in need. Last year, the church also hosted a pre-prom dinner for students who could not afford to go out to eat, which Ricks hopes will become an annual event.

“To me, if you’re going to care for kids you have to care for the whole kid,” Ricks said. “Part of loving kids is to try and love them all, to love them like I would my own kids. [At school], I have a lot of kids [being the] school mom. I like that.”