by Megan Schiffres
After two years in retirement, Martha Hicks is returning to Northumberland High School (NHS), where she worked for over 25 years, as the new assistant principal.
“This is home. Remember, I graduated from Northumberland. So it’s a pride thing, where you want to give back to where you came from,” said Hicks.
She graduated from NHS in 1970.
Hicks doesn’t regret her brief break from the public school system after 40 years of working full time. But, retirement ultimately bored her, despite the fact that she worked as principal of the Gateway Private School and ran a regional summer school program during her two years away from NHS, she said.
She retired as truant officer two years ago and before that she worked as high school transition coordinator, middle school counselor and for two years as co-assistant principal of the high school with Lance Reynolds when the high school moved to its current address on Academic Lane.
“My background as a teacher helps me with an insight into what teachers go through. With my insight as a counselor, I can pick up on what’s not being said. Body language speaks louder sometimes than actual words. That gives me a little bit of an edge. Being a truant officer, I understand why sometimes kids don’t want to come to school,” said Hicks.
She’s been teaching in Virginia for over 40 years and even taught seventh grade science to some of her current colleagues when they were in middle school, including NHS accountant Teresa Vanlandingham. Throughout her career, her educational philosophy has remained unchanged—she’s always tried to be firm, fair and consistent with her students, said Hicks.
“I want to be there for them to give them what they need when they need it and some of what they want when I can,” Hicks said. “I’m not one of these people that’s going to show the kid one side of me and the parent one side of me. I treat people’s children like they’re mine.”
In order to accept the position of assistant principal, Hicks had to give up her retirement benefits. However, she says it’s worth it to be educating again.
“I just pick up from where I left off, so I’m not losing anything,” Hicks said. “And believe it or not, it wasn’t even about the money. It was about what I can give back.”