Wendy Ricks teaches second grade multi-sensory math and science at The Key School. Wendy graduated from Davidson College in 1981 and received her teaching degree in Exception Education from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004. Since graduating from VCU, she has taught exceptional education students at Springfield Park Elementary School in Henrico County in Richmond, VA. A great number of her students have dyslexia, and she taught them reading and math. In Wendy’s early career, she was on the Admissions staffs at Wofford College and at Davidson College.
Get to know Wendy Ricks:
In what ways can you teach/engage children at CDS that you couldn't at other schools?
“I am excited about the small classes at Key School. One of my jobs is to teach multi-sensory math. With a small group, activities that are auditory, visual and kinesthetic will be meaningful, effective, and fun. I will be able to give each child the attention he/she deserves. That was hard to do at a large public elementary school where teachers are pulled in so many directions.”
What do you like most about your job at CDS?
“I am surrounded by incredible faculty and staff, who offer their expertise to me and to each other on a daily basis. I am looking forward to getting to know the awesome students and their families. I love the close relationships the teachers and parents have. We are all a team and want to meet each individual child’s needs!”
In your opinion, how does the CDS community inspire students to be courageous and curious, wonder about things that they don’t understand, try new things, and develop individual passions?
“The classrooms are “safe zones” for the students. The teachers are intuitive and diagnostic as they teach. The teachers communicate with the parents, and together they are a team. Children thrive under conditions like this.”
How would you describe your classroom?
“Safe, Encouraging, Effective, and Challenging”
What books and authors inspire you, your curriculum, and your classroom? “My “Bible” is Dr. Sally Shaywitz’s book, Overcoming Dyslexia. I began to understand dyslexia after I read her book. I have referred to it over and over.”
What is your favorite quote about education?
“My first principal stated (and I paraphrase her words):
*Trust is a leveling force between parents and schools.
*Parents and teachers need to be preparing our next generation to understand the challenges, needed instructional expertise, and the needs of our children who are so deserving.”
How would you describe yourself and/or your approach to your job in 10 words or less?
“ I am trustworthy: not perfect, but trustworthy.”
Which classroom projects/events are you known for?
“I am known in Richmond for bringing a Panel Discussion together yearly in our school’s library. Each year students in middle school, high school, college, and professionals (all “alumni” of my elementary school and those with learning differences) gather to discuss what life is like after they leave our school. Sharing stories, struggles, joys, and successful strategies give the younger students and their parents hope and encouragement. Our events have been described by parents and students as “a fraternity/sorority for children with learning differences.” They are free to share stories, laughter, and sometimes tears. It feels good to be together and to see the progress the young people make as they get older. One of our former students, (a dyslexic young man who struggled with reading, writing, and organization while in school) is a graduate of George Mason University. He is currently the manager of a skating rink in Richmond. Hearing him talk about tools he uses to be successful in his career is amazing. As an adult, he is utilizing strategies his teachers and parents taught him. It’s wonderful and so much fun to hear his tales of how he hires and fires people!”
What personal passion brings balance to your life?
“I am passionate about spending time with my family and friends. I am also passionate about staying in touch with former students.”
Is there anything else we should know about you and your work?
“I am honored and thrilled to be part of such a great group of people at Key School and CDS. I want to grow professionally as I seek to teach students.”
How is CDS different from what you experienced as a child in school?
“I attended a small public elementary school in a tiny town in South Carolina. We all felt like family just like folks do at CDS. Why/how is what you see now valuable? I feel like I have come home.”