Spotlight on Jamilah and Vincent Hicks - Two Educators Making a Difference

It took a while for Jamilah and Vincent Hicks to connect.

The two kept running into each other in the late 1990s, when they were students at Northwestern State University.

She noticed him at church services and Sunday get-togethers at a professor’s house. He was focused on New Orleans Saints games. Besides, one of his fraternity brothers was interested in her, so he didn’t want to make things messy.

But when Vincent got a job working the front desk at Jamilah’s dorm, their paths crossed even more frequently. The two soon began dating, and the relationship took off.

Fast forward to 2016.

The Hicks have been married for nine years and have two children together, plus Vincent’s daughter from another relationship.

And they are now making their marks on Lafayette Parish schools.

Embracing their 'crazy' life

Jamilah Hicks has been principal at J.W. Faulk Elementary since 2014.

Vincent Hicks is entering his sixth year coaching boys’ basketball and teaching physical education at David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy.

“Things are pretty crazy for us,” Jamilah said. “We don’t really know the other person’s schedule. It’s all real spur-of-the-moment. We juggle the kids a lot because we don’t have family here. We have to be very flexible, and there’s little-to-no downtime. There’s always something going on.”

Along the way, they learn from each other, sharing skills and behaviors.

“I’ve never been the best writer, but my wife, I think she’s a brilliant writer. I think my writing skills have gotten a whole lot better because of her,” Vincent said.

“She’s a very loving person, a very forgiving person. I’ve most definitely picked that up from her. She’s very religious and a Christian woman, and those are things I really wanted in my life.”

Jamilah remains in awe of Vincent’s relaxed demeanor and ability to let situations roll off him without bogging him down.

 “He doesn’t let stuff stress him or overwhelm him. That’s something I definitely struggle with, and he helps me with,” Jamilah said. “I’m typically OK with staying calm in front of others, but I need to stop letting stuff get me so worked up sometimes, and he’s really good about that.

"Vince is also very down-to-earth and friendly, which is one of the things I’ve always loved and admired about him. He’s one of those people who will walk into a room, and everybody flocks to him.

"He’s just got that personality.”

A major professional highlight for Vincent came in January, when he received the Lafayette Education Foundation Top Finalist Award in the middle school category.

The award was especially meaningful to Vincent, he said, because circumstances forced him to change schools often before he established himself at David Thibodaux.

“Jumping from job to job really made me feel insecure about who I was as a professional,” he said. “Even being at David Thibodaux in my fifth year when I won, I still didn’t have that full confidence that I needed.

"Winning that award made me feel like, ‘I’m doing right, I’m on the right path.’ It made me more confident about who I was as a teacher. Getting that award was a huge blessing from God.”

Jamilah said she’s never lost faith in her husband’s abilities.

She remains awestruck when she sees him watch an NBA or college basketball game at home, notice a good play, then immediately take notes and implement it with his players the next day.

“I think that’s amazing. He’s extremely smart and knowledgeable about his craft,” she said. “I could not have been more proud of him (at the LEF Awards.)

"Even though I’m not at the same school as him, I see all of the hard work and effort he puts into what he does every day. He puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on himself.”

Driven by passion for teaching

Despite the demands of their work, the Hicks can’t imagine themselves doing anything except working with students.

Jamilah loves J.W. Faulk and is proud of its improvements. She still has eyes on a dream job, though, as an English Language Arts supervisor, focusing on curriculum and instruction.

 “I’m very passionate about early literacy and teaching reading,” she said. “If I was going to be somewhere besides Faulk, and I could go into curriculum and instruction, that would be a dream, because that’s really my passion.”

Vincent believes his wife could excel in a second career, if she wanted.

“She is the most amazing writer I know,” he said. “I’ve seen her design children’s books. The way she writes, it just flows very well. I’ve never met anybody who writes as well as she does.”

Vincent would “shrivel up and die” if he wasn’t coaching, his wife said.

He agreed, but added that he wouldn’t mind adding athletic director duties to his responsibilities one day.

“When I won (the LEF Award), my objectives shifted,” he said. “It’s not about wins and losses. It’s about who I’m teaching and where they end up. You’re not going to remember the game, but you are going to remember the people.”

It took a while for Jamilah and Vincent Hicks to connect.

The two kept running into each other in the late 1990s, when they were students at Northwestern State University.

She noticed him at church services and Sunday get-togethers at a professor’s house. He was focused on New Orleans Saints games. Besides, one of his fraternity brothers was interested in her, so he didn’t want to make things messy.

But when Vincent got a job working the front desk at Jamilah’s dorm, their paths crossed even more frequently. The two soon began dating, and the relationship took off.

Fast forward to 2016.

The Hicks have been married for nine years and have two children together, plus Vincent’s daughter from another relationship.

And they are now making their marks on Lafayette Parish schools.

Embracing their 'crazy' life

Jamilah Hicks has been principal at J.W. Faulk Elementary since 2014.

Vincent Hicks is entering his sixth year coaching boys’ basketball and teaching physical education at David Thibodaux STEM Magnet Academy.

“Things are pretty crazy for us,” Jamilah said. “We don’t really know the other person’s schedule. It’s all real spur-of-the-moment. We juggle the kids a lot because we don’t have family here. We have to be very flexible, and there’s little-to-no downtime. There’s always something going on.”

Along the way, they learn from each other, sharing skills and behaviors.

“I’ve never been the best writer, but my wife, I think she’s a brilliant writer. I think my writing skills have gotten a whole lot better because of her,” Vincent said.

“She’s a very loving person, a very forgiving person. I’ve most definitely picked that up from her. She’s very religious and a Christian woman, and those are things I really wanted in my life.”

Jamilah remains in awe of Vincent’s relaxed demeanor and ability to let situations roll off him without bogging him down.

 “He doesn’t let stuff stress him or overwhelm him. That’s something I definitely struggle with, and he helps me with,” Jamilah said. “I’m typically OK with staying calm in front of others, but I need to stop letting stuff get me so worked up sometimes, and he’s really good about that.

"Vince is also very down-to-earth and friendly, which is one of the things I’ve always loved and admired about him. He’s one of those people who will walk into a room, and everybody flocks to him.

"He’s just got that personality.”

A major professional highlight for Vincent came in January, when he received the Lafayette Education Foundation Top Finalist Award in the middle school category.

The award was especially meaningful to Vincent, he said, because circumstances forced him to change schools often before he established himself at David Thibodaux.

“Jumping from job to job really made me feel insecure about who I was as a professional,” he said. “Even being at David Thibodaux in my fifth year when I won, I still didn’t have that full confidence that I needed.

"Winning that award made me feel like, ‘I’m doing right, I’m on the right path.’ It made me more confident about who I was as a teacher. Getting that award was a huge blessing from God.”

Jamilah said she’s never lost faith in her husband’s abilities.

She remains awestruck when she sees him watch an NBA or college basketball game at home, notice a good play, then immediately take notes and implement it with his players the next day.

“I think that’s amazing. He’s extremely smart and knowledgeable about his craft,” she said. “I could not have been more proud of him (at the LEF Awards.)

"Even though I’m not at the same school as him, I see all of the hard work and effort he puts into what he does every day. He puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on himself.”

Driven by passion for teaching

Despite the demands of their work, the Hicks can’t imagine themselves doing anything except working with students.

Jamilah loves J.W. Faulk and is proud of its improvements. She still has eyes on a dream job, though, as an English Language Arts supervisor, focusing on curriculum and instruction.

 “I’m very passionate about early literacy and teaching reading,” she said. “If I was going to be somewhere besides Faulk, and I could go into curriculum and instruction, that would be a dream, because that’s really my passion.”

Vincent believes his wife could excel in a second career, if she wanted.

“She is the most amazing writer I know,” he said. “I’ve seen her design children’s books. The way she writes, it just flows very well. I’ve never met anybody who writes as well as she does.”

Vincent would “shrivel up and die” if he wasn’t coaching, his wife said.

He agreed, but added that he wouldn’t mind adding athletic director duties to his responsibilities one day.

“When I won (the LEF Award), my objectives shifted,” he said. “It’s not about wins and losses. It’s about who I’m teaching and where they end up. You’re not going to remember the game, but you are going to remember the people.”