Get to know this year’s retiring teachers
May 25, 2023
Secretary and office assistant Vicki Olivier, was originally a music major before changing to child development. In her third year of college, she changed her major once again and graduated with a degree in education. She worked at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for 10 years as a child life specialist before becoming a stay-at-home mom for 13 years to take care of her two daughters. Olivier then worked for a supplemental income at Hebron for 18 years before retiring this year.
“I came [to Hebron] after I was staying at home,” Olivier said. “After that, when my youngest daughter became a middle schooler, I was studying and I was here a lot and they said, ‘You need a job?’ I said, ‘OK,’ so they hired me, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Olivier currently works as a secretary for two administrators — Dr. Jacob Garlinger and Marybeth Cohen. She also handles getting substitutes for teachers, as well as occasionally assisting at the front office.
“My regular routine is [that] I get here at 7 in the morning,” Olivier said. “I get everything ready for substitutes to come into the building. Then, I make sure that everything is staffed during the day when teachers are out. I’m also a secretary, so I do all the help with the discipline and calling students, [as well as] any kind of paperwork that is required for them and then assist in the front office when needed.”
Olivier said one of her favorite memories at Hebron was being able to see her two daughters attend the school.
“I was able to see the parent side of Hebron and the employee side,” Olivier said. “When both worlds collided, I was able to say that I was glad that my kids went to school here. I also love to be a cheerleader for all things good [at] Hebron. I like to be cheering for the teachers, principals and students. I believe that our school is excellent in everything that we do..”
While Olivier worked at Hebron, she said her favorite part as secretary was being able to meet and be around so many different people.
“I’m a people person,” Oliver said. “I’ve loved being here and seeing so many people. The thing that I really loved was developing relationships. It can be very stressful and demanding, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, because I love [the] people [here].”
As she plans to begin retirement once this school year ends, Olivier hopes to spend more time with her grandchildren and follow her dream of traveling.
“[I want] to be able to spend more time with my grandchildren, traveling and doing things that it’s time for me to do,” Olivier said. “I may come back and visit, but it’s time for me to take care of my family and enjoy life to the end.”
English teacher Kimberly Nickerson originally was a communications major. Her mother was a teacher, and witnessing her career, Nickerson didn’t want to go into teaching. But, after starting the path toward her major, she didn’t enjoy her required classes — until she tried out a program that included helping out teach English at local middle schools. This spurred Nickerson into changing her major to education, and thus teaching English for 31 years.
“I’ve spent 31 years teaching English, have been in Lewisville ISD for 14 and here at Hebron for eight,” Nickerson said. “When I came to Hebron — not necessarily intentionally — it was the best thing that could have ever happened. [The] people I work with in the Hebron English department are the hardest working, most dedicated people I’ve ever worked with in any school in all 31 years, and it’s been the best experience of my professional career.”
Nickerson teaches English 2 and the PSAT class. She previously taught at The Colony High School for six years and outside the district for 17. Throughout her years of teaching, she has found the daily routine that works for her.
“I try to get here by 7:30 a.m., so that I can get everything set for the day,” Nickerson said. “I teach all [three periods] in a row this year, so I don’t have my first break until D lunch at 1:30. I feel like it’s go go go, and then the rest of the day is a breeze.”
Nickerson said her ultimate goal and favorite thing as an English teacher was being able to get her students to enjoy reading and learn to apply concepts in literature.
“[I wanted] to help kids understand how much they love books and reading and how much they can glean from [what] they’re reading, as well as how much they can take from those books and apply it to their own lives,” Nickerson said. “Creating lessons that are engaging, get them excited and make them want to read something and talk about it.”
While Nickerson reflects on her time at Hebron, she said that pep rallies and her fellow staff are some of her favorite things .
“One of the things that I remember really enjoying, four or five years ago, [was] when we did the teacher dance as part of a pep rally,” Nickerson said. “But, it was out on the field. We did it on the football field to a Beach Boys song and we wore Hawaiian shirts — that was a lot of fun.”
Nickerson said she wants to retire to spend more time with her family and enjoy the rest of her life reading, traveling and doing other things she loves.
“I think most people who are not in education would not understand how fun it is,” Nickerson said. “How fun it can be on a daily basis, [and] how these kids are ridiculously hilarious. You know the kids who want to be here, who are getting something out of their classes and have a plan for their future. They’re just so fun, and every year I learn things from my students that I never thought about before, whether it’s from the books that we read, or in the way that they’re interpreting something. I learn more from them every year, which is something I’ll miss.”
Special education life skills teacher Karen Cummings, ended her higher education journey with a degree in special education from the University of Texas at Dallas. She chose the degree because of her desire to either be a teacher or a nurse. Cummings then spent 25 years in special education before choosing to retire this year.
“I’ve been on this job at Hebron for 18 years,” Cummings said. “The other seven years, I was in DISD teaching 3, 4 and 5year old special ed kids. My favorite thing about working at this job was the students that I have. They’re really amazing, work so hard and are a lot of fun.”
Cummings works as the academic and life skills lead teacher for the special education department. She teaches students, as well as helps operate the special education popcorn deliveries on Thursdays.
“In the morning, the kids get off the bus, and oftentimes, we’ll make a little breakfast,” Cummings said. “We’ll bring bagels or something for them to have. Then, we have our four periods, just like everyone else. My first period is math class, in the second period my kids go to PE or electives, third period [is] English and fourth is social studies [and] English. During fourth, we clean the annex every day and on Thursdays, we do a popcorn job where we sell popcorn to staff – the kids deliver it, get the money and count [it].”
Her favorite memory and goal as a special education teacher, Cummings said, was being close to kids in her class and their families.
“A big goal of mine was to connect with my [students’] families,” Cummings said. “I always made that a priority – I think I achieved that. I’ve had some really awesome kids and families.”
Cummings said that her favorite thing while working has been her students and families.
“The staff here is a really great life skills group,” Cummings said. “In our setting, we get really close to [the] families because we have the same kids for four years. I’ve been very blessed with good families and the staff — that’s just been an amazing group to work with.”
Cummings plans to enjoy life during retirement after working constantly, but she will still miss the people at Hebron.
“[My time at Hebron has] been awesome — I’ve been very blessed to have worked with the people I’ve worked with,” Cummings said. “The families and students that I’ve had, I mean, it’s been amazing. The people and the students have been just a joy to work with, and that’s really what I’ll miss the most.”