The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

Known for vibrant personality, Heavenly Hicks welcomes students, provides support

Olin Nafziger
Learning coordinator Heavenly Hicks always has her door open to students, providing support for the U-High community. She tailors her methods to what each student needs, encouraging organizational skills and security.

Learning coordinator Heavenly Hicks’ office is as welcoming as her smile. Its white walls are lined with colorful posters. Some represent different identities and others display motivational messages in bright ink. The room is filled with small items, notes, and trinkets. On the door, there is a sign written by Ms. Hicks herself, assuring students that she believes in them and cares for them. The lights inside the room are dim and the air is warm and cozy. It is easy to feel comfortable on the soft gray couch.

Ms. Hicks always has her door open to students, and ever since joining the Lab community, Ms. Hicks has been an integral part of the U-High support system. She uses her excellent sense of humor to help students feel at ease when working with her.

“She’s really funny, but she can be direct sometimes, which is good for me because I need to be direct,” sophomore Adrija Chatterjee smiles before her expression turns serious. “She’s really kind, genuinely a nice person to be around. I love her.”

Ms. Hicks tailors her methods to what each individual student needs. She is very successful at helping people organize themselves, and students leave her office feeling as if they have more control over their lives, in school and out.

“Every time I feel stressed, she makes me feel better because she’s like, ‘Adrija. List. Get your lists out. Get your pen and paper, write a list down,’” Adrija said.

Sometimes, talking is not even necessary. Once, a student ran into Ms. Hicks’ office, so panicked and stressed, that they had left their materials in the class they had been in. Ms. Hicks told the student to lie down, and to just breathe. After a while, the student had calmed down and Ms. Hicks went and retrieved the student’s materials. She said that by giving that student space to “just be,” it helped them process what they were feeling and to know that they are not alone.

Ms. Hicks also believes that honesty is essential to getting to the root of any problem. She expects students to be as honest with her as she is with them.

“Kids will tell you, you always know how I feel about a situation and about what you put forth in it,” Ms. Hicks said. “So if you wrote something that I don’t think is good, I will tell you that it is not good. Let’s make it better.”

Ms. Hicks’ work extends outside her office as well. She tries to get to know the students she works with as people beyond their grades and outside the classroom.

“I’m hearing about your day, and maybe that you had a fight with a friend, or that you have a new romantic partner, or your parents pissed you off. That gives me information to help guide me and how to support you in other areas,” Ms. Hicks said. “I understand why you didn’t do your history assignment because you were preoccupied with this other thing, or you haven’t been getting good sleep.”

Though her main responsibility as a learning coordinator is to facilitate learning environments for students with diagnosed learning differences, she welcomes anyone who wants to talk, even if it’s not about school, and makes sure they feel at ease and heard.

“When you walk into my room, you should feel like at least one of your identities is safe

and reflected there,” she said.

By creating a welcoming environment, Ms. Hicks hopes that students will be more comfortable opening up to her so that she can help them with whatever it is they need.

“I tell my students all the time that closed mouths don’t get fed. And while this is their first experience with whatever, there are millions of other people around the world who are simultaneously having the same problem, or who have had it before. So let’s navigate this together. And I think that the last piece is just letting them know that they’re not alone.”

She herself has had many helpers throughout her life. The reason she became a learning coordinator is because she wants to bring the same support that she had to the students she works with.

“Because I’ve benefited from that, I wanted to pay that,” she said.

Ms. Hicks’ colorful office is a safe haven for any student who wants to talk. The vibrant chaos and the warm quiet are a welcome change from U-High’s bustling and tension-filled halls. And Ms. Hicks will always be there, smiling.

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About the Contributors
Sinziana Lazar
Sinziana Lazar, Reporter
Sinziana Lazar is a member of the Class of 2027. She began journalism in 2023 as a ninth grader. She plays violin in CYSO and is a member of the Robotics and Model UN teams.
Olin Nafziger
Olin Nafziger, Photographer
Olin Nafziger is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is taking pictures of school activities and sports, and his favorite sport to photograph is golf. Outside of class, Olin enjoys biking, watching TV and participating in various school clubs. Awards: 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, sports reaction, third place 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, still life, honorable mention

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