Friends, former students, and colleagues gathered for a celebration on December 10, 2005 to honor retired Sacramento-area teacher and current Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) board member Elinor Lincoln Hickey when a SCOE school was dedicated in her name.
On September 28, 2005, the Sacramento County Board of Education voted unanimously to name a community school in recognition of Hickey’s decades of service to students and families. The Elinor Lincoln Hickey Junior-Senior High School shares a campus with the Leo A. Palmiter Junior-Senior High School special education and career training site operated by SCOE.
“There’s just so many wonderful things that have happened in my life,” Hickey said as she addressed the crowd of well-wishers. “Community schools and our court schools have always been high on my list, and that’s why I am so pleased to have this honor particularly bestowed upon me.”
Nancy Dannevik, Elinor’s daughter, praised her mother for the inspirational dedication she always displayed for her students. “She rarely gives up on kids, rarely, rarely gives up on kids. She has amazing faith and she transmits that to her students and to all of us and to all of our friends,” Dannevik said.
Another daughter, Ellen Hickey, joined with fellow alumni of the Brownie troop once led by her mother in starting the morning’s event with the Pledge of Allegiance. Elinor Lincoln Hickey Junior-Senior High School students Armando Tejada and Lester Walton assisted with the Pledge of Allegiance and in the dedication ceremony.
The dedication ceremony included the unveiling of a bronze plaque honoring Hickey, as well as a reception and a tour of the school’s classrooms. During the ceremony, the lifetime educator was praised for her commitment to learning. “A good teacher is like a candle-which gives of itself to light the way for others. For decades, Elinor has given of herself and lighted the way for thousands of students,” said Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon.
Hickey was honored by several former students and colleagues on hand for the festivities:
- Ralph DeLoach, a former member of the NFL Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, and New York Jets, and a Sacramento High School graduate, drew laughter from the crowd when he called Hickey “the coolest teacher ever” and asked her to sign his Class of ‘75 yearbook. “I think my personality was based on the fact that I realized that because of Mrs. Hickey that people have the ability to inspire children because she inspired me,” said DeLoach.
- Adolphus McGee, Hickey’s principal during her teaching days, praised Elinor for her present and past leadership. “You were one of the major architects in making Sacramento High School what it was during my tenure,” McGee said.
- Beth Wiley Banks, one of Hickey’s former students, said: “What a fitting tribute to name this school for Elinor Lincoln Hickey, one which will be dedicated to helping children recognize their potential, find their purpose, and realize their dreams.”
Hickey served as a mentor for former teacher Doug Peckham, who said: “We have built on the dream that Elinor allowed us to see which was very individual to her but became very public and very shared.”
Hickey has served since 1990 as Area 1 Trustee of the Sacramento County Board of Education and has twice served as Board President (1991–1992 and 2000–2001). She also received special recognition from the State of California in the form of a joint congratulatory resolution from two Sacramento-area lawmakers: State Senator Deborah Ortiz and Assemblyman David Jones.
Christopher Woods, Trustee, Sacramento County Board of Education, presented the resolution to Hickey and described what it’s like to work alongside the lifelong educator. “My first two years on the board, I had the pleasure of sitting next to you,” said Woods. “(What) that means is I got to hear everything she said under her breath … I should get continuing education credits for that,” he quipped.
Fellow Board Trustee Harold Fong is also a former student of Hickey’s, having been a member of her public speaking class. He thanked his fellow trustee and former teacher for her guidance. “I think I was a pretty shy student at the time, but she helped a shy young man bring together his thoughts about the critical issues that were going on in the late 1960s,” Fong said.
Before being elected to the County Board, she had served two terms as Trustee of the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD). Hickey, who graduated from the University of Southern California in 1938, received her teaching credential from Stanford University, and assumed her first teaching position shortly before World War II, in Yreka, California. She taught English at Sacramento High School for 18 years, during which she received top honors as Teacher of the Year for both her school district and for all of Sacramento County.
Hickey continues to be an active education advocate and is involved in numerous community organizations, including the Renaissance Society, which conducts learning programs for senior citizens at California State University, Sacramento. She has also served on the State Teacher Credentialing Committee as well as the board of the Girl Scouts of Tierra del Oro Council.
Joe Petterle, Ed.D., the newly dedicated school’s principal, promised that campus staff will work hard to lift the spirits of each student. “The locus of power is not outside of them but within and that they are the captains of their own ships and the masters of their own destinies. They can be what they want to be. They can realize their dreams,” Petterle said.
Elinor Lincoln Hickey School is located at 2040 Ethan Way in Sacramento, off Cottage Way, between El Camino Avenue and Howe Avenue.