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Remembering Dr. David Hicks

Dr. David Hicks holds up a book to read at a local garage library in the summer of 2022

March 7, 1967 - September 9, 2022

Following his selection as Northwest ISD’s superintendent of schools in March, Dr. David Hicks routinely spoke of his excitement to join the school district and how assuming the position marked a dream fulfilled. Sadly, Dr. Hicks only had a chance to see this dream in action for several months, as he died following a medical emergency on Friday, September 9.

Despite his limited time leading Northwest ISD, the community immediately felt Dr. Hicks’ kindness and earnestness from his sincerity shining through all his actions.

When Dr. Hicks officially started his new role in Northwest ISD, he pored over staff lists to find all the district employees he previously worked with in neighboring school districts. He quickly reached out to dozens of individuals, many of whom he hadn’t seen in more than a decade, to share stories and tell them how he looked forward to working together again. Some of these individuals had previously worked with Dr. Hicks for years, and some had only worked with him for a few months and had no idea he would remember them because of their brief time together.

Teachers meeting Dr. Hicks for the first time similarly felt his intentional and uplifting nature. Ryan Weiss, a history teacher at Tidwell Middle School, met Dr. Hicks on his first official day as superintendent. Dr. Hicks, a former middle school history teacher himself, quickly went to his office and gifted a framed map of Texas in the 1830s to Mr. Weiss.

During various meetings, Dr. Hicks encouraged parents and community leaders to reach out to district teachers – the foundation of schools – to shower them with appreciation. Many times, he encouraged others not to forget the power of an encouraging word or handwritten note, both actions he regularly made himself as he led by example.

For those who knew Dr. Hicks, such acts serve as a reminder of his leadership style – building relationships that would last a lifetime. Dr. Hicks never shied away from making new connections no matter where he was, from befriending hotel staff at a resort he visited just once a year to education professionals he would reach out to daily.

Children are the focus of everything we do as educators. The potential to change the world happens every day inside the walls of our schools, and I am eager to live out Northwest ISD’s core belief that kids come first.Dr. David Hicks, Northwest ISD Superintendent

With 34 years in the education profession, all in North Texas, Dr. Hicks built a legacy of compassion and educational excellence, striving to find innovative opportunities for students to learn in their own unique ways. Dr. Anne Davis-Simpson, president of the Northwest ISD Board of Trustees and a retired teacher, formed a lasting professional relationship with Dr. Hicks that spanned almost all his time as an educator. She remembers Dr. Hicks as a caring leader who truly loved the work of supporting students to reach their potential.

“Dr. Hicks’ commitment to quality instruction and teachers was a trait that lasted throughout his educational career,” she said. “He approached life and educational work with optimism and positivity to an extent unrivaled by almost anyone. He lived the district belief that kids come first, as every action he took put children at the forefront. He will be dearly missed by all who knew him.”

In addition to his heart for children, Dr. Hicks championed community collaboration initiatives. He met with more than 100 families soon after he officially took the reins as superintendent of Northwest ISD, seeking to learn how the school district could best meet the desires of residents. Similarly, he scheduled events to begin soon to meet with families and community members in all three high school feeder patterns to have conversations about their views of the district.

With his meticulous notes and impeccable memory, Dr. Hicks planned to combine this feedback with the insights of teachers and district leaders to guide his decision-making process and further enhance the education experience in Northwest ISD. This attentiveness and focus on community-led guidance served as a hallmark of his previous superintendent position at Sherman ISD, a district he led for six years.

Dr. Tyson Bennett, current superintendent of Sherman ISD, said Dr. Hicks was the ultimate includer, bringing together individuals of all backgrounds and seeking their opinions and counsel in decisions. His decision-making process revolved around the belief that a school district belongs to its community, and he sought community feedback to guide major decisions.

“Dr. Hicks was so gracious, a servant at heart, and included everyone because he cared so much for others,” said Dr. Bennett, who previously served as a member of Dr. Hicks’ leadership team in Sherman ISD. “He impacted all of us in amazing ways that will bless our district and community for generations.”

Though he made the difficult decision to leave Sherman ISD, Dr. Hicks took great pride in that district’s accomplishments. He rallied the community around a shared long-term vision of the district, including a new, state-of-the-art high school, as it dealt with unfamiliar enrollment increases. Students benefited from his leadership at all levels, as Sherman ISD’s early childhood education program garnered a Pre-K Center of Excellence distinction from the Texas Education Agency, and Sherman High School maintained a top graduation rate in the area.

Dr. David Hicks holds a book after he reads to students on his first day at Northwest ISD

When Dr. Hicks left Sherman ISD, he explained to former colleagues that his new position served as perhaps the only place he would leave for. He long admired Northwest ISD and its reputation, and he would also now lead the district where his grandchildren would attend school.

Before assuming his first superintendent position, Dr. Hicks served as area superintendent of secondary programs at Denton ISD. Yet the vast majority of Dr. Hicks’ career – more than 20 years – took place in schools, directly supporting students and teachers. After his time as a middle school history teacher, he served as a principal or assistant principal at all campus levels – elementary, middle and high – in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.

Kathryn Kee, former assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD and central office administrator in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, said she was blessed to know Dr. Hicks from the time he began student teaching. She said Dr. Hicks “radiated joy and passion to be the best teacher he could be.” His personality was so magnetic that district leaders quickly selected him to lead training sessions. He grounded his leadership style in his authenticity to ignite the passions of new teachers and inspire those with experience, Mrs. Kee explained.

“To have the joy, the fun and the honor to watch him grow over 30 years was equivalent to being a proud mama,” she said. “Wherever he was, David was focused, committed and unrelenting to ensure the best for all kids. His way to do that was to love and support his teachers, his parents and his community. He deeply understood that it took us all to impact lives and provide a strong yet challenging education to all. His joy, his big smile, his love for his family and all he influenced for good will forever keep him in our hearts.”

The joy and passion described by Mrs. Kee mirrors a common description among those who spent time with Dr. Hicks in any capacity. Whatever Dr. Hicks decided to do, whether professionally or in his free time, involved his full heart.

Dr. Jamie Wilson, superintendent of Denton ISD, said Dr. Hicks’ background across the education profession made him a leader who understood students and teachers alike. When the Northwest ISD Board of Trustees named Dr. Hicks as superintendent, he knew his friend would make his new community proud.

“From teaching to tailgating, Dr. David Hicks was always a man I was proud to call my friend and colleague. His love for his family was endless and demonstrated in multiple ways. His infectious laugh drew you in immediately, and the genuine way he treated every person made you want to be better and rise to his high expectations – which he held for himself and those he cared for,” Dr. Wilson said. “David had a tireless passion for serving others, and yet he always felt compelled to learn more so he could do more. Often, we talked about our goals for one another, our families and our love for our profession. Make no mistake, David was driven by his love for education and the difference he could make in the lives of others – public education lost an amazing leader and an even better man.”

Commemorative Arrangements

Dr. Hicks is survived by his loving wife, Tammy; daughter, Aubrey; son and daughter-in-law, Keaton and Maura, as well as granddaughter, Presley; and father, Alexander. He is also survived by siblings Susan Brashier and her husband, Joe; Kathy Miles and husband, Dan; Laura Witte and husband, David; Paula Akialis and husband, Ron; Steven Hicks and wife, Lori; Mischelle Raftery and husband, Steve; and Christina Miller and husband, Damien.

Commemorative arrangements will take place at Sherman High School, located at 2907 W. Travis St. in Sherman, at the following dates and times.

  • Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, September 16
  • Viewing: 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, September 17
  • Funeral: 2 p.m. Saturday, September 17

Northwest ISD encourages those so inclined to share their thoughts and memories on this Facebook post, which will be compiled and given to the Hicks family. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked for donations to the David Hicks Memorial Scholarship Fund managed by the Northwest ISD Education Foundation.

David Hicks Memorial Scholarship Fund