Naomi Price Hentz Distinguished Professor and Director, Center for Leadership in Education
After serving as a school administrator for more than 30 years, most recently as superintendent of schools for Howard County, Maryland, Mike Hickey wanted to spend his last years of “active duty” as a teacher.
“The most important things that happen in any U.S. school system are teaching and learning,” says Hickey. “Towson University is highly regarded for its education leadership program, and I loved teaching teachers.”
Hickey acknowledges that school leadership takes many forms and comes from many sources, including community members. “Courageous leaders realize leadership is not a zero sum game. If you put trust in teachers and acknowledge their skills in doing the most important work of the school, then you can empower teachers and watch them become leaders.”
Hickey has become an advocate of distributed leadership in education. “It is a process with three elements: leaders or leader, followers and the situation,” describes Hickey. “The intersection between the first two elements and the situation is where distributed leadership takes place.”
He now sees his role as helping teachers understand the concept of distributed leadership. “It shifts the focus from the person to the process, and allows principals who are knowledgeable and understanding to step out of their roles and let others be the leaders.”
Students recently selected Hickey to receive the Gloria A. Neubert Excellence in Teaching Award. “To receive this commendation from students makes it so meaningful to me,” says Hickey. “It is a great way to close my career.” Hickey sees the College of Education as a critical part of Towson University’s foundation as it continues to train the majority of classroom teachers in the state of Maryland. “Towson University has a long history for providing quality teaching and leadership. To be part of that tradition is an honor.”
Hickey will retire at the end of fiscal year 2017, capping a 52-year career in education at both the pre-K-12 level and most recently in higher education at Towson University.