Nancy Derrickson

“As a reading teacher, I am always needing a book or other resources for something in class. I know that Mrs. Derrickson’s library door is always open, and I can call down any time of day for materials. I can give her a list of books, and she doesn’t hesitate to get them for me. If she doesn’t have a book in the library, she always finds another book that goes along with what I’m doing.”

Mrs. Nancy Derrickson attended Licking R-VIII School District from kindergarten until her high school graduation. In fact, Mrs. Derrickson’s was the first class of full-day kindergarten in Licking. Always a student who loved school, Mrs. Derrickson has fond memories of her own teachers and classmates throughout the years. Mrs. Derrickson attended college in Warrensburg at what is now UCM, and she graduated in December 1994 with degrees in both early childhood and elementary education. After graduation, Mrs. Derrickson moved back to her family home and connected with an administrator who helped her network to solicit a mid-year job at Potosi Elementary teaching early childhood special education. There, Mrs. Derrickson led a morning and afternoon class with two aides. Mrs. Derrickson recalls grocery shopping for life skills classes on Fridays and enjoying the opportunity to jump into her career in a rare mid-year opening. While teaching in Potosi, Mrs. Derrickson lived in an apartment over a house, and she finished the school year on June 2, just ahead of her wedding day, June 10. Mrs. Derrickson continued her education to earn her master’s degree in education from Drury University in 1996.

Mrs. Derrickson married Mr. Jason Derrickson at Licking Church of Christ in 1995, and they enjoyed a honeymoon in Jamaica before returning to work in Rolla at Missouri Engineering (Mr. Derrickson) and Licking Elementary (Mrs. Derrickson). Mrs. Derrickson recalls interviewing for a kindergarten position with Mr. Collins and Mr. Barnes prior to the honeymoon and learning of her contract with the district in July. “I taught kindergarten for five years, and a first grade teaching position came open,” said Mrs. Derrickson. “I spent 17 years in first grade and loved it, but after so many years, I was looking for a change,” added Mrs. Derrickson. Mrs. Derrickson stepped into 5th/6th grade English Language Arts in her 23rd year of teaching, and she spent four years in that role. Mrs. Derrickson was thrilled when the library position was advertised as open and was excited for the opportunity to use her certification to build interest in reading among elementary students. Mrs. Derrickson renovated the library, re-inventoried and reshelved every book, and has been focused on celebrating reading as elementary librarian for two years now.

When asked about her view of education over the past 28 years, Mrs. Derrickson shared that education happens in cycles. “There was a period when we focused on whole language and learning from the top down. That evolved, but we are starting to have discussion about bringing some of that philosophy back,” Mrs. Derrickson reflected. “I would share with teachers who are new in the profession that change may happen, but things always come back around!” Mrs. Derrickson added. Mrs. Derrickson also noted that educators used to spend significant time teaching character traits, and teachers considered how to help students be responsible, good citizens in addition to content instruction. Mrs. Derrickson notices that now there is more time spent on safety – both internal and external – and educating teachers how to deal with mental health issues, management of student emotions, and teaching resilience in students and parents.

Mrs. Derrickson’s care and concern for students is evident to staff members, students, and parents. “I really enjoy kids – watching them grow into responsible adults. Having a small part in molding the young people in our community is a wonderful experience,” Mrs. Derrickson shared. When asked about other information Mrs. Derrickson would pass on to teachers who are early in their profession, Mrs. Derrickson encouraged teachers to stay close to God, pray every day, and thank Him for His blessings. “Always care about children and their wellbeing and be thinking about the future. Give your best, network with colleagues, ask for advice when needed, and do your own research. Don’t be afraid to try a new idea. If it doesn’t work, that’s fine, just go back and try something else. It’s the trying that matters!” Mrs. Derrickson advised.

Although Mrs. Derrickson finds lots of joy in her work, there is much to look forward to in her upcoming retirement. Mrs. Derrickson plans to relax, embracing a schedule built around her own interests and family, enjoying her children, volunteering, and giving back to her community. Mrs. Derrickson is proud to have been married to Jason Derrickson for 27 years, and to be mother to Bryce (25), Reece (22), and mother-in-law to Jayme (Bryce’s wife). Mrs. Derrickson has tremendous love for her extended family, too, including her parents, Jim and Ann Hagler, her brother, Bobby, and his wife, Serena, and her niece and nephews, Rachel, Jonathan, and Adam. Mrs. Derrickson also enjoys the company of the family dogs, Peaches and Asher.

Mr. and Mrs. Derrickson are members of Rolla Church of Christ where Mrs. Derrickson teaches Sunday school. Mrs. Derrickson’s hobbies include reading, scrapbooking, walking, and spending time with friends and family. Mrs. Derrickson is quick to point out that, “God has blessed my life and given me great opportunities. He has guided me every step of the way.” Mrs. Derrickson considers her coworkers to be dear friends, and she hopes to stay connected to these friends long into the future.

Each day at Licking Elementary, students come bounding out of the library with a new book, excited to share about their progress in Mrs. Derrickson’s new Wild About Reading program. Staff members rely on Mrs. Derrickson for supplementary materials and enjoy her positive demeanor. Administrators value Mrs. Derrickson’s leadership on numerous volunteer committees and greatly appreciate her mentorship of beginning teachers. For these reasons and many others, Licking R-VIII School District is proud to celebrate Mrs. Nancy Derrickson as Spotlight Staff Member for the month of March!