Get to know Dr. Richard C. Dickinson, Middle School Dean of Students and Wellness Teacher. He is currently in his sixth year at Latin.
I attended Latin School for 14 years before attending Kenyon College in Ohio. Subsequently, I attended law school for two and a half years before having a change in vision. I then enrolled in a master's program for counseling. After graduating with a degree in counseling, I completed my doctorate degree in the field of counselor education.
"The war of my life had begun; and though one of God’s most powerless creatures, I resolved never to be conquered." –Harriet Jacobs, author of "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl"
What are the best parts of your job?
The best part of my job is knowing that I play a role in ensuring that children feel seen and valued as unique and worthy of the opportunities that Latin affords. I am also grateful to have the opportunity to help shape and shift young mindsets in the direction of kindness and inclusivity, which helps create a community that is safe and welcoming. The ability to feel safe is essential with regard to students feeling like they can be open, authentic and available to learn.
Why did you decide that you wanted to work at a school?
Children are the key to securing a safe and productive future for all of us. My goal is to assist children with developing a positive concept of self that is based in integrity and empathy. The ability to love and appreciate one’s self in a holistic way allows for that appreciation and love to extend to broader communities.
What is your philosophy on wellness in middle school?
I believe in a holistic approach to wellness as it relates to our students. This includes students having the supports and structures in place to address their mental and emotional well-being. We are very fortunate to have access to Mrs. Buchanan Miller, our dynamic school counselor, as well as a host of other professionals who are steadfast in their efforts to attend to the social and emotional needs of our students. Additionally, the middle school is well-resourced in terms of outlets and opportunities to address the physical health and well-being of our students. For example, it brings me great joy to see our students engaged in the practice of yoga as a component of our physical education curriculum. Students have the opportunity to practice being present and mindful at the direction of our phenomenal P.E. instructor Nicole Collias who guides our students through their yoga practice. Nicole is an expert in the practice of yoga and we are fortunate to have her working with our students. Finally, we have the great privilege of working with Nurse Jill Yacu and her colleagues. Not only is Nurse Yacu one of the hardest working people that I have encountered, she has the ability to make authentic connections with our students as they navigate all of the health concerns associated with being a middle school student while learning during a pandemic.
What was the last good book you read?
The last great book that I read was Alex Hailey’s “Roots.” The last good book that I read in terms of professional development was Dr. Jennifer L. Eberhardt’s “Biased.” The last good book that I read for a brain break was John Grisham’s “The Guardians.”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
The best advice I ever received was from my father. I was in a difficult place mentally and emotionally after leaving law school. I told my father that I felt like I could not catch a break. He looked at me and said, “Son, that is part of the problem. You do not catch breaks. You make them.” I will never forget that advice.
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