First Presbyterian Christian Academy senior administrator Shannon Hickey has closed out her career with the Highlanders after 16 years.
Hickey and her husband Tom are moving to Columbia, SC, where she has been hired to lead a new public fine arts charter school – Midlands Arts Conservatory.
“It opens in August, beginning with sixth and seventh graders. Each year they plan to add the next class,” Hickey said, adding she is excited about working with two things she is passionate about – education and the arts.
Hickey said the school focuses on academics and integrating professional level art education of visual, music, dance and theater.
“The kids spend half of the day in academics and the other half of the day in fine arts,” she said. “It’s a higher level of arts education not what you typically see in middle and high school.”
Hickey said she was honored to be chosen.
“It was a national search,” she said.
She decided to apply and later interviewed with a panel of school board members, faculty and staff.
“And they needed me to start immediately,” she said. “God has a way of working things out and everything has just fallen in line.”
Hickey said it was difficult saying goodbye to FPCA. She has been involved with the school for 19 years. Her oldest daughter Emily started attended pre-school at FPCA.
“When I started working here, it was a pre-school through fifth grade school.”
Her first job there was teaching fifth grade.
Hickey has served as the senior administrator, assistant head of school, athletic director, international program director, fine arts and electives director, music educator, teacher and created the FPCA band and chorus.
“I had 30 kids in the band and 50 in the choir and that was a great accomplishment, considering the size of the school,” she said.
Hickey said being a part of FPCA’s growth, becoming a full K-12 school and adding athletic programs was a rewarding experience. She noted the state titles in basketball and soccer. She said the school was competitive and received awards in baseball, tennis, swimming and track as well.
“We’ve had so many student athletes get scholarships and play in college,” she said. “Richard Lovelady graduated from FPCA and is now with the Kansas City Royals. “Jordan Johnson and DJ Felder were from FPCA and they play professional basketball.”
Hickey said she enjoyed being involved in all aspects of the school and recalls how much they grew their school spirit in 2012-13, when FPCA competed in the Under Armour Undeniable Challenge.
During the Under Armour challenge the school had to compete against other schools in a national contest showcasing school pride and unification.
In 2012 FPCA took second place. But in 2013 they won earning $140,000 worth of athletic equipment, attire and accessories from the sportswear company.
“That was amazing,” Hickey said.
She said her most recent rewarding experience a review from AdvancED, the national accreditation agency. She said the school met several goals and even exceeded expectations in some areas.
She said the students touched her heart. On May 17, the staff also honored Hickey for her dedication, presenting her with a gift made by the students.