Visitation teacher wins top social studies award

Second-grade teacher Molly Hickok of Visitation School is being praised for her creativity and innovative teaching methods and activities. The Minnesota Council for the Social Studies recently named her the elementary teacher of the year. (Submitted photo)

Hickok recognized for ‘thinking outside the box’

A favorite teacher from Visitation School in Mendota Heights has received top honors from the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies.

Second-grade teacher Molly Hickok was recently named the 2014 Elementary School Teacher of the Year.

Hickok was honored for her commitment toward combining social studies concepts and technology into elementary curriculum.

“I enjoy incorporating as many teaching methods and activities into all areas of the curriculum to meet the needs of each student and have them be excited about learning,” she says. 

Hickok, who has taught at Visitation for nearly 10 years, uses SMART boards, iPads and the Internet in her classroom to help students learn about the world around them.

Recent projects included a virtual tour of the White House via the SMART board and a research project in which students used websites and books to write a report on a president or first lady from a first-person perspective.

Students also made use of the Kidspiration Program to study the early days of America and to evaluate the similarities and differences between the Native Americans and early colonists. 

“Social studies plays a role in second-graders lives by helping them understand important events from the past and understand how the world around them operates,” Hickok says. “They learn how to think critically by making good decisions and becoming positive leaders.”

Hickok’s colleagues praise her creativity, collaboration and passion as an educator. Resource teacher Marguerite Kline emphasized Hickok’s ability to get students to think “outside the box” with challenging projects. 

Michelle Mechtel, director of Visitation’s Lower School, nominated Hickok for the award. “Molly is extremely dedicated and fully understands the learning needs of the children she teaches,” she says.

Outside the classroom, Hickok serves on Visitation’s Technology Integration Committee, assisting new faculty and offering insights on how to unite technology and curriculum. 

She shows her dedication to students by participating in activities such as the school’s Wellness Committee and the Lower School Run Club.

Hickok graduated from Visitation in 1994. When asked if any past teachers inspired her to enter the education field, she replies, “Many of my teachers and my cross country coach were very inspiring, kind, and supportive. One that stands out was my religion teacher, Margi Ryan.”

She adds, “I always wanted to be in a profession in which I could help others and make a positive difference in their lives,” Hickok says. “I feel so grateful that I am living my dream job at such a wonderful and unique school, Visitation.”

The school administrators say Hickok’s above-and-beyond devotion to her students embodies the school’s motto: “Non Scholae, Sed Viate: Not for School, but for Life.”

She will be honored at the annual MCSS awards gala on Sunday, March 2, at the Sheraton Bloomington.

The mission of the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies is to support, advocate for, and celebrate excellence in the teaching and learning of social studies in Minnesota.

Heather Edwards can be reached at
Kaylin Creason contributed to this story.


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