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“I love you!” he yells as families walk by.

Hendricks has served as the school’s crossing guard and playground monitor for three years. When he’s not directing traffic or ensuring students make it through the crosswalk, he’s building relationships with the community around him.

“Mike has become a staple in this neighborhood. I get calls from families who don’t go to our school and want to thank him for the work he’s done,” Victory Molina, principal of The daVinci Academy explained.

Hendricks takes his job seriously. For him, getting students to school safely is personal.

“In 1996, my 11-year-old cousin Raymond Beard died the same day I graduated high school. He was hit by a car after leaving a YMCA Basketball Tournament in Brooklyn, New York,” Hendricks said. “My whole world was uprooted.”

It took him years to realize why he felt so strongly about becoming a crossing guard.

“In 2020, I started making the connection,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘Duh, I don’t want any kid in the crosswalk to get hit. I want them to be safe and still learn.’”

Coming to ASD20

Hendricks dreamed of one day becoming a teacher, but his life sent him in a different direction. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and spent the next 15 years of his life serving his country.

After traveling the world with assignments in Iraq and South Korea, Hendricks is no stranger to serving the people around him. In his military career, he was awarded more than a dozen times for his volunteerism, including the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club Award, given to less than 1% of soldiers and the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award for contributing more than 4,000 hours of service in his lifetime. It’s no surprise in his retirement, he can’t help but give back.

His last move in the Army landed him at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs as a Master Sergeant. When it was time to decide between another deployment or leaving the military, he made the choice to spend his life dedicated to being a positive influence on children.

“I had just finished my master’s degree in Business Management and truthfully, I was tired. I knew at that point, I wanted to spend more time with my kids.”

He has four children: A corporal in the U.S. Marines, a high school senior, a fourth grader who attends TdVA and a one-year-old daughter.

Before the pandemic, Hendricks volunteered at TdVA in his free time filling in wherever he was needed. When COVID-19 shut down school buildings, volunteers weren’t allowed inside to prevent the spread of the virus.

But, not even a global pandemic could prevent Hendricks from stepping up. He applied for a two open positions, making him the newest staple to the TdVA staff.

Why Education?

While he couldn’t be a traditional classroom teacher, Hendricks aimed to be an educator on the playground. When the recess bells rings, students know to gather around Hendricks and wait on instructions for a big group game.

He instills a district value statement in every student, “We believe relationships matter.”  He encourages them to make friends and strives to be a male-figure they can rely on.

Hendricks is always equipped with band-aids, stickers and tissues to aid the inevitable bumps and bruises that come with being an elementary student, but when given the opportunity to interact outside the games, he asks students to teach him.

“When I was in the military teaching soldiers, I used to hold what I called ‘mental potlucks.’ We would gather around and share information. Within minutes, we were all smarter than when we walked in,” he explained.

He’s using the same strategy with students by asking what they’re studying in the classroom. “Even as an adult, I’m always learning,” he said.

Educating and Inspiring Students to Thrive

On the playground, educating and inspiring students to thrive comes with different methods than in a classroom. Hendricks encourages his students to stand up for themselves.

“I encourage them to call it like it is,” he says. That means when students don’t agree or see something wrong, Hendricks said, “I encourage them to have a voice and speak up about it.”

Rapid Fire Questions

What is your why?
“I do it for the love of having an impact on students,” Hendricks explained. “When I travel through the neighborhood and see kids waving to me, even in a mostly Caucasian area, as an African-American, that means something to me.”

Tell me about a time a student made a lasting impact on you.
“Last year, I had a group of students come up to me on the playground and say, ‘We love you, Uncle Mike!’ For them to call me Uncle Mike, and none of them looked like me was amazing.”

What do you in your day to value all students?
I encourage students to keep pushing forward. The school is really good at putting me in a place where I’m needed. If a student is having a rough day, I take them outside to play basketball or run around before going back to class.”

What keeps you going on the hard days?
“I have to credit the staff here at TdVA. They really keep me encouraged on tough days.” He credits his success to Assistant Principal Jennifer Landon and his colleague, Katie Bradley. “These two make any and all challenges completely worth it because they are not afraid to get down in the weeds to figure it out.”

If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
“I would want to motivate people to keep going.”

When you were a student, what did you love to eat for lunch?
“I loved cheeseburgers. The fact that the cheese was always melted was great.”

What is your favorite school supply?
“Sticky notes, because they are good way to leave encouraging messages.”

Is there a quote that inspires you?
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night turns to day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”– William Shakespeare

We are honoring our people through sharing their unique stories. This regular feature, aptly named “Our People,” will shine a light on who they are, their passions and their contributions. The people who uphold our traditions of excellence. We hope you enjoy these stories and will recommend someone to be highlighted in “Our People.”