Influencer of the Week: Kerri Van Sickle, Windy Ridge K-8 School

Kerri Van Sickle has been with OCPS for 22 years.

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  • | 2:15 p.m. January 15, 2020
  • Southwest Orange
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Kerri Van Sickle is an important member of the Windy Ridge Silverhawk family. She’s valued for her passion in the programs she facilitates at the school and for her desire to help others beyond the walls of the school and within the community. She not only provides advice to students who may need support, but she also offers other school staff members an ear to listen to them.

What do you love most about your school?

The wonderful diversity and sense of community.  There is a beautiful spirit of caring at Windy Ridge that you sense as soon as you walk through our doors.  We are a family that genuinely love and care for our students and families and each other.  

What's your favorite part of your job?

The great variety of programs that I implement and working with many grade levels, ages and stages.  There is never a dull moment and new challenges always.  I am able to watch the students progress through the grades K-8 and it is amazing to see their personal and academic growth through the years.    

What made you want to take on this job?

I have always had a desire to make a difference in the world.  I enjoy helping kids and adults to become the very best version of themselves and realize their potential.  

What motivates you and pushes you to do your best?

Knowing that my actions and treatment of others have the potential to make a huge difference in a student’s life and can impact his/her future.  When students become empowered and have hope and share that with me it confirms that my efforts are worthwhile and matter.  When students remind me of something I said or an activity I did with them that was meaningful and left a lasting impression it gives me energy and courage to come back and do it all again.   

What's the nicest thing a student or faculty member has done for you?

Over the years I have had students and faculty be incredibly gracious so it is hard to pick one instance of kindness.  What comes to mind immediately is a faculty member who wrote a song about me as a school counselor and played the guitar and sang it to me with the entire class present.  

What’s your favorite place to eat?

I love many restaurants and try new places frequently.  If I had to pick one it would be Colorado Fondue.  It is so fun to cook on the rock and it is delicious!

If you could take a vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why?

I would like to travel to Greece one day.  It looks incredibly beautiful and the water is so peaceful and inviting.  It would be interesting to experience a different culture.  

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

The power to change things with a wave of a wand.  Then I could fix situations and even prevent some that won’t have a good outcome.  

Cats, dogs or some other pet? 

I have two cats I inherited and two stray cats who have adopted me.  They are great listeners.  

What do you like to do in your free time?

In my free time I like to go to the beach, shopping, take day trips and cleaning out closets and organizing.  I like traveling to places I have never been.

If you were trapped on a deserted island and can only take three items with you, what would you bring and why?

I would take a sail-boat so I could explore other islands.  I would also take water for survival and fire starter so I could cook all the fish I would catch.  

What was your favorite book growing up? 

I loved all of the Beverly Cleary books-Ramona and Henry,  Ramona the Pest, etc.  One of my elementary teachers read Socks to our class and from there I was hooked and read all of her books.  I loved the adventures and wished I could hang out with Beezus and Ramona and the gang.  

What is your favorite sports team to cheer for?

I am from Kansas and have always rooted for the KU Jayhawks.  The Jayhawk is a mythical bird and the name is a combination of two birds the blue jay and the sparrow hawk.  I love to watch their basketball team.    

Do you have any fun talents or hobbies? 

I love to dance and attend an exercise dance class a few times a week.  I like to read mysteries and I collect salt and pepper shakers.   

If you could put any four musicians on an alternate Mount Rushmore, who would it be?  

Elton John, Carol King, Aretha Franklin, and Linda Ronstadt are some of my all-time favorite musicians.  They remind me of my childhood and are still rocking it or rocked it well into their sixties and seventies.