Mr. Riddick now assumes his third position, as Hewitt’s Upper School Dean. In his new role, he appreciates the larger range of students with whom he interacts regularly. The overseeing nature of his position encourages mentorship of a wider breadth of the student body, yet he does miss the consistency and intimacy of forming relationships with the same students. He reveals, “when you are removed from the classroom, the opportunities to help provide students with the support they need to grow, at times, seems limited.” Although he does not engage with these students nearly as much, he harbors no doubt as to the persistence of these relationships.
Having taught a variety of subjects and classes, Mr. Riddick has unique experience in a multitude of fields. Growing up, Riddick had ambitions of being a doctor, taking science classes which remained his favorite, with the exception of physics. Mr. Riddick kindly asks that I “send his apologies to Dr. Wall.” Ultimately, this interest in the sciences led him to focus on the study of biology. Here, though, he realized that he did not want to be a doctor. Law was his second, but no less important, interest. Serving as legislative council for the Third District of Philadelphia, Mr. Riddick realized he was destined to be a teacher. Educating the local community wherein he grew up on policy matters, he was able to impart his knowledge on those close to his childhood home. Undoubtedly, he points to this experience as his most-beloved part of his resume.
Mr. Riddick enjoys the diversity of the classes he has taught over the span of his first three years at Hewitt. Chemistry was both his smallest and first class; he was overjoyed to watch those students graduate just last year. With the middle school, he has taught multiple years of science and appreciates the age for its largely developmental nature. His eighth grade capstone class, focusing on social justice issues and created by Riddick himself, was similarly a favorite, in due part for its real world applications. And the answer I wasn’t sure was coming, “I miss our law class dearly.”
Mr. Riddick’s love for Hewitt extends far beyond the courses he has taught. The tight-knit community and the meaningful connections that it breeds are Mr. Riddick’s favorite aspects. He feels as though he knows the vast majority of Upper School students, regardless if he’s taught them in the past. He admires the way in which teachers collaborate with one another, combining distinct interests, passions, and expertises to develop the most enriching student experiences possible.
Always looking forward, Riddick would like to see a broader venue for students to explore experiential learning, both within the classroom and beyond. He firmly believes that high schoolers need practical, real-world experiences: “Students need to see the transferable nature of the classroom. To answer the question of how I envision Hewitt in five years, I would like to see seniors spending the bulk of their time off campus, becoming changemakers in a number of communities and environments.” Somewhat jokingly, Riddick similarly remarks that in five years he hopes for, “no dress code violations.” I perceive him to be mocking the current wave of students failing to conform with uniform guidelines. However, what he truly wants to see in these years is a type of “flourishing”student-centered enterprise, governed by a student body that curates their education for themselves. He presumes that in five years, classes will be even more tailored around student interest. Engaged in meaningful work, Hewitt students will occupy a collaboratively open space, expanding the change current students are implementing. In terms of where he envisions himself, Mr. Riddick proudly claims, “In five years I’ll be a soccer dad, chauffeuring my son to his games, right before I put my name in the running for president.” Yes, you heard that correctly, Riddick for office!
As time continues to progress, and as students grow into themselves, Riddick advises, above all else, “to take time to actually enjoy childhood.” He emphasizes the importance of balancing one’s responsibilities with the activities and people that bring you joy. If he were to advise his younger self, Riddick would encourage risk taking. He values the principle itself, and has come to reap the benefits: “When I was younger, I was extremely risk averse, putting myself in situations where I knew I would thrive. The first major risk I took was going to law school. From there I was actually able to remove my self-imposed limitations and begin to see myself more fully.”