“I embrace teaching as an opportunity to inspire and empower.”
Those powerful words form the first sentence of Rick Hildebrand’s educational philosophy. Here are a few more:
“I encourage students to challenge existing boundaries by teaching them to make the familiar different and question how they have come to know what they believe to be true about their world. This helps students see boundaries, whether personal or social, as constructed and affords them an opportunity to challenge and move beyond them.”
For Rick, who has taught kindergarten through 12th grade art at USD 223’s Linn school system for the past 24 years, the words ring especially and poignantly true after a 2003 auto accident in which he was involved.
“What makes Mr. Hildebrand unique is that he is a quadriplegic,” says Michael D. Savage, Linn Public Schools principal. “But, as I am fond of saying, a person does not teach with his arms and legs—a true educator teaches with their heart!” Savage continues.
“Yes, Rick loves art, but he loves his students even more. When I hear what his students have to say about Mr. Hildebrand, it is obvious they love him also,” writes a colleague.
Rick’s achievements earned him a Peter John Loux Award in 2009. The award recognizes three Kansans who have demonstrated exceptional desire and dedication in overcoming disabilities. He is also a 1997 winner in the Kansas Artist Postcard Series, sponsored by the Association of Community Arts Agencies of Kansas.
“In my view, teaching is not about instructing or imparting information to students as if their minds were waiting to be filled with my knowledge,” Rick writes. “Rather, teaching is igniting learning, empowering students to take responsibility for their learning, inspiring courage to grow intellectually, cultivating curiosity, providing opportunities for developing relationships, clarifying values, uplifting the spirit and igniting action.”
Rick Hildebrand earned two Bachelor of Science degrees, one in art and another in psychology, from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He also earned a master’s degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.