Hoosier Road Elementary Welcomes New Principal Jenifer Ricketts
Photographer: Ron Wise
She’s only been on the job for about three months, but Jenifer Ricketts feels right at home and is learning rather quickly.
Ricketts is the new principal at Hoosier Road Elementary, where she officially started on July 1 after a busy summer of meeting staff and getting prepared for the school year. She has since shaken off those first-day-of-school jitters and fully settled into her new role.
“I’m really excited to be here,” Ricketts says. “It is a great fit for so many reasons. I have felt so welcomed. All the staff has been inviting and open about their experiences here. I’ve gotten to meet parents and families, and they love the school. They’ve done their research on me and have been very welcoming.”
Ricketts knows a thing or two about education, and it’s no surprise where she is today. She says education runs in her blood. Her father taught for more than 40 years and her grandparents were teachers as well. So, she’s grown up with teacher role models and it was always a career path that stuck in the back of her mind as she got older and developed a passion of her own for education.
Her resume doesn’t hurt, either. Ricketts taught for nearly a decade, including eight years at Durbin Elementary in Noblesville. She then became assistant principal at Noblesville in 2014 before serving as assistant principal at Fishers Elementary from 2016 to 2018.
“I love working with kids, and I love working with people,” she says. “Education has been a really good fit for me and what drives me as far as an opportunity to impact people. Every day is different and flies by. It has been busy. I’ve been in administration for nearly 15 years and have always heard great things about Hoosier Road Elementary. The school is very innovative in how they are teaching the kids and that drew me too.”
With her first year underway, Principal Ricketts says she is mainly focused on connecting with the community, faculty and students. Her main goal is establishing those relationships and building upon them as she looks toward the future of the school.
“I want to build on the momentum HRE has had in past years,” Ricketts says. “We want our students to be kind, caring and confident as they grow. The academics are obviously important, but any impact we can make on children and who they are is very important, too. I always keep in the back of my mind: ‘If my kids went to school here, what would I want for them?’
“Education is always changing,” she adds. “As we learn more and reflect, we change our practices. We will be reflective of what we already have in place here. I’m sure that will drive changes in the future, but there is nothing I’m coming in looking to change right away.”
The topic of school safety continues to be at the forefront for administrators. HRE is no different. Ricketts says the school will continue to have, as they have in the past, a Student Resource Officer on hand at the campus. This year, the police officer will spend some time around the school, and during lunch, building rapport with students and answering any questions they might have.
Ricketts says HSE’s mental health initiative, which provides a certified mental health therapist through Community North, is another critical piece to student safety and well being.
“We are able to serve so many families and so many kids in that way,” Ricketts says. “When you think about a long-term solution of kids feeling safe, feeling valued and that they have a place, those things, hopefully, will slow down this epidemic of school violence. Those kids that might be struggling will have a support system in place.”
As for Ricketts personally, she grew up in Peru, Indiana and is now a Fishers resident with her husband Hank and three kids of her own — one stepson, Dylan, in college at IU and two girls, Claire, who is heading to kindergarten next year, and Kate, who is two years old.
“We love the Fishers community,” Ricketts says. “It is a great place to raise a family. My husband has lived here virtually his whole life. Overall, I have an open door policy at school. So I encourage parents to stop by or feel free to email or call me with any questions or concerns. I want to encourage that communication with families and students. We are here to help them.”