“Well, actually I’m leasing her,” laughed Tickner regarding her Arabian, Elle. “I’ve loved horses all my life and never had one myself. But I’m definitely a person who preaches to kids to fulfill their dreams, so now I’ve fulfilled one of mine.”
Tickner teaches art and drama at Excelsior Middle School, and along with two other East County educators – Sarah Peddie of Heritage High School and Stacey Wickware from Dozier-Libbey Medical High School – was honored last week at a dinner gala at the Diablo Country Club.
“Kathy is just so wonderful in her relationship with the students and how she brings out the best in them,” said Excelsior Principal Kelly Basmagian. “When I see the students in the plays she does, it’s just so amazing. She’s very deserving of this award.”
Honorees received a check for $10,000 to be used in any way they wish. Byron Union School District Superintendent Ken Jacopetti was far from surprised when he heard how Tickner spent a portion of her award. “Kathy is an animal person in a huge way,” said Jacopetti. “I was on the phone with her just today, and she had to hang up because she had spotted a dog running loose on the road and needed to stop and help it … she’s an amazing person.”
Founded in 1992, the Warren W. Eukel Teacher Trust award is an annual grant to educators in Contra Costa County who foster excellence in education through their commitment to their students. Tickner couldn’t help but draw a correlation between the name of the award and the significance of the honor.
“The initials W. E. is ‘we,’” said Tickner. “And I thought that was perfect because this is definitely a ‘we’ award. My work has been allowed to blossom because of the people who believe in me and my program and the students. To even have been considered for this award was awesome.”
As for the generous prize money, Tickner said she would take the remainder of it – sans Elle – and put it toward the ongoing cost of college for her three sons. But for now, she’s basking in the equestrian glow of life with her new love – Elle.
“I sure do love this horse,” said Tickner. “I so love this horse. My heart just flutters when I see her; she brings tears to my eyes. I’ve waited a long time for this. I raised my kids first, got them off to college and now I get to have my horse. I’m empty nesting with my horse and it’s just the most incredible thing.”