Sometimes a big setback leads to an even bigger comeback. This was the case for Cedric Hawkes whose rebound has landed him in the cool job of teaching at Nottoway Middle School where he impacts lives.
When his fiancée and mother of his two children passed away and he found himself a single father of two boys, ages five months and 15 months, Hawkes knew some things in his life had to change. Hawkes had attended Old Dominion University but not finished and was working at Southside Virginia Community College as a restaurant manager for the Farley Experience. Working in the college environment, he was interested in returning to school and found encouragement from Dr. John Hicks, counselor.
“Working at the café was the perfect scenario,” he said. “It jump-started me back on track, it was a home place with a fun-oriented atmosphere.”
He told the he Longwood College publication The Lancer, “It had been on my mind for a while so one day I took my apron off and went to talk to one of the counselors there (at SVCC).”
After taking some classes at SVCC, he was able to in get into Longwood University through the guaranteed acceptance agreement. He joined the Call Me MISTER program, a national teacher leadership program, where he excelled and was the eldest MISTER so he was role model to others.
Asked why his job as a teacher is cool, he said the first word that comes to mind is satisfying.
“I am able to give back to so many people, to give so much of myself, to offer selfless service. When I see the looks on these kids’ faces, when you relate to them on their level, I see growth and change in their lives,” Hawkes said.
“I try to reach ‘em before I teach ‘em,” he said.
He does not just change lives and act as a role model during the school day, but he also coaches varsity football at Nottoway high school in the afternoons and is on the field leading the players during practice and games.
“I never thought I would be a teacher but the experiences I had and the people I met influenced me,” he said.
One way he influences his students is by giving them a sense of pride in their appearance. He sponsors Tie Tuesday for the gentlemen in his class and Step It Up for the ladies as they sport their dressier clothes on these days.
Besides teaching and coaching, Hawkes is also a volunteer firefighter in Crewe. He is certified to teach Fire I and 2 and Hazmat training.
Hawkes wants to be a role model for his own children, ages, 10, 9, 8 and 14 months. He and his fiancé’ are both school teachers and he is encouraging her to return to school to complete her Master’s degree. His philosophy is to keep trying and never give up. And this certainly shows as he impacts many lives at all levels in Southside Virginia.