Beverly S. "Bev" Hickman, a popular assistant principal at Catonsville High School who was also a devout Francophile, died May 5 of ovarian cancer at her Catonsville home. She was 69.
"As a teacher, Bev was energetic, caring and really got the kids engaged," said Matthew Ames, principal of Catonsville High School.
"She was a passionate, dedicated and hardworking teacher," he said. "She drank a lot of coffee, and I thought she got her energy from that, but actually it was her passion for education, and she never burned out."
"She was extremely dynamic and student-centered, [and] that was what made Bev special, plus she was very intelligent and had a way of communicating with the kids. She had the gift of clarity and loved them so much," said Eric Eiswert, an assistant principal at Catonsville High School, who came to the school 18 years ago as a social studies teacher.
"We were next-door neighbors in Catonsville, and she got my job for me," he said. "And our offices were next door to one another."
The daughter of Edward J. Sloane, who worked in Army personnel at the Pentagon, and Carter Louise Sloane, an educator, Beverly Sloane was born in Washington and moved at the age of 5 with her family to Springfield, Va., where she graduated in 1965 from Robert E. Lee High School.
She began her college studies at Goucher College and later transferred to the University of Wisconsin, where she earned a bachelor's degree in 1969 in history. She later earned a master's degree in history, also from Wisconsin.
While in college, Ms. Hickman became an accomplished dancer, and after moving to Baltimore in the early 1970s, continued her dance studies at the Peabody Conservatory.
Ms. Hickman began her career in 1972, teaching history at Lansdowne High School, and then joined the faculty of Catonsville High School in 1987 as a social studies teacher. She later headed the social studies department at the school.
"Bev was my history teacher at Lansdowne," Mr. Ames said. "She had a great interest in politics, and I always looked forward to going to her class. She also wrote a wonderful letter of recommendation for me when I applied to Virginia Tech.
"And when I came to Catonsville in 1997, we were co-workers and she was my department chair," he said.
In addition to teaching, she organized trips, a foreign exchange program and the Law Mentorship Program, and oversaw the speech and debating society.
She was also instrumental in the development of the Rising Scholars Program at Catonsville High School and was the originator of the school's "Be. Do. Create Your Best" initiative.
Another one of her interests was special education.
"She was interested in the turn-around kids, kids who didn't always get the best shake in life. She saw the potential in them and devoted a lot of time to them," Mr. Eiswert said. "She had perseverance and turned those kids around."
In 2001, she was named an assistant principal at Catonsville, a position she retained until retiring in 2015.
When Mr. Ames was appointed principal of Catonsville High School, Ms. Hickman had just retired.
"It is hard to believe that Bev passed away this weekend after so many years of service to so many people and having had only a little over a year to enjoy a much-deserved retirement. It's just not fair," Mr. Ames wrote in a note to the faculty and staff announcing Ms. Hickman's death.
"The impact she had on countless children and adults is a testament to her amazing career in education and the type of person she was," he wrote. "The entire CHS family is grieving this week for our loss and each of us who were affected by Bev will no doubt look back on their time together with her with great admiration."
Ms. Hickman's bulging personnel file was filled with letters of gratitude from the superintendent of Baltimore County public schools, principals and grateful parents, colleagues said.
"As we begin the 1996-1997 school year this morning, I am reminded that in any school there are certainly key individuals whose contribution to the organization, program, vitality of the school are exemplary," Robert M. Tomback, then Catonsville High's principal, wrote at the time.
"You, Ms. Hickman, are one of those key individuals at Catonsville High School," he wrote. "In addition to your outstanding assitance with the refinement of the master schedule, you have been most vigilant, determined, patient, and persistent with respect to shaping our social studies program to provide rigor, challenge, and timely interest."
Donald L. Mohler III, who is now chief of staff to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamentz, was principal of Catonsville High School from 1992 to 1995.
"You are absolutly incredible! Your energy and enthusiasm defy description," he wrote in a letter to Ms. Hickman.
In recognition of her dedication to Catonsville High School, the Bev Hickman Be. Do. Create. Scholarship was created.
A longtime resident of Brook Road in Catonsville, Ms. Hickman enjoyed traveling to Europe, but especially to Paris, which was perhaps her favorite destination.
"She was fluent in French and would go to Paris when she could," said her brother, Thomas E. Sloane of Homeland.
Ms. Hickman was an accomplished cook who enjoyed providing meals for family and friends. She was also an avid reader and liked taking long walks, her brother said.
"She was the type of person you'd leave feeling good about yourself. She was always so positive with everyone," he said.
Plans for a memorial gathering to be held June 17 at Catonsville High School are incomplete.
In addition to her brother, she is survived by a son, Carter Randall Hickman of Columbia; a daughter, Nora Hickman-Hameidani of Dubai; her companion of 20 years, Peter Vida, a contractor; and a grandson. Her marriage to Timothy Hickman ended in divorce.