By Andrew Canino
Most people can think of a teacher who impacted them in a profoundly meaningful way, a teacher who went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that students were equipped to take on the challenges that life will throw at them.
Ericka Lucas, the founding principal of Rolesville High School, is one such educator. That is clear from the responses after she announced she will be resigning at the end of the academic school year for a new position in the Wake County School System.
In a letter to the Rolesville High School community dated March 15, Lucas addressed the school and explained that she was taking a new job.
“It is with mixed emotions that I inform you that I will be stepping into a different role as a Senior Director of Alternative Learning Programs,” she wrote, adding that she has “truly enjoyed working at Rolesville High School, and I appreciate this wonderful opportunity to work with the students, staff, and the community.”
Lucas’ passion for education started from a very young age, and she described how education has been a very big part of her life.
“I’ve grown up in a house full of educators,” she said during an interview on April 18, reflecting on why she became a teacher. “From the time I was five years old, I was teaching everybody else how to write their name and playing school in the backyard.
“There were seven of us grandkids at my grandmother’s house, and education was very important to her. She would always say, ‘Education can get you anywhere,’ and that’s what always stayed with me. I want kids to have the same type of experience that I had growing up, being surrounded by people who tell them that the way to get to your dreams is to make sure you stay in school.”
Beginning as a health and physical education teacher at Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle School, Lucas said she had never thought she would get into the administrative side of educating until her administrator, Marvin Connelly, asked if she had ever thought about it. After considering the idea, Lucas, along with her co-worker Koshi Nelson, completed a master’s program in school administration at North Carolina State University.
Being a school principal comes with challenges, Lucas said.
“I think the most challenging is trying to keep all of the pieces of the puzzle together,” she said during the interview. “Our goal is, of course, to be about academics and make sure every kid gets what they need while they’re here, but you have all of these other pieces: You have all of the sports teams going on, you have all of the club activities that are going on, and you have to try and fit all those pieces together to make a full school.”
Besides assisting students, Lucas has had a profound impact on her fellow educators at Rolesville High School.
“I’m going to miss Mrs. Lucas. I hate that she is leaving,” said head softball coach Jennifer Cummings, who has been at RHS since the school opened and has a history with Lucas that exists even before that.
“I had Mrs. Lucas as a PE teacher and coach in middle school,” Cummings said. “She always challenged me and made me a better person and continues to do the same now as a teacher.”
Cindy McPherson, the school’s career development coordinator, also sees the impact Lucas has had on the school.
“Her positive spirit, determination and excitement for all students to succeed and her passion for making the school and community feel like a family are contagious,” McPherson said.
Lucas is excited about the work in her new position.
“The great part about the position is that I’ll still be working with kids,” she said during the interview, adding with a smile, “I’ll still get to work with my babies.”
In her letter to the Rolesville High School community, Lucas said, “I am currently looking forward to this new position that brings new challenges and adds more diverse experiences to my career.”
However, Lucas wrote that does not wish for her RHS community to become strangers. She emphasized that she is only a phone call away, and in the closing of her letter, wrote that she is a “Ram for life.”