Getting to know Tim Ricker: Rockwood’s interim superintendent aims to steady district after tough year

For the second time in three years, the Rockwood School District has a new superintendent. As a result, few students know him or what he cares about. The Bugle now answers the question: Who is Rockwood School District superintendent Tim Ricker?

Ricker, Rockwood’s interim superintendent for the 2021-22 school year, previously worked for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as an area supervisor.

“I supervised all of the school districts in Jefferson County, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, part of the city of St. Louis and the Southeast region in the state. So, over one-third of the total public school children in the state,” Ricker said.

Ricker also lives in the community and is familiar with Eureka, which is part of why he decided to take the job.

“When [Dr. Miles] started to make his decision on what he wanted to do, it was just kind of natural since my three children graduated from here at Eureka High right around 2000. I have a grandchild who is at Babler right now,” Ricker said. “It was just like, if I can help out, I can give back what my kids got or what my grandchild is gonna get.”

Ricker’s three main goals as superintendent are to give the Board of Education an opportunity to choose a new superintendent, to refocus on Rockwood’s Way Forward program and to be visible.

“I’ve been to tennis, volleyball, I’ve been to all kinds of soccer games, I’ve been to field hockey and in all of the quadrants. I try to get there and see four or five things going on and then come somewhere else to try to be visible. I think people need to know that their superintendent cares and is approachable. I’m pretty approachable,” said Ricker.

Outside of his job, he loves to travel with his wife. When he travels, he mainly goes to Minneapolis to see his grandchildren, but he also enjoys cruises.

“It’s been hard with the new job and COVID, that’s put the kibosh on it, but I’ve been to every port except for one in the Caribbean, either on a cruise or in an all-inclusive. I’ve been to the Caribbean, Mexico, I’ve been to Hawaii and we were getting ready to start to go over to Europe,” Ricker said.

Additionally, Ricker likes to garden, read and loves anything sports.

“I’m kind of an ESPN junkie and I do fantasy football. I’ve got Tom Brady as my quarterback. I’m an avid baseball fan, a diehard baseball fan, so I follow that all the time too. I’m okay with the Cardinals, but the Cardinals aren’t my first team because I was born and raised in the Chicago area, so I’m a Chicago fan,” Ricker said.

Ricker’s favorite food is a big T-bone or porterhouse steak done medium-rare from a nice restaurant. He enjoys barbecuing and cooking at home as well.

“My wife, when we first got married, I worked in school so I got out earlier and she got out later so I cooked and so that’s the way it’s happened for the last forty-five years. I like to cook and I like to do Hello Fresh and those kinds of things so we get a good variety,” Ricker said.

Ricker loves the fall as his favorite season because he can see the change.

“It’s also World Series time and football also gets started. You get, in some cases, hockey. The winter’s okay. We don’t get enough snow to make it anything other than a nuisance,” Ricker said. “Summertime, it’s hot in the summer but it’s okay because I can get in the pool. But really I think fall is the one, and school starts in the fall. It’s like a renewal. Every year is new. New kids, new grade levels, new everything.”

When it comes to this school year, Ricker is optimistic about in-person learning.

“I think we got off on a good start. I mean, I’ve been in every building in the district. I’ve been around and wandered through and teachers seem to be happy, administrators seem to be happy but better yet, I see happy kids; kids glad they’re here because they’re glad they’re not online and kids glad they’re in activities. Things are getting better and more normal. They’re not normal, because we’re not there yet, but they’re getting better,” Ricker said.

Superintendents are often subjected to intense criticism. Ricker is prepared.

“[The superintendent] position is such that the decisions that you can make, you have to have done your homework, you have to know what you’re talking about and you’ve got to justify what you’re doing and thoroughly understand that you’re not going to make everyone happy,” Ricker said. “It isn’t a popularity contest, it’s leadership.”

Dr. Ricker has a one-year contract as the Board works on hiring a new, long-term superintendent. He isn’t sure what he’s going to do next, but he’s enjoying his time as superintendent while it lasts.