Upper School history teacher Bill Dickey knew he’d be extending his stay at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School when he was granted a ninth-grade homeroom. That assignment took his role as long-term substitute to permanent fixture on campus, even though, admittedly, he wasn’t a huge fan of freshmen.
Over the last five years he became many things to Upper School students: mentor, morning greeter, friend, lunch buddy and a source of music recommendations. On Wednesday, April 22, during a special senior-class Zoom meeting, he added one more title: Tassel Turner.
Mr. Dickey will serve as the person who moves each senior’s graduation cap tassel from right to left at their commencement, serving as a symbol of the closing of one chapter of life to the beginning of a new one.
The process of selecting the Tassel Turner starts with nominations by seniors and voting by the senior class. The senior class officers coordinate with classmates to provide reflections of the selected teacher, which were presented this year in a video and Zoom call attended by students and faculty.
Jean Williams said that Mr. Dickey “challenges us to see the good in everything,” including the quarantine.
Mila Eliaschev said that Mr. Dickey provided a “safe haven” in his classroom for her when she started at HIES as a junior.
“I’m excited to take all the wonderful lessons he’s taught me to college, along with playlists,” she said.
“He genuinely cares so much about each of his students and never, ever questions their potential,” said Ruthie Reid.
Mr. Dickey will formally address the seniors at a future date to be determined but was invited to speak at the end of the presentation.
“You give me the confidence to be who you say I am,” he said. “I can’t think of anything in the world I’d rather do then be with you all day every day.”
A native Atlantan, Mr. Dickey started his college career at University of Georgia and earned a BA in history from Georgia State University. He worked in advertising and financial services and taught at North Atlanta High School before joining the HIES community in 2015. Niece Claire Dickey teaches Lower School French at HIES. He and his wife Courtney have been married 30 years and have three children: Brooksie, William and James.