Nicky Wilks strives to build community
at VHS and beyond
Blake Grossman, Reporter
Growing up on Vashon Island, Nicky Wilks has been influenced by nature and community from a young age. He is Cofounder and Executive Director of Journeymen, an island organization focusing on male youth development and mentorship, but Wilks puts his leadership skills to use wherever the opportunity arises. He has coached youth sports, worked in college admissions, and served as a human development guide. Since 2018, Wilks has taught at Vashon Island High School (VHS). No matter the job, Wilks strives to assist others. One person whom Wilks has positively impacted is VHS alum, Hamish Currie, who graduated last year as a member of the class of 2021.
“Nicky has been a really positive influence in my life. My first introduction to him was through Journeymen, almost four years ago. He’s always given me really solid advice and encouraged my growth. Nicky has played a key role shaping the person I am today and for that I am really grateful,” Currie said.
In addition to his work with Journeymen, he pulls from his extensive experience as a leader and mentor to inform his approach to high school teaching.
“I think a big part of my role as a teacher [is] committing to having positive relationships with young people… If I learn about my students and I find out what matters to them, what their experiences are, and where they might take my content… I can give them context to the content, and give them some agency over what they learn,” Wilks said.
On top of building personal relationships with students, Wilks has a talent for teaching marketing and entrepreneurship in a way that is comprehensive and applicable.
“Nicky is one of my favorite teachers. He does a good job of taking things that are complex and saying them in simpler terms and keeping the subject engaging,” freshman student in Wilks’ marketing class, Conner Olsen said.
Outside of the classroom, Wilk’s work at Journeymen revolves around helping young people gain a deeper understanding of who they are, and he believes that pulling oneself away from the normal routine is crucial for growth and reflection.
“In my experience, I’ve come to learn that transformation usually requires that we step out of our regular rhythms, and gain perspective on who we are [and] what we normally do. And it’s really hard to do that when we are in the pattern. So when we’re in a routine, or a habit, or an addiction, it can be very difficult to examine that critically or constructively when we’re still very much in it,” Wilks said.
Moving forward, Wilks is overseeing Journeymen’s implementation of the One Village Initiative, which will include new mentorship and rite of passage opportunities for all, regardless of gender. Outside of Journeymen, Wilks wants to develop a strength training program geared towards people who aren’t currently exercising. Whatever direction he chooses to go next, his objective of empowerment remains the same.
“Whether I’m teaching, mentoring, creating a business, anything, my goal is to help people—often, and recently, young people—come to understand their unique gifts as human beings. And to be able to acknowledge and celebrate those gifts, and help people refine that part of themselves so that they can ultimately spend their lives doing something that’s meaningful, that also contributes in a positive way to the world,” Wilks said.