Sherry is passionate about our students’ success and their mental health. She attends trainings on her own time frequently to stay abreast with best practices in response to mental health issues in our school. She openly advocates and communicates her knowledge with staff and look for ways to empower our students to be mental health ambassadors to peers. Being in a rural area and meeting the needs of our students can be a challenge due to distance between school, home, and each other. Sherry builds a bridge that brings wellbeing and support to students in need by being the organizer of several key programs at Wellsboro High School. She does all of this while effectively teaching six social studies preps.
Sherry has implemented a ‘Connectors’ peer support program at school. The Connectors are identified, trained, and supported by her and another teacher throughout the year. They wear a purple lanyard so other students can identify them as peers who are always willing to help, whether it’s to find directions in school or to talk. Connectors learn to become compassionate and aware of their school surrounding so they can step in and offer support to any students in need. They know how to dialogue, connect, support, and if needed refer students to an adult who can help them further.
Sherry also initiated a STRIDE (Students and Teachers Recommending Ideas to Develop our Environment) at our high school to implement a shared mission of teachers and staff to improve culture and support a positive common message that unites us. This committee was responsible for forming the ‘Quaranteened’ Buddy Program, which connected students who expressed isolation and need to connect during the closure with older peers. The program trained the mentor students, helped meeting to support them, and in the end helped to cultivate a meaningful support system online in our rural environment. Sherry deserves recognition as an exemplary rural teacher because the time and dedication it takes to successfully implement these programs to the caliber she does can inspire others wishing to do the same.
Like so many dedicated rural teachers, Sherry does not receive a stipend for any of these programs she coordinates. She teaches a full course load with six preps and juggles her mental health programs and family alongside - all with a positive attitude and true dedication. Sherry inspires us to find an area we believe in and then make it happen! Sherry deserves recognition as a rural teacher of excellence because she has found a way to bridge the challenges of a rural area and make mental health on the forefront of our minds so we can best support our students.
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