January 2014 Winner - Sheryl Scofield
Strawberry Hill Elementary
Sheryl Scofield of Anamosa School district has been teaching for more than 30 years. She has had a positive impact on hundreds of students. She treats all students with dignity and respect. She is able to gain their respect, enhance their learning, and modify their behaviors through a variety of strategies and techniques. Sheryl always seems to find the best approach for each student at a given time, whether it be humor, praise, rewards, setting goals, breaking tasks into small steps, giving choices, adapting tasks, or giving a student some space. When working with students with special needs and challenging behaviors, it is critical to be able to develop long range goals and then identify steps that will enable the student to reach those goals. Sheryl's ability to do this coupled with her repertoire of strategies has made her successful with students with needs as diverse as autism, Down 's syndrome, learning disabilities, and behavioral disorders. Students thrive when she works with them.
While most of Sheryl's time is spent with special needs students, she has also worked effectively with all students in the elementary setting through recess and lunchroom supervision. She developed and organized an alternative recess program that paired student leaders with peers who were shy, new to the district, or having difficulties at recess time. Through cooperative games, students learned acceptance from their peers, new ways of handling frustration, and ways to encourage one another.
Sheryl communicates well with staff. She is always eager to do whatever is needed to help students and staff, even it is outside of her normal work hours. She gladly stays after school or comes early to participate in IEP meetings with parents, to meet with staff members to plan, to problem solve, or prepare for upcoming lessons. She has used her artistic ability to reach students when talking is not effective, make materials for students, and teach students how to draw, to help students make sets and costumes for class plays. Sheryl is frequently sought as a mentor by other paraeducators. She has planned and led in-service training for peers.
During the summer months, Sheryl has done a variety of things to make Strawberry Hill Elementary a better place. One summer, she painted the teachers' lounge and added to the decor by hanging pictures. Another summer she has painted Four Square areas, Hopscotch, and a map of the United States on the concrete of the playground. Then when those things were fading on the playground, Sheryl took it upon herself to repaint them.
Some individual thoughts:
My daughter, Abby, has Down syndrome. She had Mrs. Scofield as an aide during First through Fifth grade. She always wanted Abby to be independent so she challenged her daily. She truly cared for Abby. She is such a compassionate person and has such patience. She seems like a quiet person but deep down is very strong. She always thought it was important for Abby to interact with her peers so Abby was involved in plays, cake baking, concerts and board games. I truly believe who Abby is today is because of what Mrs. Scofield expected out of her. Mrs. Scofield demonstrates A + For Education every day!
-Leanne Wagner, parent of student that Sheryl was with for 5 year*
Mrs. Scofield has such a gentle manner and unlimited patience with our children. She is often mentioned by her students when sharing favorite memories, long after they have moved on to middle and high school!
-Mrs. Wilson, teacher in Sherly's building
Sheryl is one of the most amazing people I know. I have had the privilege of working with her in some capacity for the last 16 years. Some of these years were when she was working in my classroom with individual students that were under her care as a para professional. When I came into teaching 16 years ago, it was Sheryl who taught me many things about working with children that have disabilities that they do not teach you in college. She always knows how to tailor her teaching to help meet the needs of that particular child. The boys and girls she works with flourish under her care. Instead of being a teacher telling the para what to do, it has been more like a partnership, where we can brainstorm what is best for that child. Sheryl doesn't just help the children that are under her care, but helps all the children in our building. She is always there to lend a hand or give some advice or calm a child down who is having a bad day.
Sheryl has been a para for over 30 years in the Anamosa School District, which is very uncommon for most para professionals. Throughout her years she has had to endure many things outside of school, from a fire that took her house and all her belongings to finding out about her cancer diagnosis and being on chemo treatments for the last 6 years. Even with all of that, she still makes it to work every day that it is possible and puts those kids first without complaint. Sheryl is a truly amazing person and deserves this award more than anyone I know.
-Laura Secrist 1st grade teacher
If it weren't for Sheryl, I wouldn't be the person I have become. Sheryl took me under her wing and led me down a path that enhances and enriches the lives of our students on a daily basis. Students who get to work with her always benefit from her amazing ability to seek and find their own unique quirks and build from that a learning technique that is right for that student.
-Vicki Bickford Paraeducator
Sheryl Scofield is an amazing person with a huge heart for kids. Although we work together now, I have known Sheryl most of my life. She was an aide (now known as a paraeducator) at Viola Elementary when I was a child. My memories of Sheryl are wonderful. She was fair, kind, fun, and always had an encouraging smile or a pat on the back for everyone. To this day, Sheryl continues to be that person for kids and adults alike. I would love to know how many lives Sheryl has enriched. I know she has mine.
-Jennifer Edson Paraeducator