Human Interest Group
Misty, Shenaye, Jason, Nizia, Leslie
Educating the Future
University Dean honored as Educator of the Year
As Ross Sherman stood in front of a group of children almost 40 years ago he said he never knew his longtime passion would turn into the greatest job in the world, being a teacher of teachers. Over the years, Sherman has been preparing teachers who have aspirations to be public and private school principals and superintendents.
Sherman has been honored as Educator of the Year by the Texas Council of Professors of Educational Administration for his years of service to education.
Sherman now serves as the dean of the College of Education and Psychology but has had a lifelong career as an educator. He began as a teacher and principal and after coming to the University he has been a professor and later the chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
Sherman just finished his 25th year at the University this spring.
“What I tell my students at the end of their [Education Leadership] program is the greatest compliment you can receive is to be called a teacher of teachers. And that’s what a principal really is; he or she is a teacher of teachers,” Sherman said.
In a September press release University provost Dr. Alisa White said that the University was excited that Sherman’s contributions have been recognized externally because he has positively impacted hundreds of school districts in the state by teaching and mentoring.
Early life as an educator
Prior to coming to the University, Sherman spent seven years in Houston based Alief Independent School District as a public school teacher for an elementary school and principal.
Sherman said he had a big decision to make career wise after he received his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Houston.
He had to choose if he was going to stay in K-12 education with aspirations to be a school superintendent or to move into higher education with the goal to teach educational leadership.
Sherman chose to move into higher education after he received a unique opportunity to teach at the University in 1987.
This fall is the first semester in 25 years that he hasn’t been teaching in the classroom. The only break he took in teaching was when he received the news he had cancer.
Sherman was first diagnosed with Leukemia about six or seven years ago and he was treated for it and went into remission. Then 18 months later the cancer regressed and he underwent a bone marrow transplant.
Sherman is now a two-time cancer survivor. Sherman said his doctors believe he has been cured.
“It gave me an appreciation for just living and how important every aspect of your life is. Your family, your faith, your job, they’re all important,” Sherman said.
Sherman said he is doing great now.
The TCPEA organization names a teacher every year to recognize outstanding instructors in the field of educational leadership in Texas, according to the nomination packet.
The TCPEA is dedicated to promoting the improvement and advancement of educational leadership by helping members in their roles as professors of educational administration, according to a September University press release.
Sherman has been a member for the TCPEA for 25 years. He joined during his first year at the University.
Sherman said the first TCPEA meeting he attended was inspiring.
“I walked in there and I see all these professors who have had such a significant influence on education especially on educational leadership,” Sherman said. “And you’re sitting among them not as a student this time but as a peer.”
Dr. Wesley D. Hickey associate professor of Educational Leadership has known Sherman for about 16 years. He said Sherman has made a big impact on educators in the area.
Hickey said individuals who have taken Sherman’s class talk about being ‘shermanized’. They take the lessons he has taught and bring them back to their schools.
“Shermanization is recognizing that if you’re going to make a difference on campus then you’re going to start with the teachers and develop them,” Hickey said.
Fellow student Hugo Ibarra said that the honor of Educator of the Year is quite fitting for Dr. Sherman, because he is always empowering educators.
Ibarra is now a principal for Bryan I.S.D. working at Navarro Elementary.
“We often talk about educators empowering and engaging children, but this is hardly possible without other educators empowering and encouraging adults, and this is what Dr. Sherman did for me,” Ibarra said. “He made me realize that there was some potential in me that could be utilized in the school system for the benefit of others and he has been a consistent source of advice and points of view.”
An evolving University and education
Sherman said it has been incredible to watch the evolution of the University from an upper-level institution for juniors, seniors and graduate students to a comprehensive university.
“I can remember the days of us having conversations about having 2,500 students here at UT Tyler, Sherman said. “And now we’re talking about over 7,000.”
The Educational Leadership program prepares students who are interested in becoming principals or school superintendents. All of the students enrolled in this program are currently teachers and graduate students.
Sherman said since most of the students enrolled in the program are non-traditional students, five years ago the program moved from a face-to-face program to a solely online program.
“It was a significant change to go from face-to-face and being geographically rooted here in East Texas to all of a sudden being able to expand our borders,” Sherman said.
Sherman said technology in education impacts the professional schools like business, nursing, engineering and education the most. He added that the future for professional schools will be online programs.
“You’re trying to provide a service to busy working professionals, what they’re looking for is they want to continue their learning,” Sherman said. “They need opportunities that are more asynchronous and that are available when they are available.“
Sherman remembers how technology has changed when thinking back on his first year as a principal, teaching summer school.
“We had this little computer class that had three …commodore computers,” Sherman said. “But the kids were so excited about the fact that they had a chance to play on these [computers] as a part of summer school.”
A Family Affair
Sherman’s family is no stranger to the education field.
His wife, Cynthia Sherman is a senior lecturer of education at the University and his son, Geoffrey Sherman, is a graduate of the University.
Geoffrey was a history major and just made the transition to assistant principal in Tyler this year.
“My Dad is my idol so he definitely had an impact on my career choice,” Geoffrey said. “He has always impressed upon the fact that there can be no greater calling than to be able to impact the lives of young people.”
Geoffrey said he sees this throughout East Texas because people will come up to him and say ‘you are Dr. Sherman’s son’ and tell him how much of an impact his dad made on their careers in education.
“No one deserves this award more than my Dad. “Geoffrey said. “He not only talks the talk but he walks the walk, he is the ultimate teacher of teachers.”
Sherman said he is blessed to have such great students who are now educators throughout Texas.
“I don’t think there is any greater service in my estimation that someone can provide to our society than to prepare the next generation, “Sherman said. “And that’s truly what an educator does.”