Educator Awards Spotlight: Sheri Schmidt
Sheri Schmidt is the Olympic Region ESD 114 Regional Classified School Employee of the Year and is a Special Education Paraeducator at Poulsbo Elementary School in North Kitsap School District
We’re sharing the wisdom of our incredible regional and state Teachers and Classified School Employees of the Year, in their own words. Find more on our Spotlight page.
What advice would you give someone who is just beginning their career in education?
To the person just starting their career in education, I would tell them to keep an open mind about the students they are working with every day. Work on building relationships with their students and getting to know them as individuals, their interests, and how they best learn content. By doing so, you help students feel safe and valued.
What have you been reading, listening to, or watching over the past year that you would recommend?
I highly recommend two shows I have watched this past year. They are not technically geared towards Professional Development but the life lessons taught in the storylines are so valuable and applicable to our current lives. The two shows are Ted Lasso and Schitts Creek. Ted Lasso has a plethora of life lessons we can all learn from. Growth mindset, perseverance, and having a positive outlook on life encompasses Ted Lasso’s storyline. Schitt’s Creek’s greatest attribute is its focus on inclusion for all and creating a space where everyone is welcome.
Tell us about a time during COVID-19 that you felt successful as an educator.
Covid-19 really made supporting our students incredibly difficult. One of my students with special needs was really struggling with this abrupt change in his daily routine. He had been thriving in 5th-grade, making incredible strides with his expressive language. Learning remotely was difficult since I couldn’t hold him accountable for his work or behavior. We decided one-on-one Zoom sessions were what he needed and it was a game-changer. He verbalized shapes, places, and positional words as I drew out a map of his “town”. So much great learning happened because this activity was something he and I had created before.
Describe your perfect day at work.
A perfect day at work would be seeing one of my students have an “a-ha” moment. Those are the best! When a student struggles with a concept or skill but decides to stick with it, asks questions, and keeps practicing until they make that pivotal connection to their learning. It is very exciting to be a part of and so powerful for that student!
What do you wish more people knew about your job?
Special education paras are rock stars in my book. They work tirelessly for their students. Our Intensive Support Program at Poulsbo Elementary has the very best lead teacher and paraeducators around. They are continuously learning about how to best support their students. They are actively involved in making sure their students are successful in the classroom setting. Student accommodations and IEP goals are upheld, valued, and implemented. Our student success is a WHOLE team effort and I value their knowledge, support, expertise, and friendship. I am so grateful for each one of them!
Learn more about the Teacher and Classified School Employees of the Year on the Educator Awards website.