At the Euless Convention Center on July 30, Dawson Middle School Teacher Sheryl Sides was named the Region XI Secondary Teacher of the Year. Representing the Dragons, she is one of the 40 Regional Teachers of the Year who will continue on to the Texas Teachers of the Year competition.
Since 1969, the Texas State Teacher of the Year (TOY) Program has honored excellence in classroom education and provided an opportunity to showcase many outstanding educators whose efforts and example have inspired their students, their coworkers and the communities they serve. Texas Teacher of the Year is the highest honor that the State of Texas can bestow upon a teacher. Facilitated by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA), the Texas Teacher of the Year Program annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching.
Every fall, the Texas State Teacher of the Year Program honors 40 Regional Teachers of the Year, among which are two State Teachers of the Year — one in elementary education and one in secondary education — and four state finalists. These regional teachers represent each of the 20 Education Service Center regions in Texas. The 2014 Texas Teachers of the Year Finalist will be announced on August 26 of this year. These finalists will continue onto the Texas Teachers of the Year Awards Ceremony on October 4 where the two State Teachers of the Year are announced.
This year, Patty Willingham, 4th grade teacher at Carroll Elementary School, and Sheryl Sides, 7th grade science teacher at Dawson Middle School, represented Carroll at the Region XI Teacher of the Year Ceremony. Stacy Wagnon, Carroll Elementary School Principal, and Ryan Wilson, Dawson Middle School Principal, spoke of the impact both of these teachers have made not only on their students but on the community as a whole. On last night’s events, Principal Ryan Wilson said, “To be alongside Mrs. Sides last night when she was recognized by the Region is truly one of the highlights of my career. Sheryl Sides is a shining example of educational innovation.”
After Sheryl Sides was announced Region XI Teacher of the Year, CISD Superintendent Dr. David J. Faltys gave his congratulations from the podium. “Sheryl’s commitment in the classroom is unparalleled, and as a Superintendent, having educators like her makes my job easy,” Dr. Faltys said later, “Carroll ISD could not be more proud to have Sheryl Sides representing the Dragons in as the Region XI Secondary Teacher of the Year.”
Sheryl Sides teaches 7th grade science, both regular and AP, at Dawson Middle School. Sheryl has been at DMS since 2003. Before that, she taught at middle and high schools in New Jersey for eight years. Sheryl is from the east coast and holds a B.A. in Biology and graduate coursework in Animal Psychology from Rowan University located in Glassboro, New Jersey.
Sheryl’s interest in nature started at a young age during walks with her grandmother. Although she comes from a family of educators, both of her parents were teachers, teaching was not her initial career choice. As a pre-med student, Sheryl began to re-evaluate her future and decided teaching others about the living world was really what she wanted to do. Since this decision, Sheryl said, “My mom, an elementary school teacher, and my dad, professor emeritus, along with my husband, teacher turned administrator who missed his students and returned to the classroom, have each influenced me to preserve and pass on that passion of educating kids!”
After coming to Carroll ISD, Sheryl became the Carroll Education Foundation 2011 grant recipient of $7,103.64. This past school year has been an unusually active one for Sheryl. She received national media attention for her involvement in the discovery of dinosaur footprints at Grapevine Lake. It was through this discovery that Sheryl also received the Southwest Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Teacher of the Year Award. She continues to pursue a dinosaur education center for Grapevine Lake in an effort to preserve the fossils and create a facility for students. Sheryl states, “To catch a glimpse of my students’ wonderment as they are in awe of their discoveries, motivates me. They inspire me to search for that next experience and excursion that will instill in each of them the desire to pursue a scientific career.”
As Sheryl Sides moves to the next level of the Texas Teacher of the Year Competition, she speaks to the incredible honor it has been to be chosen as the Region XI Secondary Teacher of the Year, saying, “Just knowing the teachers with whom I work every day deserve as much recognition for their expertise, innovativeness and dedication to their students causes me to feel extremely blessed!”