Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Pamela Ruben
Special to the Heritage 

Sherman named Teacher of the Year

 

Adam Sherman

Seminole County Teacher of the Year Adam Sherman could easily be awarded “Seminole County Mensch of the Year,” as well. Though only 29, Sherman is a seasoned educator who loves his job teaching English and Leadership Development at Lake Brantley High School.

Sherman is a leader, himself, serving as an interim dean in fall 2012, as well as bringing anti-bullying and character building programs to promote toleration of ideas and differences among Lake Brantley High School (LBHS) students. Sherman states, “When I am in the classroom I often think to myself, what would help me if I were in my students’ shoes? I try to bring a sense of empathy into my high school classes.”

Sherman credits his need to help others with his Jewish upbringing. He notes, “My parents and my two older brothers, Michael and Aaron, were always jumping in and helping others. It was a way of life.”

Sherman was raised in Saginaw, Mich., where his family was part of a small Jewish Community. “Our Jewish community was made up of three small towns, Saginaw, Bay City and Midland,” Sherman says. “The community would switch off attending services in each town.”

While a bar mitzvah student, Sherman began volunteering in soup kitchens with the Boy Scouts. He developed tremendous concern for the homeless population, and took on a blanket drive as his bar mitzvah project. Sherman states, “It gets really cold in Michigan. One day my mom and I were in a breezeway by the post office in Saginaw, and a homeless man asked us for some money. I ran to the car and gave him a blanket I had collected. I wish I had kept up with my bar mitzvah project. Now, I put that same energy into community service for teens.”

As a college student, Sherman was ready for a change of scenery. His parents had divorced, and his father had relocated to Central Florida when he was 10. Sherman enrolled in UCF, where the avid storm chaser planned to enroll in meteorology. Like many college students, Sherman had a change of plans when a course in education left him “thunderstruck.”

Sherman changed his major to English education and credits Dr. Denise Ousley-Exum as, “helping make me the educator I am today.” Ousley-Exum took Sherman under her wing, and has served as a mentor, still connecting with Sherman today through facebook. Sherman states, “She taught me to value student feedback and to really listen to my students.”

Sherman was hired by Lake Brantley High School in 2007, with a part-time job teaching English. The next year he was rehired fulltime, and also took on a position teaching leadership.

He flourished in both positions, and his leadership class has doubled into two sections for fall 2014. Leadership developed into a curriculum entitled TBK or To Be Kind that promotes anti-bullying awareness for students throughout Central Florida. “TBK grew out of our desire to make a difference concerning school violence,” Sherman says. “Recently, I was speaking with a teacher from another school and she said, ‘You developed TBK? We use that in our school!” Then, I knew we were really having an impact.”

Sherman has also coordinated Challenge Day at LBHS for the past two years. He notes, “Challenge Day is an enrichment program that extends character development and toleration among large groups of students with hands-on exercises. It has helped us all get along better.”

Sherman was awarded the title of Lake Brantley Teacher of the Year in fall, 2012. He explains that he was honored to be nominated by his peers. Then, Sherman became one of three finalists for Seminole County Teacher of the Year. Sherman filled out the necessary paperwork, and was observed in the classroom by a group of administrators.

LBHS principal Mary Williams suggested he demonstrate a lesson in his intensive reading class. He says, “I chose a lesson about the Crucible and McCarthyism. I knew my students would love the use of political cartoons, so I tied in social studies and documents from the McCarthy era. I tried to think of how I would best learn if I were in this class.”

After a PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association) meeting following the lesson, Misa Mills, Manager of Community Involvement for Seminole County Schools stated, “All of the candidates were excellent for Seminole County Teacher of the Year. Sherman’s intensive reading class ran like an honors English class, and we were very impressed.”

Sherman anxiously awaited the results for Seminole County Teacher of the Year. “I teach in a very quiet hallway. On the morning of March, 5 I heard heels clicking down my hall in the middle of class and knew something was up.” Seminole County Superintendent of Schools Walt Griffith, along with school board members Karen Almond, Dede Schafner and Tina Calderone burst into his 9 a.m. classroom, naming him Seminole County Teacher of the Year on the LBHS morning news, broadcast to the entire school.

Sherman accepted the award in his typical understated fashion, thanking “everyone,” while sharing that he could not have won the award without them.

What’s next for teaching ingénue Adam Sherman? He plans on celebrating his upcoming 30th birthday with his girlfriend, Tiffany, in the Cayman Islands (a bonus awarded to him at the Teacher of the Year ceremony). In addition, Sherman and his older brother, Michael, would like to bring his To Be Kind curriculum to a local synagogue. Adam is also in contention for Florida Teacher of the Year, 2014.

Sherman has taken all his acclaim like a mensch, concluding, “At the award ceremony at the Altamonte Hilton, I brought a long list of people to thank, and would like to make sure no one was left out.” He just did.

 

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