All but two of Sheri Whitener’s 15 years in education have been spent in a classroom at Lincoln Intermediate School.
And, the fifth grade reading and social studies instructor said she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Whitener was honored as the Featured Teacher during the Jan. 23 Farmington R-7 Board of Education meeting. Principal Dr. Stacie Smith referred to Whitener as a “silent hero” at the school — an educator and team player “who is there for everyone."
“You don’t have to praise her — she doesn’t (seek) your praise,” Smith said. “But she kind of makes everything run in fifth grade and we are very grateful for everything that she’s done.”
Whitener began her career in education at Farmington following her graduation from CMU. She and her husband, Tim, are the parents of two daughters —Cassidy and Caitlin.
In addition to teaching, Whitener was busy this past year planning the wedding of not one, but both of her daughters. The weddings took place within weeks of each other.
“And, I’m glad all that’s finished,” she said with a laugh.
Whitener said the inspiration to go into the education field began as a student herself — sitting in the classrooms of what she calls “awesome teachers all the way through school … and have great memories of each of them.”
One in particular was a high school teacher by the name of Mr. Bills, who Whitener says showed his passion for teaching to his students.
“He was always advocating for people to be teachers, because I think he really loved his job,” she said.
She admits to considering nursing as a career at one point. But, the joy she experienced working with children in day care is what cemented her decision to go into education.
Whitener began her career in the district as a Title One Paraprofessional at Truman Kindergarten Center as she completed her degree at CMU.
Working at the fifth- and sixth-grade level is not what Whitener originally thought she would be doing, but found she was “pleasantly surprised” when she began working at the school.
“They are still kids, they still want to please their teacher — for the most part — and are eager to learn,” she said. “But, they also have their very own set personalities and can kind of relate … with humor and things like that.
“I think they kind of know a little bit more about the world around them and what’s going on. Sometimes, that’s a plus.”
This age — between elementary and middle school — can sometimes be a fragile time for students.
“And, there’s so much transition even when they come into fifth grade and leave fifth grade,” she said, “gosh, when you see them as sixth graders … they mature. It’s such a transitional age as well as coming into a whole new building and teachers."
Whitener teaches around 100 students with her team of three other teachers. She also works with the school’s Character Council committee and as the secretary for CTA. She also has a hand in planning the fifth grade field trips and served on the advisory committee for several years.
The school participated in a reading of the book, “Wonder,” as a way to build character lessons for the students in the school — something she said has been beneficial school-wide.
“I work with great people,” she said. “The whole building is full of great people. But, our fifth grade, we really work well together.”