Conversation With …. Judy Sherman
May 17, 2012
Judy Sherman is a kindergarten teacher in Kremmling’s West Grand Elementary. Born in Lafayette, she moved to Kremmling in 1981 after graduating from Colorado Mesa University. Kindergarten is the best-kept secret, said Sherman. And she firmly believes that you don’t understand teaching unless you live with a teacher.
“We get our summers off, but we are thinking about school all summer,” she said.
“No one knows what it’s like. My family helps me by cutting out stuff, and summer days are spent thinking about ideas for lessons and what didn’t work that I need to bump up.”
She took a few years off to raise her children: Cordie Sherman, 24 and Austin Sherman, 22.
In early May, I talked to Sherman in her classroom about teaching and family life in Kremmling.
Why did you decide on a career in education?
In college I started volunteering in a preschool classroom. I changed my major from legal secretary to education from that experience. Now I cut, color, and glue.
How did you choose Kremmling to move to after college?
I grew up in Lafayette, and would drive to see my friend in Steamboat. I would stop in Kremmling to get gas. When I went to a college job fair, Kremmling had a job listing. I could’ve gone to Gillette, Wyo. to teach, but chose Kremmling. My first roommate in Kremmling was a second-grade teacher. Then I met my cowboy and got married – it’s like a western novel.
Tell me about your family
My husband is the foreman at Peak Ranch, where we live. Ranching is his passion. Kids are my passion. If I didn’t teach, I would help out at the library. We have lived 27 years on the ranch, and I think I have the perfect job. My husband heads out the back door to work, I head out the front door and drive 20 miles to work. I spend summers on the ranch, painting the house, helping with errands, and this year, getting ready for a wedding (daughter’s) – there’s never a dull moment. My husband’s family is all here in Grand County. Everyone knows the Shermans, they’ve been in Grand County for a long time. My daughter Cordie is a physical therapy assistant at Kremmling Hospital and my son, Austin works at Henderson Mill as a diesel mechanic. They both left the area for a while but have come home.
How many years have you been a teacher?
I have been teaching for 24 years. I have taught preschool through 3rd grade, but kindergarten is my passion. The students come with a blank slate and they just make your day and are so eager to learn.
How many students do you have in class?
There are 16 students in my class and 14 in the other kindergarten. The school board commits to 20 to 25 kids in the classroom. Some years it can get that big. It just depends.
What is your favorite part of the school day?
At the end of day, we come together and have a story. We talk about what we did that day. I keep a folder of everything we did and review it. We talk about what we will wear the next day if it’s a special day. It’s a cool way to end the day. I learn what did and didn’t work and will try something different tomorrow.
What do you hope your students will remember at the end of the school year?
I want them to remember we are a class, and we help each other because that is what friends do. In the class, (students are among friends). When they leave this class, and go to first grade, I check up on them. That is the nice thing about small towns, too. The students grow up and they may go to college or they leave the area and may move back. They have children, and I might get to (teach) their kids. Sometimes I look up and I see a father and he says, ‘You’re still here, remember in kindergarten when we did this?’ It is a great compliment to be requested as a teacher.
What are you working on today (May 9)?
It is Kindergarten Round-up, next year’s parents are coming in with paperwork. We are preparing for next school year. Tomorrow the preschool students will visit my class. It is a benefit to have the preschool across the hall. The students get used to the faces and it makes them more comfortable.
What are you carrying in your Teacher’s Bag right now?
I’ve had this bag for a long time. The handles wore down to the thread and I had to replace them. My son used to crawled into it when he was little. Right now I have my lunch, my purse, a granola bar, several markers, a staff calendar (teachers don’t go anywhere without their staff calendar), sticky notes, and a napkin. The essentials. It’s the same thing with my partner-teacher Desarae Barworth, except her bag is pink.
The book, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum is so true. Early childhood teachers don’t do it for the money, they do it for the love of it. Not everyone can do it. Teaching kindergarten is truly the best-kept secret.