Making teacher support a priority— Marietta hires instructional coach

Tammy Sherfield’s first job was baby sitting. She loved it.

Her second job was working in a day care center. She loved it, too.

“I guess you could say that kids are my passion,” said Sherfield, who will be Marietta’s district-wide instructional coach beginning this year.

Sherfield, who grew up and graduated from high school in Hobbs, New Mexico, received her bachelor’s degree in education from the University of the Southwest and her master’s degree in Reading/Instructional Coaching from Eastern New Mexico University.

“We are working to put our five-year improvement plan into action,” said Marietta’s Superintendent of Schools Brandi Naylor.

“One major stride is hiring Mrs. Sherfield as our district-wide instructional coach. She will work side-by-side with our new and veteran teachers to be a resource provider, professional development trainer, mentor and curriculum specialist.”

One of the district goals in their improvement plan is to recruit and retain quality staff.

“Teachers who are new to the profession need support,” said Naylor. “Many times they come to us educated, but unprepared for the classroom, and it’s easy for them to find themselves overwhelmed.”

Instructional coaches provide encouragement and support to new teachers and veteran teachers alike by helping them develop practices and strategies that guarantee student success. They also research to bring new methods to teachers, write grants, and coordinate professional development that meets the needs of the staff.

They help teachers align their curriculum to the Oklahoma Academic Standards in order to ensure that students are being taught what they should be.

The IC will also assist departmentalized teachers with aligning curriculum vertically to create a seamless transition as students progress from class to class.

Sherfield has prior experience as an IC, as well as 20 years experience teaching at several different levels,  and working as a reading specialist and testing coordinator. Basically, she’s done a little bit of everything.

She spent last year working for the State Regents as an IC for middle and high school students with the GEAR UP grant program.

But when she had the opportunity to work at Marietta, she jumped on it – for a lot of reasons.

Probably the most important reason is that her husband, Adam Sherfield, joined the staff at Marietta last year as the high school principal.

“Adam loves it here,” Sherfield said. “All year long he bragged about how great his job was, how good the kids were and how fantastic his staff was.”

After attending several events with her husband, Sherfield decided he might be right.

“As I met more and more of the people, I found them to be welcoming, and just as great as Adam said they were.

Another attraction: son Easton will be a junior at Marietta next year. (Daughter Haley is at East Central University in Ada, majoring in Kinesiology.) Being at Marietta will allow Mom to be closer for his activities.

But maybe the biggest reason Sherfield took the job is the interaction with students and teachers.

“I enjoyed my time with GEAR UP,” said Sherfield, “but there was a lot of travel involved and I found myself working with adults, not the kids that I love.”

She looks forward to being in a position to spend more time with the district’s students.

“I just feel like the Lord has provided me with a fantastic opportunity,” Sherfield stated, “and I am so excited about being in the district.”

From the district’s perspective, they see Sherfield’s hiring as a long term investment in their staff.

“We want to give our teachers the support they deserve,” Naylor said, “Teaching is hard work and Mrs. Sherfield can help teachers work smarter, not harder. This added layer of support will help our teachers have more time to do what matters most, serving their students.”