Whole school gives teacher standing ovation on her last day after 50 years
Sheridan Steelman started teaching high school English when she was just 22. After a a fifty-year career, she was finally ready to step into retirement – but not without receiving a standing ovation from the entire school and faculty. Here’s how it went:
Dr. Steelman prepared herself for an emotional exit – it would be her finally time, leaving Kent County School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, after a fifty year career. Her daughter Katherine, had come to help her celebrate her last day and there was no doubt that it would be emotional. But she never expected a send-off like this.
As she walked toward the exit she was greeted by the entire school and faculty who stood an applauded her. Like the millions who watched her daughter’s video afterward, it brought tears to her eyes and theirs!
As Dr. Steelman left school for the very last time she waved to her students and hugged her coworkers, even twirling down the aisle of applauding pupils. After five decades, the now 72-year-old left a legacy of thousands of students who matriculated through her classes.
One of them, Jake Kooyler, commented on Katherine’s viral video saying:
“I was her student 5 years ago, she is a wonderful woman with so much passion for her work and love for her students. Send my best to your mom :)”.
Dr. Steelman taught both advanced placement English and English 11. She was very involved in her school and departments and was a Curriculum Teacher Leader, Department Chairperson, a Co-Chair of the District Language Arts Committee, and the facilitator of the West Michigan AP Language and AP Literature Networking Group.
While teaching has no doubt filled a large portion of her life, Dr. Steelman also raised six children during her career. At 67, she earned her PhD to “enhance [her] own learning to better prepare [her] students for today’s world”, according to an interview she gave to Western Michigan University’s Bronco Spotlight column.
As for how she’s managed a career in teaching for fifty years, Dr. Steelman had this to say about her greatest challenges, successes and her advice to future teachers hoping to achieve a similarly longevous career:
“My students are by far the most rewarding and the most challenging part of the job. It takes passion, dedication, motivation, compassion, and a sense of humor to stay in teaching and to remain current. Today’s students are connected to the outside world and savvy enough to use technology in both their personal and academic lives. Teachers who learn to facilitate learning in today’s world with the demands placed upon our young people will be the most challenged and the most fulfilled.”
As for what’s next in Dr. Steelman’s retirement plans there’s still some things we don’t know. We do know, however, that the 72-year-old is publishing her first book this year! Which leaves us thinking that maybe, just maybe, there’s still a few things she’d like to teach us…
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