HMH Support is here to help you get back to school right. Get started

Podcast

Podcast: Don’t Forget Your Why with Sherrye Scott in TX on Teachers in America

12 Min Read
Hero Banner

Welcome back to Teachers in America, where we celebrate teachers and their lasting impact on students' learning journeys and lives.

Today we are joined by Sherrye Scott, a math intervention teacher from Bane Elementary in Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Texas. We met with Sherrye during the 2023 Model Schools Conference, where her school was recognized as a Model School. In this episode, she shares how her daughter inspired her to transition into teaching and how she motivates her students to succeed in math.

A full transcript of the episode appears below; it has been edited for clarity.

You can follow Teachers in America wherever you listen to podcasts. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or iHeartRadio.

Please consider rating, reviewing, and sharing Teachers in America with your network. We value our listeners' support and feedback. Email us at shaped@hmhco.com.

The views expressed in this podcast are those of the guest and do not necessarily represent those of HMH.

Noelle Morris: Welcome to Teachers in America, a production of HMH, where we celebrate teachers and recognize their triumphs, challenges, sacrifices, and dedication to students.

I am the Senior Director of Community Engagement, Noelle Morris. Each episode, I meet a new teacher friend to learn about the latest lessons and innovations from the classroom.

Today we are joined by math interventionist Sherrye Scott from Bane Elementary in Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Texas. We met with Sherrye at the 2023 Model Schools Conference in Orlando, FL, where her school was being recognized as a Model School.

Sherrye’s career path shifted from computer information systems to education when she realized her daughter needed additional help in school. To advocate for her child, Sherrye earned a teaching certificate and became a teacher herself.

In her 22 years in the classroom, Sherrye has found a passion for intervention. She will share how she incorporates social-emotional strategies into her math intervention class and how she motivates students to learn and succeed.

Now, let’s get to the episode!

Noelle Morris: Today I’m at Model Schools and getting to meet and have a conversation with Sherrye Scott, who is a math intervention teacher at Bane Elementary School, which is part of Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District. And what’s super exciting is Bane Elementary is a Model School. So, we’re going to talk to her about what it means to be a Model School after we find out the really important stuff, which is all about Sherrye. So, Sherrye, she just looked at me, y’all like, “All about me?” And she completely smiled and it’s so awesome because as teachers, we all know we deserve to be in the spotlight all the time. So, Sherrye, did you always want to be a teacher?

Sherrye Scott: Actually, my career started in computer information systems. It changed after the birth of my last child, who was born at 28 weeks, two pounds, lost a pound overnight. The doctor was like, “She’s going to have several delays. She’s not going to be able to do this, that.” They give you the spiel, right? So, when she went to school, in kindergarten, the teacher was the same, “Hey, there’s some deficits here.” But I just really didn’t know how to help her. How am I going to help her in school overcome these delays? Because I believe that hey, we’ve got to give them a fighting chance. Don’t just set them up for failure right away. We went on. I was like, “Okay, I think I need to know more about education.” She went to first grade. I went to open house and her work on the wall was not like all the other students’ work on the wall. And it dawned on me, we can’t go on like this. So, I did some research and learned that I can get a teacher certificate through alternative certification, and in the same turn, learning how to help my daughter.

Noelle: Parent to parent, mom to mom, what a way to be an advocate. How did that transfer into your intervention setting? Because I have this feeling that even though you saw those initial responses to your child’s work, you saw the assets and what she was bringing that maybe was being overlooked.

So, when you think about having an asset-forward vision versus looking at deficits, how do you bring that into your classroom and how do you help your students not stay focused on what they don’t know, but what they do know?

Sherrye: By giving them voice. You’ve got to give the students voice. Why not give them the questions and the pile of answers and ask them, “Hey, let’s think about this.” Not always leading your classroom by doing all the talking. Allow them to do some discovery as well. So, I think that’s how that led into it.

I taught 17 years before I became an interventionist, but it’s always been intervention. You reach them by teaching in small groups and reteaching either the text or giving them the first instruction in a small group. They’re able to grasp it, and then send them out to the rotations so they can go out and discover themselves. They learn a lot from their peers. They learn from each other. They learn from discovery. So, I think it’s always been intervention. We do intervention daily.

Noelle: So, Sherrye, I can imagine that you have students that come in that feel hurt by math or say they’re not good at math. Would you share advice to teachers who hear that? How do you change and correct and redirect when that’s the mindset of a third grader or fourth grader or fifth grader?

Sherrye: First, don’t take the opinions of their previous year or what might have happened previously. We don’t know their lives, right? Try to form that relationship between you and that student. And when they gain trust in you, they’re able to go forward and try a little bit.

But when they find that they’re able to do it, they gain this confidence, right? They gain this confidence and want to show everybody and show you and go back to their classrooms. Oftentimes classroom teachers are like, “Mrs. Scott, did they tell you what they did in class today?” Or they tell their peers, “Hey, they learned this with their intervention teacher,” but it really works in the classroom as well.

Noelle: Oh, that’s amazing. They are totally having agency to bring that back and it doesn’t seem like there’s any stigma to an intervention. What do you and your school do to really create that positive school culture? Do y’all have a mantra or a vision board? What does it look like and sound like to walk into your school building?

Sherrye: We do. We have a positive school culture. We have a Bane chant. But in our intervention classroom, they don’t feel like they’re in here because they’re struggling. The kids that are not in our program, they want to be in our program.

We’re always encouraging them. We’ve taken them on field trips and extra activities. They’re with us during school, but after school they have their PE, art, and music. So, they’re not missing anything that the other students are getting during their time with us.

Noelle: So, you mentioned there’s a Bane chant. Are you going to chant it for me? I mean, you actually have an audience here.

Sherrye: Are you guys going to help?

Noelle: I’m sure having the Texas voices, would love to do the chant and if y’all want to move behind Sherrye, so we definitely hear you. We’re about to hear in real time the support that happens at Bane.

Sherrye Scott: That’s right. That’s right.

Noelle: And why y’all are a Model School. Sherrye, do you need to count them off or does your principal need to start it off? Okay Sherrye, you’re leading this one.

Sherrye: So, on the count of three, we’ll start. 1, 2, 3.

We’re positive and show respect,

So, we can rise above the rest.

Our integrity helps us to decide,

Our efforts guide us along the ride.

We are Bane and that’s our quest,

To show our pride and be the best.

Noelle: Woo! All right, Sherrye. I mean, this is the first time the podcast has ever had an audience. And they are participating on cue. I bet you feel supported every day.

Sherrye: I do. I do. We have an awesome team. We have an awesome staff. We support each other.

Noelle: What do you think about how you’re incorporating SEL into your math lessons?

Sherrye: So, we use this program, Do the Math. It’s an intervention program, but the students are able to take that back with them and use it. Some of those skills that they didn’t get during COVID and all of that.

Noelle: This group might have been the first group to come back and have their first year in kindergarten.

Sherrye: Well, yes, they were in first grade. And so, we used our PBIS [Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports]. Like I said, we call that chant, even the students do it every morning. But there are incentives they can work for at the end of every quarter. We’ve had glow parties. We’ve had team meetings at the end of every day or at the beginning of the day with the classrooms. My small group have already done that, and so when they have a glow party, we support the PBIS team and we make up the time somewhere else.

Noelle: Oh, that is awesome. So, you’re all in it. You have conversations, there’s give and take. What is a moment in this last school year that will stay with you for the rest of your teaching career?

Sherrye: Seeing their growth. The students that I see starting out low performing in math with district assessments, school assessments. But there’s one particular student who has shown so much growth and gained confidence in what he does.

Noelle: What was your first encounter with him and to this end of the school year? Did you see more confidence?

Sherrye: So, when this student started coming to me, he didn’t show that he enjoyed coming to the program. He had a lot of absences. And so, this one particular strategy, and it was based on the base 10 method, the open number line. When he did grasp it, he was telling his peers, “Hey, look, you can do this with 100, 1000, any number in those increments.” And he showed how to go forward and backwards, and he showed it during his morning intervention time with another teacher. And she was like, “Hey, look what he showed me today.” So just with knowing that he took it, and he ran with it, and he felt so proud.

Noelle: How do you make a connection with your students’ families?

Sherrye: Well, the way our school builds those relationships with student families, we try to host family nights after working hours. Most of our students come from homes where the parents are working during the day and unable to make it during the school day. So, we try to host those things like after five or after six even, so they can make it and encourage them to get involved in their child’s life. Just building those relationships.

Noelle: You taught for 17 years before you went into intervention. You mentioned your daughter at the beginning. You went into teaching and then you had that time, and you could be her advocate. Do you mind sharing where she is now?

Sherrye: Well, she is now a junior at Sam Houston University, majoring in Mass Communications. She wants to be a filmmaker or a television broadcaster, producer.

Noelle: Oh, wow.

Sherrye: Yeah, so she’s doing good. Actually, we retained her. I thought that she was going to feel that stigma of not graduating on time with her peers, but in actuality, it was the best decision we made. After we did that, she received As and Bs and was pretty much on time. But it also gave me a confidence in not only my child, but other students who were maybe overlooked because they had some delays or students who had parents who couldn’t advocate for them or didn’t know they needed to and went on. What about those students? What about them? And I still have faith in mankind, like in “Fight Song.” I still believe that fire is burning down in my bones because I still believe. Yeah, I still believe so I like that song, “Fight Song.”

Noelle: Is that your walk-up song?

Sherrye: I like that song, yes. I love it.

Noelle: So last question, Sherrye. We need more teachers, right? Our profession, we are all reading the same articles. We know the whole hashtag transitioning teachers. As a teacher, 17 years, 18 years in, what’s your advice for that third-year teacher, fifth-year teacher, who might be feeling that early burnout? What’s your advice for them to see themselves and to stay in the profession?

Sherrye: Don’t forget your why. You know why you started this. You know that the reason for starting is because you too believe that you could make a difference in the future, and they could go on to make it. Just don’t forget your why. Yes, we all get tired and a little burned out, and this year might have been rough because we’ve had some rough years.

But don’t forget your why. Take a deep breath. Do what you need to do for self-help. Go do it and come back fighting. We need you.

Noelle: Thank you, Sherrye. I mean, you were just completely the whole package. I guarantee that your district, your school, your principal, they know what they have in you. And thank you for bringing it every day.

Sherrye: You’re welcome. Thank you. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.

Noelle: Of course. I’m better knowing you now.

Noelle: If you or someone you know would like to be a guest on the Teachers in America podcast, please email us at shaped@hmhco.com. Be the first to hear new episodes of Teachers in America by subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you enjoy today's show, please rate, review, and share it with your network. You can find the transcript of this episode on our Shaped blog by visiting hmhco.com/shaped. The link is in the show notes. Teachers in America is produced by HMH. Until next time, your friend, Noelle.

The Teachers in America podcast is a production of HMH. Executive producers are Christine Condon and Tim Lee. Editorial direction is by Christine Condon. It is creatively directed, and audio engineered by Tim Lee. Our producer and editor is Jennifer Corujo. Production designers are Mio Frye and Thomas Velazquez. Shaped blog post editors for the podcast are Christine Condon, Jennifer Corujo, and Alicia Ivory.  

Thanks again for listening!

***

Hear new episodes of Teachers in America on Shaped, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Hear more of Teachers in America on Shaped

Related Reading