Sherman Batiste is Fort Bend ISD’s Teacher of the Year. Sherman graduated from Texas A&M University Kingsville with a Master’s Degree in sociology. He is also a graduate of Fort Bend Marshall High School and received a scholarship to play football at his alma mater. Although you might think this phenomenal teacher is ordinary up to this point in the story, he faced adversity as he experienced one of our country’s largest natural disasters in recent history and ensuing displacement.
Sherman was one of the students, who came to Texas. He overcame poverty and adversity as he found support from principals and coaches to complete his education. Before social-emotional education was a buzzword, his varsity football coach and mentor Dennis Brantly applied some of the same techniques, which Sherman credits for his current success in teaching.
In this episode, we discuss how relationship-building is at the core of teaching and learning. We also discuss how facing adversity can be transformed into a motivation to strive for excellence in teaching.
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FBISD District Teacher Of The Year
A perfectly healthy and functioning organ is susceptible to being rejected when transplanted without any obvious rhyme or reason. The thought of such an event can prove monumental, especially when one’s personal experience in life is comparable to being the transplanted organ. The “surgeon” in this scenario was Hurricane Katrina. Prior to this natural
disaster, I was a child of a single parent household growing up in the inner city of New Orleans, Louisiana. A place many may assume the worse or have less than favorable opinions was the home that afforded me a solid foundation, comfort among chaos at times, and a cultural environment unmatched with so much to offer. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina forcefully extracted my family to Houston, Texas. Houston was a place where I found myself welcomed and unwanted simultaneously. The world defined me as a “refugee” in my own America. The impact of relocating and the nature of the situation was a challenging period of growth for me as a young man academically, psychologically, and socially.
This life experience, not to exclude its challenges, put me on the path that inspired me to be a teacher. I attribute this to my life intersecting with Coach Dennis Brantley. Coach Brantley was my head football coach in high school; more importantly, he was a father figure in a time I needed him more than I even knew. Before meeting Coach, I found my greatest inspiration from my maternal grandfather, an educator adored who was revered by many. The irony is that I never met my grandfather but was always told about his life and legacy. His spirit, in my belief, drove me toward education and to forfeit my talents to my circumstance. Coach Brantley, in a sense, gave the ideals of my grandfather life and the tangible support I needed to strive toward manhood and professionalism. Coach Dennis Brantley not only inspired me to teach, but he afforded me my first opportunity to coach. The combination of my grandfather’s
legacy and Coach Brantley’s guidance continues to hold me to a progressive standard so that I may do the same for the young men and women I encounter.
Before fully realizing my enthusiasm toward teaching, my dream was to be an NFL football player. My talents and abilities as an athlete were worthy as many other rising stars, but reality changed, as did my priorities and circumstances. I found myself excelling in numerous fields: sales, oil and gas, and veterans’ affairs. Although I took pride and opportunity in all my endeavors, each time I found myself unfulfilled and less than inspired. Regardless of my achievements and progressive success, teaching was a call I could not ignore or disregard. Education would become and remains my purpose made whole through selfless service and investing my talents in my community as a teacher, educator, coach, and mentor.
As an educator, I dare to attest my enthusiasm, energy, and optimism toward my students. I am because they are. We learn with and from each other. It is my duty to facilitate an environment conducive to effective communication, various levels of cognitive awareness, and diverse lifestyles. It is my operating standard to ensure my contributions extend beyond a class period or the confines of a classroom to demonstrate a superior level of care toward my students. On a tangible level, my contributions may be reflected in my accomplishments as Worthing High School’s New Teacher of the Year (2016 – 2017), Elkins High School New Teacher of the Year (2017 – 2018), HAABSE Teacher of the Year (2018 – 2019), Assistant Coach of the Year (2019 – 2020), and Elkins High School Teacher of the Year (2020 – 2021). It is my hope that these accomplishments articulate that I am a teacher on purpose, with purpose, and of a purpose endorsed by meaningful actions and an unwavering conviction to invest all of who I am into the young developing leaders of tomorrow.