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Sheryl DeGering – South Summit Elementary

Mrs. DeGering is a phenomenal teacher. She has been an advocate for my son since day one in her class. She has genuinely gotten to know him as a person. She has respected who he is, while pushing him to make not only academic progress, but social and emotional growth as well. He is shy and can come off as awkward. One of the goals she set for him this year was to make eye contact with her while speaking one on one. She spoke to me about it beforehand to make sure I felt this was something he was capable and comfortable doing. I agreed he was ready to be pushed outside of his comfort zone for this lesson in social skills, and she has lovingly encouraged him. It is her keen attention to each student that makes her great. She has also taken her personal time to support students at after school and weekend sporting events. She goes outside of just teaching them the common core to reach each child and help them grow in all areas of their development, and they know that Mrs. D. cares!

Mrs. DeGering makes sure that each project or party is directly related to the curriculum. She teaches 4th grade, so Christmas was a huge, all day Native American and Pioneer celebration where the kids had authentic experiences to relate to the curriculum. They did Pioneer dances, made butter and bread, and ate foods relative to that time period (popcorn, jerky, oranges, etc.). The kids also made homemade gifts to exchange. For Halloween, she helped them produce a “Mad Scientist” show that showcased various science experiments that they had learned in class. In addition, they have had several other large classroom projects that directly showcase what they have been learning in class. I have been impressed with the scope of each project and the detail that goes into them. My son has had a great time and will readily tell you that Mrs. DeGering is his favorite teacher.

Mrs. DeGering also goes above and beyond what is expected in other areas. My son and a few others were able to pass of many of the math units during a pre-test, so instead of them going through lessons they have already mastered, she assigned them various research projects that relate to the curriculum. For example, one week my son was assigned to research how to build a “buddy bench” that would be built by the class and donated to the school so that anyone needing a buddy could sit there and their peers would know they needed a friend. My son researched various materials needed to build a bench and looked into designs that would be do-able for their class to produce a bench. He will soon be able to participate in building the bench, requiring his knowledge of measurements to properly build the bench according to the plan that was devised. She also implemented engineering challenges, such as building marble roller coasters, and has a Lego wall in her room where she implements challenges to build certain creations from scratch, with no plan or guide. For reading, she challenged them to read at least one of each genre of reading materials sometime before the year ended. She also encouraged them to read each night for at least 20 minutes. Each 20 minute period a child read would get them a slip into a take-home back pack with a chosen book and a treat. So, if you read more than 20 minutes each night, you were awarded with more entries into the drawing. When my son’s name was chosen, he was able to choose his favorite book and treat that would be taken home for the weekend. I was surprised to find that she had not just borrowed a copy from the library, but had purchased him his very own copy of the book. She has done this for the students in her class each week, all year long. My son will forever remember that experience and how exciting it was to get a brand new copy of his favorite book.

Mrs. DeGering is truly one of a kind. If I could hand-pick a teacher for each of my 4 children, I would choose Mrs. DeGering, year after year. I know that she genuinely cares about each child and wants them to grow. She gives sincere compliments that honor and respect each child and their individuality and capabilities. She has touched my son’s heart, and will forever be in mine. We love Mrs. DeGering!

–Brook Woolstenhulme

When our family moved to the small rural town of Kamas, Utah our daughter’s outlook on life changed immediately due to her new fourth grade teacher, Mrs. DeGering. Despite all previous attempts to help her, our daughter had developed a most somber demeanor. Mrs. DeGering bent over backwards to identify with our daughter as a person. Mrs. DeGering visited us at our house to get to know our family better. She came to some of our daughter’s dance performances. It was like a breath of fresh air for our daughter to have a teacher care so much about her. As a result, our daughter’s academic performance made drastic improvements. Despite her disabilities, she is now close to being on grade-level.

Mrs. DeGering makes effective use of sound instructional strategies. Two years later, we’re fortunate to have another daughter in her class. Once when I was in the yard doing chores with our second daughter to be in her class, she said, “Dad, I know what 12×12 is.” I replied, “Really, how?” I was expecting her to say something like, “I’ve memorized it.” To my astonishment she said, “I know that 10×12 is 120 and two more groups of 12 is 24. So 24+120 is 144!” I loved it! Anyone can memorize, but I want a teacher like Mrs. DeGering who can teach children to think and explain their thinking!

Mrs. DeGering structures homework assignments so that they showcase how much your child has learned. The assignments often are activities where our daughters teach us what they’ve learned in class. We’ve learned about Utah History, The Rock Cycle and more as a result of Mrs. DeGering’s wonderful teaching.

I know for a fact that Mrs. DeGering takes advantage of every opportunity to help students and the community. I’ve sat with her in many Community Council meetings lasting until 9:00 or later in the evening. She volunteers this time after a full day of teaching. She always asks, “What is best for the kids.” Many pay lip service to this question, but she has made it the principle she guides her life by.

I will forever be grateful to Mrs. DeGering for her positive influence in the lives of our daughters. Her influence radiates out like ripples on a pond. Please feel free to call so I can tell you more about why Mrs. Sheryl DeGering deserves to be.

–Ryan Brown