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Sherri Cain always wanted to teach school

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Sherri and David Cain with their children Thomas and Madalyn. Photo Contributed.

Sherri Cain, a second year teacher at Mt. Vernon Ruth (MVR) Elementary School, has been named Beginning Teacher of the Year for the Rutherford County Schools. Although she is a beginning teacher, Sherri says she can't remember a time in her life when she didn't want to teach school.

"Teaching at Mt. Vernon has been one of the best experiences of my life," she said of her job." The knowledge and mentorship I have received from my MVR family have played a major role in my daily life as a teacher. This group of exceptional individuals gives selflessly to the combined effort for student achievement," she said.

"I am blessed beyond words for my MVR family and the support they have shown me over the past year," she said.

A native of Danville, Virginia and educated at Danville Community College and at Radford University, Mrs. Cain had other careers before she began teaching school in Rutherford County.

She received her Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology with a minor in Special Education from Radford and was offered a position with Texas Roadhouse where she became a service manager in Chantilly, Va.

She lived in Northern Virginia for three years and met her husband David Cain there. The couple was married in April 2009 and moved to Oklahoma to pursue new job opportunities. While there Sherri was a catering assistant at Oklahoma City University.

"We lived in the suburbs of Oklahoma City for seven years while our family grew," Cain said. "After the birth of our last child, we decided it was time to move closer to our families."

The couple moved to Forest City in May 2017 and she settled into being a stay-at-home mom.

"I was able to stay home with my children through the pandemic, which was truly a blessing, and then decided that once my youngest started kindergarten, finding a job in the school system would be a good fit," she said.

After applying at Mount Vernon Ruth for a front office position, she was told the position had been filled. Soon afterwards, MVR principal Molly Roberson told Mrs. Cain she could teach through the Residency Licensure Program. (This program route allows qualified individuals to obtain a teaching position and begin teaching right away as a Resident while obtaining a clear professional educator's license.)

"In my mind, I said, 'No way'," Cain said, adding she was not ready for that "big of a responsibility" and she agreed to a teacher assistant position.

Mrs. Cain began teaching second grade and was approached about becoming a teacher in the Exceptional Children's program. "I've never looked back," Mrs. Cain said, of accepting the position.

She is enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with plans to complete the licensure program in May 2024.

Mrs. Cain says she can't remember a time when she didn't want to be a teacher. Prior to college, she talked with individuals and looked into speech pathology, planning to work in the school system on the student level in a support position.

"I look at teaching as a privilege to have a positive impact on the lives of children and a hand in the future of our community. Sometimes goals take a little longer to achieve, but it is never too late to begin a new journey in your life. I am taking my education more seriously now as an adult because what I'm learning will directly affect my students," she said.

Mrs. Cain loves her days as a teacher where there are the "Ah Ha!" moments. "The look on your students' faces when they "get it" is the best feeling. Students learn differently and it's hard for some, so when they understand and can perform the skill independently, their sense of achievement is contagious. It's confirmation that what we're doing is working and it's motivation to keep going," she said.

Mrs. Cain said the challenges for teachers today come in all shapes and sizes.

"Time will always be a factor, time to plan, time to teach, and time to complete all the 'behind the scenes' work like cutting out bulletin boards or setting up accounts for online activities," she said.

"A teacher's work is never done and it makes sense now why they get the summer off," Mrs. Cain continued. "Teachers are on duty from September to June, meeting the daily needs of students, needs that go beyond academics required day in and day out."

Mrs. Cain said children "are just that...They are children with developing minds and skills that are not fully grown. Teachers navigate obstacles all day that have nothing to do with academics."

Two of David and Sheila's children are students at Mt. Vernon Ruth.

"I enforce the same character traits at home that I teach at school. I want my children to be good people, to be kind and understanding. Things like optimism, the concept of finding joy in daily life, and always being kind to everyone will take you far in life," Mrs. Cain said.

She said a person near knows what baggage another person is carrying, "and simply being a kind person may change someone's day."

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