Mandy Winkler Sherrill – Class of 1999
Art Teacher, Valdese Elementary School

With so many academic subjects that children need to study, it is important for educators to also inspire and encourage creativity, including through artistic instruction.

Mandy Winkler Sherrill plays an important role in the development of children at Valdese Elementary School, where she encourages them each day to express themselves through art.

Mandy describes her job as “a TON of fun! The challenges are developing and improving fine motor skills many have not developed or lost during Covid. It’s a challenge at times coming up with projects that resonate with the children to inspire them to be creative. So much of school is modeling, and it’s hard to get creative juices flowing. The rewards….there are lots! I love children, especially at the elementary level. I love seeing how proud they are of their work, and that when they come to me, they get to have FUN! I like seeing kids experience ‘firsts’ like painting, weaving, or making sculptures. Many have never gotten to do any type of art–even at home, so the excitement on their faces makes all the work so very worthwhile.”

Mandy graduated from UNCC in 2003 with a BA in Mathematics. “I was offered a teaching position at East Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte fresh out of college. Since my degree was in mathematics (not education), I was able to obtain my teaching license through lateral entry while I was a classroom teacher.

“I was a high school math teacher at West Caldwell High School for nearly a decade. When my daughter was born, I decided to leave teaching to become a stay-at-home mom. When she began kindergarten, I thought I would try to work in the school system again to be on her schedule….but maybe something ‘less stressful’ than teaching. I accepted a position in the lunchroom and then was quickly moved into a kindergarten classroom as a teacher assistant. When Covid shut down schools and many students went ‘remote,’ my principal asked if I’d be willing to try my hand at teaching art. My students range from pre-K through fifth grade.

“When I taught high school math, I learned so much about running a classroom, classroom management, and, most importantly, developing relationships with students. In college, I was an architecture major for two years, and I also had taken every art class offered at East Burke High School. So, I feel like these experiences prepared me to use my creative side as well as teaching. It is definitely the best of both worlds.

“I remember my math teachers fondly from EBHS. Mrs. Lucille Bond, my AP Calculus teacher, saw something in me and inspired me to become a math teacher myself. I also had great art teachers in Mr. Jeff Sigmon and Mr. Dennis Whitener, who even helped me put together my portfolio for my interview at the School of Architecture at UNCC. I learned so much from each of these teachers that have helped me to become the teacher I am today!

“I would love to continue teaching elementary art while my daughter is in elementary school with the goal of teaching high school art one day!”

Published January 2022

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