Stephanie Sherman, 2025 Delaware Charter Schools Teacher of the Year, and her family.

Meet Stephanie Sherman, ‘25 charter teacher of year

Jarek RutzEducation, Headlines

Stephanie Sherman, 2025 Delaware Charter Schools Teacher of the Year, and her family.

Stephanie Sherman, 2025 Delaware Charter Schools Teacher of the Year, and her family.

The 2025 Teacher of the Year for Delaware charter schools says the love she has for the subject she teaches sparks the energy she brings to the classroom every day. 

“If it wasn’t fun for me, I would find a different job,” said Stephanie Sherman, a science teacher at Sussex Academy. “I always tell them, it’s not always going to be sunshine and rainbows here, you’re not going to love every day, but my goal is for you to enjoy coming to class so you’ll learn better.”

Sherman will represent the Delaware Charter Schools Network, along with the 19 district teacher of the year winners, in the state’s 2025 Delaware Teacher of the Year competition.

Sherman is trying to make history, too. No charter school teacher has won Delaware Teacher of the Year since the award was created in 1967. 

“My students would definitely tell you that I am passionate about what I’m teaching, I’m excited about what I’m teaching,” Sherman said. “I like to bring in examples and stories from my life and try to connect it to their life. I am not a lecturer in any way, shape, or form.”

Janet Owens, interim head of school at Sussex Academy, said Sherman makes a significant impact on the school every year.

“It is rare to find an educator who is highly skilled in their content but is also a passionate contributor to the greater community,” Owens said. “Through her environmental work with students, she participates in various statewide initiatives and programs.”

Sherman, who has taught at all grade levels nine through 12 at Sussex Academy since 2016, has always had a special place for the environment in her heart. 

Her life and work has taken her back and forth across the country several times.

“I grew up in upstate New York in the Adirondacks, and my family were big hikers and we camped every summer,” she said. “My parents really wanted us to kind of see the natural world, so we would spend a couple of weeks every summer somewhere new in the United States hiking and backpacking.”

Sherman received her undergraduate degree in biology from Bates College in Maine. 

“​​I really thought that I wanted to be a researcher, and I spent some time doing that and realized that it was pretty lonely work,” she said. “Research was intellectually really stimulating, but I needed to be more engaged with people.”

She moved into teaching at the Teton Science School in Wyoming.

“I spent a year actually teaching and running a college prep course around the world,” she said. “I was in China, I was in Australia, I was all over the United States working for this company called Readak Educational Services, setting up college prep study skills courses, and so I would teach the students and then I would teach the teachers but what I really wanted to do was to be doing science stuff.”

She shifted out of the corporate world to move to Jackson, Wyoming, where she spent a year living and teaching in Grand Teton National Park.

Her next stop brought her back to the East Coast, to Philadelphia to be the director of education at the Lower Merion Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit.  

“I loved that because I was teaching, it was outside, it was environmental, all the things that I thought were checking my boxes,” Sherman said.

But, it was lacking one element that’s not on the periodic table. 

“The one thing that was missing was I wasn’t getting to follow the kids, I would see kids for a one-off program or I’d see kids for, you know, a six-Mondays-in-a-row kind of program, and then really didn’t know what happened to them.”

After earning a masters from Arcadia University, Sherman went to work at Wissahickon Charter School, a K-8 school with a curricular and cultural emphasis on the environment, service learning, peace and conflict resolution and family involvement. 

She spent five years there teaching both math and science to fourth graders. 

“At the same time, I worked a night job teaching at Philadelphia University and taught their kind of entry general science class that all students have to take,” she said, “Those that are not science majors had to take an environmental science course, so I taught that.”

Her next job took her to the midwest, teaching high schoolers at the West Michigan Academy of Environmental Science from 2009 to 2016.

Sherman family’s last stop

Her last stop – so far – was a family move to Lewes, Delaware, where she began her tenure at Sussex Academy in Georgetown. Sherman and her husband have twin sons in grade six at Sussex Academy.

The environmental science courses are her baby, she says, and she’s also the science department coordinator and faculty team leader at the charter school.

Throughout her teaching experience, Sherman prides herself on working collaboratively with students. 

“I like them to be in groups and we have a lot of really rich discussions in class,” she said. “I don’t want them to sit in their seats for 65 minutes, so it’s a fast-paced class where they are moving from activity to activity, because I don’t think that they learn best stationary.”

Especially with environmental science, Sherman said she wants her students to get their hands dirty.

“If I can get them outside and we can understand the content better outside, I make every effort to do that,” she said.

Sherman hopes to sprinkle a creative twist into any lesson.

“When we talk about air pollution, each kid has to take on the persona of an air pollutant and create a dating profile and then we speed date for air pollution,” she said. 

That’s one example of her goal to create a path for her students to enjoy the content and look forward to coming to her class.  

“She is passionate about creating environmental awareness and stewardship in our elementary students and school community,” Owens said. “The passion, expertise and commitment that Mrs. Sherman brings everyday make her such an amazing gift to Sussex Academy, and we are thrilled that she is being recognized for her work.”

RELATED: Middletown’s Cory Hafer named 2024 Teacher of the Year 

Like many teachers, Sherman says teachers are being given too many mandates without the resources they need, and that’s taking them away from the focus on teaching.

“They need to look at mental health, kind of the whole child, which I think is really important,” she said, “but we’re not lessening any of the other responsibilities we have in here in terms of educating kids, and I think that’s really something that as a state and as a culture, we need to look at.”

Teaching needs to be a more sustainable practice and job, she said. 

“We get lots of educators into schools, and then they’re leaving, and there’s some really awesome educators doing that,” she said. She’s had mentors and “amazing” coworkers who have left because there’s too much asked of them. 

“There’s a bill that has been passed for schools where we need to do MTSS, multi-tiered support systems, which is all wonderful,” she said, “and we need to look at that in terms of social-emotional learning, but there’s not a system in place. It’s ‘Hey, you need to do this,’ but not ‘Here are the additional resources to help you do it’.”

When she isn’t glamouring over the environment to her students, Sherman spends a lot of her free time outdoors.

“You’ll find me in my yard and my garden that I love,” she said. “I have a vegetable garden that is like a third kid of mine. My family jokes with me that I pay more attention to that than them sometimes.”

Whether it’s harvesting vegetables or growing flowers, Sherman said she loves to have her hands in the dirt. 

She’s also a runner. 

“I don’t have the time to run marathons anymore, but I am very, very diligent about getting a good run every day. It’s kind of my stress relief,” she said. 

It’s no surprise that the lover of Mother Nature wants to see landscapes of all kinds.

“I love to travel,” Sherman said. “I tell my students all the time I don’t really care about fancy things, but if we have extra money, that’s where it’s going to go, to see the world and enjoy other cultures and places.”

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