There is a new addition to the English wing, and it’s not a person, it’s a degree. After decades of studying and attending multiple colleges, Sheridan Steelman, AP Literature and Composition teacher, is finally Dr. Sheridan Steelman.
“It’s going to take me a while to just get back to not being so focused on getting things done and actually having some weekends, some free time, doing some traveling, and being grandma,” Steelman commented about finally finishing the doctoral program. “It’s funny, my daughter said my grandkids are calling me ‘Dr. Grammy’ so it’s kinda fun.”
Steelman started taking classes at Western Michigan University when her youngest was in elementary school. Although she was concerned about her family’s reaction to pursuing her doctoral degree, their response was nothing but supportive.
“If it meant something to me, then it meant that it was fine with them,” Steelman said.
Initially, after reaching her first master in what was Secondary Reading, now Literacy, Steelman assumed she was finally done with school. But with a raise on the line and the desire to stay on the same page as her students, she went back yet again.
“I would take education classes from these teachers who hadn’t been in a classroom in 15-20 years,” Steelman said. “I wanted to always be able to say to my students, ‘This is what is going on right now’, so that they wouldn’t feel like I was outdated in my own knowledge.”
Steelman’s final product is a 700+ page book, focused on the craft of teaching of Shakespeare, through the use of primary documents. A book of this nature, where the focus is around the students’ work, thoughts and discussion, hadn’t previously existed. Creating something new was a feat that took a lot of time, interest and, dedication.
“I would be here at 5:30 am, I would teach my whole schedule ‘til noon, and then I would start teaching other people’s classes in the afternoons. I would then stay another 2 hours to write it all down. Sometimes it was pretty late when I got home, and then I’d wake up and do it again the next day. So, you have to love it,” Steelman said.
After getting her book approved without revision, Steelman is excited that everything is finally winding down. With only a few edits left to do, she is looking forward to getting ‘hooded’ in December, a ceremony she proudly watched her daughter go through.
Steelman is adding the 22nd advanced degree to her family’s already impressive pile. She joked about using all 22 degrees in the family’s upcoming Christmas photo, as a joke and as a celebration of all they have accomplished.