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Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

A Legend Leaves

Beloved staff member retires after 37 years of teaching

Four days into the 1987-89 school year, Ira Sherrill stepped into Marcus for his first day of teaching. Ronald Reagan was president and the school was only six years old.  Over the years Sherrill has become a legend on campus. His hair has faded from blonde to silver, his daily fashion now including jeans and moccasins instead of his original coat and tie, but his attention to his student’s work has never wavered. This winter break, he’ll join students as they leave. Except this time, he won’t be returning, as he retires after teaching English at the school for 37 years. 

His legend status comes from several reasons. First, it’s his grading style. Sherrill has a knack for grammar. In his first few decades he would leave red marks all over student’s papers, sometimes shocking students with comments such as, “You can do better.” The same students that scoff in irritation at their grade often come back years after graduation to thank Sherrill for the valuable skills he taught them. Some come in person, others write letters to him and his bosses letting them know how big a difference he’s made in their lives.

 Assistant principal Celeste Maddox is a former student who can thank Sherrill for her current writing. Even now, she appreciates his critiques on her emails. She, along with many staff members, are sad to see Sherrill leave, but know he deserves the break.

“He was one of my favorite teachers,” said Maddox. “I definitely got a lot of red pen on some of my papers, but I know he really taught me how to write. I’m excited for this new chapter for him. I’m sad, but it’s the right thing for him to do.“

Head baseball coach Jeff Sherman was one of the many students that was thankful. After years of being treated differently due to his dyslexia and dysplasia, Sherrill was the first to take a different approach in teaching. One that completely ignored what all the others labeled as “different” and “special”.

“I had a lot of learning disabilities, and he never saw me as that,” said Sherman. “ He was the first teacher in 12 years to say, “No, you don’t need help. I’m gonna help you.” 

Sherman says that he knows he wasn’t the only student who was impacted this much. Sherrill makes it a point to not only make his students better writers, but better people as well.

“He made this passion for me to have a desire in education,” said Sherman. “This is something I’d never had before.”

What stuck out the most to Sherman was how Sherrill looked at students’ potential and helped them to be a better version of themselves. 

“He expressed and valued me as just a human being, not this label as something else,” said Sherman. “I think that had the biggest impression in my educational career and athletic career.”

Not only did his students see his efforts in teaching, but other teachers such as Head English department Meghan Regent did as well. 

“I know that a lot of students are intimidated by him, but he truly cares about all of his students,” said Regent. “He’s definitely a stickler, especially as far as grammar and goes through a case of red pens every semester.” 

Regent admires the passion he puts into his work, and how he goes beyond just teaching the curriculum. She said she is sad to let go of her funny-witted, hardworking best friend.

“He’s an icon here, so it’s going to be strange not having Mr. Sherill at school anymore,” said Regent. “What I’ll miss the most is his Sherrill-isms, sayings, one liners, coming to my class every day for coffee and to chat.” 

But he also makes sure the classroom is a fun space his students enjoy. His current student senior Megan Kerns loves hearing old metaphors Sherrill shares, and seeing the class’ blank stare because they don’t understand the outdated reference. 

“He’s always on to us about doing our work but at the same time, it’s a joy to be in his classroom,” Kerns said.

He’s also known for his colorful stories about his hometown, Gainesville, 47 miles away from the school. Since he’s lived there much of his life and is related to several in the town, these stories add to his legendary status and are often remembered by his students.  

Regardless, the hour and a half daily drive from Gainesville to school has never made him think twice about finding a job closer to home. His reason for why he made the commute was always simple: the kids. If there was any point he contemplated quitting, his answer was clear.

“Nope. Not at Marcus,” said Sherrill “I like the kids, I mean I wouldn’t drive 47 miles to work if I didn’t.”

As he leaves full-time teaching, Sherrill doesn’t have many set plans on what the future holds. He plans to travel with friends, revisiting Europe and other U.S states. His hardworking personality doesn’t stop here though, as he plans to continue his job as a part time professor at NCTC as he has since the 80s. 

“It hasn’t sunken in yet,” Sherrill said. “I was driving down my driveway and a lady was walking around the block whose husband was my bus driver growing up, and asked me, “Well, are you counting the days down?” I said, “I guess, I don’t know.” 

Although this decision wasn’t the easiest, Sherrill says that it’s what is best for him and his health moving forward. He’s beyond grateful for everything the school has given him, and so are his current and past students for what he’s given them. The last thing he wants to leave at the school is for it to be known how happy his time here has made him.

“I wouldn’t have driven this far if I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, and I’ve always had very good administrators here that have supported me,” said Sherrill. “Keep up the good work, because if I were going to teach another 10 years I’d stay right here.”

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About the Contributor
Mashiyat Khan
Mashiyat Khan, Reporter
Mashiyat Khan (she/her) is a first year staffer. She loves singing and is really excited to get to write about cool stuff in the Marquee! she also loves long Facetime calls with her bestie 

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