Sherri Travers was nominated by her friend, Kathy Kane.
Mrs. Travers isn't your average English teacher. In every class she has taught over the years, from eighth grade to senior year of high school, she has fostered an environment that encourages students to think critically and develop creative solutions to problems.
This outside-the-box thinking can be most clearly seen in her Systems Dynamics class. In the simplest terms, Systems Dynamics challenges students to solve complex problems facing our society. Over the years, students in her Systems Dynamics class have developed a local skate park, produced videos that helped raise $9,000 for autism, and established a memorial at the high school football field for victims of the Holocaust.
"I reached out to Mrs. Travers several years ago, asking her to help with a fundraiser," said Kane. "She invited me to her Systems Dynamics class, who took on food insecurity within the town of Northbridge as their curriculum for the year."
Under Mrs. Travers' leadership, Kane started an extraordinary relationship with her class, who now run and operate a Community Garden to benefit Northbridge residents in need. They have grown upward of 2000+ pounds of produce each year. Currently, they are working toward their dream of building a sustainability center to extend the short New England growing season by housing hydro- and aquaponic watering systems.
This Garden has been moved to High School land to make it more accessible to the students. Mrs. Travers has her students composting from the cafeteria, using their own composter in an unused bathroom at the school. They have built an efficient drip irrigation system with a timer, and are looking at the future of permaculture. They are now part of Boston College's research grant to implement hydroponics in the classroom.
Mrs. Travers has also served as a class adviser, Amnesty International adviser, and co-chair for the English department at Northbridge High School.
"Her dedication to having her students think outside the box is incredible," Kane said. "She has a remarkable capability to motivate her students. I've seen her take kids that were struggling, or just not trying, and turn their lives around."
"We have been friends for many years now, and this woman also has her mom and aunt living with her," Kane said. "They are blind, as well as elderly. She makes it seem so effortless, juggling her career, her husband and two kids, as well as extended family. Sherri gives her full attention to whatever role she is in. She finds humor in everyday life, and looks at each situation as a learning experience. Her humility and joy is what makes her colleagues, students, family and friends, just love her!"