2019 HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER OF THE YEAROsborne's teaching career was 'called by God'

NLHS Spanish teacher, Sherry Osborne, poses in front of a bulletin board with pictures of her students. Osborne has no children of her own but calls all her students "my kids."

She put her business degree to use at Laurel Grocery as Retail Advertising Coordinator for nearly nine years.

But then Sherry Osborne got the call - one she dared not ignore.

"After I was there about three years, the Lord called me to teach," said this year's Chamber of Commerce recipient of the High School Teacher of the Year.

"I didn't want to at first, but He kept leading me to teach," Osborne explained. "Both my parents taught but I didn't want to go into that field."

Osborne said she always loved computers and business and planned to apply that after earning her Bachelor degree in Business Administration with Computer Science/Data Processing areas and a minor in Spanish from Eastern Kentucky University. That came after two years at Sue Bennett College in London.

"I loved it at Sue Bennett," she said. "We were all very close. But after I finished my two years there, I transferred to Eastern and finished there."

She finished getting her teaching certification in the spring of 1995 and began her teaching career at South Laurel High School in the business department the following fall semester - and loved it.

"I've always loved business and business classes - typing, teaching the students how to do resumes and all that," she said. "Then I got my Master's in the first five years I was teaching in Secondary Education."

Soon after, she earned her Rank 1, all from EKU. Meanwhile, she taught at South Laurel High and South Laurel Middle schools before moving to North Laurel High in 2005.

Her goal as a teacher is to help her students in whatever manner she can - not just academically, but to help them discover their abilities and grow as people. Although she has no children of her own, Osborne proudly proclaims all her students as "my kids" and has a display of her present and past students on the bulletin board in her room. She feels she is answering God's call by being the best person and teacher she can be and by encouraging her students to do the same.

Despite the controversies surrounding the state's teacher pension problem, Osborne remains a strong advocate of education and encourages those wishing to become teachers to continue their dream.

"If anyone wants to teach, if they feel called to do that, then go in gun-ho and make a difference. Whatever you teach, when you are in the classroom with kids, you can always make a difference and teach them to make a difference," she said.

Making a difference is what Osborne is dedicated to do - whether through her career or as an individual. Her deep faith in God earned her a spot as a deacon at London's First Baptist Church - a position she relishes as she shares the gospel across the world.

"I go on mission trips in the summer with my church," she explained. "I've been very blessed - I've been to all 50 states and have done mission work. I believe you should always 'pay ti forward' and you'll always be blessed. The Lord gives me 52 weeks a year, so I try to give him two weeks every year."

Those trips have solidified Osborne's beliefs in helping others, especially when traveling to other countries and witnessing the trials the people there face on a daily basis.

"As humans, we take things for granted," she said. "I've seen places where people have no running water or electric. I've slept in a hog lot in a tent in Panama in the pouring rain. When you experience something like that, it really gets things into perspective."

That is the same sentiment she carries for her students as Spanish teacher at North Laurel High School. Her philosophy of teaching, whether it be in business or Spanish, is basically the same - to have the students ready to apply their learning effectively regardless of the situation.

"I want my students to learn Spanish and be conversational," she said. "I'm the same way with business - I want the students to be life skills ready and job ready. But the most important thing I want them to do is to be good people."

She often quotes from the Bible as her motto from Micah 6:8 - "He has told you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?"

She admits becoming discouraged at points in her career - primarily when she knows students have a need and she can't find the answer to help them.

"My biggest challenge is knowing what some kids go through at home that I can't do anything about. It just breaks my heart," she said. "My happiest moments are when my students are out working and someone comes in and speaks Spanish and they can talk to them. Then the students come back and tell me they've had an actual conversation."

For her own conversation, Osborne's students exit her class with a phrase that she impresses on them every day of class.

"I always tell them, Te Amo Mucho - I love you a lot," she said. "I always want that to be the last words they hear."

While her career and church activities keep her busy, Osborne still wants to become more involved in the community, specifically naming working with God's Pantry Food Bank and Come Unity Cooperative Care as two prime organizations.

"I love serving people," she said. "And I love kids, even though I don't have any of my own. When I retire, that 's what I want to do more of then."

But retirement is not in Osborne's current plan, even after 24 years of teaching.

"When God tells me it's time, I'll know," she said.

But in the meantime, Osborne continues to do the thing she loves - serving others both in her church, community and classroom.

"I find teaching very satisfactory," she said. "I want to help make a change in those kids' lives. Its not always easy, but it's worth it."

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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