Laurie Sheldrake has been with Decatur Township schools for more than a decade and is currently the math and science facilitator for Decatur Township School for Excellence. In this role, Sheldrake helps students who struggle with motivation, behavior and learning to achieve their goal of earning a high school diploma. We chose to spotlight her in part for her dedication to going above and beyond for her students. For example, some of the students Sheldrake works with are not able to stay on pace with their coursework, so she offers three hours of free after school tutoring each week along with complimentary snacks. We believe Sheldrake embodies the Decatur Proud spirit by expecting the best from herself and her students.

At Decatur Township, Sheldrake appreciates the school district’s open-minded approach to trying new teaching styles in order to educate students and often supports its staff in pursuing these objectives through creative means. As Sheldrake knows from experience, innovative and unique ideas and approaches to teaching are a must when working with at-risk students and she values the administration’s history of encouragement and support. In addition, Sheldrake has enjoyed multiple professional development opportunities such as national conferences, workshops and training related to educational technology.

This year she hopes to become a louder spokesperson for students who struggle with learning and motivation and wants to bring awareness to just how much a student’s life cognitive abilities differ from student to student. Sheldrake believes these variations should lead to more personalized goals and education plans for students without unnecessary burdens to teachers. The technology is in place to create individualized education pathways that allow students to be successful in life and at-risk students would benefit from differentiated graduation requirements based on the most up to date research.

Overall, Sheldrake believes education should be an enjoyable enough experience that it builds lifelong learners and it’s her mission to instill those positive experiences in her students’ everyday lives. As our Teacher of the Year, we have no doubt she will continue to achieve her teaching goals and be a role model for all students.