Students, who nominated Professor Deborah Jewell-Sherman — this year’s recipient of the Morningstar Family Teaching Award — praised her leadership, mentoring in and out of the classroom, and pedagogy.
“DJS, as she affectionately allows us to call her, serves as a north star for the Ed.L.D. Program. Her unwavering commitment to equity in education inspires me every day,” remarked one student. “She approaches her instruction with incredible humility and authenticity, creating a space for all her students to discover their best selves. I am grateful for having gotten to spend time with DJS this year and I know she will continue to inspire me.”
Students recognized that even when faced with her personal struggles, Sherman never missed a class and her commitment never wavered. Instead students commended her for treating them like family and like her own children calling her “generous” with time, wisdom, and heart.
“Her teaching and her relationship with students are her priority, returning our emails in the middle of the night, hugging us as she walks through Gutman, and adjusting her class with feedback,” said a student.
At the HGSE Convocation on Wednesday, May 27, Sherman was honored with the Morningstar Family Teaching Award, presented annually to a faculty member for his or her generosity in providing time and support to students. Having not been notified of her selection prior to the Convocation exercises, Sherman was visibly moved by the honor.
The award includes a $5,000 prize and recognition on a plaque hung on campus. Sherman was nominated along with 47 other faculty members, with 233 students making nominations.
The Morningstar Family Teaching Award recipient was chosen using a three-stage process. In the spring, HGSE master’s and doctoral students submitted nominations for faculty members via an online poll. After reviewing all submissions, an advisory committee provided additional feedback on the nominees. Based on student testimonials and input from the student advisory committee, representatives from the dean’s office then selected the honoree.
A former public school leader and educator with 32 years of experience, Jewell-Sherman became the first woman to hold the title of professor of practice at the Ed School in 2013. Sherman’s Ed.L.D. course, “The Workplace Lab for System-Level Leaders,” provides an opportunity for students to combine action and reflection, challenge their assumptions about leadership and improvement, and integrate and deepen their learning across the Ed.L.D. core curriculum.
Prior to joining the Harvard Graduate School of Education's faculty, Jewell-Sherman served as superintendent of Richmond Public Schools with a track record of success that culminated in her being named Virginia Superintendent of the Year 2009 by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS). During her appointment, 95 percent of Richmond's lowest performing schools achieved full accreditation under Virginia's Standards of Learning reform legislation. In addition, the district improved from 18 percent to 91.7 percent of all schools meeting this standard as measured by the State Department of Education.
Current faculty members who have received the Morningstar Award include Associate Professor Jal Mehta, Lecturer Terry Tivnan, Senior Lecturers Kay Merseth and Joe Blatt, and Professors Tina Grotzer, Bridget Terry Long, Catherine Snow, John Willett, Richard Murnane, Paul Harris, and Monica Higgins.