Thaddeus Sherman, the new principal at Rolesville Middle School, wants to avoid rocking the boat. And he’s doing his best to fit in at his new school.
Sherman started on October 1 after serving as principal of Wakelon Elementary School in Zebulon. He succeeded Dhedra Lassiter, who moved to Rolesville High School in July.
Sherman believes he is up to the challenge despite coming onto the job with the school year already in session.
“The biggest challenge was coming in and just getting a grasp of what’s going on,” Sherman said. “What’s been done? What still needs to be done? One of the most important things to me right now is that I’m visible. I want the students and staff to know I’m fully invested in being here.”
Of course, there have still been challenges in the early going. After all, a misbehaving first-grader sent to the principal’s office is very different from a troubled eighth-grader being sent.
“Oh, yeah,” he said, chuckling. “That’s definitely been one of the transitions. Obviously, students at this level are more mature, and you’re able to have a deeper conversation with them.”
He finds other differences, as well.
“How the students look at me is different, too,” he said. “At Wakelon, when I’d walk into the cafeteria, it was like I was a superhero. The kids were always excited to see Mr. Sherman. Here, it’s more like, ‘Oh, I hope he doesn’t walk near me!’”
Sherman was called to a career in education from an early age in upstate New York. After graduating from Houghton College, he moved to North Carolina and found work as a third-grade teacher.
“But I really wanted to go to middle school,” he recalled. “I liked the idea of being able to coach and focus on one subject.”
He met his wife, an art instructor, while teaching in Durham, and they’re now both in the Wake County School system. He especially likes the county’s tough stance against bullying.
“We have something called the Upstanders Alliance Club,” he said, “and it’s a group of students who lead the group and talk with others about standing up against bullying. It’s not only about speaking up if you’re being bullied but also seeing it happen to others and speaking up as well.”
Sherman has also been very active on social media.
“I look at Twitter specifically as a great platform to share all the good stuff happening at the school,” he said. “I’ve started a hashtag, and it’s #GoRMSrams. So, every tweet that I tweet out, I attach that hashtag to it. What that does is it allows visitors, prospective students and the community to search for that hashtag and see everything I’ve tweeted all in one spot.”
Mostly, though, he has just tried not to rock the boat.
“This is already such a good place that it doesn’t need someone to come in and change a bunch of stuff. You do look for places where you can add your own strengths to continue moving the school along,” he said. “I think one of the biggest things is how we, as a staff, engage and motivate students. Students learn differently today. We can’t just put a worksheet in front of them. We have to figure out how to best engage them and make learning meaningful.”
— Teddy Durgin, November 2016