In her third year at Rainier Middle School (RMS) as an Adaptive Behavior Specialist and teacher of the middle school Pathway Program, Kat Sherer works with students with emotional and behavioral challenges. In addition to her behavioral roles, Sherer serves as the is the athletic director, serves on the Building Leadership Team, is the special education department chair and coaches multiple sports. Sherer’s commitment to RMS and its students earned her recognition as one of the three Auburn School District’s Teachers of the Year; along with Bonnie Harvey of Washington Elementary and Jan Erie of Auburn High School.
As all teacher are, she is responsible for creating lesson plans. However, Sherer must be able to adapt and modify curriculum to meet the wide variety of her students’ learning needs. Embracing each student’s individuality and differences’, the Pathway program staff do their best to help teach their students to manage their emotions and behaviors healthily. These coping skills will allow the students to lead a happy and productive life.
Continually communicating and collaborating with other RMS and ASD educators, Sherer works to provide the best learning experience for her students. “Working with other departments to ensure that special education students needs are met in all parts of our educational community is my number one priority,” said Sherer.
Working as a Pathway Program teacher, and as the Adaptive Behavior Specialist, Sherer’s work often goes beyond the classroom. Providing parental support, coordinating wrap-around services for families, as well as counseling students, are some of the many tasks she may take on in any given day.
Sherer enjoys working with smaller groups of students. She shared that these small groups allow for her to, “get to know their families and some of the background experiences that lead to student behaviors. I appreciate those relationships, and I value being part of kids’ lives even after they leave our program.”
Since her arrival at RMS, student success in general education and inclusion classes has increased dramatically. Notably, student suspensions and behavior incidents have substantially declined. Her department colleagues said, “[Sherer] is the embodiment of an educator. She is a person we can all aspire to imitate.”
As the Athletic Director, Sherer’s goal is to increase participation across all grade levels. “So many important life skills are learned in athletics; teamwork, responsibility, focus, physical health, small group interactions and communication, goal setting and learning to deal with [successes and] failures in a healthy manner,” said Sherer
Sherer began her teaching career in 1996 in the Portland Public School district as a high school Health and PE teacher. In 2001 she transferred to the NW Educational Service district, serving as a special education teacher at St. Mary’s Home for Boys. She began teaching at RMS three years ago after moving to Washington. Receiving the ASD School Board’s Teacher of the year award has been the “single greatest honor of my career,” said Sherer.
In February of this year, Sherer was inducted into the Washington USSSA Softball Hall of Fame for her career as an adult softball player and pitcher. She began playing softball in 1992 while attending college in Boise, Idaho. Over her 30 year career, Sherer was a player, coach, manager, umpire and a tournament director. She played on two of the most prestigious women’s teams in Washington USSSA: Softball Soul and Derby Girls. Over her 20 years of participating in the USSSA association, Sherer won four State Championships, eight National Championships, two World Championships and has finished in the Top five at Worlds another seven times. Sherer retired in 2014 but continues to be involved in softball on the national level as a head coach of a women’s slow pitch team. The team plays on weekends from April to October across the nation.
When not molding the minds of Auburn’s youth or taking the softball world on by storm, Sherer enjoys traveling in her RV with her two dogs. They traverse the west coast, going camping, hiking and fishing.