Panhandle Spirit: Sheryl Meek, volunteer extraordinaire
SPEARMAN, Texas —
There’s a longtime volunteer in Spearman who’ll be recognized by the State Board of Education Friday as one of this year’s Heroes for Children honorees.
Sheryl Meek caught the volunteer bug early—60 years ago, as a high school student in Spearman—playing the piano to accompany students playing or singing solos in music competitions. She’s still going strong to this day, and it’s never occurred to her to quit.
“A need presents itself and you have the ability to help with that, so you say yes,” Meek said.
Kristi Ramon is the district’s Teacher Quality and Mentor Coordinator. She and Sheryl have been friends for 30 years, and calls her a pretty rare jewel. When she read the qualities that the board was looking for, she knew she had to nominate Sheryl.
“She quickly makes you know that you’re being heard, that you’re important and that she wants to be a part of your life,” Ramon said.
Sheryl was also instrumental in launching the “Read with a Buddy” program, where volunteers spend 30 minutes a day after school with select 1st and 2nd graders who’ve shown a need for some one-on-one time.
“Most of the time is spent reading with them, their books that they need to read, but occasionally, it becomes a listening session,” said Meek.
Sheryl spoke of one girl who had cried almost every day during the first semester, but she blossomed after just a few buddy sessions.
“She met me at the door. She led me to our room. She sat us down. She got out the book. She told me which one she wanted to read, and I could see that she was a natural leader. She was. She just didn’t know it until then,” Meek said.
She also finds a special joy in helping the older kids with their musical performances, praising the opportunities the Spearman ISD offers in the arts.
“That is a place where many of the people who are not in athletics or scholastics can find a place to be better than average, and that’s what they need,” she said.