From classroom to curriculum office

Sherman, Walter hope to make a difference working as K-12 specialists


Cevina Calderon

Science Curriculum Specialist Marcus Sherman explains a lab he created to help students understand Newton’s second law, the Magnus Effect. It consists of two cups taped together at the end and they are launched with a rubber band. They spin backards, making the air under spin faster, lifting the cups up.

With his father being a chemistry professor and his mother a nurse, Marcus Sherman knew he would always want to be surrounded by science. After 20 years at Stagg, he is now in charge of the K-12 science curriculum in Stockton Unified School District. In his new job, Sherman really needs to focus on building the program for K-8, being that there is no set curriculum. “How much science did you have in eighth grade?” he asked. “Once a day? Twice a week? Not at all? That’s the problem.”

Students not getting enough science education can put them behind in their future science classes. “It’s important for kids to start their science and math early. Not only because they will be testing fifth and eighth grade, but also because a lot of jobs are dependent upon that now.” Other than helping the students and the district gain a curriculum, Sherman also wants to be a mentor for other teachers.

Right now, Sherman is focusing on arranging teacher trainings at the County Office of Education. “I want to help teachers not just do a better job, but make their jobs easier so they, and the students, can be successful,” he said. He also wants to “support the new teachers and answer any questions they have.”

The journey at Stagg has ended, but Sherman will still hold his memories dear to his heart. “I stayed here for 20 years because I liked it. But it got to a point where the district needed to do things for all the kids, not just for Stagg, and it wasn’t happening. It was a hard decision, but I hope it’s an opportunity to get better science.”

Reflecting on how he started, he had to laugh. “My first year was rough. I had no classroom so I had to go from room to room to room. It was a bit hectic, but I enjoyed the students. That’s why I stayed.”

One of Sherman’s main goals throughout his time here was to provide the students with all kinds of support, not just for classwork. He said, “I really wanted to give them the opportunity a lot of people don’t think about.” Sherman was able to have some students visit Lawrence Livermore Lab and for some to work there a week in the summer.

He also started the Homework Center and the new Computer Science class. Along with science teacher Bill Lorentz, he encouraged students to do Project SEED. Sherman said, “I think the best part about teaching is seeing you guys become successful.”

Sherman isn’t the only important teacher to be moving on this year. Also helping out the district, math teacher Andrew Walter got the position of K-12 math curriculum specialist.
Walter is only giving up his afternoon periods this year, but depending on how things go, next year he might leave permanently. He said, “If I feel like I’m actually making a difference and I can see a change, then it’d be worth to do a full time.” Like Sherman, leaving the classroom was no easy choice. “I feel bad just for leaving two periods because I already feel like they’re connected to me.”
Walter was also the MESA advisor and that’s where some of his sweetest memories come from. “Going to Nationals with MESA and seeing those kids be the underdogs to taking No. 1 was amazing. Winning changed their paths drastically.”

Walter believes that teaching should be dedicated to bettering students’ futures. He said, “Figuring out how to get them to realize that they could be more than what they possibly imagined they could be.”