The Lucketts Ruritan Club awarded $5,000 to Natalie Sher toward her studies at Liberty University where she will major in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education K-6. Natalie graduated from Tuscarora High School with a GPA of 3.88, where she excelled in a dual enrollment (DE) course, Teacher Cadet 1, through Shenandoah University. In addition to her strong academic work ethic, Natalie played volleyball from 7th to 10th grade and club volleyball in the off-season. She is active in her church, serving in the children’s ministry, middle school ministry and in feeding the hungry programs. In addition, Natalie earned the Girl Scout Silver Award.
Natalie is a hard worker and not one to give up easily. Early in elementary school, she was identified as a student with a learning disability. She was placed into an Individualized Education Plan to help her become the best student she could be. She was determined to learn the material, sought help when necessary, and worked hard to learn things that others found easy. With the support of several special education teachers, in particular Mrs. Fortune, Natalie passed her courses and learned the value of believing in herself in spite of her learning challenges. Her tenacity and determination also transferred to sports. As a left-handed volleyball hitter, Natalie played in the front row. Since ‘lefties’ hit differently, the opposing team was often faked out, which gave Natalie’s team an opportunity to score and made her an even more valuable asset to the team. When shoulder injuries and a subsequent surgery prevented her from playing in the front, she didn’t quit, but switched to the back row. However, because injuries continued to plague her, after two shoulder surgeries and one knee surgery, she decided to listen to her body and back off from volleyball to focus on schoolwork.
Throughout our conversation, Natalie’s love for teaching, and for children in general, was apparent. For as long as she could remember, she wanted to be a teacher. Her high school coursework and capstone project both demonstrate her commitment to her major in education. The DE Teacher Cadet 1 course gave Natalie the opportunity to shadow a first grade class at Lucketts Elementary School (LES) with LES mentor, Mrs. Wenner. Natalie was able to observe all that goes into daily lesson planning, day-to-day teaching, grading, and keeping the students on track. Part of this learning involved how to recognize those students who may need a little extra help with the course material. This training also proved useful to her as a member and one of the four Presidents of the Educators Rising Club, as she tutored younger students in the class setting, as needed.
After the DE course ended, Natalie began her Capstone Project through Tuscarora High School. The LCPS Capstone Experience mission is to provide students with an opportunity to acquire and demonstrate foundational skills in critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and citizenship through a short-term (80 hours minimum), internship experience. Natalie’s internship at Lucketts Elementary School was every day, all day during the last three weeks of her senior year. She logged almost 120 hours during those weeks. At the end, she was asked to make a video of her experience, in which she expressed her great joy and satisfaction about her time back at LES.
When asked what advice Natalie would give to rising and current high school students, her answer directly reflected her life experience and challenges so far: “Keep working hard and don’t give into frustration. Have faith and keep pushing, your ‘best’ might be a grade of a B or a C and there is nothing wrong with that! It is about giving it your absolute best.”
The Lucketts Ruritan Club is extremely proud to support Natalie in this next exciting phase of her life, and we wish her all the best in her studies.