When I saw the topic for this week for the Etsy Bloggers Blog Carnival I knew I had to share with you a bit about Sheryl Wilkes.
From 1990 to 2006 I worked as a teacher's aide and computer lab manager at a school in West Valley City, Utah. During several of those years, before cancer took her away, I and everyone else there was fortunate enough to be on a staff that included this amazing woman.
Whenever I think of Dr Seuss and Read Across America her influence is tied to it in my memories. As the article that follows and her obituary say she really did cook green eggs and ham for the school(600 to 800 kids, depending on enrollment that year). She had help of course but she was the woman behind the idea and under the red and white striped hat. Her way of celebrating the day was not just lunch either. She brought in guest readers from the city government, school district superintendents, parents and community members. Each of them would share a favorite book with several classes in rotation. There was so much laughter and sharing on that day that it felt as happy as the best Christmas.
Green Eggs and Ham is also the first Dr. Seuss book I remember being aware of as a child and I suppose will always be my favorite. As for green eggs, thanks to Sheryl, I do like them Sam I Am. I would eat them here or there. I would eat them anywhere.
The following it taken from the archives of utea.org-
Granger Elementary School names library after reading specialist Sheryl Wilkes
When Sheryl Wilkes decided to plan a green eggs and ham breakfast for all the students at
Granger Elementary School to celebrate “Read Across America,” fellow educator Mary Jean
Harline said, “I could hardly believe my ears.”
“Cynical as I am about such huge undertakings, I didn’t think it could be done,” Harline said.
“What I forgot for just a moment was who I was working with — and done it was. Pounds and
pounds of ham, hundreds of eggs, some green dye and a couple of electric frying pans later,
Granger’s entire student body had firsthand experience with green eggs and ham.”
For five years, prior to her death in August 2003, Wilkes led Granger’s “Read Across
America” celebration — coordinating read-a-thons, decorating Dr. Seuss cakes, and reminding
students about the importance of reading. This year, during the school’s “Read Across America”
party, Granger students, faculty, parents, friends, and family paid tribute to Wilkes by naming the school library after her.
“Today, we are here to celebrate and honor the lives of two very special people, both of
whom inspired children to read and imagine. Those two people are Dr. Seuss and Mrs. Sheryl
Wilkes,” Harline said during a special assembly at Granger. “Throughout the last eight years,
many of us had the opportunity to meet and teach with Mrs. Sheryl Wilkes. For those eight
wonderful years, we truly witnessed a master at work.”
Wilkes, a teacher who became Granger’s full-time reading specialist, was described as a
“vibrant advocate” for her students. “As a teacher, she was magical,” Harline said. “Leprechauns
would march through her classroom, fish would fly, and cereal could talk. She put her arms
around the little children to tell them how well they had done in class that day, forever
encouraging them to do even better.”
Harline said Wilkes “was the personification of excellence. Sheryl always went beyond the
call of duty, doing much, much more than was expected – this is what excellence is all about. She
maintained high standards for teaching our children. She always went the extra mile for everyone.
We truly miss the vibrant, talented, and loving Mrs. Wilkes.”
Obituary: Sheryl Wilkes
Deseret News (Salt Lake City), Aug 29, 2003
6/19/54 ~ 8/26/03
"Keep a Smile in Your Heart"
An incredible, magnificent presence was taken from us on August 26, 2003. Sheryl Louise Bishop Wilkes, age 49, passed away after a courageous four year struggle with cancer.
Sheryl was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 19, 1954 to Glen and Louise Bishop. On June 25, 1979, she married Ken Wilkes. Sheryl and Ken made their home in the Salt Lake City area where they proudly raised two wonderful daughters to adulthood.
Sheryl graduated cum laude from the University of Utah in 1976. She worked as a teacher in the Granite School District for 28 years. Sheryl was an outstanding and well-respected educator. She touched the lives of hundreds of students and fellow educators in the most positive ways. Sheryl was always so proud to have so many former students approach her in their adult lives and inform her that she was by far their favorite teacher of all time. She would always do something special, and usually on a large scale, to make a significant impact on her students. (Who else would cook green eggs and ham for the entire school on Dr. Seuss' birthday?)
Sheryl had great artistic instincts. She was an excellent interior decorator. Sheryl kept Ken busy over the years implementing her various home remodeling projects. She also recently coordinated a couple of wedding receptions, and did such a great job, was offered an exclusive contract by a reception center to handle all future receptions. She was the arranger for almost all family functions throughout the years, especially Christmas. Her cooking, writing, decorating, and love were cherished by so many. Sheryl added a song and her special magic to everything she touched.
Sheryl is survived by her husband, Ken, daughters Candace and Chelsea, her brothers David (Barbara) Bishop, Kenny (Rena) Bishop, and John (Devon) Bishop, and hundreds of friends, students, and loved ones. Preceded in death by both her parents.
Memorial services will be held Tuesday, September 2, at 4:00 p.m. at Wasatch Lawn Mortuary, 3401 S. Highland Dr.
Sheryl, you were my love, my life, my everything. You made me and anyone you touched a much better person. I will miss you dearly. Ken.