Kimberly Sher began her position as Academic Coach and Science Instructor for Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE) in March of this year. Sher’s Master of Chemistry Education from the University of Pennsylvania is impressive, but even more impressive is her passion for helping students.
“I went into teaching wanting to make a difference in the lives of my students,” Sher said. “As an Academic Coach, I am finally able to realize that dream. And as a Science Instructor in SHCOE’s one-on-one online learning environment, I can truly make a difference as I work with students to help them understand concepts so they can be successful in achieving their goals and realizing their own dreams.”
Sher’s role with SHCOE is two-fold. “My job as Academic Coach is to lend a helping hand, encourage students, and provide assistance and support wherever I can,” she said. “As Science Instructor, I step in and work with students when they have questions about course material.”
Sher appreciates SHCOE’s unique online environment, an environment that features 24/7 support for both students and staff members.
“From an employee standpoint, I appreciate the network of support provided by my team and my superiors,” said Sher, who resides in Florida, but assists SHCOE students across the country and beyond. “In an online learning environment, one can feel very alone and isolated, which causes a decline in morale for the student and the educator. The support and connectedness that I have found at SHCOE is what sets it apart for me. I have worked at other online high schools and I have not had the genuine sense of caring, the attentiveness to students and staff, the prompt responses to resolve technical issues, and the truly supportive learning network that SHCOE provides.”
Sher’s education credentials, which also include both a bachelor of science degree and teaching certification from Delaware Valley College, coupled with her extensive experience in both the education and business worlds, make for an impressive résumé. However, she was once in the same place as many of the adult learners who have reentered the education process through SHCOE.
Sher dropped out of high school in 1982, having only completed the ninth grade. She had her first child at 17 and traveled a rocky path in her personal life. As a single mother of four in her mid-20s, she earned her GED and enrolled in a community college in Pennsylvania, where she lived at the time. “There were days when I would sit in the corner of my kitchen and sob after my kids were in bed,” she said. “The five of us were living in a one-bedroom, fourth-floor walk up. I was going to school, working, and had moved far away from where I grew up. I was so overwhelmed, but I kept at it.”
The rest is history, but Sher said she wishes there had been a program like SHCOE back then. “I love SHCOE! Who knows what changes might have occurred in my life had I been able to earn a high school diploma online back in 1982. College would have been so much easier. I would not have had to take all of those remedial classes that slowed my progression. I would not have felt the shame of being a high school dropout. There would be so many differences. I am honored to be in a position to be able to make that difference for others.”