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Exclusive Interview with Carl Sherman Jr., President Of DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees

Question: Please tell our viewers about your upbringing, where you are from and who had a major impact on your life.

Answer: “My upbringing is right here in DeSoto, Texas. My parents had an extremely major role and impact in me growing up. I am the oldest of five and so I was delegated a lot of tasks, and being the oldest you work really closely with your parents and you are able to see their work ethics, and things of that nature. Being the oldest, you also see all the heartaches and hassles that go along with that. I started out at Ruby Young Elementary, then to Amber Terrace, then to West, and then to the Freshman Campus and then high school. I earned my BA in business administration from Northwood University.”

Question: Please share your current profession.

Answer: “In addition to my volunteer position as DeSoto ISD Board President, which I have been serving for one year and this is my third year on the Board, I also serve as the Director of Operations of Oak Gardens Church, located in Dallas (near Polk Street and Highway 67). Also, in my professional career, I am a small business owner of a company, which provides maintenance and janitorial services to commercial businesses. When I was elected in 2013, I was a strong proponent of early childhood education and STEM learning. During my tenure, the district has placed a strong emphasis on these matters. In 2014, the district initiated the iSTEAM program for grades 6-8, which is a STEM-based curriculum that incorporates the arts. In 2015, the district introduced elementary magnet academics that provided exposure to technology, agriculture, business and the arts at an early age. In 2016, the district opened an early childhood center to educate students as young as three years old. These programs build on each other, by working to close the gap some students face.”

Making a Difference in The Community: “By being a recent college graduate and now with me closing out my MBA, I believe I am very closely related to what the universities and college professionals expect. I am noticing that the landscape of education is changing (it is not so much thinking within the box as in the past, where the confounds of one plus one equals two; however, it is thinking out of the box on a college level, where we are collaboratively learning to pull resources out of students and teach them to work as a team). We see more cohort learning styles, as opposed to individual mid-term paper tests. We have to adapt, or we will lose an entire generation, especially with DeSoto being a heavily minority district of black and brown students. We want to make sure they have every tool to look for in our classrooms, which they need to be successful.”

Question: What do you love the most about your profession, and how are you making a significant impact in the lives of others?

Answer: “The thing I love is the end result; it’s the text messages that I get from students in the middle of the day saying: hey Mr. Sherman, I got accepted to Georgetown, or I got accepted to Stanford. Those messages make me excited. This lets me know that I am on course. We are not only affecting the students in our classroom lives, but the generations to come. The grants are another tool for us to track students through high school and the college levels. Therefore, we can see the measures of the grants. I feel that generations will be affected. I am excited about the Gear-Up Grant (which allows us to track students not just through high school, but through their freshman and sophomore years in college). The latest grant is the I-3 Grant, whereas it allows us to help with the Stem initiatives to implement programs with government agencies.”

Question: What are your dreams and passions?

Answer: “I see my dreams every day when I see my kids. My dad made me a promise, since we have the same name; he said by the time my name is out there and I need to use my name, he would pass down a name, which is respected in the community. I have promised my kids the same thing. That promise is also extended to the 9,800 students in DeSoto ISD. When they graduate, DeSoto ISD should be recognized and respected throughout the country. They should be able to learn from the leadership that we have, from our successes to our missteps. My dream is to see the next generation in a better place than my generation.”

Question: What is your formula for success?

Answer: “It consists of the three Bs: (1) Be hungry (you need to have a desire to have whatever you want in life whether that is a goal or a dream); (2) Be humble (Never think it is you. There is a greater power working on your behalf); and (3) Be helpful (Be willing to help people on the way, nothing good comes to people who withhold what they have been blessed with and are stingy).”

Question: How do you deal with adversity and unfortunate/unexpected circumstances?

Answer: “There’s a gospel song that I listen to a lot. The song is titled ‘Intentional’ by Travis Green. We are here for God’s good pleasure. We have to realize that the adversity is just a minor setback. We have to release our adversities to God and say it is in your (God’s) hands. Emotions and disappointments come in this life. We are where we are for a reason. We have to search out the why and just know that God will open up the door, when it’s time. Andre said, you can plan a pretty picnic, but you cannot predict the weather.”

Question: Do you believe in the importance of partnerships? If so, please explain your reason.

Answer: “Yes, especially in education. As a district, we have to partner with parents and the students, and we partner with the community. Partnerships translate in many levels, in order to deliver a well-rounded student. Also, we have to partner with the government to receive grants. Partnerships make the world go round. It takes a village to raise a child. We need to get back to the village mindset; and then we will be so much better off. Both in negative and positive situations, we have to be able to grow and cultivate with one another.”

Question: Who is your favorite author?

Answer: “My favorite Author/Novelist is Eric Arthur Blair, who used the pen name of George Orwell. I love his books. He was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. He was born in Motihari, Bengal, India. He was famous for the following books: 1984, Animal Farm, Burmese Days, The Road to Wigan Pier, Keep the Aspidistra Fly, A Clergyman’s Daughter, Politics And The English Language, Why I Write, just to name a few.”

Question: Who is your favorite role model?

Answer: “My dad, by being able to see him start his own company and knowing his history and to see him grow. He was a poor kid from Hutchins, Texas, with holes in his shoes and he used to put cardboard in the bottom of his shoes to cover the holes. His company allowed you to charge purchases to your land line. He conducted business at the kitchen table, as we watched. We knew what “Code Blue” meant, whenever my father received business calls from our kitchen table; we knew to keep quiet while dad conducted business. He was very determined. He took his business public and had shareholders all over the world. He built it and was at the height of his company and walked away from it, when God told him to. He taught me something. We should never be ‘too married’ to something that we can’t listen to God.”

Question: What tips do you want to share with young people who would like to pattern after you?

Answer: “We have our dreams and wants. Be consistent, realize things take time; be ambitious in your prayer life. Pray the prayer, ‘Lord, if it is your will let it be easy, make the path easy, if it is not your will, frustrate my plans and make it painfully obvious that this is not what you want me to do.’ We have to pray and trust God’s plans. We were taught to chase after letters, behind our names (Masters, Doctorate). Now, the communities are flooded with college graduates with degrees, who sometimes lack collaborative skills in the workplace. Work hard to achieve your dreams and never forget where you came from.”

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Carl Sherman Jr.)

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