Kevin Sherrill Finalist for N.C. Technology Director of Year
By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
JANUARY 8, 2021 – Kevin Sherrill has been named a finalist for Technology Director of the Year by the North Carolina Technology in Education Society.
As the Assistant Superintendent for Information Technology for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Sherrill supervises the 58 people in the Technology Department who work to meet the technology needs of students and their families and of teachers and other staff members.
To do that, they go into every school, as well as every other school building in Forsyth County.
“We pretty much touch every part of the operation,” Sherrill said.
It’s a job that Sherrill finds deeply rewarding.
“I enjoy helping folks,” he said. “I feel blessed to be able to work in an industry where we can give back and support students and parents and teachers.”
People throughout the school system appreciate and respect Sherrill for the work that he does – and as a person.
“Kevin Sherill is a pleasure to work with,” said Nicolette Grant, Chief Academic Officer for the school system.
“He is innovative, collaborative, and is always focused on what is best for students and teachers. No matter the challenge we face, his ‘can-do’ attitude and problem-solving skills have truly been a tremendous asset to the district, especially this year during school closures.
“Kevin and his team have been instrumental in helping WS/FCS re-image education. I am so thankful for the partnership between our departments.”
This has been an incredibly challenging year for people in the school system’s Technology Department. In March, April and May, people in the department had to put in many extra hours – many of them on Saturdays and Sundays - to make sure that teachers and students had what they needed for remote learning.
“We were around the clock,” Sherrill said.
In the months that followed, many people in technology were still working on Saturdays, and, during the week, the Help Desk was open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“We have worked hard to support remote learning not only for students but for our teachers as well,” he said. “Although it has been challenging, I have a wonderful staff.”
Only in more recent months have they returned to a five-day work week, and days that aren’t quite so long.
Chris Corbin is the Director of Information Technology Services for the school system.
“I’ve worked for Kevin for 13 years,” Corbin said.
“Put simply, Kevin has a servant’s heart and leads by example in everything he does. He is a humble, caring, and patient leader that finds it easy to see the big and little picture.”
“Multiple times this year he visited students and family homes in order to help students through Technology issues with remote learning. Our world was blowing up, we were working 12-hour days and were pulled in many different directions. but he made time to help these families.
“Years ago, when we were opening Caleb’s Creek and Kimmel Farm, he assisted his staff in manually carrying 300-lb teaching carts up stairs because the elevators weren’t yet running. We were running out of time to get those schools up and running because the certificate of occupancy was issued just a few days before students were set to start.”
“There have been times over the years that I’ve affectionately called him a ‘chihuahua’ as with highly important issues he will seem like a little dog nipping at your heels to get something done. After reflection I always realize that is exactly what I needed in those moments.”
“He has been a great model of leadership and mentor to me.”
As part of the process for determining the state winner, the society asked finalists to submit videos that serve to illustrate some of the work they do. To create that video, Kevin Wrenn, who is the Digital Media Specialist for the school system, spent time with Sherrill at different schools and other locations.
“I was struck by how humble he is,” Wrenn said. “During the whole process of producing the video, he wanted to deflect the focus off him and showcase the school system as a whole!”
“He was helpful to me in every way. He even helped carry all the gear when we went out to South Fork Elementary to get interviews and video. Just a great guy to be around!”
It has been a challenging time for Technology Departments in school system across the state, Sherrill said, and he is honored to have been chosen as the finalist for the Piedmont Triad region.
In the coming days, Sherrill said, it will be his goal – and the goal of everyone in the department – to continue to provide students, teachers and others the support – and tools – they need.
Sherrill joined WS/FC Schools in 2007 as the Director of Technical Services and assumed his current position in 2013.
Sherrill grew up in Statesville, where he still lives.
“My family is all rooted there,” he said.
He began his career as a teacher – teaching business education and computer science to high school students in Mooresville.
“I always had a love for computers,” he said.
He went on to serve as the Director of Information Technology for the Mooresville Graded School District.
He came to Winston-Salem in 1997 to work as a systems engineer and project manager in information technology for private industry. He did that for 10 years before joining WS/FC Schools.
Sherrill earned a bachelor’s degree in business education from Appalachian State University and a master’s degree in instructional systems technology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Sherrill and his wife, Tonya, have three sons at home. Harrison is in the seventh grade. Noah is in the fourth grade, and Thomas is in kindergarten.
Sherrill also has an adult son, Nicholas, who is a corporate pilot based in Statesville. Sherrill enjoys joining him on flights from time to time.
At home, Sherrill enjoys spending time outside with his family, as well as doing yardwork and keeping family vehicles looking sharp.
“I enjoy singing, too,” Sherrill said.
He and three other men in his extended family are members of a gospel quartet called Second Generation Quartet. They perform at churches that invite them, and, before the coronavirus pandemic, might travel a couple of hours in any direction to perform.
Sherrill’s home church is Beulah Baptist in Statesville.
Jim Mendoza is the Coordinator for the Technology Service Desk. Asked about the strengths that Sherrill brings to his jobs and about his gifts as a person, this is what Mendoza had to say:
Strengths he brings to the job:
“An education dynasty: both his father and mother were K-12 lifer’s in the Iredell County School System. One might say he thought that he knew what he was getting himself into. Now 16 years later, don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“He firmly understands the principle of how to eat an elephant: one ‘byte’ at a time.”
“Building a really sound Technology leadership team and from within his own line-staff.”
His gifts as a person:
“He keeps getting thinner as most of us keep getting less so. But having four sons, three of which are young, might have something to do with it.”
“A willingness to allow his reports to stretch and grow and not micro-manage. Having so lean a department does make this a necessity.”
“Not afraid of change, change and more change.”
“I’m told he can make the drive back and forth between Winston-Salem and his home in Statesville in far less time than most and occasionally with his eyes fully open.”
Mendoza also talked about the support Sherrill has given family members, including one dealing with cancer. Sherrill and other family members “helped in every way that they could and more. And all while juggling the demanding needs of massive technology changes within WS/FCS.”
Mendoza said that Sherrill bought a few egg-laying hens to provide his sons still living at home with a constructive hobby. That hobby has grown. These days, Mendoza joked, Sherrill “must often feel as if he’s one of Iredell’s largest egg producers.”
The Technology Director of the Year for the state will be announced in March at the North Carolina Technology in Education Society’s virtual state conference.
336.727.2696 Ext. 70114