Sherri Darden, principal at Langford Middle School in Augusta, is a lifelong educator. Darden knew early on it’s what she was destined to do.
“For me, I always wanted to do something with students, especially with disadvantaged students and trying to help them in an educational setting,” said Darden.
After getting her undergraduate degree at the University of Georgia, she completed her Master of Public Administration at Augusta University’s Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. She was a teacher for 10 years but wanted to reach even more students, and the way was through an administrative role.
“If you want to reach more kids, you’re going to have to be able to reach more teachers,” said Darden. “Being an administrator, you’re able to impact your entire building. So that was key for me.”
After teaching, she became assistant principal for the Academy of Richmond County, which led to her current position at Langford Middle School. She aspires to be a high school principal or area superintendent, and a lot of those goals came out of her time at Augusta University.
“I will say with Tier One and Tier Two certification at AU, it was something that really got me looking into going further in leadership. We had to go and do some field observations and also be hands on in observing our area superintendent, so that was an eye-opener for me. It’s like my job times 10,” said Darden.
Those certifications allowed her to grasp the complete education system, well beyond the classroom. One component that stuck out to her was figuring out bus routes for all the schools in Richmond County. The schools have staggered start and end times because it’s more cost effective. Explaining it all to parents and teachers became a lot easier when she saw firsthand why this was going on.
Darden credits Augusta University’s Dr. Kristen Gilbert and Dr. Olajide Agunloye for pushing to get the most out of her.
“Dr. Gilbert was the epitome of excellence. She would always kind of play the devil’s advocate and push you further. She knew your potential,” said Darden. “With Dr. A, it was not just the teaching aspect but also just a motivator in believing.”
Darden appreciates the rapport she had with professors at Augusta University. She still speaks highly of her hometown university and is ready and willing to help the next generation of educators.
“If [Augusta University] reached out and said hey, we need this. Our doors would be open. Actually we do have a partnership between the county with Augusta University. We have student teachers come in and do the field observations at Langford Middle School.”
While Darden is pretty sure she’s not going back for another degree, she did say Augusta University would be her No. 1 choice to apply for a doctorate.