Cheri Grimes

Cheri Grimes — an instructional technology coach for Rockwall ISD — is one of seven finalists competing for the chance to speak at the inaugural Extra Yard for Teachers Summit.

Cheri Grimes — a Rockwall ISD Instructional Technology Coach — is one of seven finalists competing for the chance to speak at the inaugural Extra Yard for Teachers Summit.

Extra Yard for Teachers is a program created by the College Football Playoff Foundation to honor, celebrate and empower teachers. The summit — scheduled for Jan. 10 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas — will feature prominent guest speakers. However, teachers have the chance to compete for the opportunity to be one of the speakers by submitting a 90-second video describing impactful interactions with students.

The contest is featured during the new championship process as a philanthropic way to help the public understand the connection between college athletes and teachers who provided education and inspiration for the athletes to continue on in school.

Grimes’ video describes a run-in with a former student-athlete at a grocery store. The student, Greg, is someone she taught seven years ago, but remembered her.

After filling her in on his life, he told Grimes she made a huge difference in his life. In the video, Grimes said students often think they are impacted by teachers, but it’s often the other way around.

“You go into education and you don’t know what to expect,” Grimes said. “At the end of your first year your realize, ‘oh my gosh, every one of these students has impacted my life.’”

Grimes said being a teacher isn’t a job that ends when you leave for the day. She said teachers take the job home with them — thinking and worrying about their students. Teachers want their students to succeed, but they are also disappointed when the students don’t do something the teachers hoped they would.

“If you don’t go home and you aren’t thinking about your students everyday, you probably aren’t in the right field.”

Grimes taught eighth grade U.S. History in Garland and coached basketball, track and volleyball for eight years before her current position in the Rockwall ISD, where she helps teachers integrate technology into the classroom. Her husband, Larry, is a TV producer for Garland ISD and helped her make her submission video.

“The hardest part was it had to be 90 seconds,” Grimes said. “How do you put 10 years of educating into a 90-second video?”

Although Grimes settled on sharing one moment from her teaching experience that brought her joy, there were others she wished she could have shared. One such memory happened during her last year at Garland ISD. A former student who was graduating from high school at the time had asked Grimes to accompany her to an honors dinner.

“I had her as an eighth-grader and she was graduating from high school in the top five percent of her class,” Grimes said. “I realized I was the only middle school teacher there.”

She felt honored to be remembered.

“It honored me that I had made that much of an impact on her that she would ask me to come to the dinner four years later.”

Grimes said she created a bond working with her students — who came from diverse backgrounds and might not have been presented with the best opportunities. She had the chance to help and watch them continue on to do great things.

However, working in Rockwall brought a different form of joy. Grimes said she can feel the support of the community in Rockwall and feels lucky to be here.

If she does speak at the summit, Grimes said she hopes she can share her story as the first in her family to attend college. She said her teachers and coaches provided her with the support and encouragement she needed to continue her education.

“The people I saw everyday — teachers and coaches — gave me the drive to get my degrees,” she said. “You spend more time at school than you do with your family.”

Grimes hopes she can utilize that support again to help educate more people at the summit. The Rockwall community can support Grimes by voting for her video and providing her with the chance to speak at the summit.

To view Grimes’ video, visit theiteachproject.com.

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