Sherwood Hampton of St. Augustine, FL passed away at age 80 on April 28, 2018. Upon graduation from Richard Murray High School, he applied to FSDB wanting to teach. He knew he wanted to work with deaf students from the moment he watched a team of deaf basketball players during his final year in high school.
He began his FSDB career in 1956 working in the Boarding Program. In 1961, a lead teacher recommended that Sherwood enter the teacher training program and the president of FSDB agreed. Hampton took classes at St. Johns River Community College. From there he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Flagler College in 1976 and then a master’s degree in education of students with learning disabilities in 1978, finally completing his dream to become a teacher.
Hampton taught elementary, middle, and high school students at FSDB for the next 20 years. During this time, he was appointed to supervise the middle school and then the multihandicapped program. At some point in his career, he served as Student Life administrator. In 1989, Hampton became assistant principal of the newly created Special Needs Department (K-12), which grew from 60 students to 160 under his leadership. He earned many accolades throughout his career.
When Hampton retired from FSDB in 2003 after 47 years of service, he shared how much he appreciated the “super team players” in the Special Needs Department. He was student-centered and a strong advocate “with a big heart” for the students with whom he worked. Hampton was an inspiration for students and staff members alike, and his impact lives on to this day.
Compiled lovingly by many of us who worked with Sherwood Hampton–there are over forty of us who still work at FSDB who were positively impacted by him and his leadership style. Every week he shared “Thoughts to Ponder” handwritten notes with us. In 2000, one of these notes said “The most exciting part of life is that every morning offers a brand-new day with new possibilities. Yesterday’s mistakes and regrets belong to yesterday. Today you can begin with a clean slate, a chance to start over, to do or become anything you want, a chance to go for it! So, jump into life with both feet! Go forward with head held high, expecting the best… You may be surprised at how often that’s exactly what you’ll get.” Hampton’s “Thoughts to Ponder” will forever be in many of our hearts.
Hampton supported his students and stood up for them. He encouraged each and every student and gave them his individual attention, teaching them to believe in themselves. Students were always happy to see him, unless, of course, they were in trouble – and even during those times, Hampton had a unique way of dealing with them. He always had the time and patience for students, and he set an excellent example for them.
The success of many students is because of the love and support of Sherwood Hampton and his team. He was able to bring out the best and help them overcome challenging situations. Hampton had a vision for students who were deaf or blind with special needs. He believed they could be educated, nurtured and recognized for their individual potential. Hampton wanted them to feel proud of their accomplishments, no matter how big or small, and gain confidence for life after FSDB. He unified the academic and dormitory programs within the Cary White Complex that ultimately was named the Special Needs Department.
Beyond students, Hampton loved his team members. He supervised a loyal group of people with diverse backgrounds and talents – they, too, loved their students. He enjoyed getting to know team members through conversation, observation, and a sense of familiarity. He encouraged and mentored numerous personnel throughout his career. Hampton filled the Cary White Complex with incredibly dedicated people – teachers, instructional assistants, support specialists, who he led day after day, one school year after the next, to facilitate the growth and success of Special Needs students.
Hampton’s door was always open. Whether a staff member needed help with a problem or concern, or to share a piece of good news, he was always there for them. When someone needed to vent, he would listen and then remind that person of what still needed to be done. But you felt like he “got it.” When we shared news about our students, he knew what a big deal it was for that particular student to have reached a specific goal. Together, we celebrated student achievements, each step of the way. Hampton stood behind his team. He expected quality work from staff members and had a way of letting you know that he had your back, but he expected you to put in 100%.
Sherwood Hampton was the “heart” of the Special Needs Department. The department felt like family, deaf and blind together. We all felt a common thread because of his leadership. His motto was “Attitude is Everything.” Leading by that example is what made the Department work as it did. Hampton had a way of inspiring others, both students and team members alike.
Many of those who worked with Hampton have retired since 2003. Although the department no longer exists, those who worked under his leadership remain dedicated to serving FSDB students, celebrating their achievements.
Hampton was an encourager, mentor, and boss, but most of all, a dear friend to many. Those of us who had the honor to work with him are so grateful that he shared his life with us all. He encouraged students and staff members to “Never Give Up!” Regardless of challenges and difficulties that one faces in life, an excellent attitude would allow one to accomplish life goals. He reminded us that “Attitudes are contagious. Make yours worth catching.”
There were so many beautiful and favorite phrases that Hampton shared with his staff members. One person said that he gave her a plaque with the quote, “In years to come to your students may forget what you taught them, but they will always remember how you made them feel. ”
Every year, the Sherwood Hampton Tribute “Attitude is Everything” Tribute Award is presented to seniors who exemplify incredible effort – grade point average, conduct, community service, and vocational experiences are taken into consideration.
Hampton was loved and cared about by many in the FSDB family. We are eternally grateful to have worked with him. He was a gem of a person. He was a good man of integrity and had a big heart. He always treated everyone fairly, like you were his family. He had a way of making one’s day better. He will be forever missed by many, and may he rest in peace. Love you, Sherwood!!!
Compiled by Karen Kolkedy, Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Coordinator
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.