Students, faculty and family remember educational psychology professor Dr. Sherrie Reynolds as much more than just a teacher. Reynolds died peacefully at home on March 15.
She was 71 years old, but those that knew her said she was always a very healthy person. “She rode her bike to work most days and swam several times a week,” Reynolds’s spouse Dianne Murray said.
Murray said Reynolds was diagnosed in October with a rare form of nephrotic lupus, a disease that caused her body to attack her kidneys.
Reynolds taught at TCU from 1986 to 2013. She taught undergraduate students in educational psychology as well as masters and doctoral students in courses related to research and curriculum issues for children.
“She wasn’t just a stand up and lecture kind of professor,” Mary Patton, associate professor and dean of the college of education said. “She was a ‘Let’s get out into the community and make a difference’ kind of professor.”
One community project she and her doctoral students were working on together was the Como Project.
They were working on a book for the Como neighborhood in Fort Worth about its history. They also set up a library and a reading program for the kids.
Patton was a colleague of Reynolds for 20 years. She said Reynolds has had an impact on the whole community.
Reynolds was the chair of the faculty senate, participated in the entrepreneurial program, was one of the leaders in the women’s studies program and collaborated with the Brite Divinity School on a number of projects, among other things.
“Her greatest legacy is her students she’s had over the past 25 years. She’s touched so many lives,” Patton said.
Murray said that one of Reynolds’ greatest joys was “to help individuals grow in mind and spirit, exceeding their own expectations.”
Two of her doctoral students, Joshua Howton and Angela Buffington, had many things to say about the impact Reynolds had on their lives.
“She was so much more than an educator, but education permeated everything she did,” Howton wrote in an email. “She was a friend, a rebel, a peace-maker, a leader, a thinker, a shelter, a spark and a visionary.”
“There were days when she believed in me more than I did and when she saw things in me I never knew were there,” he said.
Buffington said that Reynolds had an open door policy and was always there to counsel students throughout the day.
“She truly loved her students, gave of herself, and in turn her students rose to her challenging expectations to learn more than they believed they could,” Buffington said.
Another of Reynolds’ doctoral students, Altheria Gaston, wrote a touching poem in tribute to Reynolds. It is posted at the bottom of the article.
Those that knew her well agreed that Reynolds was more than a serious professor.
“Everyone always thought she was so serious, and she was a serious scholar,” Patton said. “But then they’d sit down and see her crazy socks and see she had a very playful side too.”
“She was quick to laugh at her own mistakes and equally quick to forgive others theirs,” Murray wrote in an email.
“Most especially, she loved her son Matthew. You didn’t have to spend much time with her and she would begin sharing stories of how proud she was of him and what a fine man he had grown to be,” Murray said.
Reynolds’ son is 32 and lives in Dallas.
Howton said, “Even in her passing, she continues to teach us about caring and compassion.”
“She made us better,” Molly Weinburgh, science education professor and director of the Andrews Institute, said.
Her doctoral students said that she would often say, “Until we know what is possible, what IS seems necessary.”
A fund is being set up to endow a graduate-level scholarship for the education program in Reynolds’s name. Donations can be made for this scholarship by going to www.makeagift.tcu.edu.
Poem By Altheria Gaston:
If they only knew . . .
If they only knew how grave the loss
how deep the void
how connected our hearts
how precious the memories
If they only knew how heavy my heart with sorrow
how overcome my spirit with sadness
how incomplete my life with never-to-be shared moments
how overwhelmed my mind with fear of life without her
If they only knew that our relationship
expanded beyond all I expected it to be…
If they only knew the endless regret—now wishing for time to
absorb more of her precious goodness
The wind would stop blowing
the trees would stop waving
the birds would stop chirping
the flowers would stop blooming
the sun would stop shining
and join me
in a violent wail
in a painstaking cry
For my beloved Dr. Reynolds
if they only knew how grave the loss.
Altheria Gaston, March 19, 2014
TCU College of Education