June 28 will mark the conclusion of Dr. Craig Sherman’s 38-year teaching career — 30 of which he spent teaching and directing the music program for Scarsdale students. He currently serves as Scarsdale High School’s director of performing arts, a role he’s held since 2007.
“It’s hard to imagine that much time has gone by,” Sherman told the Inquirer. “I’m walking around the halls a little bit slower, trying to take it all in, and pinch myself that this is really happening and this is really where we are.”
Sherman originally found his passion for teaching early on in high school where he taught younger students to play music using his own instruments. A lifelong passion for playing and teaching turned into a career path after he graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 1981, earned a master’s in conducting at the Hartt School of Music in 1986, a certificate of advanced study at Fairfield University in 1992, and then attended Columbia University for his doctorate in 2006.
Sherman worked in Norwalk, Connecticut, for eight years as a middle and high school band director. Taking a lead from a colleague who lived in Scarsdale, Sherman applied for a band director position at Scarsdale High School in 1989, and he’s been working in the district ever since.
Although his position now is to oversee the entire music program across the district, Sherman still teaches and interacts with students in the high school. Having taught jazz improvisation, multiple independent studies, a saxophone quartet, the applied music program and two levels of music theory — including the advanced topics course which he introduced to the school — Sherman said he would miss the unique interactions he had with students and the ever evolving group of students who walk into his classroom every year.
“It’s wonderful … to still maintain that connection with kids,” said Sherman. “I really do enjoy that … It remains the highlight of my day.”
In March, the National Association of Music Merchants named the Scarsdale School District one of the best communities in the nation for music education. Representative Eliot Engel announced the award in May.
“Music and the arts are vital to every child’s education. At a time when drastic cuts to education are being pushed by the GOP in Washington, it is more important than ever for us to stand in support of music programs like those offered in Scarsdale, which broaden our students’ horizons and improve academic success,” Engel said. Another 623 school districts around the country also received NAMM accolades.
Sherman has been applying for the NAMM award for 11 years and the district has won a top award every year.
“It’s not me,” Sherman said. “It’s the program, the community, the district, the administration and most importantly the extraordinary staff that’s in the music classrooms everyday.”
An official successor to the director of performing arts position has yet to be announced, but Sherman will be working over the summer to ensure a smooth transition for his team into September.
After his departure from Scarsdale, Sherman said he plans to help aspiring teachers in pre-service teacher education. In his position at Scarsdale, Sherman was able to foster teacher growth by giving student teachers a place to thrive. Now, he hopes to expand his reach to many more who will become music educators.
“[It] will be very exciting for me to be a part of that next generation of music teachers coming up,” said Sherman. “I look forward to that.”