Sherman and Sonya Whitfield, a married couple from Arkansas, not only share their love for each other but they also now share the same level of education. They recently earned their Doctor of Education degrees in school leadership at Arkansas Tech University together… at the same time!
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done, but I’m also very humbled,” Sonya told THV 11. “We’ve been very blessed and fortunate to complete this journey, much less complete it together.”
Sonya started her career in education in a summer job at a daycare. Since then, she knew that’s what she really wanted to do.
Sonya and Sherman met for the first time while Sonya was teaching at an elementary school in Pine Bluff and Sherman was a senior at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Sherman initially wanted to pursue a career with the FBI but eventually though that “it would be pretty good to raise a family, be able to teach school and be on that same schedule.”
“After I started teaching, I decided to go and get my administrator’s license and Sonya tagged along for moral support,” Sherman said. Later on, Sonya joined Sherman in taking their master’s degree together and now their doctorate degree. They received their Doctor of Education degree in school leadership at Arkansas Tech University together last May 10.
Sonya’s dissertation was about the National Board Certified Teachers and the impact they have on “student achievement in mathematics and reading in the PCSSD.” Sherman wrote his dissertation about the “experiences and perceptions of students who attended segregated and desegregated schools.”
Currently, Sherman serves as the director of pupil services at the Pulaski County Special School District while Sonya is the principal at Baker Elementary School, which is within the same school district.
“To represent the past generations of my family, I am in awe,” Sherman said. “The worst thing for me is not failing… it’s not trying. Do it. Just do it. Don’t leave it in your mind five years from now.”