Sherry Cliburn
Sherry Cliburn
East Central Community College in Decatur names Sherri Byars Cliburn of Union as the 2014 "Workforce Education Instructor of the Year."

Cliburn said she knew she wanted to be in the classroom since she was in first grade.

"It was the most exciting place that I could imagine. I rode the bus home, pulled out the Fisher-Price schoolhouse (complete with a tiny chalkboard) and forced my three year old sister to be my 'class.' Obviously, she needed to share in the fun."

"School is still an exciting place and teaching allows me to share my passion for learning with others," she continued. "For me, education was the only real choice."

Cliburn said she is touched and honored to receive such an honor.

"I feel unworthy and a bit like Sally Field when she told the audience at the Academy Awards, 'you like me, right now, you like me!'"

Cliburn has served as Career Technical Support Services Instructor in Reading since 2000.

Before being employed at the college, she taught fourth grade at Union Elementary School and gifted education at Neshoba Central Elementary School.

"I love EC and the people that work here. The Workforce Education Division is my extended family and for this I am truly grateful."

She said her Aunt Wanda Byars had a great impact on her career.

"Aunt Wanda taught first grade for 42 years yet, she never lost her passion for teaching," she said. "Every child was special to her.

"The students continue to be what I like most about education. I delight in looking into the eyes of someone at the exact moment that he or she understands what is being taught."

She is serving her second term as president of the Administration, Faculty and Staff Association. Previously, she served as vice president for two years secretary for a year and program chair for four years.

Currently, she is serving as chairperson for the Literary Committee and she has been a sponsor for SkillsUSA for eight years.

She is a member of the Union Chamber of Commerce, International Reading Association and State Affiliate Challenge Master for Destination Imagination, an international problem-solving competition.

Cliburn holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Mississippi State University.

A member of First Presbyterian Church of Union, she serves as Vacation Bible School Director and Vice-President of Women in the Church.

She is married to Gene Cliburn and they have five children: Erin, Logan, Caroline, Byars and Molly Catherine. They also have two grandsons, Mason and Asher. Cliburn is the daughter of Hal and Myra Byars of Philadelphia.