Sherwood Hampton: A Lifelong Career at FSDB

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.

Black and White Collage of Sherwood Hampton

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.

Joey Woods and Sherwood Hampton at Mr. Hampton's Retirement Party.

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.