Sheeri K. Steinberg ’81
Alumna gives back to say thank you and stay connected to her Perkiomen family.
Imagine a teenager leaving home to pursue an education in a different state (or country)! It’s natural to imagine someone feeling overwhelmed. But in 1979, Sheeri Steinberg didn’t feel overwhelmed. Though she may have been leaving a comfort zone by arriving in Pennsburg by way of Minneapolis, it was her goal to find a new environment with the luxurious freedom to work at her own pace, where she could be more involved, and make more meaningful connections.
Naturally drawn to individual relationship-building and a particular care about those in her community, Sheeri knows she had an opportunity at Perkiomen School to thrive both personally and academically. She can still feel the warmth and welcoming atmosphere Midge and George Thomas extended to every student. Midge especially “always made everyone feel so good about themselves.” Like today, the faculty and staff of Perkiomen became extended family for Sheeri and her peers. As she navigated her studies as a new junior to the school, Sheeri spent time in the music department with Ms. Royal, and the math program with Mr. Engle. She has especially fond memories of a beloved English teacher, Ms. McCloud (later known as Mrs. Weeks), who spoke to her students “in such an open way about her understanding of the world and viewpoints on life.”
Sheeri was also delighted by the diversity of her peers, appreciating the ways in which they broadened her understanding of life. Much of her downtime was spent interacting with her friends: playing pool and ping-pong, roaming around town before settling into long discussions at the diner, sharing stories, and laughing. It was through all these experiences and social interactions, she opened up her heart and developed interests ultimately leading to a career in social services.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in English, Sheeri was considering her next steps when she saw an ad in the local paper for a position to serve in social services at a nearby nursing and rehabilitation facility. Described as a role to help people build connections in their community, Sheeri went to investigate and instantly felt at ease in the environment. “It had such a great feel. It felt like a home. The camaraderie of all the different people – social workers, nurses, doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, speech therapists – I saw working there [was amazing]. I was very, very lucky to land in a place where my work mattered to me.”
Sheeri advanced her interest by meeting a myriad of federal and state requirements to gain licensure from the California Department of Health Services to then serve as a director of several long-term care nursing and rehabilitation facilities, culminating in a position at Scripps Hospital in San Diego. “It was super rewarding. I loved being with all of the healthcare people who loved making people’s lives as good as they could be.” In 2003 she made the great leap to become a mother and has since transferred her skillset of compassion, relationship-building, and care toward raising her two kids, Julia and Ben.
A consistent, long-time donor to Perkiomen School, Sheeri recently contributed to Our Moment to Lead Campaign. Instead of cash, Sheeri elected to make her gift using appreciated stocks, held “long-term”, to advantageously claim a federal income tax charitable deduction for the full, appreciated value of the stocks and also to pay no capital gains tax on the transaction. To Sheeri and her husband, investing in their alma maters means continuing to stay connected with a meaningful part of their pasts. Whether it’s through scholarships, enhancing resources, or developing Perkiomen’s leadership programs, Sheeri joins a growing network of alumni, parents, and friends who wish to stay connected and, as Sheeri puts it, assist Perkiomen as it blossoms! It’s a way for that 17-year-old girl from Minneapolis in 1979 to say, “Thank you, Perkiomen.”
Today you can find Sheeri practicing yoga, hiking in the mountains of Colorado, reading 19th century classic literature, cooking up healthy meal options for her family, and spending time with her loved ones. As her own children grow, she cherishes occasions when they encounter their own “Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, Ms. McCloud/Mrs. Weeks, or Mr. Engle” who help guide them along their paths. Sheeri reflects on the advice she might relay to her teenage self: “Taking forward steps in directions [where your deep passions lie] despite fear or uncertainty can open up a meaningful life – where you will more likely be surrounded by others whose passions and values align with yours.”