Sherol Southerland

Ph.D. Student, School of Education
Program Area: Educational Psychology
Teacher Assistant in Human Development and Learning

Headshot of Sherol Southerland, Holmes Scholar for 2020-2021.


  • Ph.D. (expected May, 2023) in Education, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • M.T. in Secondary English, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • B.S. in Psychology, James Madison University

Line of research

My line of research is motivation; specifically, teacher motivation and efficacy. I examine teacher, student and administrator perceptions of teacher efficacy; how teacher efficacy influences planning for and delivery of instruction; and how teacher efficacy subsequently affects student achievement.

Research and scholarship

  • Southerland, S.L., & Zumbrunn, S.K. (in progress). A case study: secondary teachers’ writing instructional practices.


Sherol Southerland is a second-year doctoral student in the educational psychology track in Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Education. With over 20 years as an educator, Sherol’s experience spans the classroom and school, division, and state level leadership. Sherol’s interest in educational psychology began in 2014 with the realization that the strongest organizational structure and the best curriculum will not yield the academic outcomes we desire if we don’t understand the students we serve, the teachers who teach them, and what they collectively bring to the learning environment that impacts motivation, and use that understanding to deliver high quality instruction that makes real-life connections with the content for students. Sherol is the Interim Co- Director and Lead State Education Agency VTSS Systems Coach for the Virginia Tiered Systems of Support-Research & Implementation Center, a project of the Virginia Department of Education housed within the VCU School of Education’s Partnership for People with Disabilities. In this role, Sherol coaches school- and division-level VTSS implementation teams in using data-informed decision making to identify and implement needed systemic changes and evidence-based practices that support all students academically, behaviorally, and social-emotionally through a multi-tiered system of supports.

What does the Holmes Scholars program mean to you?

The Holmes Scholars program is a professional learning community that provides an avenue for underrepresented minorities to receive needed mentorship, professional development, and networking necessary to become viable candidates for teaching and research faculty positions at R1 and R2 colleges and universities across the United States. The Holmes Scholars community of developing researchers is a support system, and in some instances, a lifeline for scholars of color who attend predominantly white institutions of higher education and whose programs do not invest in their full development as scholars who will advance their fields of study.

Curriculum Vitae