by Molly Santos Buckley
Hoping for another opportunity in academia, Sherry Mills enrolled in college for the second time in 2007. A debilitating accident earlier in 2007 involving her dairy cows and in her words “divine intervention,” provided the push necessary to take major steps forward and do “what I feel I was called to do. God had called me.”
High school sweethearts for three years Sherry and Larry married just after her high school graduation in 1980 at the age of 18. Thirty five years later, three adult children and two grandchildren, the Mills make their home in the eastern part of the state of Oklahoma just near the Arkansas border in the tiny farming/ranching community of Locust Grove.
“We celebrated our anniversary with a trip to Hawaii,” Mills said.
In previous years, some of the land was owned by Larry’s parents but was willed to Larry upon their deaths. Two of their daughters are teachers and their son is a welder. Sherry’s parents live down the road and Sunday meals are at Sherry and Larry’s home. All of them lived on the Copperhead Ranch in their respective homes.
“Yes, there are a lot of copperheads around here,” she said.
The farm was once the home to a huge dairy cows operation but now they raise beef cows, chickens, eggs and haul hay.
“Larry and I realized our ages were catching up with us and we needed to explore different options. I stopped milking cows which was the hardest jobs of my live and Larry just needed a change,” Mills said.
In the spring of 2007 Mills rode up on her four wheeler to check on one of her dairy cows who had lost a calf the previous year and Mills noticed her new calf seemed a little distressed. She got off her vehicle for a closer inspection and was confronted by a very agitated and angry momma protecting her calf. The animal violently attacked her causing severe damage to one of her hips and nerve damage to much of her body but thankfully nothing was broken. Considering the size of the animal and Mills size, things could have been a lot worse. She felt God’s presence was there and saved her life.
“I remember loud mooing, pulling myself up on the four wheeler and heading back to the house,” Mills said.
She was in the hospital for four nights recovering from her injures. With her husband’s encouragement it was during this time Mills decided to give college a second chance.
“I had things to do, gifts to give. The light was on and God was leading me,” she said.
College this time around was not as scary or daunting as it was the first time in 1999.
“Classes and learning came easy,” she said.
Although not holding a degree in journalism, Mills had computer experience and took courses in mass media, web design and group dynamics which she felt prepared her to take on the task of school publications. She holds a degree English education.
Graduated May of 2011 and commencing work the very next month, Mills currently teaches classes in newspaper, yearbook, drama and alternative education classes to low performing students.
“Working with students is like milking the dairy cows,” Mills said. “The very best part of the milk is the cream which rises to the top and is sweet. In working with students, I find the very best students are the ones that always step up and produce for me.”