YUMA, Ariz. – Dr. Jay Sheridan, a professor who taught English at Yuma High School for 40 years, died Saturday. He was 72 years old.
In 2010 Congressman Raul Grijvalva addressed the U.S House of Representatives, noting Sheridan’s then recent retirement. He said Sheridan had given 40 years of his life to improve the quality of public education in his community.
Sheridan was born in Clinton, Iowa in 1943. His father was a B-26 pilot in the 8th Air Force in Europe. Sheridan
and his mother lived with her parents in the village of Thomson, Illinois in the months after his birth.
In November 1948, Sheridan, his parents and his sister moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Sheridan attended
kindergarten in Greendale, Wisconsin. He continued his elementary education at Valley View School, a small school near Hales Corners, Wisconsin. Sheridan’s family then moved to the Elm Grove, Wisconsin area in 1959, where Sheridan graduated from Brookfield Central High School in 1962.
Sheridan then moved to Arizona to study at the University of Arizona. He graduated with a degree in English and a
minor in philosophy. After graduating, Sheridan went to law school at Valparaiso University.
Shortly after entering law school Sheridan was drafted into the military in 1967. He honorably served our country in Vietnam from August of 1968 to July of 1969 in the 1st Battalion, 69th Armor (4th Infantry Division). After Sheridan was honorably discharged, he enrolled at Northern Arizona University to pursue a Master of Arts degree in English. He was awarded his degree in May of 1972 and accepted an offer as an English teacher at Yuma High School.
In the summer of 1972, Sheridan met his wife Sally, from Yuma. The two were married the following summer
and have now been married 43 years. Sally, also a teacher, gave countless years to the Yuma community just as her husband did.
Sheridan was appointed Chair of the English Department at Yuma High in 1973 and spent his entire professional career at Yuma High. He taught every level of English during the course of his teaching career. Beginning in the early 1980s, he began teaching the National Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition course and assisted
hundreds of students in earning passing scores on the national exam.
Sheridan completed his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Arizona in August 1979. He became chair of the Modern Languages department, in addition to the English department, with supervisory responsibilities over English as a Second Language, French, German and Spanish classes. Sheridan also taught part-time for Northern Arizona University-Yuma for a number of years
In 2001, Sheridan was awarded the honor of Yuma County High School Teacher of the Year by the Education Foundation of Yuma. Sheridan accomplished a great deal during his time at Yuma High School. His proudest achievement was helping Yuma High School earn first place in the district on the state AIMS writing exam for 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Dr. Sheridan retired from Yuma High School in May of 2010.
In Grijalva’s address he noted that in almost 40 years Sheridan has touched the lives of thousands of students who
have passed through the halls of Yuma High School. He also said Sheridan encouraged students who doubted they were ready for advanced placement classes to work hard and pass the test.
Sheridan is survived by his wife Sally, his two children Jill and Jay Jr., and his three granddaughters.
Sally shared with us that Sheridan was the same smart, funny and kind person at home and everywhere else. She always knew he was special and let him know he was appreciated.
There will be a private family service for Sheridan the first week in October. A public memorial will also be held in October. The date for the memorial has not been set.