Teacher hangs up the erasers after 27 years

Published 11:46 pm Saturday, April 28, 2007

In August of 1980, Sharon Henderson set up her classroom at Nicholson Elementary. During the 27 years since then, she has changed rooms, changed from fifth grade to sixth grade to second grade to third grade to special ed classes, but has never changed the school where she taught. Except, this year she’s retiring.

The best advice ever given to her was from her father.

“Don’t give up the first year,” he had told her. Henderson said this would be the advice she would give to a fresh-out-of-college new teacher. She adds, “The first year is really hard and is the year that most new teachers give up and go home. The second year is the year a new teacher finds her feet. By the third year, she’s in the mood and she says, ‘Okay, I can do this.’ My parents wouldn’t let me quit. That was the best decision I ever made.”

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She got her masters in elementary education and advises, “Don’t do that. I got masters’ pay, but I couldn’t move up into administration. I had to stay in teaching.”

The deciding factor for retirement is her new grandbaby. She used to thing the best thing in the world was being a mom, but now she knows the best thing in the world is being a grandmother. She’ll be taking care of the baby and will be director of a new day care, the brainchild of her new pastor.

Henderson had started out in pre-med. She first and foremost wanted to be where God wanted her so she began praying that He show her what direction He wanted her to take. Her mother was a nurse at a nursing home where she helped out occasionally. Soon medical things began to make her sick, things that had never had that effect on her before made her ill. It didn’t take long for her to realize the direction of her life needed a change. As a young person, she was sure her direction was going into mission work. Then she knew that teaching was a mission, and has been for 27 years.

In those years, the biggest change in the education arena has been discipline, says Henderson. “It is the biggest hindrance to teaching,” she said, “or rather the lack of discipline is the biggest hindrance. There are so many rules and regulations we must follow, things we are not allowed to do and I’ve watched the degeneration of education due to lack of discipline.” The reason, she surmises, is most likely because they have so much at home that losing a 30 minute recess isn’t a big deal. This is a complaint of many teachers. Today, children do not have any respect for a teacher and she must have her eye on them at all times because they do not have respect for the authority of a teacher, she laments.

The goals Henderson had as a teacher were simple: Students to learn academically, to know that she loved them, to know they could do anything they set their minds to doing, and to learn moral values. She believes she met these goals.

One of the highlights of her career was when Kerry, a little boy in kindergarten, was put into every program imaginable to teach him to read to no avail. She took him into the dyslexia program and taught him for three years. Kerry can now read at third grade level. This is a total success because when he first went into the program, he couldn’t make any sense out of the sounds that form words, now he can read the words. Kerry thought he had no future, even though he is extremely smart with his hands. Now, his future is bright and that makes Henderson smile.

She has touched the lives of many students, helping to mold them for the future. Two students had this to say, “Mrs. Henderson is nice and she taught me how to read. I appreciate what she did to help me. Thank you Mrs. Henderson for all your help.” – Marissa Davis, student.

“Mrs. Henderson use to be my Mama’s teacher and now she’s mine. That’s weird. I don’t think she should retire cause she’s too nice.” – 11 year-old student.

Henderson’s retirement celebration will be at Nicholson Elementary on May 16 at 3 p.m. Everyone is invited to come.