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Teacher has seen children change over 50 years


© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 28, 2001

Sharon Black
NEW PORT RICHEY -- Sharon Black has spent more than 50 years in education, 38 of them teaching second, third and fourth grades in Fort Wayne, Ind. She and her husband, Dale, retired to Florida to be near their children and grandchildren.

"I decided I wasn't really ready for retirement," she said, "so I started subbing in Pasco County. I can't believe the past 12 years have passed so quickly. I've subbed in 10 Pasco schools, but mostly at Schrader, Seven Springs and Cotee River in West Pasco from kindergarten to fifth grade. Now that I am 72, I decided it was really time to retire from my retirement job."

She says she knows that she won't be able to stay away from school and plans to volunteer a couple of days a week. The love of the children and teaching keep bringing her back.

"Children have changed since I first started teaching," she said. Children and parents once respected teachers more and had more respect for adults in general. Children seldom argued with their teachers.

"Maybe some of us adults have let the children down," she said. "There are quite a few parents today who are so busy doing their own thing that their children feel that they are not important. The children cause trouble to get the attention or love they need."

When Black began teaching, there was no television. She thinks movies and TV made today's youngsters more "worldly wise." Some have no good role models, and both children and their parents are less likely to take responsibility for their actions, she said.

As a teacher of elementary schoolchildren, Black said her goal was "to try to get the children off to a good start in reading and to keep excitement in learning."

Black received a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Greenville (Ill.) College and a master of science degree from Indiana University in Fort Wayne.

She was already teaching when she met her future husband at church. Dale was a machinist at International Harvester in Fort Wayne and a widower with two children, 5 and 7.

Sharon Black clearly has influenced the family: Their daughter, Carol Turneau, is a teacher at Cypress Elementary School, and her husband, Mark, teaches eighth grade at River Ridge, both schools in New Port Richey. Their son, Alan, teaches physical education and driver's education at Wesley Chapel High School, and his wife, Donna, teaches sixth grade language arts at Weightman Middle School.

A grandson, Ryan Turneau, is a senior at Greenville College and will be doing a teaching internship. A granddaughter, Emily Black, is a sophomore at the University of South Florida, majoring in education. Grandson Brandon Turneau attends River Ridge High School and has not decided on a career. Granddaughter Erin Black will graduate from Granville College and continue her education at Vanderbilt University.

"I have no regrets that I chose teaching as my profession," Sharon Black said. "I know I would choose the same course for my life if given the chance to start over."

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