ALBANY – After teaching kindergarten at Sherwood Christian Academy for 44 years, Sharon Howard has announced her retirement.
Howard’s teaching career began at Sherwood Baptist Church in 1977, leading preschool classes. She has taught kindergarten since Sherwood Christian Academy was established in 1985. Howard holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Florida State University.
“A key part of the growth and development of students is a strong foundation,” Sherwood Church Executive Pastor and SCA School Committee Chair Jim McBride said. “One of the great strengths of Sherwood Christian Academy since its beginning has been the Christ-based foundational teaching of Mrs. Sharon Howard. She has left a legacy in the lives of hundreds of students, and all of us on the faculty and staff who have had the pleasure of serving alongside of her. On behalf of the entire SCA family, we wish her the best in her retirement.”
Howard’s teaching has spanned six decades. She has seen major changes over that time, in Albany as well as at the school, like a campus renovation that moved the lower school classes to one facility located on Old Pretoria Road in 2015. She seamlessly pivoted to virtual learning in March 2020 and back to in-person instruction in August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Howard embodies being a life-long learner.
“A Mrs. Howard is a once-in-a-lifetime educator to have at any school,” Sherwood Headmaster Brian Dougherty said of Howard upon her retirement. “To impact so many students in the important formative year of kindergarten is invaluable. She has cast a long shadow of impact on several generations of students. We are grateful for her influence and pray God’s richest blessings on her in retirement.”
Howard has received multiple recognitions throughout her distinguished career. In February 2020, SCA ‘20 alumnus Andrew Orr, one of Howard’s many former kindergarteners, selected Howard as his STAR Teacher for having the most influence on his academic achievement throughout his primary and secondary education at the PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program, sponsored, administered, and promoted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.
Howard was awarded an individual grant from The Junior League of Albany Inc. through their Grants for Innovative Teachers Program in January 2021. This program provides up to $500 for each winner to support their classroom instruction and curriculum. Howard’s grant was used to further enhance the education and use of technology in K4 and K5 at SCA, including a mobile tablet lab with 12 Kindle devices to be used by students in each classroom for reading journals.
It is estimated that more than 1,000 students have been taught by Howard over her 44 years in the classroom, and her impact reaches beyond Albany. When asked about Howard, many graduates of her kindergarten class immediately smile and remember fondly their time with her – even those who are now in their 30s and 40s. A teacher of generations, Howard recently taught children of SCA alumni.
“One of my objectives was to encourage students to enjoy the process of learning,” Howard said of her teaching career. “I tried to make school fun, exciting and to anticipate something new every day. I strived to help students know God has a plan for their lives, just as He had for my life. The theme of my ministry was Jeremiah 29:11, which states, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ It is my prayer that those seeds of hope and love were planted in their tender hearts.”
A parent of a student in Howard’s 2020-2021 school year K5 class, Rebecca Johnson, attributes her child, Mazie Grace’s, excitement for learning and observation of creation, like birds and butterflies, to Howard’s serious, yet loving, instructional approach.
“My child flourished in Mrs. Howard’s class this year,” Johnson said. “She dearly loves Mrs. Howard and is constantly telling me things she learned in class that go beyond reading, writing and arithmetic. (Mazie Grace) has cultivated a deep love for God’s world, nature, and learning through Mrs. Howard’s eyes. There’s just something extra special about Mrs. Sharon Howard.”
“I grew to enjoy 5-year-olds who exhibited curiosity and wonder at seeing and learning new things,” Howard said. “What a wonderful opportunity I had at introducing young people to our precious Lord and His creation! Thus my love for teaching children grew out of my love for God and His creation.”
Howard was recognized for her years of service at SCA’s 2021 kindergarten graduation ceremony. She said she plans to spend time with her husband Price in her retirement and, of course, watching the birds and other animals that visit the bird feeder in her backyard.