Retiring Educators: Tecumseh teacher to retire after 43 years

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Tecumseh educator Sharon Barnett with her many students.
Tecumseh educator Sharon Barnett with her many students.

After 43 years in education Tecumseh Language Arts teacher Sharon Barnett is retiring.

According to Barnett, she felt this year was the best time to retire and be with her family.

"(I'm retiring) mostly for family and wanting to spend more time with my grandchildren," Barnett said. "I'm going to help them. I'm going to be their teacher."

Barnett grew up in Tecumseh and attended Tecumseh Public Schools.

"I went from first grade through until I graduated in 1974," Barnett said.

The educator attended Seminole State College, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma, where she received her degree in education.

Barnett has taught kindergarten, second, forth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades at various schools including Seminole, Macomb and Tecumseh throughout her career.

Barnett said she was inspired by many of her own teachers who taught her when she attended TPS to become a teacher herself.

"I had some teachers that had an impact on my life," Barnett said. "I have taught English in the very classrooms where I had seventh grade English with Mrs. Mary Whittall and high school English with Mrs. Karen Kinsey."

For Barnett, the best aspect of being an educator is learning what life lessons her students will take with them after they leaves her class.

"I think that's one one of the things (I love most) is seeing the difference in the students from the beginning of the year to the end of the year and the lessons they learn about how to be a better person," Barnett said.

The Tecumseh native said she loves Language Arts and plans the novels she teaches each year with positive life lessons in mind.

"The literature that I choose is for a purpose. By the end of the school year, my goal is for students to see that they can make a difference by being an upstander," Barnett said.

While she loves educating young minds, Barnett said teaching is not without its challenges.

"I would say the changes like with the pandemic are (difficult) but teachers are flexible," Barnett said. "That would probably be the biggest challenge is just when there's change like that and we all adapt to that change."

The teacher was forced out of her comfort zone this last year because she really had to adapt to teaching with technology.

"It has been (a) crazy (year) but most of the teachers I've seen we just do what we do and we take on the challenges," Barnett said. "We just take it in stride and just keep moving on."

The educator said she could've retired last year and avoided the challenges of teaching with technology but decided to remain and face it head on.

"I wasn't going to retire just because of the pandemic," Barnett said. "As far as the retirement you just know when is the right time. I've proven to myself that I can do the technology."

She said she wouldn't have been able to get through this last year without her co-workers.

Barnett is excited about her retirement and being able to spend more time with her family.

"I will always be a teacher at heart, so after retirement I plan on teaching  my grandchildren, Grace and Jacob.  I hope to take them on vacations to see America," Barnett said. "I'm just going to see what path I go down next."

Barnett would like to thank her colleagues for always being there for her.

"I have made some life long friends that made a big difference in my life," Barnett said.

In addition, Barnett is grateful to her students who've let her educate them over the last 43 years.

"Thank you for the opportunity to have been your teacher. I tried to teach important life lessons that you could take with you wherever you go," Barnett said. "All of you will forever be in my heart. I love you to the moon and back."

This story is one of many in a series featuring educators throughout Pottawatomie County who will retire in 2021 after decades of teaching young minds. Check back for other stories.