Sharon Eddins
of Corsicana, Navarro County, TX


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2/9/2004 STILL GOING ... AND GOING: Eddins shuns retirement, continues teaching career

By JOAN SHERROUSE/Daily Sun Staff

 

Sharon Eddins served Corsicana ISD as a teacher and principal for decades. Now, she is sharing her expertise with the next generation of teachers at Texas A&M Commerce on the Navarro College campus. Daily Sun photo/JOAN SHERROUSE

An aversion to discord, respect for individual teaching styles and an unwavering love for children were the hallmarks of Sharon Eddins' brand of leadership.

She began a decade-long tenure as principal of Bowie Elementary in 1976 where she established herself as a positive force in administration.

"I hated conflicts, and I did everything I could to prevent conflict," she said. "I thought I bent over backwards to please the teachers, to please the students, to please parents -- to try and keep some stability in the program.

"Yet, I think I gave teachers free reign to do what they felt (was) best."

Her underlying goal in virtually every activity was positive involvement with students and their families.

A Texas trivia contest during the sesquicentennial sparked everybody's interest in learning about the state's history. Field days were a highlight because they provided an opportunity for her to interact with students by going outside to cook hamburgers and hot dogs on the school's big grills.

She said her effectiveness as an administrator reached its peak when she was transferred to Travis Elementary for three years, however.

"As a principal, I probably did more good at Travis, because at Bowie ... they could do it without me," she said.

Among her accomplishments were a self-esteem-building program she created for students, and a successful drive to increase parental involvement in education.

One approach that worked well for her was dispelling the misconception that being sent to the principal's office was an automatic negative.

"I loved the kids, and I tried to get them to realize I was their friend, not their enemy," Eddins said. "They got recognized for doing good when they came to the principal's office, not so much just because I had to discipline them."

In 1989, she went back to Bowie where she stayed until she celebrated her first attempt at retirement in December 1993.

It was in May of that year, however, that she provided a unique experience for students that is still talked about today.

"We had an overnight at the school," she said. "I had teachers who came up there and worked -- we cooked for (the kids), we had different stations of activities, we had story telling, we had games."

Students in grades one through four - the highest grade at Bowie then -- were invited if they were passing all their subjects and had at least a "B" in citizenship. Later in the evening, boys and girls took their sleeping bags to separate halls where teachers watched over them until they finally gave out in the wee hours of the morning.

"It was so much fun, and I have students who still remind me of that," Eddins said. "They never got to do it again, but they sure enjoyed it."

Seven months later, she put education aside to reestablish a measure of control in her own life.

"Mother had just passed away in March 1993, and that had been a hard year and a half with her illnesses," she said. "I'd had some conflicts that I wasn't in a mental state to be able to handle -- I didn't feel like I was doing an effective job."

And so it was that she decided to join her husband, Jerry, in retirement, but she said it was a decision she regrets.

"I really wish I had just asked for a reassignment to go back to the classroom." she said. "It was the principal's job that I was not being effective at -- I could do a good job as a teacher, but at that point in time, I was letting my personal life interfere, and you can't do that and be effective."

In less than a year, however, she was back in the classroom working as a long-term substitute. By the fall of 1994 she was ready for full-time work again, but the challenge that presented itself was not exactly what she had in mind.

"They were looking for a facilitator at Lincoln -- Carroll Elementary now," Eddins said. "I was in the administration building, and when I walked by they said, 'There she is right there.'"

Her job was to help improve students' TAAS scores in math, a commitment she embraced with a sense of confidence rooted in years of experience.

"Math is my baby -- I really like it -- so we did some activities, designed some programs and so forth," she said. "With the leadership and the teachers' help, we got the kids interested, and they passed the TAAS that next year."

A second retirement three years later didn't last either -- a long-term substitute job in Rice led to a full-time position in a fourth-grade classroom. From there, she accepted a long-term sub assignment at Drane Intermediate, and when a math-science job opened up at Navarro Elementary the following year, her retirement plans were foiled again.

Now, she is working with the next generation of educators at Texas A&M Commerce.

"I'm supervising student teachers at Fairfield, teaching a course on classroom management and will be teaching a methods course on social studies," she said.

Although she started out working summers at the swimming pool in Texas City as soon as she was old enough, Eddins said teaching has been a lifetime goal.

"I wouldn't change what I have done," she said. "I wouldn't have done anything different, and if I had the chance to do it over again, I would become a teacher."

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Joan Sherrouse may be contacted via e-mail at jsherrouse@corsicanadailysun.com.


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