Sharon Bailey first began teaching kindergarten in 1972 at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School. After 39 years of teaching she has worked with Milford’s children at their most innocent and impressionable age. Sharon has taught over two generations of Milfordians. Currently, four of her students’ parents were also taught by Mrs. Bailey when they were themselves the age of 5.
“I find it amazing to have the opportunity to teach the children of the children, “commented Mrs. Bailey. Even some of her fellow teachers at the Evelyn I. Morris Early Childhood Center were taught by her decades ago.
After graduating from the University of Delaware with a degree in Early Childhood Development Sharon began teaching kindergarten because of her love for working with young children. She admits that there have been many changes in education over the years but that for her it has always been about the children.
“There is no one more excited than a 5 year old child when he discovers something for the first time. When he learns how to be successful,” smiled Mrs. Bailey. For her it is just as exciting to watch their progress and enthusiasm for learning.
In 1972 Sharon spent a lot of her time teaching children social skills and dealing with issues of separation from their mothers. Kindergarten was the first real structured school situation that children had experienced. With a growing number of parents now taking advantage of pre-school and daycare services children come to kindergarten with the knowledge of not only social skills but the ability to read and identify letters and colors.
“Most of these students come to class already learning how to use a computer and interact socially in a group. They have been exposed to so much more than their parents were,” commented Mrs. Bailey.
Sharon never had the desire to teach higher levels of education during her 39 years. It is the innocence and their uncanny ability to tell the truth that kept Mrs. Bailey wanting to work with this age group. “I never wanted to move to another age group. It was that excitement of watching those children walk in the door and watching how much and how quickly they learn. I would never trade that for anything,” Mrs. Bailey states.
Along with teaching students their letters and colors Sharon also must educate them on the difference between wrong and right, working as part of a group and building confidence. Sharon admits that she can already see her students personalities developed at the age of 6. She says that many times when she hears about former students and their accomplishments she tells herself that she could have predicted that outcome.
Mrs. Bailey is retiring because she has recently become the grandmother of twins; one boy and one girl. She wants to feel that she is there to spend more time with them. When she retires at the end of this year she hopes to “never forget the innocence and open-mindedness of kindergarteners. They accept people for who they are,” said Mrs. Bailey. “Most of all, I will miss the way they make me laugh.”
Sharon believes that as education changes over the next decades more demands and pressures will be put on the teachers. She hopes this will not take away from the reason why teachers decide to choose this profession; to help children.