Sharon Lamps hasn’t let retirement keep her out of the classroom.
The 35-year veteran teacher still can be found in the classroom at Dalzell School on Tuesdays and Thursdays shaping young minds.
The biweekly reading lessons are what keeps her going, sharing a lifelong love of learning with generations of students.
“I started my teaching career in 1972 teaching fourth grade at Jefferson School in La Salle,” Lamps said. “I then taught grades 4-6 at Jefferson School when we departmentalized teaching language arts. I also taught second grade at Jefferson and Matthiessen schools in La Salle.”
Following a maternity leave, Lamps taught first grade at Oglesby Public Schools for five years.
“In 2015 I retired from La Salle Public Schools as a second-grade teacher at Northwest Elementary School,“ Lamps said. “I retired from the school I attended as a student.”
“My love for children was my greatest inspiration for becoming an educator,” she said. “However, my family, former instructors and love of learning contributed immensely to my career choice.
“My career in teaching has been fulfilling just knowing that I have not only taught my students a curriculum but people skills such as respect, kindness, courtesy and the art of getting along with others, which we so desperately need in our world today.”
Lamps said the challenge of being an educator, for her, was to continually engage students and capture their interest in learning with creative teaching strategies.
“I continually strived to create an effective learning environment by reflecting on my teaching practices,” she said. “The question always being, ‘how am I going to present the curriculum to meet the needs of each individual student?’”
One such lesson evolved naturally, but with much success.
Lamps was previously featured in a NewsTribune story for a unique lesson she shared with her classroom.
She saw a unique opportunity to take a mundane classroom event and turn it into a learning project her students won’t soon forget.
Lamps and Michelle Beaty’s classroom at Dalzell Grade School was visited by a fly that had a knack for theatrics. This fly began crawling around on the room’s smartboard overnight and started leaving various drawings for the students to discover the next morning.
“This fly appeared in the classroom and they didn’t know what it was at first,” Lamps said. “The kids thought that someone was coming into the room because the board was filled with designs and artworks of different colors.”
The fly – students elected to name Fred or Freddie – began creating works of art of various colors, shapes and even some writings that resembled words.
“When they came in the morning, they would see different artworks,” Lamps said. “One time they came in and they could actually pick out the letters F-L-Y.”
Lamps saw the students enthusiasm toward Freddie and decided to turn it into an opportunity to grow the students’ creative writing ability while having some fun.
“The kids were just so excited and I said, ‘I’ve got an idea,’” Lamps said. “I decided we are going to do a creative writing experiment on this.”
During the pandemic, Lamps’ third- and fourth-grade students wrote and illustrated a book titled “2020, The Year We Will Never Forget.”
Over the course of her career, Lamps has seen many changes in education.
“Technology and its use in the classroom has been the major change since I started teaching,” she said. “Technology in the classroom has numerous advantages for teachers and students alike. It definitely helps in meeting the needs of all students. However, verbal communication skills seem to have declined in recent years along with social skills and interaction among students.”
Lamps is on a quest to bridge those gaps, as a Title I teacher at Dalzell, teaching writing to students in first through fourth grades, something she’s done since 2015. Part of her mission is to engage students in a way that sparks their creativity and love of learning.
“I absolutely love to take advantage of ‘teachable moments,’” she said.