After preparing for a teaching career but finding no immediate
openings, Sharon spent several years as a wife and mother. As time
passed and the family grew, it became time to revisit her ambition
of spending time with children in a classroom.
"You know how they say that life begins at 40?" Sharon asked.
"Well, my teaching career began at 40."
Her second-grade teacher stands out as a wonderful person who
went "above and beyond" her expected duties and made an impression
on Sharon as a young child.
"I loved her dearly," Sharon said, "because she cared so much for
her students and made us feel special. I always wanted to be like
her and make a difference to students in a classroom.
"I was the oldest of six children and was always taking care of
someone else and teaching them about something," Sharon remembers.
"It was something I enjoyed doing with the other children."
Sharon was born in St. Louis and grew up in Patoka. She graduated
from Patoka High School and continued her education at Southern
Illinois University at Carbondale, where she received a bachelorís
degree in elementary education. But when she was ready to look for a
job, the market seemed flooded with teaching candidates. She married
and started a family, moving to Logan County in 1985.
"We put our children in Carroll," Sharon said, "and always
appreciated the caring relationship exhibited by teachers and staff,
for the students and families."
Sharon began substitute teaching in District 27. She worked with
Cathy Arnold when the district implemented the Early Advantage
program. An opportunity finally came to teach at Carroll Catholic,
and Sharon was hired as a half-day pre-kindergarten and half-day
kindergarten teacher, a position she held for 13 years. When
kindergarten was extended to all day, she became the teacher for the
"That was before the state reduced class size for the different
grade levels," Sharon remembered, "and I would have as many as 25
students in pre-K and 30 in kindergarten. It was a challenge, but
sometimes the school was able to provide an aide, so we did OK
together. I had some excellent people as aides who were very helpful
and caring. It means a lot to have people with you that know how
important it is to educate the children and to care about them and
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Sharon has enjoyed the young children who have passed through her
classroom. She believes their eagerness to learn is heartening.
"It is pretty easy to get them interested in simple things,"
Sharon said. "I always wanted them to learn as much as possible.
They take things in stride. You donít have the drama with
kindergarteners that you would in the upper grades, especially like
During her years of teaching at Carroll Catholic, Sharon enjoyed
participating in the Christmas bazaar and watching the students
attend extracurricular activities like roller-skating.
She also liked helping them make presentations to show what they
had learned. The day of this interview, her kindergarten class
presented a sunflower play, with each student reciting lines they
had learned in class.
After retirement at the end of this school year, Sharon wants to
garden more, pay more attention to crafts and reading. She also
lives in a big house that she wants to take care of and spend time
"I love to read and garden, but there hasnít always been as much
time to do those things," Sharon said. "I will consider
substituting, but basically here at Carroll. I have a connection
here that goes beyond the classroom."
When Sharonís husband died in 1996, "people at Carroll were my
rock, and they saw me through some tough times," she said. "We stand
together to help each other here. Other schools are probably like
that, but this is my school family. I would like to think I have
been there in a time of need for others. We are here for each other,
and the students benefit from that feeling of caring for each
Sharon Cahill has two children she would like to spend more time
with, and she intends to be a frequent visitor at Carroll Catholic
-- in and out of the classroom.
[By MARLA BLAIR]
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