Sharon French was interning when she received a job offer.

USFSM Spotlight: Sharon French

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: March 04, 2019

(Editor’s note: USFSM Spotlight is an occasional series that spotlights the success of USFSM students, alumni, faculty and staff.)

Sharon French wasted no time transitioning to public school teacher from full-time college student.

In fact, the graduate of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s School of Education had a full-time teaching post lined up by the time she graduated this past fall.

The 29-year-old was wrapping up her senior year, interning as a teacher, when she received a text message from the principal at Johnson-Wakeland Elementary School in Manatee County offering her a job teaching fifth grade.

Alumni Spotlight: Sharon French

Sharon French

Even better, she could work as a substitute teacher until her state teaching credentials came through.

“I couldn’t stop smiling,” said French, a St. Petersburg native. “I had just gotten home from the interview and I thought, ‘Who can I call to tell about this great news?’”

French had been contemplating a career in public education for years. She discovered her calling after a brief exploration of science- and medical-related careers triggered a childhood memory.

“I realized that biology just wasn’t for me and heard this little voice in my mind say, ‘You should be a teacher.’ It was the voice my fifth grade teacher, Karen Barrett,” French said. “I remember, she just took an interest in me when I was in class … and told me I was very creative and that I was going to be a teacher someday.”

Twenty years later, Barrett’s intuition proved right. French also credits USFSM for helping guide her career path.

“I like that USFSM is a smaller community, so that when you make a connection it lasts you through your time here and beyond,” she said. “The professors know you by name. Having the professors invest their time in you makes it so much easier to be successful. I’m grateful for my time at USFSM.”

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