Sharpe, who has taught algebra at North Panola High School since graduating from the University of Mississippi in 2009, was selected for the award by fellow teachers for her tireless work with nearly 75 ninth- and 10th-graders. Her classes have achieved the highest test scores in the math department for two years in a row.
“I was an economics major in college,” Sharpe said. “At the time, I never dreamed I would be teaching math in Panola County. But sometimes, you don’t end up where you expect and find out it’s exactly where you’re supposed to be.”Three years into her career as an educator, the Clarksdale native attributes her effective teaching methods to a support system of fellow Mississippi Teacher Corps members stationed at North Panola and the MTC staff.
“It’s very much a team effort at North Panola,” Sharpe said. “Having that support network is a big reason we’ve had a lot of the successes we’ve had.”
Next fall, she will return to North Panola in a new leadership role as an instructional coach. One of her responsibilities will be to guide new teachers through their first year in the classroom.
As Sharpe pointed out, there’s no bag of guaranteed tricks for young teachers. There is, however, a wellspring of suggestions among educators.
“Sometimes we use songs when students are struggling with a particular topic,” Sharpe said. “For instance, we’ll take a T-Pain song and sing new lyrics to explain the different types of lines. Danielle Hall, an MTC alumna, wrote the lyrics, and the students start singing to it and learn the material that way.”
Sharpe graduated from the Teacher Corps in 2011 and is involved in the program as a team teacher during the summer training at Holly Springs High School. This summer, she is helping mentor 28 new Teacher Corps members.
“Golda has an impact that doesn’t go unnoticed,” said Jamone Edwards, North Panola High School principal. “She takes children rated as minimum and brings them to an advanced level by the end of the year. Oftentimes, she’s the first one in the building in the morning and the last one to leave in the afternoon. She has people skills that go beyond anything I’ve seen in a teacher her age.”
Starting next summer, she will begin a master’s program in economic development at the University of Southern Mississippi and has dreams of one day shaping urban education in Mississippi at the policy level.
“Economics has always been a passion that I couldn’t shake,” Sharpe explained. “I’d like to find a way to combine it with education.”