Sharon O’Neal, PhD: College Teacher of the Year Texas State University – Round Rock Campus
Over the years, Sharon O’Neal has contributed not only to the education of Texas public school children but also to the growth and professional development of English language arts teachers in many, many ways. Her leadership at the Texas Education Agency (TEA) during years of progress as well as years of turbulence was a great contribution. In that role, she certainly educated teachers in a most essential way—helping to bridge that space between policy and practice. She helped make it possible to bring teachers to the policy table, enabling them to share their expertise in the development of statewide curricular decisions. Her deep and wide knowledge of research and theory, as well as her sincere empathy for teachers and her commitment to giving all students access to rich language and literacy experiences, combined in unique ways in her work at TEA.
More recently, Sharon has moved into another teacher-educator role at the Round Rock campus of Texas State University. There, she teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes and also leads the Central Texas Writing Project Summer Institute. She is committed to integrating theory and practice in the lives of these novice teachers. She works in classrooms, collaborating with the mentor teachers on her professional development school campus. Evidence of her collaborative spirit is expressed through her willingness to do demonstration lessons with children—an effort to show her undergraduate teacher-candidates what it means to implement their instructional plans with real students—and she says that the times when things don’t go so well are the best learning times for her students and for herself as a teacher/learner.
Sharon also serves as a leader of teacher-educators in Texas. Her service to TCTELA, to the Texas State Reading Association, and to the Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading attests to her generosity and leadership expertise.
Finally, Sharon also serves as a teacher-educator through her considerable consulting, presenting, writing, and editing activities. She is very active in these areas, and, most notably for TCTELA, has served as co-editor of English in Texas. At the 2011 NCTE Conference in Chicago, the session Sharon organized looked at using a particular children’s literature selection about civil rights. She invited the author of the book, a teacher who has used the book in her classroom, and a Texas educator to join her in presenting innovative and inspiring ways to engage children in the literature and in considering these challenging ideas.
Her colleagues at Texas State University and her many students over the years undoubtedly will agree that Sharon certainly is an outstanding teacher-educator who deserves to be recognized as TCTELA’s College Teacher of the Year.