Lincolnshire boasts a hero in the classroom
Half Day School teacher Sharyn Powell listens to a student during class Sept. 27. Her teaching skills were recently honored by Symetra with the firm's Heroes in the Classroom award. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 3, 2012 1:35AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Sharyn Powell was recently named a hero in the classroom.
While the Half Day School teacher remains humble about Symetra’s Heroes in the Classroom honor, the financial-planning firm handed her gifts and a check, and set up a web page just to honor her.
“Mrs. Powell does an amazing job of making sure all students’ needs are met and not just academically,” Symetra’s web page states. “She loves her students and her job, and her love of learning radiates through the classroom and translates into hard-working, confident students, who feel they can take on challenges in the future.”
For winning the award, Powell earned a $1,000 donation to Half Day School, a bag with $250 worth of office supplies for her workspace, and a pair of tickets to the Chicago Bears’ Sept. 23 game against the St. Louis Rams. The Bears also took the winning teachers down onto the Soldier Field turf to meet team mascot Staley Da Bear and watch the players warm up.
Powell was nominated for the award by Sherri Thomas, the mother of a boy who was in Powell’s class last year.
“Mrs. Powell makes sure that kids understand why they are learning what they are learning, and how that looks in real life as they get older,” Thomas said.
Powell was selected as one of what will be 16 Heroes in the Classroom, one for each game during the NFL regular season. All winners are educators from the Chicago area who teach kindergarten through high school. Each will receive $1,000 donations to their schools and Bears tickets. Powell’s trip to Solider Field was a success, as Chicago squashed St. Louis 23-6.
“I’m a huge fan, so that was really exciting,” Powell said of the experience. “It was amazing. They rolled out the red carpet.”
Powell said she learned her award-winning teaching style from her colleagues.
“All the teachers I teach with are amazing and wonderful,” she said. “So many are deserving of something like this.”
For Powell, getting into education was an obvious career choice.
“I used to play school when I was 5 years old,” she said.
But her parents told her the job market for teachers could be difficult, so while attending Northern Illinois University, she majored in communications. That career track did not last long, however. Still wanting to be in a classroom, Powell earned a masters degree at National Lewis University and has been an educator for 23 years.
“I get to hang out with kids every day,” Powell explained. “It keeps me young.”
She said she plans on staying young until she is simply too old to do it any more.
“They’ll wheel me out in a wheelchair,” she said. “I’m not planning on retiring.”
But Powell still maintains that she doesn’t know why people think of her as deserving the title “hero,” even after the award-givers barged into her morning lesson and started singing her praises.
“I was in the classroom with the kids, and all of the sudden, an entourage barged in,” she said. “I was so shocked and surprised, I don’t think I was listening to a word they were saying.”