Sharon Neuman - Elementary Education
As a shy daughter of a preacher, Sharon Neuman was determined to break out of her shell when she got to college. By the time she graduated from Southeastern, Neuman had been a freshman class representative, president of an honor society and Homecoming Queen.
Southeastern helped Neuman develop personally and professionally. The university provided a supportive environment for a young woman far away from where she grew up in Niagara Falls, New York. The students, who possessed a common faith in Jesus Christ, encouraged each other. Southeastern professors provided Neuman with compassionate guidance. Neuman fondly remembers former Southeastern Professor Dr. Jack Sharpe, who taught her psychological foundations of education class. Sharpe loved being in the classroom and was quick to chuckle with students. He also made sure students knew what to study for tests. Sharpe also served as a spiritual shepherd. In addition to teaching, Sharpe was pastor of Skyview Assembly of God, the church Neuman attended while at Southeastern.
Neuman credits other education courses at Southeastern with giving her the hands-on experience needed to be a teacher. They taught Neuman how to prepare, practice and sharpen elementary classroom lessons, she said. After completing an elementary education degree from Southeastern in 1976, Neuman was ready to serve professionally-first as an elementary school teacher for eight years, then as an assistant principal for four years, and now as a ten-year veteran middle school principal.
Aside from emotional support and professional preparation, Southeastern gave Neuman early leadership opportunities. Her tenure as a university government representative, as well as her work with other students to re-form an honor society, helped transform Neuman from a shy girl into a leader. Twenty-eight years later, Neuman is still leading. She became the principal of Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida, in 1994 after serving as an assistant principal there for a year. Prior to Lawton, Neuman was an assistant principal at Southwest Elementary School in Lakeland. She received a Commissioner's Outstanding Principal award in 1999 from Florida's education commissioner, and the National Association of Secondary Schools Principals has recently named Lawton Chiles Middle "One of Six Highly Successful Middle Schools" in the nation.
Neuman says her Christian faith, which Southeastern helped develop within her through chapel services and the environment as a whole, has been crucial in her leading of others. The more you model Christian character consistently, the greater number of people who will trust you, she said. And the more people who trust you, she said, the greater your influence.