PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Sixth grade reaching teacher Sharon Thompson has dedicated nearly three decades to teaching children. While she teaches reading every day to her students, she uses her class as an opportunity to educate her students on a much bigger picture.
While prepping students for state testing, Sharon also teaches them about the rich history of African Americans.
“We just put first names of famous people and we put an adjective to describe their accomplishment," she said as she showed up the front of her classroom door. It’s filled with prominent African American history role models. It’s a project Thompson and her students did together.
Her students learn about great African American authors like Langston Hughes. It’s something Sharon said she wasn’t taught a lot about while growing up.
“As a child when I was in school, it wasn’t something that we covered in depth. We were more relegated to Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and George Washington Carver," Sharon explained, emphasizing why she teachers African American history every day instead of just during Black History Month.
“We didn’t really have all the information and we didn’t have all the knowledge that we have right now. So I want to make sure that I introduce my students to a variety of people."
She does that by challenging her students to do their research and come up with an African American person in history to feature on her classroom door.
Thompson uses reading as a way to educate sixth grade students about the history and accomplishments of black Americans throughout time.
“We always say around here that black history is American history," said principal Stewart Smirthwaite. “That’s something she’s working on all year round."
Thompson has a passion for learning that is clear after just spending a few minutes in her classroom.
“I always want to share what I’ve learned with the kids and it just seems like the more excited I am, the more excited the kids are," said Sharon.
It’s a passion that has inspired many students.
“She’s really amazing,”said sixth grader Itzel Flores. "She teaches a lot about history and about poems and I really love it.”
Overall, Sharon says she just wants to encourage her students to dream big and to go as far as they possibly can.
“We have so many misconceptions. Kids think Martin Luther King saved African Americans from slavery. So what we have to do is go back and recreate the historical events and make sure that they understand the context. From there they realize they can do and how important it is for each one of us to get involved because we can make a difference," said Sharon.