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Sherwood Christian Academy Teacher Retires After 44 Years of Service

Sharon Howard, beloved kindergarten teacher, announces her retirement from education

After teaching kindergarten at Sherwood Christian Academy for 44 years, Sharon Howard announced her retirement from education in May 2021. Howard’s teaching career began at Sherwood Baptist Church in 1977 leading preschool classes. She has faithfully taught kindergarten since Sherwood Christian Academy was established in 1985. Howard holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Florida State University.

“A key part of the growth and development of students is a strong foundation,” said Sherwood Church Executive Pastor and SCA School Committee Chair Jim McBride. “One of the great strengths of Sherwood Christian Academy since its beginning has been the Christ-based foundational teaching of Mrs. Sharon Howard. She has left a legacy in the lives of hundreds of students and all of us on the faculty and staff who have had the pleasure of serving alongside of her. On behalf of the entire SCA family we wish her the best in her retirement.”

Howard’s teaching has spanned six decades. She has seen major changes over that time in Albany as well as at the school like a campus renovation that moved the lower school classes to one facility located on Old Pretoria Road in 2015. She seamlessly pivoted to virtual learning in March 2020 and back to in-person instruction in August 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Howard embodies being a life-long learner. 

Headmaster Dr. Brian Dougherty said of Howard upon her retirement, “A Mrs. Howard is a once-in-a-lifetime educator to have at any school. To impact so many students in the important formative year of kindergarten is invaluable. She has cast a long shadow of impact on several generations of students. We are grateful for her influence and pray God’s richest blessings on her in retirement.”   

She has received multiple recognitions throughout her distinguished career. In February 2020, SCA ’20 Alumnus Andrew Orr, Mrs. Howard’s former kindergartener, selected Howard as his STAR Teacher for having the most influence on his academic achievement throughout his primary and secondary education at the PAGE Student Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program, sponsored, administered, and promoted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) and the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

Howard was awarded an individual grant from The Junior League of Albany, Georgia, Inc. through their Grants for Innovative Teachers Program in January 2021. This program provides up to $500 for each winner to support their classroom instruction and curriculum. Howard’s grant was used to further enhance the education and use of technology in K4 and K5 at SCA, including a mobile tablet lab with 12 Kindle devices to be used by students in each classroom for reading journals.

It is estimated that more than 1,000 students have been taught by Sharon Howard over 44 years, and her impact reaches beyond Albany. When asked about Mrs. Howard, many graduates of her kindergarten class immediately smile and remember fondly of their time with her – even those who are now in their 30s and 40s. A teacher of generations, Mrs. Howard recently taught children of SCA alumni.

Sharon Howard said of her teaching career, “One of my objectives was to encourage students to enjoy the process of learning. I tried to make school fun, exciting and to anticipate something new every day! I strived to help students know God has a plan for their lives, just as He had for my life.  The theme of my ministry was Jeremiah 29:11, which states, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ It is my prayer that those seeds of hope and love were planted in their tender hearts!”

Parent of a student in Howard’s 2020-2021 school year K5 class, Rebecca Johnson, attributes her child Mazie Grace’s excitement for learning and observation of creation, like birds and butterflies, to Mrs. Howard’s serious, yet loving, instructional approach. 

“My child flourished in Mrs. Howard’s class this year! She dearly loves Mrs. Howard and is constantly telling me things she learned in class that go beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. She has cultivated a deep love for God’s world, nature, and learning through Mrs. Howard’s eyes,” said Johnson. “There’s just something extra special about Mrs. Sharon Howard.”

Howard said, “I grew to enjoy five year olds who exhibited curiosity and wonder at seeing and learning new things. What a wonderful opportunity I had at introducing young people to our precious Lord and His creation! Thus my love for teaching children grew out of my love for God and His creation.”

Howard was recognized for her years of service at SCA’s 2021 kindergarten graduation ceremony on May 20, 2021. She plans to spend time with her husband Price in her retirement and, of course, watching the birds and other animals that visit her bird feeder in her backyard.

SCA Announces 2021 Valedictorian, Salutatorian

Sherwood Christian Academy is pleased to announce Ashlynn Dapper and Samuel Scardino as its valedictorian and salutatorian respectively for the class of 2021. 

Valedictorian Ashlynn Dapper graduates with honors and will be attending Anderson University (SC) where she earned the prestigious Presidential Fellows Scholarship for full tuition. She plans to major in communications. Some of her achievements include being the STAR student at SCA, headmaster scholar, and a member of the National Honor Society. Dapper has earned a gold medal for exemplary community service. She was awarded an ACSI Distinguished Christian High School Student Award and received the Georgia Certificate of Merit. Dapper also lettered in fine arts and participated in Spring Literary. She served as student body chaplain in student government and received the Christian Character award. Dapper was selected to participate in the Mitchell EMC Washington Leadership Tour. The daughter of Steve and Janet Dapper of Albany, Ashlynn has attended SCA for seven years and is a member of Sherwood Baptist Church.

Salutatorian Samuel “Sammy” Scardino graduates with honors and will be attending Columbia International University where he earned the exclusive Board Scholarship. He will major in business administration. Some of his achievements include being a headmaster scholar, a member of the National Honor Society, and Junior Class President. Scardino also received the ACSI Distinguished Christian High School Student Award and the Georgia Certificate of Merit. He has earned a gold medal for exemplary community service and a two-year letter winner in fine arts. The son of Reverend Mark and Karma Scardino of Albany, Samuel has attended SCA for five years and is a member of Sherwood Baptist Church.

Sherwood Christian Academy will hold its 32nd commencement exercises for the class of 2021 at Sherwood Baptist Church on Friday, May 14, at 7 p.m. Former Vice President of ACSI and current headmaster of Southside Christian School in Simpsonville, S.C., Dr. Sam Barfell, will deliver the commencement address to the graduates. 

Class of 2021’s Senior Walk Through SCA on Senior Day

We honored the Class of 2021 on their last day of school, May 5! Senior Day included the traditional Senior Walk and a reception for seniors and their parents. Seniors began the walk across the campus in the kindergarten and preschool hallway and moved through elementary, middle school and past the remaining high school classes. The entire school cheered as “Pomp and Circumstance” played overhead on the speakers and the senior class walked through the campus one last time.

Chad Warbington, father of senior Julia Warbington, was thankful for the opportunity for the seniors to be honored. 

“All the things the school does to recognize the seniors is special. This walk, the Drive of Honor and graduation help families and students build good memories at the end of their senior year,” Warbington said. 

SCA teachers and administration are proud of our seniors and what they’ve accomplished! This class switched to virtual learning in spring 2020, then spent the current school year at Sherwood Church’s campus to provide a safely-distanced environment for in-person instruction. Being back on the school campus today was special.

Senior Ashlynn Dapper’s mother, Janet Dapper, described the event as “bittersweet.” 

“It’s sad that one chapter is ending and sweet that another is beginning for Ashlynn,” she said. “We’re thankful the seniors were able to come back to the school campus today and see all the students again.”

SCA’s 2021 Graduation Ceremony is on May 14 at 7 pm at Sherwood Church.