Sharon Stump Sinclair: A Half-Century of Educational Excellence

Published : Friday, May 30, 2014 | 10:27 PM

Retirement—that doesn’t seem like a word that fits a teaching powerhouse like Sharon Sinclair. This extraordinary educator and human being will retire from Clairbourn School after a fifty-year teaching career. She has made an unforgettable mark in the lives of many San Gabriel Valley families who chose Clairbourn School for their child’s education.

In today’s society careers can be quite short-lived. It’s not uncommon for people to have six or seven career changes, not to be confused with job changes. Education is especially hard on its professionals. Nearly a third of all new teachers quit after the first year. Of those that remain, school changes, location changes, and even career changes take their toll. It is extraordinary to find a teacher, such as Sharon Sinclair, that has worked at the same school for fifty years.

Mrs. Sinclair teaches from the heart. She loves children and what children represent. As a natural result, children love Mrs. Sinclair in return. Poet and novelist, Anne Michaels wrote, “The best teacher lodges an intent, not in the mind, but in the heart.” This describes Mrs. Sinclair’s approach to teaching and the unparalleled success of her fifty year career at Clairbourn School.

On July 7, 1964, Mrs. Sinclair, then Miss Stump, became a member of the Clairbourn faculty. She started as an assistant nursery teacher and, a month or so into the school year, she took on the additional assignment of girls P.E. teacher. And so, her life work began, moment by moment, week by week, year by year.

In the fall of 1970, Miss Stump was given her own first grade class, where under the Carden Method of Instruction, Miss Stump excelled in mastering the concepts in teaching reading, language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and so on. Miss Stump’s approach to educating the “whole child” quickly earned her a reputation for nurturing every aspect of her young students’ lives. In addition to the countless students under Miss Stump’s guidance, long lines of parents turned to Sharon for advice along the sometimes-bumpy road of raising children.

In 1979, Miss Stump married Woodrow (Woody) Sinclair, and they moved to Arcadia. Along with her school work, Sharon committed many unselfish hours ministering to the needs of others through her faith in the teachings of Christian Science. In her off hours, she would frequently be found sharing the message of God’s goodness with incarcerated men and women in Los Angeles correctional facilities. Her faith also inspired her to find the very best in her students, often propelling them to greater and greater success. These qualities of humble service and unconditional love, among others, are most often remembered by her more than 1,500 students.

Whether teaching kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade, Sharon Sinclair loved classroom musical productions. Her students can often recall the exact roles they played in “The Littlest Pumpkin,” “The Littlest Astronaut,” “Peter Rabbit,” and of course their roles as pioneer families traveling along the Oregon Trail. In all these activities, Mrs. Sinclair effectively guided her students into the confident use of public presentation skills they were learning to develop. For each production, Sharon would play the piano, offer encouragement, and nudge students forward with a well-placed cue of their next line if needed.

Through each and every passing year, Sharon Sinclair graciously demonstrated that the underlying motivation for teaching children is love, and the best teaching helps students to base their education on love themselves, love their classmates, and love their community. Mrs. Sinclair leaves a legacy of educational excellence that will be unforgettable for many years to come. Clairbourn School thanks Mrs. Sinclair, for all she’s done, and for the example she has provided for future educators.

For those in the community that know Mrs. Sinclair, a special Facebook page called “Sharon Stump Sinclair Retirement” has been set up for those wishing to leave messages, post pictures, and wish her well on her retirement.

Clairbourn School, 8400 Huntington Drive, San Gabriel, (626) 286-3108 or visit www.clairbourn.org.

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