Sharon Hartfield

Spending each day in a classroom filled with 8- and 9-year-old students requires the ability to adapt. It’s a strength that Sharon Hartfield, ’13, MAT, brings to her third grade classroom at Briarcliff Elementary School in Cary, N.C.

“Going with the flow is a strength for me,” said Sharon. “A school day is never the same twice and I pride myself on my ability to adapt to change when the occasion arises.”

When Sharon earned an undergraduate degree in nutrition in 2009, her plans did not include leading an elementary school classroom. But, adaptable as she is, she quickly realized that teaching would be the best fit for her. Her next step? She enrolled in the Meredith Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program with a focus on elementary education.

“I chose to pursue the Meredith MAT because it would prepare me best for what I wanted to do,” she said. “I knew Meredith’s reputation and knew I’d be pushed to my limits (and even beyond), but that has made me a stronger teacher.”

Sharon credits the challenging program with the successes she’s had since starting her position at Briarcliff in January 2014. And not surprisingly, she’s involved beyond the classroom – she’s also active in the PTA, serves on the School Improvement Team and Media and Technology Advisory Committee, and publishes a blog to maintain communication with her students’ parents.

“My experience in the Meredith MAT program helped me develop and build my strengths by making me reflect on what I do in the classroom and how I can make changes to improve on my practice,” she said. “I always think about a professor asking, ‘Why are you doing what you’re doing, the way you’re doing it?’”

To Sharon, a major benefit of earning the Meredith MAT was the exposure to the different facets of elementary education. As a third-grade teacher, she is responsible for teaching reading, math, social studies, and science. And she is skilled at connecting the material to real-world applications for all students.

“I know how to work with students across the spectrum of learners and how to collaborate with the specialists at my school to ensure the students in my classroom have the support they need,” she said.

That’s important to Sharon, who knows that her students enter the classroom ready to discover. “They are at the stage in elementary school where they are more independent and want to explore as much as they can,” she said.

And by adapting and interacting, this teacher is sure to keep her students’ curiosity going strong.