WILMINGTON — A lot of people dread the end of the summer, but for Sharon Waldron, it’s one of the best times of the year. That is when she can look forward to returning to her classroom, which for the last eight years has been at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington.
Waldron has been in education for 25 years and says her students are what keep her going.
“Every time you think maybe you should do something else, you remember, ‘Oh, I have that class coming back for their second year.’ The students really recharge your batteries, for sure. It’s brand new every year. It’s like you get to write a brand-new story every year,” she said.
Waldron was nominated for The Dialog’s “Teacher Feature” by Ursuline senior Claire Kornacki. “Teacher Feature” puts the spotlight on educators who have had some special impact on their students. Only students may nominate their teachers. Waldron was caught off-guard when notified that she had been selected.
“Humbled, maybe a little embarrassed,” she said. “It was exciting. It was a nice way to start the year.”
Kornacki is a student in Waldron’s English capstone class, a two-year advanced placement offering. Waldron is also the senior class moderator. In her nomination, Kornacki said her teacher works hard at both roles.
“Mrs. Waldron puts tremendous effort into making her classes engaging and exciting while teaching valuable skills to her English and AP Capstone students,” Kornacki wrote. “Her door is always open, whether a student needs a quiet place to get work done, wants Mrs. Waldron to check over a college essay, or just wants to hang out on the couch and talk about their day.”
Waldron said the credit should be shared. “Any good that comes from this, the job that I do, comes from the outstanding young women and the colleagues that I work with.”
Waldron, 48, has plenty of experience with Catholic education in the Diocese of Wilmington. The north Wilmington native graduated from St. Mary Magdalen School and Saint Mark’s High School before attending Rosemont College, where she earned degrees in English literature and French. She taught in public schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and taught as an adjunct professor at Rosemont. She also worked for an online education company, and when that company shuttered, she was thinking about substituting for a year.
She was on a drive to Richmond, Va., for a wedding one summer when her neighbor called to tell her about an opening at Ursuline.
“I actually had an old-time hotspot, however they looked eight years ago, and I applied on the way to the wedding. And they contacted me, I guess, that Monday,” Waldron said.
She has not looked back since.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “I often tell the students this is the first job I’ve ever had where I never have that feeling when you wake up and say, ‘I just don’t want to go today.’ I always want to go. And the students make it that way.”
Ursuline has “great colleagues, great kids,” she added. She also enjoys the single-gender student body. It reminded her of Rosemont, which was all women when she was there.
“When I went to college, and it was small and it was all women, I told my mom I raised my hand more in the past week than I think I did in all four years of high school.
“There’s just sort of a comfort when you have all women. What I strive to do more than anything else aside from deliver content, make them successful moving forward, is make them comfortable,” Waldron said.
Having that kind of comfort opens a space where “they empower themselves intellectually, socially. The other really cool thing about being here is when they’re comfortable like that, the other space that opens for them is generosity because they’re not so self-focused or worried.”
“Generosity,” she continued, is not a word often used to describe adolescents. But at Ursuline, it shows through in the creativity the students show in their community service.
“Sometimes, I just sit back, and I just think, ‘Wow, that is really cool,’” she said.
Waldron and her husband, Bill, met in a very Delaware way. She had just purchased a condo in north Wilmington a few years after graduating from college, and on the day she moved in, she met him. Bill, a St. Elizabeth High School graduate, lived in her parents’ neighborhood. The couple has two children. Maddie is a junior at Ursuline, and Jack is a freshman at Salesianum School. The family belongs to St. Mary Magdalen Parish.