Alamance County woman returns to student teach beside her high school math teacher

What's Right with Our Schools

GRAHAM, N.C. — Less than two years ago, Emma Pickard graduated from the Early College at Alamance Community College. Now she’s back in her old classroom as a student teacher.

Pickard is back in math class with Kevin Sharen.

“I love being back because I love being in his class as a student,” Pickard said of Sharen. “And so I love being back as a student teacher and getting to work even closer with him, then work on lessons and plans and different ways to explain problems. And I love being able to see that side of things.”

Emma could be the poster child for Alamance Burlington School System’s Early College at Alamance Community College.

While in high school, she was able to complete two associate’s degrees free of charge and enter the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill as a junior.

“It was a really great experience,” she said. “I loved doing it as a student because it gave me an opportunity to challenge myself and to engage in more difficult coursework, which I enjoyed. And it gave me an opportunity to explore different areas that I hadn’t thought about before.”

Now she is getting ready to graduate from UNC in May with a four-year degree in math and will follow in the footsteps of her parents as an educator.

“What I love about teaching is being able to connect with students and to watch them grow and learn and understand why things happen and how things happen, not just how to give an answer,” Pickard said. “And for math, I love that it’s something that we all use every day and that can connect all of us.” 

Scharen says she brings so much insight to his classroom, especially to his students while they are learning remotely.

“Not only is she brilliant and could probably teach anything at the high school or college level, the fact that she went here, sat where they were and is now navigating chapel Hill also on Zoom,” he said. “She can relate to the stresses of, ‘Well, you don’t know what it’s like.’ ‘Well, back in my day, it was just two years ago.’ So everything that they’re experiencing, she’s experiencing it as a college student simultaneously.”

In fact, over half of her time at Carolina has been online. According to Pickard, “That’s one thing that I bring as a student teacher to these kids is that I know what it’s like to be an online student.”

Learning to teach during this pandemic has given her a look at another facet of the profession she can’t wait to enter full time.

“It’s actually been really encouraging and that education bounces back really quickly,” she said. “You would think if you take kids out of the classroom, you would be messing up education massively. And while education has definitely looked different this past year than it has before, kids are still learning, we’re still teaching and things keep going.”

For Emma Pickard, that all adds up to her dream job.

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