HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — DC News Now will be honoring remarkable women all month long. We’re starting in Howard county, where our Anna-Lysa Gayle sat down with the school system’s first blind teacher, as she empowers them to see the greatness they have within.
“I couldn’t really read ditto, so I thought when I get older, I want to be a teacher and I want to help students to be their best selves,” said Sharon Dudley, an elementary school teacher at Guilford elementary school.
Sharon has been a teacher for 30 years. She first came to the school district in 2021, when she became the first blind teacher in the county.
“The disease that I have is a degenerative hereditary eye disease. I knew that I was going to lose all my vision, so I had time to prepare for it,” said Dudley.
Sharon completely lost her vision at 37 years old, but her passion never went away as she continues to reflect on why she became a teacher in the first place.
“There was a teacher that put my social studies book on tape for me because she went that extra mile and I thought this was an amazing lady. [It was] stuck in my head for many many years,” said Dudley.
Sharon said she uses her creativity to engage students in lesson plans.
“I’m very good at hearing where everybody is in the classroom. We do puzzles, [I] ask the kids to tell them what they drew and what they wrote. I’m not lesser, I’m just different and I try to also get that message across to the kids,” said Dudley.
Sharon is also a mom of young twins with autism.
“I’m learning a lot about autism and it also helps me in the classroom [to] answer questions from parents and people in the community,” said Dudley.
Her longtime friend Robert Zavisca admires her tenacity.
“She builds up in the kids, a confidence, despite whatever challenges that may have,” said Zavisca.
“You have to be true to yourself. You can make it no matter what,” said Dudley.