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Elizabeth Sharp, PhD, spent the summer training teachers in Kenya.
Elizabeth Sharp, PhD, spent the summer training teachers in Kenya.


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Faculty Profile: Elizabeth Sharp

You’d be lucky to catch Elizabeth Sharp, PhD, taking a break. If the assistant professor of kinesiology is in her office, she’s advising students or preparing for her new role as President-Elect of Colorado’s Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE). If she’s not there, she may be supervising her students as they teach their own lesson plans to 45 homeschooled students in a program she instituted. And if she isn’t there either, she may be in Africa, helping teachers in poor communities learn new methods in their classrooms.

Elizabeth Sharp with a group of physical education students at a recent conference.

Elizabeth Sharp with a group of physical education students at a recent conference.

Sharp spent two weeks this summer in Kenya. What began as a mission trip with her church quickly evolved into a much bigger undertaking when contacts in the country learned she had a background in education.

“These were all classroom teachers — this had nothing to do with kinesiology at all. It was outside of my comfort zone a little bit,” Sharp said. “I was working with just teachers in slum schools, and most of them have had no training. Many of them barely graduated high school. I was teaching them a lot of the basics that we teach our education majors here in the 200-level classes.”

She spent a week-and-a-half in classrooms to learn about the needs of the area before she held an all-day conference one Saturday for 40 educators. “I wasn’t about to come in and tell them what to do, not knowing what they were doing. They’re very different schools. Kids sit elbow-to-elbow,” she said.

A lack of supplies seemed to be the teachers’ main obstacle. “In one of the classrooms I was in, only the teacher had a book. How do you teach kids to read when they don’t have a book? I gave one teacher a gift of a pack of pencils. She broke them in half and started handing them to the kids because only three of 30 kids [owned] a pencil.”

She was struck by the big dreams every teacher expressed for their students in spite of the circumstances. “They know education is the way out of the slum. I went to one school and they showed me the computer lab they were so proud of. It had one working computer in it, but there was room for 30. The director had the vision that one day he would have 30 computers working in there. He told me how much that would cost in case I knew someone who worked with computers. There’s such great vision and hope. There just aren’t the funds to do it.”

Sharp has stayed in contact with the school directors she met, who have implemented some of the methods she taught them. “I would love to go back,” she said. She’ll have to squeeze it into her packed schedule. “I like a busy life,” she said. “It keeps me out of trouble.”

Media Contact

Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

dnunn@coloradomesa.edu

970.248.1868 (o)

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