The teachers and staff members at St. Paul Preparatory share a love of cultures and education. We come from diverse backgrounds and share our unique talents and experiences with our school community. We truly care about our students and take joy in helping them reach their full potential.
Meet Sharron Pelham from the English Department.
Faculty Profile, Sharron Pelham
- Favorite movie: Too many favorites, but one is “Room with a View.”
- Favorite book: Again, too many favorites, but I would have to list The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky and Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. Ask my AP Lit students and they can tell you of our weeks spent delving into the implicit meanings and complex neuroses found in Brideshead.
- Favorite color: Salmon
- Favorite food: Cheese Fondue
What’s something cool about English?
I could write a book here, but won’t…
What do you do when you’re not working at SPP?
I seem to never have time to read all of the books on my list, especially when I enjoy even more the reading again and again of my favorites. I spend many wonderful hours with my two grandchildren, Seymour (3) and Ariadne (9 months). I also am active in my church.
How did you spend your summer?
I traveled to visit relatives in Oklahoma and Michigan. I also took a course in Bible and Culture at Regent College in Vancouver, B.C.
Where is the best place you’ve ever lived or visited and why?
I lived and taught in Brussels, Belgium for over 10 years. My children were young there, and my heart alone knows the reasons why I love it more than any other place. At all times of the day and night people from around the world come to sit and converse in the cafes on the Grand Place in the center of the city. In the summer people spill out of the cafes to stand in the square while lights projected on the medieval guild halls splash color on the leaded glass windows of a high turret, then onto a golden statue balanced atop another hall, coming to rest briefly on an intricately carved doorway before soaring upward again to a balcony barely beneath the stars; the changing light keeping pace with the magnificent baroque music filling the space.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
I can’t think of anything cooler than what I just wrote about Brussels, but one experience comes to mind: going to the top of Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France and looking down from above the clouds at the birds fluttering beneath me. In the midst of a hot summer day the temperatures plummeted half way up the mountain and hikers discarded their boots for skis before beginning their descent.
If you could give one piece of advice about life, what would it be?
Never settle down into someone else’s dream. Keep beginning again with a new dream which you have discovered for yourself.
What’s something you’re planning to do this school year?
The school year is almost completed, and this summer I am first looking forward to the wedding of my son. After the wedding in late June I’ll begin preparations for teaching Speech to a group of students from Turkey. These are both new adventures for me which will fill my summer with new possibilities.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and what would you do there?
Right now I’m missing Prague, and wish I could go there to stand on the Charles Bridge to watch the sun break through the fog and shine its light on the Hradcany Castle watching over the city from atop its high hill.
If you weren’t teaching, what job would you want?
I’ve always wanted to own a small local bookstore, but I seem to have missed that era.
Have you ever experienced culture shock? When and how did you deal with it?
I have experienced culture shock many times; the first time when I moved to Brussels with three small children and found all of my interpersonal skills meant nothing in such a different culture. My home town in Oklahoma had taught me to smile at everyone; this only made the Belgians think I was not very intelligent.
Most recently culture shock settled in on me again when I went alone in the summer to teach in Shanghai and had only been to Asia once before for three weeks and had been with other Americans. This time in Shanghai I found myself overwhelmed by all of the people crowding the streets into the late night talking in a language I could not even begin to decipher. I coped initially by finding a Costa coffee shop close to my hotel where I went each night to sit in a corner and read The Great Gatsby while eating a chicken sandwich and drinking an iced coffee. I went back to the same coffee shop each morning to buy an iced coffee to drink in the morning heat as I walked the four blocks to my class midst throngs of people, cars, bicycles all pressing in on me and each other. Somehow that bit of cool familiarity helped me to feel less alienated and less alone, especially when the people working behind the counter at the coffee shop began to recognize me and practice their English with me in the morning and in the evening.
I recommend this “finding a place to return and make familiar” to others as a way to traverse the initial strangeness of a new culture.