Teaching kids and breaking color barriers, Chapman championed education

Recently, the Pendleton County Public Library hosted Sharon McGee Chapman for an evening of “Genealogy 101.” Speaking on the history of her family and her education career. It was evident that Chapman left a very positive impact on this community. She was the first African-American teacher for the Pendleton County schools, integrating the schools as a teacher.

Chapman began her teaching career following her graduation from Eastern Kentucky University in 1971. Former Pendleton County Superintendent Richard Julick was a family friend of Chapman’s father, and gladly offered her a teaching position at the former Falmouth Elementary.

Teaching a fifth and sixth grade combination class, Chapman states that she dreamed of being a teacher since she was in the fifth grade herself.

Personally having Ms. Ida May Waddell as a teacher, Chapman states that she was, “firm, but fair.” This ideology would go on to lead the way Chapman carried out her meaningful career.

Coming from humble beginnings, Chapman was inspired by how much her mother instilled the importance of education in her even at a young age. Her love for reading was inspired by Mrs. Sidney Pribble, a teacher had by Chapman for grades seven through nine. She describes her mother as a highly talented homemaker, and her father as a well-known and fair local mechanic.

Chapman also described living in the time of segregation, elaborating on segregated water fountains, restrooms, and even movie theater seating in Falmouth. Though facing many challenges of this sort in her younger years, Chapman states that she loves Falmouth and is grateful for being raised in such a tight-knit and small community.

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