Alumni Voices

A Path Forward

Sharon Sigler’s journey overcoming adversity

A woman in a chair with a white dog sitting on her lap.

School of Education and Human Services

icon of a calendarNovember 11, 2021

icon of a pencilBy Kristina Lindberg

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In the midst of wrapping up her bachelor’s degree at Oakland University and raising a family, Sharon Sigler’s life was turned upside down. Sigler, SEHS ’80 and ’84, was abandoned by her husband after she gave birth to their second child. Suddenly a single mom, Sigler knew it was time to support her family and put her academic endeavors to an end. “It was very hard,” Sigler says.” I was working two, three jobs and trying to raise two little boys.”

At OU, she was approached by reading and language arts Professor Richard F. Barron,
Ph.D., who encouraged Sigler to pursue a master’s in education. “I told him ‘I don’t really have the money to go on for my master’s,” she recalls.

Dr. Barron told her he would assist her in getting a graduate assistant position on campus — a job that would help pay for her classes and keep her work and studies in close proximity to each other. After interviewing with a graduate professor, who told her about the high demand for learning disabilities teachers, Sigler was awarded the position, where she worked for 20 hours per week. “It made a big difference,” she says. “I couldn’t have earned my master’s if I hadn’t received the help.”

Sigler graduated with a Master of Arts in teaching with a major in reading and language arts and was able to find a job quickly because of her specialization in learning disabilities. “I kind of fell into it,” she says of being a learning disabilities teacher. “But it was a good fit for me.”

Sigler taught full time for 27 years in Lapeer Community Schools and substituted for another 15 years in other school districts. During her career as a K-6 educator, Sigler put special emphasis on service learning for her students, an effort that earned her the Michigan Governor’s Service Award as a service learning educator in 1997. Her love for service learning expanded well beyond Michigan’s borders: it afforded her the chance to travel to Russia and the Czech Republic as a delegate for People to People International — an organization established by the former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower to enhance international understanding and friendship through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities — where she visited local schools and learned from educators about their methods of teaching.

Once her children were older, Sigler pursued her life-long dream of working as an actress. Besides being a teacher, she has appeared in commercials, feature and independent films and also has performed on stage at local theaters.

Looking back, Sigler says she realizes that Dr. Barron’s help was a defining moment in her life. “I always gave my thanks to that professor because my life would have been a lot different without him,” she says.

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