Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

End of a Story: Sometimes Her Students Got It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

End of a Story: Sometimes Her Students Got It

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

BRUNSWICK | When a college professor finishes a lecture and dismisses class, there's a rustling of papers and the scraping of chairs as students turn on their smartphones and head for the door.

When Sharon Bartkovich gave her last lecture in World Lit last week, something different happened.

"After 50 minutes, I said I'm done and nobody got up," she said.

After a while, she said, "You've got to leave." She wasn't about to let them stay and see her cry.

We sometimes say last when it's actually the latest or most recent, but this was indeed her last class after 28 years, four presidents and three names for what is now College of Coastal Georgia.

The Maryland native didn't come to town to teach. After five years as a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives inspector of wineries and breweries, she came to Brunswick as training coordinator for regulatory enforcement at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Then they sent her to Washington, D.C., and tried to put her in a supervisory position.

"I tried. I tried," she said. "The only ones who want to work in D.C. are the ones who grew up there or the ones seeking power."

Neither applied in her case so she returned to Brunswick but couldn't get back to FLETC. She instead landed a job teaching English at Brunswick High, but that only lasted 1 1/2 years.

"I couldn't live with the lack of effort. They wouldn't do homework, and the parents didn't care," she said. "Just give them the grades."

Sitting in her office with the walls and every flat surface covered with books, mementoes, her children's grade school art, she still is frustrated with the memory.

She applied for a job a block east at then Brunswick College and got it. It came with her third pay cut in as many jobs, and it took her 21 years to get back to a salary equal to the one she left at the ATF in 1985.

It's not what the money would buy, but with dollars as a gauge, she learned just how little education is valued. And she could have used the money as the single mother of two daughters she adopted from Peru. She wanted to adopt in Georgia but couldn't live with rules requiring foster parenting. …

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