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Sharon renehan


Sharon Renehan


Artist: Diane Canney


My name is Sharon and I am an Adapted Physical Education Teacher working for a Northern Virginia Public school system and a frontline worker. I teach at seven schools, traveling to five schools a day. I have been teaching students with disabilities for over 20 years. I am also a proud single mother of four amazing children. In late November 2020, my kids and I contracted the COVID-19 virus. As a mom we feel as though we can never get sick. So when I was sick, it was so difficult to not only take care of myself but care for my kids as well. I tried to keep working via distance learning with my students and classes. But then I realized I really needed to take a couple of days off to take care of myself and my kids. Thankfully we all recovered after a couple of weeks. We were very blessed to have family & friends drop groceries and meals off at our doorstep.


Not only as a mom and parent, but as a teacher it has been most difficult to see how the world has changed for our children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeing the struggles of parents keeping their children motivated and engaged during these Distance Learning times. While not only taking care of their kids, but also trying to balance working their own full-time jobs at home. We have seen setbacks in some of our students. But teachers have risen to the challenge and have worked harder than ever during these times! The school systems have put safety measures in place to have our students back in schools safely for in-person learning.


One of my most inspiring students is Shaelyn. Shaelyn is an 8th grader in northern Virginia. She was born with a rare genetic disease, Schizencephaly, resulting in cerebral palsy. Upon diagnosis, Shaelyn’s family was told she would likely never walk or talk.


Today, at 14-years old Shaelyn has exceeded all expectations. Through multiple surgeries to strengthen her legs, Botox injections to relieve spasticity and regular physical therapy throughout most her life, she walks independently using a cane and communicates at the appropriate age level using a communication device.


Shaelyn has not only able to participate in all general education classes but she’s maintained honor roll status at her middle school since entering in 6th grade. She’s been recognized with a Cornerstone Award for excellence each year in middle school.


When she graduates college, Shaelyn aspires to be an author. She spends the majority of her free time writing stories, dancing, gaming and admiring animals. Through the trials and tribulations that Shaelyn has overcome, she always finds time to be a loving daughter, sister and friend. She’s known for always having a smile on her face!

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