Sharon Lay was selected as one of the four women throughout the nation to be named as 2017 National Mother of Achievement by American Mothers.
Sharon K. Lay was born in West Virginia. She was the seventh of thirteen children born to George and Mary Fowler. Sharon attended school in South Charleston, West Virginia. Upon graduation she received a scholarship to Central Business College and Brigham Young University. She attended Brigham Young University, Texas A&M, Texas Woman’s University and Arizona State. She holds a BS and MS Degrees in Education and a PHD in Curriculum and Instruction. She taught elementary, junior high, high school and college in Texas and Utah. She currently resides in Highland, Utah. She is married to David Lay, has four children, 15 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
PERSONAL STATEMENT OF ACHIEVEMENT
I have had the opportunity to live an incredible life and have been blessed to impact the lives of others through my work in the home and in the community. I consider my greatest achievement to be my children. All four of my children are wonderful parents, involved community leaders and spiritual giants; however the thing that I am most proud of is their good hearts. All of my children throughout their years have nurtured and cared about others. As adults they have been mentors to many children through their volunteer work in schools and the community. They have taken the homeless and the neglected into their own homes to give respite and shelter-sometimes keeping the children for years.
During my children’s early years, I was involved with the Sherman Texas Junior League in sponsoring the first head start program in Sherman, Texas. When our family relocated to Garland Texas and my children began elementary school, I was responsible for establishing PTA programs in several schools and serving as the PTA President in five of those schools. I was selected by the mayor to serve on the Garland Texas City Energy Commission to research ways to improve energy resources and conservation methods. When our family moved to Sachse, Texas I was appointed by the mayor to serve on the Parks and Recreation Council. In 1976 I was selected as the Honorary Young Mother of the Year for the state by the American Mothers Committee.
When my children were in their teens, I began teaching junior high and high school. The junior high school that I taught in was in a low-income area and my school was 98% African-American. Even though several of my students had great difficulty with academic skills we developed a nutrition program in connection with head start students in our school. We entered our program in the Fleishman Yeast Competition and won first place award in our region. I was honored to be selected as teacher of year for my school.
As a high school teacher I had the opportunity to develop a new program for our vocational home economics students. In this program the students were given release time from school to serve as teacher aides/mentors to students with intellectual disabilities in our young adult developmental center. During this time I returned to college and received my Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education.
In 1992 our family relocated to Provo, Utah where I was able to become engaged in early childhood teaching, research and development at Brigham Young University. While at the university, I led the National Association Accreditation Process for the Early Childhood Research Laboratories in the College of Family Sciences. During my university tenure, I supervised and mentored hundreds of student teachers and interns.
In 1998, I took a graduate position at Arizona State University and received my PHD in Curriculum and Instruction.
I returned to Utah and continued to supervise and mentor student teachers and deliver curriculum presentations throughout the state. In 2006 I was selected to the Utah State Early Childhood Specialist. I researched and help to develop an Early Childhood Education Bill that would provide extended day kindergarten programs for disadvantaged students in the state. After much discussion and “pleading” I was able to convince the Senate Education Committee to pass the bill out of committee so it could be presented to the Senate for a vote. The Early Childhood Education Bill was passed in the Senate and the House. After the bill was passed, I was given the responsibility to train hundreds of kindergarten teachers in how to implement the program. I developed the entrance and exit exams that were required for the program and collected the required data the first year. This program has been extremely successful and has continued to be funded providing an excellent early education start for so many children. It has been a necessary early academic program especially for our minority and immigrant children.
In 2007, I applied for and was awarded one of ten state grants from the National Governors Association for $25,000. This grant was used to provide the first Governor’s Early Childhood Summit which brought early childhood leaders from within our state and across the country to discuss early childhood issues. I wrote the Utah Early Childhood Education Policy Paper which was presented at this summit.
I developed a preschool activity calendar program that is on the Utah Education Network Website and is used by preschool teachers and parents of preschoolers for school readiness.
Mahatma Gandhi said “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”.
I am grateful that in a small way I have had an impact on the lives of many parents, teachers and children and it is my belief that when we teach others true and correct principles they live on in generations to come.
I have four children. My oldest daughter Kelly Lay Smith is a kindergarten teacher and has been a member of the Parks and Recreation Board and City Council PTA President. She is married to Randy Smith. Kelly has four children and three grandchildren and serves in the young women’s program in her church.
My second daughter Abby Lay Lee is a state senator in Idaho and a college administrator in Oregon. She is married to Brian Lee. She is a PHD candidate and serves in her church as a teacher in the women’s program. Abby has two daughters.
My oldest son John is a business owner in California and coaches soccer in Corona. He is married to Kim Woodland Lay. He serves as a gospel teacher in his church. John has four sons.
My youngest son, Mark is a network administrator and coaches ice hockey. He serves as a gospel teacher in his church. Mark is the single father of four boys and one daughter. Their mother is Janene Christensen Lay.