As a young couple, Jim and Frances Sharman settled into Vestavia Hills in 1963 and set their eyes on a nearby church - Miller Chapel.
Under the pastorate of Dr. Carl Giers and during Miller Chapel's early beginnings, the Sharmans raised five children; three girls and two boys. Throughout their early family life, Frances and Jim found joy in serving. Jim taught adult Sunday School and served as a deacon and chairman of deacons, while Frances found her place teaching first grade children.
Today, a well-loved lady of 92 years, she taught first grade Sunday School at Shades for 52 years.
Even before coming to Shades, Sharman taught children at Lakewood Baptist Church and Woodlawn Baptist Church. From the first year she and Jim were married in 1941, she taught Sunday School for 74 years.
Just this past May did her family feel she needed to relinquish her weekly presence, yet she continues to serve from home -- and her computer.
Elaine Todd, who served alongside Sharman for many years, said the best way to communicate with Sharman remains to be email.
“In addition to connecting with other teachers, Sharman emails each absent child the weekly Bible verse to keep them current,” Todd said.
Sharman continues to help Todd with class bulletin boards, teaching, Sunday School activities, printing Bible verses, titles and wording from her computer. She is reportedly a big believer in always having a presentable bulletin board. Being very patriotic as well, she makes the most of red, white and blue decorations for Memorial Day and the 4th of July.
Kay Wood taught with Sharman during the 8:00 a.m. hour and said the children always come first with Sharman.
“If a child ever has a question or wants to say something, Sharman will pause to give them her full attention,” Wood said.
She also sends birthday cards, and each month the class celebrates birthdays with a plate of brownies. A picture of each birthday child is taken and developed the following week. The picture is then posted on the classroom door ready for the child to claim his or her picture and take it home.
Although she may not recognize it, Sharman is a teacher of teachers serving as mentor in the joys of teaching while modeling faithfulness and integrity in sharing the love of Jesus to children.
Teaching for well over a half century, Sharman has compiled a wealth of teaching tools, books, supplies and activities. Known to have a keen sense of organization and ability to compartmentalize all the resources she's gathered over the years, she willingly bequeaths those resources to future teachers securing her influence for generations.
Asking Sharman why she has taught children as long as she has, she simply says she “loves Jesus and wanted to teach young school children they could love Jesus too."
Averaging eight to 12 children each school year, Sharman has touched the lives of hundreds of children teaching the beloved stories of the Bible.
As a teacher friend lovingly expressed, "God is certainly going to say 'well done good and faithful servant.'" But until that time, Sharman will be sending emails and birthday cards, creating bulletin boards and sharing the love of Jesus every chance she gets.