- Alisal Union School District
Sharon Nichols — Cultivated in Alisal
School Counselor, Creekside Elementary
After spending a lifetime living away from the Alisal, Sharon Nichols returned first as a CELDT tester, then as substitute teacher, and now as a school counselor -- a job that gives her tremendous satisfaction as she can see how it helps children.
Born in Salinas, Ms. Nichols attended Roosevelt Elementary from kinder to first grade. But then the family moved to a home on Rider Avenue, a clear shot from Jesse G. Sanchez Elementary, back when it was still called Sanborn and when there were no houses built behind the school. In those days, Ms. Nichols and her siblings would walk across the hill to and from school and use its fields on weekends to play baseball with their uncle.
“My third grade teacher was Ms. Dietrich, in 5th grade I had Mrs. Pruitt, and in 6th grade I had Mr. Glenn. My little sister Janet would come to the classroom and Mr. Glenn would allow her to come and sit at the back table to wait for me so we could walk home together,” she said.
Ms. Nichols attended El Sausal and Alisal High, and then got a job as a long distance operator for Pacific Bell. When she married she helped her husband run their business, an auto stereo shop in Seaside for over two decades.
In 2005, Ms. Nichols decided she did not want to stay in a male dominated field and sold the store. Having spent a lifetime working in the auto electronics field, she thought she’d be good at a career that used the physical sciences, and opted to become an X-ray technician. However, the wait time to enter the career was five years, so she decided to major in psychology instead. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from University of California, Santa Cruz.
“By then my daughter was 16, and in high school. I really wanted to go to San José State, but I could not drive back and forth with my daughter being unattended. So I applied to the CSUMB Master in Social Work program and ended up going there.”
At the time, Ms. Nichols was already working for Alisal Union School District, applying the California English Language Development Test (CELDT). Once testing season had ended, she was encouraged to apply for a job as a paraprofessional. One thing led to another, and next thing she knew, she applied to take the CBEST and become a substitute teacher.
“I’m subbing for 4th grade classroom that did not have a teacher,” Ms. Nichols said. “The principal there said to me ‘Would you like to come back and finish teaching this class?’ I’m like, I can’t, I don’t have a teaching credential. However, the principal said ‘We can work with another type of credential.’ I put my master’s degree on hold and ended up teaching the rest of the year and next year.”
Ms. Nichols stopped working full time again for the 2017-18 school year so she could finish her master’s degree in Social Work. The following year, Ms. Nichols returned as one of the first school counselors of Alisal Union School District, assigned to Creekside Elementary.
“I’m ecstatic to be here,” she said. We all have a path to walk in our lives, and this is where I’ve been brought… I’m always open to providence, and I’m in a place where I’m learning, I don’t think you can ask for more than that. I’m being taught how I can help our students, and our students are getting help from what I learn and they’re getting that extra bit of love. We all need that, and we all need to know we belong and fit.”
Note: This is the sixteenth installment of "Cultivated in Alisal: Homegrown Heroes," a first attempt at documenting and celebrating the history of Alisal Union School District. For more information and other profiles, click here. To submit your name to be profiled, or suggest somebody to be featured, click here.