People of Charlotte, please get to know Dr. Sharon Jones Ed.D, founder and CEO of thedot.Consulting and the Dottie Rose Foundation, where she leads and implements technology-focused education and innovation. Dr. Jones has found her passion in education and has served as a Career and Technical Education teacher in the public school system as well as a Sr. Technical Trainer at Central Piedmont Community College. Dr. Jones has presented and been published nationally and internationally on data analytics, educational practices, and technology. Her book A Recipe for Success Using SAS University: How to Plan Your First Analytics Project is being used in curriculum and classrooms around the country.
Many students struggle with choosing a college major. How did you decide?
For my undergrad, I majored in communications because I was determined to be a teacher—I came from a family of teachers. I thought I would be a DJ, but education is in my roots. My great grandparents founded New Salem Elementary School in Union County and often provided housing for the teachers at the school. My great Aunt Naoima was a teacher at Nations Ford Elementary for 40 years, my great uncle was the superintendent of Marion County schools, my mom was an educator and I can go on and on! Education was important to my family. And I found myself continuing to boomerang back. It was a natural thought to become a teacher myself, a legacy of sorts.
Ever have any doubts?
The boomerang kept point back to teaching through different jobs I had like lifeguarding, working with children, and tutoring.
What advice did your grandfather give to you?
If you can communicate, you can do anything!
After graduating, where was your first teaching position?
Apex High School
And then you went back to school, formally and informally!
When I graduated from my undergraduate, I decided to move forward with my masters in teaching. So, I went to East Carolina University and earned my Masters of Arts in Teaching with a focus on Business and Information Technology. While I was studying, I taught myself coding in Visual Basic .NET. Even though I didn't have experience in technology, I felt drawn to it.
I believe in community, in supporting one another, lifting one another up.
So what did you teach at Apex High School?
Visual Basic. At the time, I managed to stay a day or two ahead of the class!
What can you say about being put in the hot seat along a steep learning curve?
I excelled! The combination of communications plus tech made teaching with all the senses possible.
Any teaching tips or secrets for teaching code?
Coding is simply a language that the computer uses to implement. Remember the computer is a tool and we have the power to control the input. When learning to code, each language has its own syntax but the fundamentals of coding are the same. Each language has variables, loops, conditional statements, functions, and arrays. But at the core is the ability to problem-solve. So... work on your problem-solving muscle by doing puzzles, playing Tic-Tac-Toe, cooking, or planning your next vacation. You can apply the same problem-solving skills to conquering a coding language.
Why did you leave teaching? How did you find yourself a student again?
I enjoyed the work I was doing so much, teaching IT in a way that made my students to also want to live and breathe IT, that other more experienced teachers came to me asking how I created such engaged classrooms. And that led to the recognition that I wanted to teach teachers.
I found a program at NC State where the class met one day a week at UNCC and decided to pursue my doctorate. I left teaching after three years in 2005, moved back home, and transitioned into the corporate world, BSN Medical, where I could teach adults while attending school.
Each language has variables, loops, conditional statements, functions, and arrays. But at the core is the ability to problem-solve.
The more life experience you have, the more you learn. What did you learn while in the corporate world?
I believe in community, in supporting one another, lifting one another up. You cannot grow while soloing. Unfortunately, I learned this through direct experience. My corporate struggle was working for another teacher who claimed my ideas as her own.
When one door closes another opens. In 2008, BSN Medical cut everyone working in education. I was still working on my doctorate when I was hired into my next role at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology and was able to finish my doctorate.
Three years later, you earned a few more titles!
Yes, the title of Mrs. and Mom! Then while three and a half months pregnant, I defended my dissertation and walked another three months later.
How did your grandmother Dottie help make your doctorate possible?
My Mama D. always encouraged me to do and be anything I wanted to be. She believed in education and lifelong learning. So when she passed away when I was 25 years old, she left me some money to help with my education. She and I had always discussed me going for my doctorate and so I did! When I started my doctorate, I was the youngest student in my course at 26.
The feedback from students is what I cherish the most, the impact I created and how I helped them find their career paths.
Tell us about another title you hold, author!
While earning my doctorate at NC State, I took a quantitative class where I learned to program in SAS. I saw how it married stats. Between programming and stats, you end up solving anything in some capacity. Once you learn SAS, the language is never irrelevant. You just change the data. With SAS, you use the same concepts over and over. But the problem is it can take years to get new courses approved and in technology, that’s a huge problem.
After getting a class approved to teach through CMS, I spent hours and hours working on how to make IT relatable for students. I had the kids create a survey about homecoming. The students had to collect the data, export it, analyze the results, and then better customize their next homecoming events. I had the students do the same project again but then used magnet schools and bussing as the data points to collect.
A book was born out of these projects. I sent the two data projects to SAS and asked if they would incorporate the projects into their curriculum. They asked me to present and I won SAS National Poster of the Year in 2010. SAS then asked me to compile what I learned into a book that they ended up becoming the publisher of.
That is quite an accomplishment! What did you learn from the process?
It offered me a time to reflect on how to always make my work and programming applicable and relatable. I was completely flattered by the excerpts students contributed. The feedback from students is what I cherish the most, the impact I created and how I helped them find their career paths.
Are you done writing?
No! I am working on my second book now! We are working on revamping a workbook for SAS that Ron Cody wrote over 10 years ago. Exercises are being rewritten with new data to make the information more current. It is very cool to be working with Ron!
How else are you passing on the information baton?
When I received my doctorate, I knew I wanted to teach teachers. After teaching for three years, leaving, and then returning in 2008, I picked up right where I left off but got stuck at a third-year teacher pay with two kids in daycare. So I had to find another source of income and joined the Computer Science Teacher Association which led to additional teaching opportunities. I became a teacher with Code.org and I was paid per teacher enrollment. After running three workshops, I was rated a top facilitator. From that point, I was asked to speak at schools which created more opportunities. I began teaching at CPCC for the next three years.
And then you found your passion project, one that is dedicated to your Grandmother Dottie!
Where can we learn more about the Dottie Rose Foundation?
In my first People of Charlotte story that can be found here!
Social media links or usernames?
People of Charlotte publishes stories about everyday Charlotteans, Carolinians, and beyond. We celebrate YOUR story because YOU matter. It is our mission to promote inclusiveness, unity, understanding, community, diversity, empathy, inspiration, and compassion.
Stories have power—they teach, inspire, motivate, and challenge us.
Stories help us to not only see others, but to see ourselves more clearly, as we connect with the life stories of those in our community; a community that is strengthened by the power that is unleashed by the collective energy of individual stories.
Want to share your story with People of Charlotte? Email peopleofCLT@gmail.com to learn more!
The views expressed here are solely those of the individual featured and do not in any way represent the views of People of Charlotte, CLT. Information on this site may contain errors or inaccuracies; we do not make warranty as to the correctness or reliability of the site’s content. If you own rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on this site, please contact us via e-mail and they will be promptly removed.
Check out Mixed Nuts: A story and discussion about diversity and inclusion for children