New teachers' leader targets salaries

June 18, 1997


Staff Writer

After 23 years of teaching, Sharon Chirgott is sure she'll miss the classroom when school resumes in the fall.

But Chirgott, 50, said she thinks serving as president of the Washington County Teachers Association will be a worthwhile exchange for her jobs as science teacher and department chairwoman at Northern Middle School.

"It's the old idea of giving back," said Chirgott, who started her two-year term on Sunday. "I can make my contribution to the system, maybe not in the dramatic way of my predecessors, but I can give something to the system, too."

While all the particulars haven't been worked out, Chirgott has a general vision for her presidency and is excited about getting started.


A main concern will be raising teacher salaries, she said.

"They have more to do, less time to do it and don't get remunerated for it," Chirgott said.

She said she'd like to build on the good relationship with the Washington County Board of Education initiated by her predecessor, Bill Greenwald.

At the same time, Chirgott said, she'll try to reconnect with association members who feel the association has abandoned its core in its outreach efforts.

She said she'll promote professionalism among members because she feels that projecting a professional image makes a difference in the classroom.

Chirgott has spent the last two years as vice president of the association.

With son Demetrios entering college and daughter Stasa starting high school, Chirgott said she felt comfortable assuming the added responsibilities.

She said she doesn't feel they'll conflict with her commitments as a Funkstown councilwoman, a position she has held for 11 years.

She likes to be busy, she said, especially if it means trading a meeting for dreaded housework.

The 1994 Washington County Teacher of the Year finalist will miss the regimentation of teaching, however.

"Having to control my time, that's going to be real new," Chirgott said.

She looks back on the lessons in democracy from her school days - the idea of having a voice in your destiny - as her inspiration for getting involved in the professional association and her town's government.

"You can't complain about something unless you take an active part in it," she said. "You feel empowered when you become involved. You're managing change and not having change forced on you."

Chirgott said she wants to get more members to get involved in the association by reinstituting committee work.

Putting in some meeting time to carry out committee responsibilities will give members a personal stake in the association that dues alone can't buy, she said.

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