~from intern Haley Huffman
Cloudy and cold days make Sharon Grindle just the tiniest bit homesick for the coast. Originally from California, Grindle moved to Colorado to pursue her dreams of teaching. “I’ve known for a long time, I think, that I wanted to be a teacher.” Grindle recalls childhood memories in which she begged her sisters to play school so she could pull out her easel and impart her wisdom on her pretend students.
Grindle’s parents recognized her passion for academics and pushed her to excel in many different areas. While this opened up a lot of opportunities for her, it also made it very difficult for her to choose a major when she got to college. Grindle describes herself as being very “humanities oriented,” which gave her some direction, although she remained undeclared for two years.
Grindle took three English classes with the same professor, which led to that professor pulling her aside for a wake-up call. Her professor had noticed that she exhibited a lot of the behaviors he liked to see in English majors and she definitely thought like an English major, leading her professor to the conclusion that she should probably give up the game and declare herself an English major. She also added two minors to her degree, Communications and Leadership Studies. “This is me acknowledging that I’m going to be an English professor, right?”
After graduating with her custom-created English professor starter pack, she took a gap year before applying to grad schools. That one year away from the classroom solidified her desire to teach. So the hunt for grad schools began. “I looked for graduate programs that … would pay me to teach so that I could just teach and go to school.” There weren’t any schools that met the requirements in Grindle’s home state of California, but in an effort to still be close, she chose schools in the western states.
Grindle decided on Colorado State University because of the comprehensive training that is provided for teachers. CSU offers a weeklong training course to prepare teachers for the classroom, while most other schools offer a half-day.
Ten years later and Grindle still resides in Fort Collins, occasionally missing the coast, but life as an English teacher keeps her busy.
One part of teaching is scholarship work. “A lot of the ongoing scholarship that I do is keeping up with shifts in thinking in the field. I do a lot of reading.” But Grindle has been making time to produce scholarship as well. She presented a conference paper last year on the Marvel series Daredevil. “I was looking at the way different characters in Daredevil talk about the vigilante.”
Marvel seems to be the inspiration for most of the scholarship that Grindle has planned for the future. “I’m kind of a big nerd.”
Grindle is not only looking at Marvel productions through the lens of an English teacher, but she is also examining the psychology and ethnic studies components. Grindle has plenty of fodder for her future scholarship endeavors, as Netflix continues to produce Marvel series like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. The Marvel characters have been around for decades and tend to reflect our cultural pressures, which is what makes them so interesting to study. The end goal for Grindle and her Marvel studies is to work with fellow professor Ashley Davies to produce a book containing their research and scholarship on Marvel productions.
Grindle’s passion for the humanities not only shines through her scholarship work, but through her teaching philosophies as well. “The humanities is all about self improvement, having a well-rounded education, learning how to think and how to be a resistant, critical thinker.” Grindle’s advice for studying the humanities, and English in particular, is to come with an open mind. “Most English Department classes are about asking you to consider different opinions.”