Sharon Roy might just be the world’s only human resources officer that employees get excited to go see.
During a chat about her career, five other Tyler ISD administrators found excuses to pop by her office to see what she was up to. Employees know that if Roy isn’t in her office, she’s probably with her close friend Chief Financial Officer Tasha Bjork.
“She’s just a wonderful person. She is always thinking about others before she thinks about herself and always doing for others and wants people to feel special,” Bjork said. “People are just drawn to her, she always takes her time. She doesn’t rush through with people.”
Roy is preparing to retire - she has been with the district since 1981, when she began her career as a second grade teacher at Bonner Elementary School before moving to Andy Woods Elementary School.
Roy said her new husband, Michael, found out how important her work was in the first summer of their marriage.
“Michael and I had plans to go on a little honeymoon, but then I was asked to teach summer school and I couldn’t take time off from a job I just got the week before,” she said.
When Roy began teaching, she never intended to move up.
Eventually she transitioned to an Instructional Consultant, which was the equivalent of an assistant principal, at Ramey Elementary School.
“I was going to be a forever teacher. I loved teaching kids,” she said. “We had reading consultants and math consultants and I loved what they were teaching teachers.”
The transition was not easy at first, but she was able to reach parents on a deeper level and frequently went to their homes and apartments to discuss how best to help the students.
“The first year that I was out of the classroom, I was devastated,” she said. “The first month watching teachers prepare bulletin boards was the hardest.”
Roy eventually moved into administration in 1994, working in Title I and taking over as director in 1995. She had to work to make the job feel people-centered, which was the start of many of the warm relationships she has in the district. She described the job as a lot of paperwork, but very little people work.
One way she was able to maintain that joy was seeing former students grow, start families and even become teachers.
“I have grand-students now,” she said. “When I see a former student in new teacher orientation, I think, ‘Oh my goodness.’ It’s so refreshing. It makes me so proud.”
In 2001, Roy asked to be considered for the vacant Human Resources Director position. She was a natural choice.
Over the years, she has seen many changes, culturally and professionally and has helped teachers navigate those changes. From cellphone usage to more relaxed rules for attire, Roy helps ensure her teachers set the best possible example.
“I like to remind (teachers) that sometimes our students are only exposed to one professional each day,” she said.
Some of the more frequent conversations she has to have involve the use of various social media platforms. She reminds teachers that what they put out there reflects on them. Her advice is to type it out, let it sit, let someone else read it and then you can send it.
Roy also has had the privilege of helping her former colleagues move up through the ranks. At the same time, she has had to have many difficult conversations.
“Sometimes she has to deliver hard news, but they’re always receptive because she knows how to do it,” Bjork said.
Roy said the key to delivering the bad news is letting employees know that you still care.
“We’ve had a lot of heart-to-hearts in this office,” she said. “I have sat in this office and said a prayer with employees. I always tell them, ‘I’m not mad at you, I’m just disappointed with this situation.’”
The office has also been the center of many celebrations. Roy doesn’t believe you need some big event to celebrate the people you care about.
“Tyler ISD, they’re my family. I come to work excited every day,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many baby showers we’ve had or reasons to celebrate not on a holiday.”
Those frequent celebrations have made the big battles easier on Roy and her team.
She never thought she would see Tyler ISD’s desegregation order lifted. It was a herculean task, which seemed all but impossible. After years of hard work, the district was able to have the order lifted in summer 2016.
“One of my favorite memories was when I found out we were no longer under a desegregation order. Working in HR, we’re always going to do the right thing, but it seemed to always loom over us,” she said. “I never thought I’d be a part of this or live to see this day.”
Through so many accomplishments and relationships built, Roy has earned her retirement.
“I was going to do this last year and the year before and the year before,” she said. “My sister retired last year and she’s made it look so fun.”
Roy plans to spend time with her parents, hone her piano skills and volunteer more often.
“My plans are to let God lead me where he needs me,” she said. “I’ll be involved, but from a distance.”
Roy and her husband have two grown children, Carmen and Steven.