Mrs. Sharon Olbertson earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Mount Marty College in Yankton, SD. She earned her Master of Arts in English from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, SD in 1969. She is a professional learner and has taken many graduate courses, earning credits in literature, writing, brain-based learning, and certification in gifted education.
Mrs. Olbertson’s first teaching position was at a Middle School in Washington, D.C. during 1962-63. During 1964 and 1965, she taught English, math, and biology at Mugoiri Girls’ High School in rural Kenya. From 1966-68, she taught English at Roncalli High School in Aberdeen, SD and advised the yearbook and drama.
Mrs. Olbertson taught High School English Composition, Literature, and Language Arts courses at Beresford High School for 33 years, from 1968-2001. Mrs. Olbertson also served as the Oral Interpretation coach and her students received approximately ninety individual state superior medals. Her BHS Oral Interpretation teams earned team trophies (two or more individual superior ratings) for fourteen years in a row. Mrs. Olbertson assisted and/or directed various school stage performances in plays, musicals, and talent shows. She was an advisor for the school newspaper and yearbook for several years and she coached the high school Quiz Bowl team. While teaching at BHS, Mrs. Olbertson organized various student trips to Europe, from Ireland to Greece.
Mrs. Olbertson is a member of National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the South Dakota Council of Teachers of English (SDCTE), serving as their president in 1989-90. She was a “Fellow” with the Dakota Writing Project; and attended the National Writing Project, served as “guest teacher” with the Chicago Area Writing Project.
Mrs. Olbertson has attended and presented at numerous workshops on brain-based learning, writing, and literature. She served as an NCTE folio reviewer of colleges seeking National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) approval for Language Arts teacher preparation. She served on South Dakota Department of Education (SD DOE) committees for the South Dakota Language Arts and Fine Arts standards. She also collaborated on the Language Arts curriculum for the Beresford School District. Mrs. Olbertson collaborated on the creation of the South Dakota Literary Map through the SDCTE and Humanities Grant, which was distributed to all school libraries in South Dakota and available to others.
Mrs. Olbertson began the Advanced Placement (AP) Program at BHS. She taught English Language Composition and Literature. She facilitated independent study in other disciplines for individual students, including math, science, government, history, music, and art. Mrs. Olbertson accompanied (as “most influential teacher”) a BHS student to Washington, D.C., where the student was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts (in writing).
Mrs. Olbertson not only instilled a passion for reading and some of the finest works of literature but she turned out students who were excellent communicators in both the spoken and written word. Her students are eternally grateful for that. Her senior Research and Writing and Creative Writing classes prepared students for college and life. Mrs. Olbertson enjoys hearing about the successes of her former students.
Even though retired, Mrs. Olbertson’s passion for teaching continues. She taught at Killian Community College for several years. In 2007, she began an affiliation with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), serving as a discussion leader of literary works. During the past 12 years, she and her fellow students have covered approximately 35 topics. Some of the retired people in her classes are even former students!
Mrs. Olbertson continues to facilitate local and regional writers’ workshops and literature discussions. Since retiring from BHS, she has served as an oral interpretation judge at all levels, including SDHSAA regional and state oral interpretation and speech competitions. Recently, Mrs. Olbertson created a Handbook for Oral Interpretation Coaches and it is now available.
Mrs. Olbertson remains a strong advocate for the academics and fine arts in our school district and community. She is an active member of the Beresford Area Arts. Mrs. Olbertson served as a line coach for many of the Beresford Area Arts productions and musicals.
For many years, Mrs. Olbertson has volunteered her time as an official timer of Watchdog Track and Field Meets.
From the BHS 2001 Yearbook, dedicated to Mrs. Sharon Olbertson:
“A teacher affects eternity; she can never tell where her influence stops.” Henry Brook Adams
Congratulations to our Watchdog Hall of Fame Academics/Achievement inductee, Mrs. Sharon Olbertson!