Sharon A. Skowronski, a retired kindergarten teacher who earlier in her career taught special education students, died of cancer Saturday at Mercy Medical Center. The Cub Hill resident was 56.
She was born Sharon Almon in Corning, N.Y., moving with her family in the early 1950s to Harundale and in 1955 to Parkville.
A 1968 graduate of Mercy High School, she earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1973 from the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1977, she earned a master's degree in education and learning disabilities from the Johns Hopkins University.
During the 1970s, Mrs. Skowronski taught at the old Ridge School on West Joppa Road near Towson before leaving in the 1980s to raise her children.
She returned to education in 1992, teaching kindergarten at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Baynesville.
"She was the kindest and most Christian woman I've ever known in my life, and her death is a great loss," said Wilma L. Short, the school's principal.
"She was blessed with patience, and she treated her students as if they were her own children. And one of her strongest beliefs was that every child was capable of learning, and she spent hours trying to help them. Her Ridge School training was especially handy with children who had different learning styles," she said.
Mrs. Skowronski's classroom was known as a busy place that was "filled with light, energy and lots of love," said Toni Julian, a teacher and friend of 30 years who recently retired from the school.
"Sharon had a special love for those students who struggled. She was able to give them a heartfelt sense of self. She told them they were just as smart as anyone else and having a good sense of self was just as important as learning their numbers or ABCs," she said.
"She urged them to dream big and follow those dreams because they were capable of doing anything they wanted. This is what she brought and gave to her children," Mrs. Julian said.
During her years at the school, Mrs. Skowronski's health began to fail.
"No one knew about her health, and she never let it affect her demeanor, students or their parents. She had such a strong inner faith," Mrs. Short said.
She retired in 2000 but in recent years kept busy tutoring children and immigrants. She also was an avid reader and was a member of two book clubs.
Mrs. Skowronski was a longtime communicant of St. Isaac Jogues Roman Catholic Church, 9400 Old Harford Road, where for nearly a decade she headed the children's liturgy committee and taught Catholic religious education. A Mass of Christian burial will be offered there at 9 a.m. tomorrow.
Surviving are her husband of 33 years, Dan R. Skowronski, a Baltimore lawyer; two sons, Benjamin A. Skowronski of Baltimore and William A. Skowronski of Cub Hill; two daughters, Laura Bouyea of Timonium and Anna Mahaney of Columbia; her parents, Robert and Kathryn Almon of Salisbury; six brothers, Timothy Almon of Columbia, Eugene "T" Almon of Severna Park, Terry Almon of Lutherville, Robert Almon of Parkville, Patrick Almon of Carney and Michael Almon of Baltimore; and a sister, Mary Funk of Salisbury.