ECE Senior Prepares to Graduate from UMO Washington

WASHINGTON- Teacher’s Assistant Sheri Barber always felt a calling to work with children. “Children are very precious to me, and it is my life’s mission to teach and help them in any way that I can,” she explained. This mission led Barber to the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at the University of Mount Olive. Despite having to overcome startling medical complications, Barber is on course to graduate in May.  She looks forward to soon leading a classroom of her own.

After graduating from Jamesville High School, Barber started her own at-home daycare. She loved working with the children, but felt the need to get her college degree to become the best childcare provider possible.  She enrolled at Beaufort County Community College and achieved an associate’s degree in applied science in 2001. With her new degree in hand Barber worked with North Everett’s Head Start and the Child Development Center in Washington.   In 2007 she began working with one autistic child at Rodgers Elementary School.  The school saw the benefit of Barber’s skills and she has remained with them for eight years working with all of their autistic children.

Although she loves her work as an assistant, Barber decided that she wanted to teach a class of her own. Barber heard a friend talking about the one-night-a-week program at UMO in Washington. Intrigued by the opportunity, she enrolled in the fall of 2013.

“UMO immediately provided me with a one-of-a-kind education,” said Barber. “The education practicums are preparing me to deal with real teaching situations. The program has also shown me how to become the teacher I want to be.”

As Barber was approaching her senior year at UMO, a medical disaster shocked her family.

“My husband had a heart attack and stroke in May of 2014,” recalled Barber. “It left him disabled and paralyzed on his left side. So, I had to take the rest of that school year off from work and classes.”

Just as Barber was getting back into her studies, she was forced into emergency surgery in the fall of 2015.  Luckily, she was still able to complete her courses. She is now on schedule to graduate in May.

“I have really enjoyed my educational journey from BCCC to UMO,” she said. “It has been challenging, but I know it will be worth it as I step into a classroom as a well-prepared teacher.”

At age 49, Barber hopes that she can inspire other adult learners to return to college. Barber is a Jamesville resident and a member of Harvest Church in Washington. She and her husband, Johnny Mack Barber, have three children, Allyson, Logan, and Landon.

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit