• Sharon Owen Reading Plaza

    Dedicated May 19, 2003

    Sharon Owen  was a great advocate for reading.  She dedicated many years of her life to the students of MLK and several other MUSD schools.   As a librarian, she made sure that books were always available to all of the students.  Whether the student was reading for pleasure or doing research, our library was well stocked with books.  She was continually updating the shelves with new books.  We owe her much for the great library that we have today.
    Sharon Owen, Martin Luther King Middle School librarian, and Edward Gonzales, M.L.K. principal, stand next to the newly dedicated plaque in the Sharon Owen Reading Plaza at Martin Luther King Middle School, Tuesday.
    Madera Unified School District officials, community members, and fellow educators gathered at Martin Luther King Middle School to honor Sharon Owen, M.L.K. librarian by dedicating the Sharon Owen Reading Plaza, Tuesday."We are proud to have this opportunity to honor Sharon, who has contributed to the Madera community in so many ways," Ed Gonzales, M.L.K. principal, said.
    Sharon came from humble beginnings."I was not always surrounded by books," Owen said. Living on a farm Owen never saw a book, and she was responsible for milking five cows a day and laboring on the farm in numerous ways by the age of 9.
    "I was the official executioner," Owen said."I set traps for the rats in the hen house." Once the rats were caught, they didn't die, so Owen had the responsibility of going into the hen house with a 22-rifle and putting them out of their misery.Not only did she kill the rats, she also had the responsibility of killing the chickens. "I'd take the suckers, put their little scrawny necks onto the chopping block," Owen said. "There is no wonder I have a near obsessive love of murder stories today."
    When Owen entered school, she had already been labeled as stupid, dumb and incapable of learning. Owen had a severe lisp, and her words were incoherent, so her parents assumed she was not too bright, according to Owen. "My first teacher did not believe in these labels, and she took me under her wing," Owen said.
    During her 21 years working for Madera Unified School District, Owen has been actively involved in numerous projects, councils and teams at both Thomas Jefferson Middle School and Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. "Anyone who has worked with Sharon knows the quality of her character, the passion of her commitment and her love of learning," Gonzales said.
    Owen began working in Madera Unified as a librarian at Thomas Jefferson Middle School (formerly Thomas Jefferson Junior High) in 1981. She became a member of the leadership team of the newly established Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in 1995.