‘A family business’: Siblings follow in parents’ footsteps to educate students

CHARLOTTE — As another school year approaches for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students, Channel 9 talked to one family who has dedicated their careers to education.

Sylvia Barkley and her husband, Howard Barkley, worked as teachers for over 30 years before they retired. Now, their daughter and son are following in their footsteps as CMS teachers.

“You don’t go into education for the money. You go into education for the love of changing a child’s life,” Sylvia Barkley said.

That love has given her decades of memories from her time as a social studies and language arts teacher.

Her husband, Howard Barkley, was a physical education teacher.

“I was gonna give everyone an opportunity no matter how big, how small, no matter what,” he said.

The passion the two shared didn’t go unnoticed by their son, Van Barkley, and daughter Noel Hamrick.

Van Barkley followed in his dad’s footsteps by becoming a PE teacher at his alma mater, Butler High School.

“It’s really cool to see someone put together the names: Barkley? Is your mom Sylvia Barkley? Your dad Howard Barkley? They taught at my respective schools,” Van Barkley said.

Hamrick was inspired by her mother and became a social studies teacher. She’s a teacher at her alma mater, Independence High School.

“I’m really hoping what I’ve learned throughout, or what I learn throughout, from my brother and peers, I can come out on top,” Hamrick said.

All four family members agree that after all this time, the students are what keeps them coming back.

“The smiles you see on their faces when they figure it all out, that’s what’s rewarding for me, that’s what keeps me going,” Van Barkley said.

Now that Sylvia and Howard Barkley are retired they remind their children, that while the teaching journey won’t be easy, it is rewarding.

“Just take one day at a time and overcome those challenges and realize tomorrow is a new day and will be a better day,” Sylvia Barkley said.

Her son and daughter are among 18,000 staff members and 141,000 students getting ready to head back to the classroom.

Click here for what you should know for the first day of school.

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