Midstate educator being honored for inspiring hundreds of young women through programming

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — A Midstate educator is being honored for inspiring young women.

Sharice Johnson has spent hundreds of hours on programming that teaches leadership skills to high school girls. Now, the Milton Hershey School Program Leader is being honored as a 2018 Afterschool Champion by the Pennsylvania Statewide Afterschool/Youth Development Network.

“It’s just my passion,” said Johnson. “It’s what I love to do.”

When the bubbly and humble cheerleading coach started working at Milton Hershey 12 years ago, she created the Young Women’s Alliance to provide hope to girls facing challenges.

“I wanted to inspire the girls to learn new things about themselves, so that they have a plan once they leave Milton Hershey School…think about their future. Set goals, then accomplish those goals,” said Johnson.

That’s exactly what she did. Many students call Johnson their role model.

“She definitely taught me to be a leader, and she definitely taught me that us girls have a purpose in this world and that we should show it,” said Najiyyah Pendleton, an eleventh grader at Milton Hershey.

“She gives a lot of good advice, and she tells you how it is, and she helps you to become a better person,” said Diana Creech, a tenth grader at Milton Hershey.

Johnson also launched Girls Grace: an annual event which aims to guide hundreds of teenagers toward bright futures.

“I pour a lot into the programs I do here,” said Johnson.

The reward for all this is work? Smiles and success.

The Harrisburg High School graduate says her own cheering coaches are the ones who inspired her, so she teaches the girls she works with to pay it forward.

“When I graduate, I want to go into engineering, and I think that I can be a role model to other young women by doing that in the same way that Ms. Johnson is to us,” said Creech.

“It’s my dream to come back here and teach elementary students here,” said Pendleton.

Johnson will be given her award at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey Hotel on March 21, which falls during Women’s History Month.

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