Promotions and Events
Frequently Asked Questions

Sharpie News

"Signature" Parenting Style

Sep 1, 2006

Kathy Ireland and the Sharpie® brand honor educator and mother of two as nation's top Signature Mom

September 2006 More than 30 years ago in the quiet town of Palmyra, Mo., Kay Pugh made a life-changing decision the day her daughter, Alysha, was born. Pugh, then a business woman, put her career on hold after finding out that her daughter would face a variety of illnesses. From birth through the first six years of Alysha's life, Pugh was at her daughter's side.

"When you have a sick child, it changes your perspective on life," said Pugh. "After my husband and I made it through those first few delicate years of Alysha's life, I knew I had another choice to make. I could continue working or stay home with my family. The choice I made to become a teacher enabled me to do both."

With a family tree of educators - six of Pugh's nine siblings work in the education system - teaching seemed a natural career fit, but the choice meant taking a significant pay cut and two more years in school to earn an additional degree. Now, more than 25 years later, Pugh knows she made the right decision. Pugh's daughter, Alysha Barnett, also chose the teaching profession as a career path. Today, the two women teach in adjoining classrooms at Palmyra High School. "It couldn't feel more right," said Pugh.

Now, Pugh is being recognized for her contributions as a mother, teacher and more. After a national search to recognize stand-out moms with unique parenting styles, Pugh was named Sharpie's 2006 Signature Mom. Barnett wrote the winning essay that described her mother's commitment to family and teaching. "My mother Kay is a woman who lives unselfishly," wrote Barnett, mother of two. "She gives so willingly of her time, whether it's with my children, her students or the kids at church. She's amazing. She deserves to be recognized for all that she's done for me, our family and her students."

Barnett's essay was ultimately selected for top honors by Sharpie's ambassador, Kathy Ireland - former supermodel-turned-entrepreneur and mother of three. "Signature moms stand out because they make parenting work for them, not against them," said Ireland. "I do believe we as women can have it all, just not all at the same time. Each mom is amazing in her own way, and Sharpie and I want to celebrate and learn from these moms. Today we celebrate Kay Pugh, who made hard choices but ultimately did it her way, creating a win-win for her family, her students and herself."

Pugh's choices and Barnett's essay support the trend that today's moms are focused on creating a balance between family and career. According to a recent survey by the Sharpie, 54 percent of moms say spending enough quality time with their kids is among the most important attributes of good parenting.

Both Pugh and Barnett agree today's moms need to stay true to their instincts when it comes to deciding what's best for their child. "A Signature Mom recognizes that each child is unique, just as the role models who surround them have their own individual parenting and teaching styles," said Pugh.

To celebrate Pugh's new "Signature" status, she has been awarded a spa weekend getaway for two to a resort in Santa Barbara, where both Pugh and Barnett will get to meet Ireland in person. In fact, both women are among the 95 percent of moms who, according to the survey, agree that taking time for yourself and treating yourself every so often is part of being a good mom.

In addition to providing the spa weekend, Sharpie is also donating $10,000 in school supplies and funds to Palmyra High School, where both Pugh and her daughter teach. The funding comes as part of Sharpie's annual Autographs for Education program, which seeks to collect one million signatures in exchange for $1 million in school supplies and funds, including college scholarships.

Because of the Sharpie brand's longstanding commitment to education, moms (and dads) everywhere can still participate in the 2006 Autographs for Education program by visiting with their kids to create their own virtual signature. For more information about other Sharpie Signature Mom contest winners, and details about the Sharpie Autographs for Education program, visit

About Sanford®, Makers of Sharpie® brand products

For more than 40 years, Sharpie has been the popular brand of permanent markers long-associated with the autograph experience. Sanford, maker of Sharpie markers is a Newell Rubbermaid company, a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and marketing of writing instruments, art products and office organization, including such well-known brands as Paper Mate®, Sharpie®, DYMO®, Parker®, Waterman®, EXPO®, Foohy®, uni-ball®, and Rolodex®, among others. Sanford makes more than 6,000 products, ranging from markers, pens and pencils to professional art products, fine writing instruments and office organization products. Visit or for more information.


Grand Prize Winning Essay:

Kay Pugh, Palmyra, Missouri - submitted by Alysha Barnett

"Geometry and Calculus tutoring sessions, rebounding one-hundred free throws at a time, pasta prepared before every basketball game, a surprise sixteenth birthday party, singing to me at night - this is a short list of things I remember. My mom, Kay, is committed to God, family and education. She has taught high school math for twenty-four years and always has time for others. She takes my children to the park for walks, picnics, and tennis. She also teaches them math - they are only four and five! I am very proud to nominate her!"

Finalists in the Sharpie Signature Mom Contest:

Virginia (Ginny) F. Ireland, Sidney, New York - submitted by Doreen Hitt

"It is her heart that makes my mother a Signature Mom, and the reason that my five siblings and I look up to her with such appreciation. While juggling the troubles of working and caring for her own family, my mother took over a charity program that provides clothes and toys to hundreds of needy children. She still runs this program fifteen years later, and her selflessness has resounded in all of her children's lives, and she is well loved, not just for being an outstanding mother to us, but for being one to our whole community."

Jaime McDonald, Bethel, Connecticut - submitted by Kiyo Akiyama

"Jamie McDonald is my special cheerleader but she is also a 'mom' to a group of 13 students called her Advisory. She is friend, advocate, and disciplinarian. She bakes cupcakes for birthdays, buys Christmas gifts and Valentines or achievements like a driver's license. She always did sweet things for me, but she feels the need to do these things for her students. Initially I was jealous watching her give them attention but then realized how lucky they were to share my mom. I don't know about their home lives, so maybe my mom's cupcakes and attention is all they have."

Elaine Valencia Kellam, Frisco, Texas - submitted by Mary Kellam

"My Mother-In-Law is an incredible, generous, classic, loving lady that I will always love and be indebted to in more ways than I can describe. She is involved in many charities (she is on the board of three), she has a child with Asperger's that she guides through a socially difficult world, has her own interpreting business to help Hispanics in the court system AND she still has time to help me with my two children. I am blessed and am so grateful to God and this special Signature mom (who actually ALWAYS has a Sharpie in her purse.)"

Candace Evett, Benton Harbor, Michigan - submitted by Kristen Evett

"My mom is a phenomenal mom and grandma! While working full-time, she raised two kids, attended college classes, and received a bachelor's degree showing her children that anything - at any age - is possible. She volunteers at a local hospital, is extremely active in her church, mentors young students in her grandson's elementary school, and is a substitute teacher. She has been a taxi driver, backup catcher, art critic, sounding board, cook, 'domestic engineer,' and all around cheering section. I consider myself lucky to have her in my life and consider her to exemplify being a 'Sharpie' mom."

For more information contact Susan Wassel at 630-481-2018 or email