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Washington State University
College of Education

Tori Sharpe Educator of the Year

Alumna wins big with educator of the year award

By C. Brandon Chapman – College of Education

October 02, 2020

For the next year, high school teacher and WSU alumna Tori Sharpe will be living mortgage free. That’s because she has been named high school educator of the year by OnPoint Community Credit Union, headquartered in Portland.

Along with having her mortgage paid for a year, Skyview High School in Vancouver, Wash. where Sharpe teaches, will receive a $2,500 donation for resources and supplies.

At Skyview High, Sharpe is an English, AVID and ELL teacher. In OnPoint’s recognition, it said Sharpe “works to create mutual respect among her class and empowers them to share their needs, assess their own learning and display their knowledge in the way that is best for them.”

Sharpe (Truong while at WSU), a 2005 graduate of WSU’s College of Education, has received rave reviews from both coworkers and students at Skyview.

Associate principal Amy Haynes said Sharpe inspires creativity and enthusiasm in the classroom by creating spaces where kids embrace vulnerability and feel safe taking both academic and personal risks.

“Students solve classroom challenges together as a group, and regularly grapple with complex real-world problems using academic skills and language taught in class,” Haynes said. “Discussion is encouraged, and all student’s opinions and perspectives are valued and considered.”

Student Madeline Pritchard said Sharpe’s influence extends to multiple spheres at the school.

“Not only is Mrs. Sharpe an excellent teacher and touches the hearts and brains of many students in a school so large as Skyview High School, but she also coaches two sports,” Pritchard said. “She gets to work with so many teens in Vancouver, inspiring student athletes with her knowledge in wrestling and soccer and striving to support academic excellence. Parents are also well informed of what their child is learning in her class, so they can support their teen on their journey to success.”

Sharpe said her role as an educator is to help foster resiliency and an understanding of individual learning.

“Students must be encouraged to fortify their grit and work past their social and educational difficulties in order to become stronger and encounter authentic growth in themselves,” she said. “It is my role as an educator to help foster thinking such as this through my content area and multiple modalities because there is no one way of learning. I myself have become stronger by learning to collaborate with students and transform classroom learning through technology and other forms.”

Sharpe said her time at WSU opened her eyes to her potential to make a difference for others.

“I learned for the first time, that I really loved being a part of the process towards making a plan to help others be successful, watch them implement that plan, and see them realize their potential,” she said. “I discovered I had a passion for helping others learn to do things that helped them feel personal success and confidence.”

That may have been a learning moment for Sharpe. But like any good educator, it wasn’t her last.

“The most important thing I learned was that I need to always have a hunger for learning in order to be an effective teacher throughout my career,” she said. “Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was from my mentor teacher during my student teaching. He told me that I need to be willing to reevaluate my teaching approach at least every five years because the culture of kids change often, and that means my teaching needs to change to better meet the needs of the students. He told me that when I am satisfied with being a mediocre teacher, I should change professions, because our youth, our future leaders, deserve the best, not the mediocre.

While OnPoint gives out a variety of education awards each year, they only choose two top educators: one for grades 9-12, another for K-8. These aren’t for the mediocre but for the best. Sharpe was tagged as one of those.