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Lafayette middle school teacher named Indiana Teacher of the Year

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10/26/21 Sharita Ware acceptance speech

Sharita Ware thanks God, her family and her students for the honor of the award. 

The Indiana Department of Education named East Tipp Middle School teacher Sharita Ware 2022 Indiana Teacher of the Year on Tuesday.

Ware teaches engineering technology to 7th and 8th graders and coaches for Maker Monday Hour and First Lego League at East Tipp.

“Mrs. Ware takes project-based learning to a whole new level,” said Kate Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “She is known for solving real-world problems in her classroom, helping students build the skills they need to thrive as they prepare for high school and life beyond.”

Ware said she helps students bring together knowledge they’ve gained in different places.

“I’ve tried to be my authentic self, just wanting to bring the love of learning to my students,” she said. “Yes, there are skills our kids need to learn, but I think we’ve compartmentalized it and boiled it down to a place where the kids really struggle to make sense of it.”

Teaching is more than giving students information, Ware said. For her, it’s showing them how to believe in themselves.

“When you try to bring it all together, they don’t think they know that material, but they really do,” she said. “You just have to help them see it.”

Ware is a Purdue alumna with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering technology and a master’s in engineering and technology teacher education. She started out in industry but later decided to become a teacher.

“I feel that in some ways, people should work in some sort of industry before going into education,” she said. “Being able to bring in those real world experiences has been very, very helpful. I think the students see more value placed in me as a teacher because I could be doing other things. A little more respect is given because I have done something else, and I could do something else.”

Being a teacher sometimes calls for more than is written in the job requirements, she said.

“There’s so much you need to have in the classroom with students because you find yourself sometimes being a parent, sometimes dealing with issues that are totally unrelated to the content that you’re teaching. It can be overwhelming for young teachers.”

Ware’s husband and Honors College professor Jason Ware said he’s happy his wife’s efforts are being recognized.

“The students love her,” he said. “It’s really important to her that the students’ voices are heard in terms of their experiences.”

Part of the reason she’s so well-loved by students may be because her lessons teach far more than could be put on a test.

“I try to always bring the big picture, the real world aspect to things. I always tell my students that your character’s what you’ve got. You want to present your best self to people, and for you right now, that’s doing your best work.”

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