The Indiana Department of Education announced Tuesday that Tippecanoe School Corporation’s Sharita Ware is the Indiana Teacher of the Year.
Ware teaches engineering and technology at East Tipp Middle School in Lafayette.
Students, staff, and state officials gathered in the East Tipp Middle School gym to surprise Ware with the announcement.
Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner encouraged students to think about how many teachers there are across the state - enough to overflow the Purdue football stadium.
“And only one person is selected and in this case in the whole state of Indiana it’s Mrs. Sharita Ware,” she said. “It’s an enormous honor and a huge responsibility for any state.”
Speaking to reporters, Ware said there are many teachers who put in the hard work without seeing recognition.
“You don’t always as a teacher feel valued, you don’t always feel respected, you don’t always feel compensated for the effort and time that you give, but there are those emails you get and they remind you that the purpose is bigger than you,” she said.
“There are so many teachers that do a great job in the classroom that don’t get the opportunity to get recognized,” Ware said. “I’m hoping that I do a good job of representing those that haven’t had the opportunity to be seen or to be heard.”
Jason Ware, Sharita’s husband, attended the press conference with their three children. He said while he is biased, he believes the recognition is well deserved.
“My wife’s an amazing human, an amazing person, and I think that manifests in her role as an educator,” he said. “She has very high expectations for herself and her students and I think all of that culminates in this amazing woman and educator that she is.”
Autumn Ware, Mrs. Ware’s daughter, said she has taken classes with her mother and is proud to see her get the recognition she deserves.
“I know she probably in her heart feels like she doesn’t deserve it, she’s a really humble person,” she said. “But I know she does deserve it. She’s a really great teacher.”
Ware’s students were similarly enthusiastic about the award.
Luke Baker is an eighth-grader in Ware’s class.
“She just makes everything fun,” he said. “We just get to go into the lab and she has a lot of cool stuff we can do and design.”
Katie Pourcho, Indiana’s 2020 teacher of the year, attended Tuesday’s ceremony. She echoed Ware’s remarks about the importance of supporting and recognizing teachers.
“Even our best teachers who are working countless hours that are not being seen - we are all in a place of burnout,” she said. “I think there are things we could do with policy, but also on the local level -- what can local communities do to support teachers?”
“Our job hours have, like many jobs in the country, have doubled and increased and it has been painfully hard,” Pourcho said. “I would encourage local school communities and local organizations within those communities to come and surround teachers in their local schools.”
Tippecanoe School Corporation Superintendent Scott Hanback said this is the second teacher of the year award for the district since 2015.
“We’re just slightly thrilled here having two in the last seven years,” he said. “Really proud of all of our teachers and thrilled for Mrs. Ware.”