The Indiana Department of Education today announced that Sharita Ware, an engineering and technology teacher at East Tipp Middle School in Tippecanoe School Corporation, has been named the 2022 Indiana Teacher of the Year.
Ware was chosen above nine other finalists, including Susan Davis from South Bend Schools and Jennifer Yoder from Goshen Community Schools.
“Engineering and technology come alive in Mrs. Sharita Ware’s classroom, nurturing the next generation of Indiana’s innovators,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “By building an active learning environment, she challenges middle school students daily to explore and engage in STEM, bringing excitement into her classroom through innovative activities. Through hands-on projects both in class and after school, Mrs. Ware’s students are learning to solve real-world problems, while building important life skills like creativity, innovation, and teamwork.”
Ware is a 10-year educator who is dedicated to helping her students build knowledge and skills for high school and life beyond. She is helping her seventh and eighth grade students build problem-solving and critical thinking skills through hands-on, real-world and collaborative projects. This includes launching several afterschool activities for students:
The Maker Monday Hour, which allows students to work on developing creative projects — such as building a candy dispenser or mechanical puppet — in a low-pressure environment and alongside frequent support from Purdue University students. This hands-on experience allows students to use new tools and build new skills. During COVID-19 related school closures, nearly 10 percent of all East Tipp Middle School students participated in Maker Monday Hour projects at home.
FIRST Lego League is a global program that encourages STEM learning and exploration, along with competition in regional, state, national and global competitions. As part of FIRST Lego League, East Tipp students work to help solve a problem in the community. Last year, the school’s multiple teams developed a fitness app that allows users to invite friends to join a virtual fitness group and compete for points — encouraging people to stay connected and active while physically distanced. As part of the group, students also design and build a robot, which is programmed to solve missions.
In addition to teaching at East Tipp Middle School, Ware has also taught classes through Purdue University’s Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute’s Super Saturday Program. Last year, she taught a class on sustainable development called “We Built This City,” which culminates in students building a city with Legos. The class encouraged play while fostering students’ civic engagement and understanding of concepts including sustainability, collaboration and engineering design.
Ware earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, specializing in engineering and technology teacher education, from Purdue University as an Indiana Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellow in the STEM Goes Rural program. She also holds a certificate in Project Lead the Way’s Gateway to Technology program for middle school. She earned her bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering technology from the Purdue Polytechnic Institute, and worked in engineering and marketing for a number of years before becoming a teacher.
As Indiana Teacher of the Year, Ware will work to help elevate the teaching profession in Indiana, as well as represent Hoosier teachers at the national level.