Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh is a giant in Utah education and advocacy. Her passion is unparalleled. She was the 2009 Utah Teacher of the Year and is a member of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) and the Utah State Teachers of the Year (UTSTOY) chapter. She was a recipient of the 2009 California Casualty Academic Award for Teaching Excellence and the 2009 Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence, as well as the National Education Foundation’s top honor in 2010, the $25,000 NEA Member Benefits Award for Teaching Excellence. Sharon is also a NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellow, formerly visiting Peru and Finland and continuing the learning journey with a visit to China this year. She is currently the Chair of the National Education Association Foundation’s Board of Directors. Sharon has served on the Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, The Council of Accreditation of Teacher Preparation Programs, the Teacher Residency Task Force, the Teacher Accountability Task Force and the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission. In 2010, she was elected, in a statewide vote, as the President of the Utah Education Association and served in this position for a total of six years. She has more than 38 years of experience in public education. A National Board Certified Teacher, Sharon is the current vice-chair of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Board of Directors.
Whew! That is an impressive career and she is nowhere near stopping! Here is a little bit more about Sharon:
Where did you do your teacher prep? Loretto Heights College in Denver and I received a Master’s Degree with Teacher Leadership Certificate from National University in La Jolla, CA.
Where have you taught in your teaching career? Taught in Salt Lake City School District at Dilworth Elementary teaching both special education and second grade.
What is the funniest thing a student has ever said? There are so many wonderful comments from students. One which comes to mind is a student who came to school late one morning and she told me, “My dad cannot get his act together as good as my mom can in the morning. You need a woman.” This from a seven year old! I laughed so hard.
What advice would you give to new teachers? You are not alone. Seek out help from respected colleagues. Remember as a teacher, you hold tremendous power for both good and bad. There are no do-overs in education so give every student your best. While the monetary rewards are not significant, the letters you receive from former students expressing how you impacted their lives are priceless.
What is your favorite teacher resource? My colleagues! They provide support, encouragement and act as a critical friend!
Describe any experience you have had in education policy. Tons! After being names the 2009 Utah Teacher of the Year, I decided to run for President of the Utah Education Association. In my role as UEA President, I dealt with the Utah State Legislature, the State Office of Education, and local administration on a regular basis. I served for six years on Governor Herbert’s Education Commission. In addition, I testified before Congress on wrap-around services for students.
What’s the biggest change you would like to see in education? I would love for teachers to be respected as the classroom experts in collaboration with parents. We are the credible messengers for what works in classrooms and with students. It would be great to have adequate resources and tools to do our job. This would include lower class sizes to meet the needs of our students.
Why did you choose to become an educator and why do you choose to stay in the profession? Simply said, “To make a difference in the lives of my students.” There is nothing more powerful. Now that’s a legacy!
Anything else we should know? Love the quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” What better place to live it than in education.
If are a new (or experienced) teacher leader, Sharon is a great educator to follow on Twitter @SharonGF_NBCT