Educator Awards Spotlight: Sarah Manus

Sarah Manus is the Northwest ESD 189 Regional Teacher of the Year and is a 9th & 11th Grade Pre-AP English Teacher at Everett High School in Everett School District

We’re sharing the wisdom of our incredible regional and state Teachers and Classified School Employees of the Year, in their own words. Find more on our Spotlight page.

Spend as much time as you can in the classrooms and workspaces of veteran educators, and invite them into your classroom as often as possible. Leave room for no embarrassment or shame in constructive feedback. There is no ally like a fellow teacher, and intergenerational friendships within this profession will guide and sustain you if you desire this career for the long haul. Teaching can be a lonely profession, but it can also be abundant in community and solidarity. There is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom in every building! Seek it out.

The most important part of my job is Antibias and Antiracist (ABAR) work. For me, these aren’t ideas to integrate or philosophies to introduce, but anchors that all other learning hinges upon. Power, voice, citizenship, and identity are themes that can be found in all literature, and it’s my greatest joy to show students the way literature comes to life when we analyze it through such themes. The most important part of my job is preparing students for the real world — a world where they understand their own power and the power of others — their ability to subvert or uphold it.

I believe more people should be discussing the inherent racism and classism of standardized testing. Since we know that students of color and students living in poverty do not perform as well as their white, rich counterparts on standardized tests, it is time to not only question the antiquated system, but to change it. These high-stakes tests reinforce an “achievement gap” that keeps BIPOC students from prestigious universities and high-paying jobs, when in reality, the metrics used to define that gap contain inherent biases that have aided segregation for years.

My perfect day at work starts with collaboration. We check in on each other and provide last-minute tips, encouragement, or ideas for the day’s lessons. As class begins, students are so familiar with classroom routines that they form themselves into groups and begin their entry task. I share a meaningful text that speaks to students’ lived experiences, and in groups, they dissect the author’s intent and collaborate to form their own opinions. Perhaps they engage in philosophical chairs, pinwheel discussion, a fishbowl or gallery walk, and they end with writing. My team and I reconvene and do it again tomorrow!

I wish more people knew how desperately children want to learn. As adults, we can be easily calloused. We’re exhausted! I believe if more people addressed their own inner child with grace, patience, compassion, they would remember how out-of-control it feels to be small. No kid wants to do a bad job. Every time another adult steps into my classroom, it is my goal to show them not what I can do, but what kids can do. When I approach my classroom with wonderment, I see the hearts of my students every day. I want that for others too.

Learn more about the Teacher and Classified School Employees of the Year on the Educator Awards website.

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Led by Supt. Chris Reykdal, OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state.

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Except where otherwise noted, content by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. All logos and trademarks are property of their respective owners.