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.
What advice would you give someone who is just beginning their career in education?
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.
What do you think is the most important part of your job?
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.
What is one local, state, or national education issue that you think more people should be thinking/talking about?
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.
Describe your perfect day at work.
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!
What do you wish more people knew about your job?
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.