By C. Brandon Chapman, College of Education

Sharon Foster, a first-grade teacher from Daybreak Primary School in Battle Ground, Washington, will be presented with the Washington State University College of Education’s outstanding mentoring award on Sept. 29.

Closeup of Sharon Foster.

The award is part of the college’s yearly Scholarship and Excellence program, which takes place on homecoming weekend at WSU Pullman.

The Miller/Manchester Outstanding Mentor Award honors teachers who are heavily involved with WSU students during the student teaching or practicum experiences. It generally is given to someone who has done this work over an extended number of years.

Foster said, while she’s humbled to be honored with this award, it’s just part of her duty to give back.

“As an agent of change, I believe I encourage by modeling a growth mindset,” she said. “I work on being very transparent in my teaching and remind my student candidates that they too will get braver at making and learning from their mistakes and challenges.”

Foster’s friends and colleagues said it’s a lesson that pre-service teachers all take to heart.

“Not only has Sharon supported dozens of teacher candidates over the years, she recognizes the importance of integrating these teacher candidates into the classroom community early in the year, meeting with them before the school year even begins,” said Matt Kauffman, principal of Daybreak Primary School. “As the year progresses, Sharon and her teacher candidates use one another as resources and are often seen working as a team, with students, to support classroom goals and activities. As a result of Sharon’s dedication and efforts the teacher candidates always leave their experience well prepared for establishing an initial classroom of their own.”

WSU Vancouver field supervisor Barbara Baird said one look at the students under Foster’s tutelage makes it very clear that there’s been a positive impact.

“The teacher candidates under Sharon’s mentorship have been successful and hardworking teachers in their new position,” she said. “Sharon has given great service to our WSU Vancouver programs and students.”

Perhaps that is because Foster doesn’t see the students as merely a project.

“My class and I get just as much from the teacher candidates as they get from us,” Foster said. “We are on the same team. We are all educators.”