The University of Missouri-Kansas City has named its 2017 Alumni Award recipients and will honor these 16 alumni and one family at an awards luncheon on April 20. UMKC’s Alumni Association will highlight recipients’ stories and accomplishments at the luncheon, and many of the honorees will visit classrooms this spring to share their stories with current students.
The School of Education’s Alumni Achievement Award honoree is David Sharp (M.A. ’99, Ed.Sp. ‘03), a veteran who has served as principal of Lee’s Summit West High School (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) since 2011, and previously was director of Summit Technology Academy, also in Lee’s Summit.
Born and raised in both Kansas City and south Chicago where his dad was a police officer, Sharp struggled in school and was told by his high school guidance counselor that he really didn’t fit the pedigree of those who go to college. A graduate of William Chrisman High School in Independence, Mo., he chose to enter the military and decided if he survived his tour of duty, he would return to school and “do something right.” As it turns out, Sharp was the first in his family to graduate from college.
Sharp’s decision to become a teacher honored the “long lineage of teachers that helped me through school, and [because] I was one of those at-risk kids,” he said. Although, “if someone would have told me I would be a principal when I was younger, I would have laughed,” he added. “I was going to go into the family business, because I came from a lot of headstrong people and was going to be a Chicago cop, no question.”
Instead, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri, his master’s degree and Educational Specialist degree in Higher Education Administration—both from UMKC, and earned his Ed.D. from Baker University.
Characterized by those who nominated him as “the consummate professional” who “uses his experiences to encourage students to rise above and fulfill their potential,” Sharp was named Principal of the Year for 2015 by Greater Kansas City Missouri Principals Association and Missouri’s 2015 High School Principal of the Year by the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals. Under his leadership at Lee’s Summit West, the school has earned many accolades, including:
- Three-time US News and World Report Silver Medalist for America’s Best High Schools
- Two-time Platinum Award as a High Achievement School for High Schools That Work
- Missouri Gold Star School 2013
- National Blue Ribbon School 2013
- Annual ACT scores ranking among highest in Kansas City Missouri Metro
- A Missouri Top 40 High School for college prep
Paul Rutherford, Ph.D. (’99), a past Alumni Achievement Awardee and instructor at Lee’s Summit Technology Academy, claims Sharp’s “sense of loyalty, commitment to his school, its faculty, staff, parents and students, is, in my estimation, at the highest level that I have witnessed in a public school administrator in my 34 years as an educator, both at the public and collegiate level. He will never compromise the progress of our students and their preparation for the various professions they [are] headed towards, and he sees himself as merely a part of the bigger whole, encouraging and inspiring those who work, not for him but beside him.”