David Sharp’s decision to become a teacher honored the “long lineage of teachers that helped me through school, although if someone would have told me I would be a principal when I was younger, I would have laughed. 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 became the first in his family to graduate from college. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri and his master’s degree and Educational Specialist degree in Higher Education Administration both from UMKC. He fondly recalled former professor Dr. Sue Thompson as a “very passionate” educator and considers adjunct professor Dr. Paul Rutherford (Ph.D. ’99) a mentor to this day. Sharp earned his Ed.D. from Baker University.
His early career returned him Chrisman High School in Independence, Mo., his alma mater, as assistant principal. “I felt it was my duty to give back to a lot of kids that struggled like I did, and some who struggled a whole lot more. It meant the world to me to be able to walk the talk. I spent hours working with kids that needed guidance, mentoring, money, clothes. I would go get kids that were truant, bought books, and helped single parent families pay bills. I gave back to the best of my ability.”
Sharp was assistant principal at Lee’s Summit (Mo.) West High School from 2004-06, director of Summit Technology Academy—also in Lee’s Summit—for four years, and has now been principal at Lee’s Summit West since 2010. (He will assume the position of assistant superintendent of the Lee’s Summit R-VII School District as of July 1.)
Lee’s Summit West was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2013 and Sharp was selected both the Greater Kansas City Principal of the Year and the Missouri State Principal of the Year for 2015-16. He modestly credits “the people with whom I get to work with daily” for the honors.
“My most important work is student success, and empowering teacher leadership to improve practice,” Sharp explained. “I live by the mantra: every student, every classroom, every day. I am a visionary leader that seeks to chart a clear course that everyone understands, high expectations, and demonstrate a genuine care and concern for our students. I am responsible for student learning, rigorous curriculum, quality instruction, a culture of learning, and continuous improvement.”