Northern Michigan University alumna Sharon Valascho is one of six finalists for the Detroit Red Wings Teacher of the Year, a title that comes with $5,000 and virtual meet and greet with a Red Wings player. The elementary art teacher and avid hockey player earned Red Wings Teacher of the Month in January, and said she is hoping she has what it takes to clinch the overall win.
“I was so grateful for that opportunity and I am thrilled to be even in the running for teacher of the year,” Valascho said. “This award and prize would mean so much to myself and my school. My students, colleagues, administrators and parents are all excited to help me win.”
Valascho came to Northern to pursue a bachelor's degree in illustration, and got her post-bachelor's in art education from Eastern Michigan University. She is an art teacher for Miller Elementary in Canton, Mich., and runs an art club for her 4th and 5th grade students.
“We have done some collaborative projects with the school, from anti-bullying artwork to working with melted crayons,” Valascho said. “We have also created clay cups and fabric bowls for the annual Empty Bowls event in Dearborn that supports the Gleaners Community Food Bank, and we're currently working on a three-dimensional artwork for World Art Day in April. I truly learned so much from the art program at NMU. I felt it prepared me to work with a multitude of mediums, from drawing to painting to sculpture.”
Valascho played hockey for the NMU women's club team from 2003-05, before moving on to the Michigan Senior Women's Hockey Team. She now plays in a co-ed league in Southgate and manages a men's weekly hockey drop-in.
Her bio on the Red Wings website states: “She brings enthusiasm, immense creativity and the purpose of melding art and academics. Just this year, Ms. Valascho initiated an after-school Art Club Program to allow interested students a chance to be even bolder and more creative in their projects. She is constantly gathering, inventing and searching for unique and useful items not provided by the school for student projects.”
Learn more about all six nominees for the Red Wings Teacher of the Year, presented by Burns & Wilcox, and cast a vote by March 24 here.