Sharon M. Scapple, Ph.D.

Sharon Scapple

Title: Professor Emeritus
Location: Hawley, Minnesota, United States

Sharon Scapple, Professor Emeritus, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in teaching literature and writing.

Dr. Scapple became involved in her profession when a professor in her undergraduate studies recognized her potential for teaching.  With his encouragement and support, Dr. Scapple stepped into an eleventh grade and a tenth grade English classroom during student teaching, spring 1969, at Altoona High School, not to leave the profession until fifty years later.  “An exhilarating experience,” Dr. Scapple has noted when recalling that first teaching.

After graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 1969 with a B.A. in English, Dr. Scapple taught high school in Wisconsin for three years; she then moved on to earn a Masters Degree in English Education from Winona State University, 1974. In an attempt to bring together her love of reading, writing, and painting, Dr. Scapple took on a Ph.D., majoring in Children’s and Adolescent Literature, University of Minnesota, 1983. Since then, Dr. Scapple has developed several courses in the field, such as The Complete Harry Potter, Fantasy Literature, Variations on Oz, Writing for Children, Censorship of Teen Literature, Adolescent Literature, Picture Books and Their Makers; Writing About Art; as well as courses in diversity: Native American Literature, Native American Women Writers, LGBTQ+ Teen Literature, and Who Is a Hero? (Cultural Hero).

Three areas have dominated Dr. Scapple’s teaching: 1) courses addressing diversity; depicting the reality of our multicultural world; 2) courses in Children’s and Young Adult Literature; the best in reading; and 3) courses in Writing, for which she holds a high preference to teach. As well, Dr. Scapple’s scholarship centers on the art of picture books, the psychology/voice of the young protagonist and diversity, including anti-racism.

Out of this teaching came the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, Metropolitan State University (Minnesota), 1990-91. The special honor for Dr. Scapple accompanying this award was that the student body nominated the candidates. Dr. Scapple’s commitment to teaching garnered her another Teaching Excellence Award, 2005, Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM) and in the same year, a nomination for Outstanding Advising.  And, Teacher of the Month, November 2004, Gamma Phi Beta sorority, MSUM.

In addition to developing and teaching numerous courses in Writing and Children’s Literature, serving on MFA Creative Writing thesis committees, and developing a Children’s and Adolescent Book Reviewing service, Great Plains Reading Review, for nearly two decades, Dr. Scapple taught prospective teachers enrolled in Secondary English Education degree programs at the University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas and Minnesota State University Moorhead.  In her philosophy of teaching, Dr. Scapple insists that the students/people come first; then comes content.  Teaching is about helping students find their own voices, about seeing the world with a more critical eye, about expressing one’s self honestly and taking pride in that expression.

As testimony to her dedication to facilitate a student’s well-being personally, academically, and professionally, Dr. Scapple has received numerous unsolicited letters and emails over the years, thanking her for “believing in them.”  One email in particular is now framed and hanging in her home. And one sentence here encapsulates the heart-felt message:  “You have been the most influential instructor in my life.  Your expertise, passion, creativity, and authenticity carved a niche for me to be myself—unique and precious” (K.B. 3/17/17).  Another Dr. Scapple was instructed to read whenever she wondered what effect she was having on students in her classroom:  “I am, I hope, making you proud, financial success or no, because, were it not for your teaching, I would not be the teacher I am today to four incredible human beings who bring me inexpressible amounts of joy” (M.C. 2/22/19).

Alongside a career as a university professor, Dr. Scapple has maintained her artistic side and for three decades has shown her art in the Upper Midwest: B & W photography, figure, pastel, abstract painting, and now printmaking. Currently, Dr. Scapple has installed two log cabins on her seven-acre farm where she will continue developing her work in lithography, with hopes of producing a picture book in stone lithography.

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