Meet the new principal: Sharman Ensminger

Submitted by Orcas Island School District.

Sharman Ensminger is the newest member of OISD, as the Elementary, OASIS K-8, and OIMP Principal. Earning administrative credentials from Oregon’s George Fox University and Lewis & Clark College, this native Oregonian is humbled at the invitation to join OISD and serve the children and families of the island. She dreams of building systems where everyone feels welcome, included, and knows they are a vital part of the learning community.

Sharman is a career educator who brings equal parts of compassion for others, creativity, and willingness to serve in leadership; all lessons learned as a small-town kid growing up in northeastern Oregon and graduating in a class of 18 students. Spending every minute of her youth on horseback, raising livestock, playing sports, or with her nose in a book, she knew she was college-bound at an early age, even though she was the first generation in her family to do so. Starting college at age 17, at Pacific University, Sharman quickly set her sights on becoming a teacher, wanting to be a role model for others, particularly for those growing up in small rural communities like hers. While in college, her earliest teaching experiences were instructing horseback riding at a ranch camp, coaching basketball and Special Olympics, and tutoring reading intervention skills. It was in college she met her future husband, Colin Stapp, and they shared a love for mountain biking, kayaking, music, and the outdoors. While pursuing her teaching degree, Sharman jumped at the invitation to combine her teaching and farm skills through joining the Peace Corps. She taught small animal husbandry to women and children in backyards and campos of Guatemala. Through her journey toward bilingualism, Sharman cultivated a heart for advocacy and service—believing in the value of individual lived experience and voice. This inspired a 30-plus year career where she has dedicated herself to social justice, equity, and building inclusive learning communities for children.

Upon returning stateside, Sharman immersed herself into a teaching career, in and around rural schools, along the Oregon Coast and Willamette Valley. The opportunity to teach bilingual classes and lead school-wide intervention and data systems, combined with mentoring from outstanding women administrators, inspired the start of her own leadership career in 2006 in the McMinnville School District, as a dean of students. She then served as an elementary principal in Lincoln County, Gervais, and Central School districts; and served as a Director of Teaching & Learning and a Director of Equity in Gervais and Central School districts, respectively. Earning a counseling degree from the University of West Alabama in 2021 allowed Sharman to further extend her work within a wholistic, whole-child, perspective. She looks forward to serving the multiple OISD elementary programs as their “principal with the heart of a counselor,” and likes to bring joy and laughter to her work with children, families, and staff. Once Sharman gets settled into her work and island life, she hopes to return to adjunct teaching for aspiring principals at Lewis & Clark College, believing that “we leaders have an obligation to do everything possible to inspire and grow our next generation of leaders, particularly those who may not yet see, or believe, their own talents. That’s true leadership success.”

As much as Sharman enjoys putting herself into the profession, she enjoys a variety of pursuits outside of work like cooking, knitting, kayaking, mountain biking, books, art, academic research, and playing music. As her husband proudly claims Seattle as his hometown, they have traveled to the sound and surrounding areas for years, enjoying Washington as much as Oregon. After visiting the San Juans, they felt at home on Orcas, and knew this would be their next family destination. Sharman is thrilled that the timing of this new principalship aligned with the purchase of their Rosario home. Sharman and Colin have called the north Oregon Coast home for 20 of their nearly 30 years of marriage; and are eager to move to the island which they consider the next adventure in their life together.

As far as fully embracing island life, Sharman looks forward to so many things, such as: playing with the Floating Uke Jam, joining Knit Night at the local yarn shop, eating her favorite croissants at Brown Bear, rowing on Cascade Lake, exploring every trail in Moran—and most importantly, she dreams of seeing an Orca up close, which will be a first for her. Upon meeting Sharman, do not be surprised, if after greeting you with a smile, she quickly invites you into a conversation about why you should join her in the work to cultivate an extraordinary learning community for our most precious island residents—our kids.