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Employee Spotlight: Shar

June 10, 2022

Posted in: Job Training & Education

It all started with an ad on Facebook that transformed Shar’s career, landing her a position at Evergreen Goodwill of Northwest Washington’s Job Training and Education Center in Whatcom County – bringing her Goodwill journey full circle.

The next thing she knew, she was interviewing for a position as an instructor teaching Microsoft Word/Excel and Google Docs/Sheets.

“[I thought] what a great way to be able to give back,” Shar said.

Shar first encountered Evergreen Goodwill’s Job Training and Education programs and workshops over a decade ago after returning to the Bellingham area.

“I had recently become a single mother, and I had previously been in the workforce,” Shar said. “Since I had been a stay-at-home mom for four years, I wasn’t sure where to begin to look for a job.”

She then worked one-on-one with an instructor who provided a refresher on Microsoft Excel, serving as a “springboard” to give her the confidence to rejoin the workforce.

Shar applied for a position at nearby Western Washington University (WWU), and she worked there for more than a decade, serving in a variety of roles including managing the nation’s largest school-based mentoring initiative known as “Compass 2 Campus.”

While working at WWU, Shar also received a master’s degree in education, equity and justice – utilizing her studies to take a closer look at curriculum and instruction, with a sharper focus on multicultural education and ways to be more inclusive in the classroom.

Identifying as Hawaiian and Canadian, Shar described how she’s used her multicultural upbringing and prior work experiences to open her eyes to many perspectives and viewpoints. 

“I was open to listening to what people had to share and actually paying attention,” Shar said.

She’s now hoping to continue that same perspective in her classroom here at Evergreen Goodwill – encouraging students to share and celebrate their diverse backgrounds and experiences as learning opportunities for everyone.   
“I focus a lot on growth mindset, so they are learning the process to be successful,” Shar said. “This is a learning community that’s passionate about growing and changing, which I think is really important.”

And teaching Microsoft Excel/Google Sheets is an especially meaningful aspect of her role within the organization. Not only was it an important piece in launching her own career, but Shar is also now setting other students up for success.

“If you have Excel on your job description, you probably make 14% more than somebody who doesn’t have that on their job description,” Shar said. “In Whatcom County, where housing prices are really expensive, that’s a huge thing – you can alleviate a lot of stress off people if they just have the basics met, and we get to do that here.”

Beginning her career with Evergreen Goodwill just a few months ago, Shar is already looking forward to what’s to come during her time as an instructor.

“I saw students coming in that were extremely shy and unsure, and then by the end of eight weeks, I’m literally calling them rock stars,” Shar said.

While there are many changes set to take place in the coming weeks and months, Shar said she’s looking to have an impact on how we’re better able to serve our students and hopes to continue to spread the Evergreen Goodwill mission throughout the community.

“In Hawaii, we have a word that’s kuleana – both our right and our responsibility – and I see that at Goodwill,” said Shar.

As she continues to learn – she’s thankful for the time and efforts of her colleagues and the energy they’ve devoted toward ensuring her success in the classroom.

“It’s tapping into a bigger pool of knowledge and resources that can empower you and your community towards success,” Shar said.

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