Where is Mr. Sheehan Now?

Matthew Shrake It’s a fair assumption that almost all students, at least those here at Latin, have had good teachers that have left the school or retired. One of my favorite teachers in my 10+ years at Latin has been Mr. Sheehan, my fourth-grade teacher. Students in the high school that had Mr. Sheehan know that he was a caring, thoughtful, and inspiring teacher to have. Most also know that he left the school a few years ago. When the Forum expressed an interest in getting an update on a former Latin teacher, Mr. Sheehan instantly popped into my head. I sent Mr. Sheehan a few questions, each of which he promptly answered. He also said that he misses all of his former students and that he hopes they see this article so that they know what he’s been up to and how to reach him if they’d like to reconnect. Below are my questions and his answers: Q: What is the official of your title of your job right now? A: I am the Lower School Head at North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka. Q: What do you do in your job position, and how is it a change from your job at Latin? A: As Lower School Head, I am responsible for all aspects of the Lower School Division. I am fortunate to work with and lead a very talented faculty of thirty-five teachers and staff members. I partner with this group of educators to evaluate our curriculum, develop new and exciting ways to teach our students and help them learn, and assist the faculty as they grow in their careers. I meet with parents when they have questions, concerns or ideas. I also partner with the other school administrators as we plan the direction and future of the school. Most importantly, always though, I work with 180+ students as they learn, grow, need help, and enjoy being elementary age kids. What I like most about my job is that I don’t feel like I have stopped being a teacher. This was very important to me when I took this new role. I loved (and love) being in the classroom. It truly is “where the magic happens”. Teaching is one of the hardest, most important jobs a person can undertake. I have loved being able to support and encourage teachers. As both a former classroom teacher and now administrator, I get to serve people—teachers, parents, colleagues and students — in very important and meaningful ways. On account of this, I have loved going to “work” each day. Q: How do you like your new job compared to teaching Latin? A: My new job is different in that so many things can happen at once. This is not unlike being in a fourth-grade classroom, but the quick changes in topics, needs and decisions take a while to get used to. Still it’s a ton of fun. I can go from hard conversations around a situation, a student, or a teacher in one minute to deciding whether or not we have indoor recess in the next moment! In the classroom (and mind you I taught for a while), I felt like I could plan and, over time, anticipate things more accurately. In this new role, there’s so much that you can’t plan, but again, it’s thrilling . . . most days, that is. It is important for me to note— I will always feel that teaching at Latin made me who I am as an educator today. Latin is a special place to be a student, and it is also a special place to be a teacher. I treasure the time I spent as a teacher at Latin. I worked with the very best teachers, was taught by the very best administrators, and had the privilege of teaching and learning from an amazing group of students and families over twenty years. Q: Finally, what would you like to say to your former students that are in the high school at Latin? A: I talk with the Lower School faculty at North Shore a lot about how much it matters to be a teacher. The work matters. So much of that, though, is because, as a teacher, your students matter so much. Their progress, success, and failures need to matter to you if you really care about and respect the magnitude of your role. I would like to say again and again how much all of my students have mattered to me throughout the years and to this day. As I would write at the end of each year in my fourth-grade letter, teaching all of my students has mattered so, so much to me. They should also know I would love it if any Romans popped by the Lower School office to say hello once they made the long, treacherous journey up to Winnetka to play a game against the Raiders! They are all still so very important to me, matter to me, and inform my work each day.]]>