Get to know Steve Shewey, an English teacher at All Souls Catholic School. Learn about his journey to becoming a teacher and how he brings his classroom to life through Shakespeare.
What did you want to be when you were little?
I was a typical kid — I wanted to be a baseball star! As I matured, I wanted to do something in public service. I actually went to fire school, and I graduated.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a teacher.
I’ve been teaching since 1999. I always enjoyed reading and wanted to become a writer, so I went to the University of South Florida and got my bachelors in secondary English education. I had a great poetry class and fell in love with all the poets, and it really caught my imagination. I had a great teacher there who inspired me with their methods for teaching. Growing up, I was fortunate to have some really great teachers as well. Louise Chapman, who’s still teaching in Volusia County, was integral in my life. I knew that if I was going to be a teacher, I was going to be like her. Her classes were addictive; she did all the coolest stuff.
What’s your favorite thing about teaching English?
I like the moments when I challenge students and get to see them show off the abilities I hope to foster in them. And because I teach 6th, 7th, 8th, I get to watch them move up and become really powerful.
What’s your favorite concept to teach?
My all-time favorite thing to teach that I haven’t really tweaked — I actually created it in my internship — is where we learn about Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare. I loved Shakespeare in college, and by the end of our unit, all of my 8th graders are big Shakespeare fans.
I put my students in situations based on the play and assign them a character. Through writing letters to each other, they act out the play. They sit in a circle and pass notes back and forth and try to accomplish these goals, and after watching the film and reading the play, we compare how the students played out their roles as to how Shakespeare did. I love this activity because it teaches the kids not to be scared of the language anymore. By the end of it, they’re calling each other Claudio and Leonato and all the names from the play. It’s really fun and unique!
How does your past professional experience affect your approach to teaching?
I started off at a normal middle school and followed an awesome principal to a dropout prevention school in Volusia County called Community Learning Center West. We taught 7th-10th graders who were having a really hard time with testing, and it changed my philosophy. These kids from a rougher background had the expectation that they’d be failures, but everything changed when they met adults who believed in them.
What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
My first round of students that I taught are in their 30s now, and I get to see them and witness the successful members of society they’ve become. Several are becoming teachers, and one’s a nurse now. They come back and want to do student teaching with me, and it’s cool to see I made an impact on their lives.
What do you hope your students take away from being in your classroom?
In the middle school years, I try to give students the courage to find their own voice. We listen to each other; we validate; we have discussions. I make my classroom a safe place to fail, and when you’re not afraid of failing, you get to try.
Get to Know Steve Shewey
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Miami, and we moved up to Ormond Beach when I was 4.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I like to read, play chess, camp, bike, and canoe. I’m outdoorsy! I like to camp in the mountains of North Georgia. We have family in Wyoming, so we camp across the country. Last year my wife and kids and I took a week getting there; we camped and got to show our kids places like the John Deere factory and where Lincoln grew up as a young man. I have a 10-year-old and a 5-year-old, and we like road trips!
Q: What’s your favorite place that you’ve visited?
A: My favorite place is probably Cheyanne, Wyoming; it’s really peaceful out there.
Q: Do you have a favorite book or author?
A: I used to love the Harry Potter series, but John Flanagan is what’s caught my imagination now; I read a lot of his stuff since I teach middle school. As a literature guy, I’m a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut and Hemingway.
Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
A: Probably flying! I’ve always enjoyed flying in airplanes, so if I could fly like Superman, that would take care of it.
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