Leander High School's online student-run newspaper

Learning as a teacher

A student teacher spotlight

April 23, 2016


Kyle Gehman

Mr. Sullivan is currently a math student teacher. He teaches Pre-Calculus and Algebra 2 Pre-AP/IB for Mr. Patterson.

For some people, going back to school to learn can be a scary thought and the last thing they want to do, but after years of experience and a passion for teaching, one person has found it as the career they want.

Shawn Sullivan is a student teacher here for Mr. Paterson’s Pre-Calculus and Algebra 2 classes. Before getting a student teaching position, he was working at Austin Community College as a math tutor.

“I started working at Austin Community College in the Learning Lab as a math tutor while I was going to school to be an electrical engineer,” Sullivan said. “I really enjoyed working with students and helping them with math, I was also enjoying my math classes. At the same time I was having second thoughts about being an electrical engineer, I decided that I wanted to be a math teacher so I changed my major to mathematics.”

Before becoming a teacher and going back to school, Sullivan was in the military with the Marines. While in the military he started his career as a teacher.

“I come from a family of military service,” Sullivan said. “Nearly all of the men in my family joined the military right out of high school. Most of the men joined the Marines. While I was in the Marine Corps I taught many classes on subjects ranging from water survival techniques to jet engine operation. Some of teaching experience from the Marines will carry over to teaching math.”

Math is known as one of the subjects that some students struggle with, even with Sullivan, but it is still the subject he chose.

“I enjoyed my math classes but they were hard classes for me,” Sullivan said. “I understand that math is a difficult subject to learn and I hope that I can make math less of a struggle and more interesting to students.”

Being a teacher also has learning opportunities and not just for students according to Sullivan.

“[What I’ve learned from teaching is] have a backup plan,” Sullivan said. “If a lesson involves technology using the internet and the internet goes down you need to be able to switch to plan B so that the lesson isn’t wasted.”

I hope that I can make math less of a struggle and more interesting to students.”

— Mr. Sullivan

Sullivan is also the first person in his family to attend college and has been in college since 2008 and has been a math tutor at ACC since 2010. He also has other interests outside of school including cooking and video games.

“I enjoy cooking, I attended San Diego Culinary Institute and I’m classically trained in French cuisine,” Sullivan said. “I cooked professionally for several years and still think about working in a professional kitchen. I’m usually trying to tweak a recipe or master a particular technique. Over the last several years I’ve been working on bread baking. I also enjoy reading and playing video games when I’ve got a little free time.”

Next Sullivan hopes to become a high school math teacher.

“I enjoyed my time student teaching at LHS and my experiences here reinforced my decision to become a teacher,” Sullivan said. “I’m looking forward to having my own students and teaching them for the whole year.”

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