Educator of the Month - Sheldon Stuttard
We're excited to share this month's Educator of the Month with you - Sheldon Stuttard. Here's how he answered our questions (hint: we love his answers!).
Mr. Stuttard, so great to have you as educator of the month! Let's get started! Where are you from?
I’m originally from Saskatoon, SK. My wife and I moved to Merritt in 1997. The last three years, I’ve been dividing my time between Merritt and Kelowna.
How long have you been a teacher at SCIDES?
This is my 3rd year at SCIDES, but I’ve taught some math courses through SCIDES while I was a teacher at Coquihalla Middle School, and then when I was a teacher at Central Elementary School.
Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher because I wasn’t a very good student as a child. I did “okay” and always passed my courses, but I don’t feel I met my potential. In elementary school, and again in secondary school, I often felt that I needed more than my teachers were giving me. I also felt that if I ever became a teacher, I could do a better job for my students (especially students who struggled in some way). In grade 7 and grade 8, I had a teacher who changed everything for me. He was an amazing educator. He was quirky, fun, interesting, knowledgeable, and he truly inspired me to “think”, and to be an active participant in the learning process. He didn’t want his students to just sit there, soak in what he told them, and then regurgitate it back to him. He encouraged questioning, exploration, and excitement in acquiring knowledge, and he always supported his students; telling them to experience as many things as possible as they went through their daily lives. I’m very thankful that I had Mr. Erol Frazer-Harrison as a teacher, and I hope that I’ve been able to instill some of the values he taught me, in my students over the years.
We love this story! Fun, interesting, and knowledgeable certainly applies to you as well! Tell us, what's your favourite aspect of being a teacher?
Like most teachers, I enjoy making personal connections with my students. I love seeing students succeed academically, and in daily life (please note that success means something different to every single person).
So true that success means something different to every single person, and important to remember! What's your least favourite aspect of being a teacher?
Red tape, politics, and paperwork are probably my least favourite things about teaching. It’s also difficult to see kids lose their passion for learning. It happens occasionally, and when it does, it’s time for teachers to work even harder to make those connections and to create those opportunities that will re-engage students.
How do you re-engage students? What's your best advice to them, when it comes to figure out their calling and find their path?
I know it’s cliché, but having students think about things that they truly love doing is where I start them off. I like it when students think outside the box, and when they can bring their passions to learning. A career can take many shapes, and with technology and the world changing so quickly these days, I would always encourage students to think about ways they might be able to flexibly incorporate their passions into the future.
Good stuff! And now we're curious what your favourite book is, and why!
There are so many amazing books out there. Instead of choosing just one, I’ll take the easy way out and offer a book that I read this summer called Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time. The book was written by David Relin and Greg Mortenson, and is a true story. It begins with Mortenson’s journey to summit K2 in his late sister’s honour. It describes his failed attempt, his amazing story of survival on the snowy, freezing mountains of the Karakorum, and the twists and turns that Mortenson endures that ultimately lead him to build schools (with a focus on educating girls) in the remote, Taliban-lead, areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s inspiring to see this character’s ability to lead others, to raise money and awareness, and not to accept “No” for an answer, when he knows he’s on a mission for a greater humanitarian good.
That sounds like a great read, thank you for sharing. Now let's move on to the next question: what's the best advice you've ever received?
This isn’t something that I received in person, but it’s something that I found several years ago while looking for things to discuss with my middle school students. It’s a message I’ve shared with my students ever since, and it’s something I try to live by personally in all things I do. It’s a message from an incredible man named Nic Vujicic. He was born with tetra-amelia syndrome (which resulted in him having no arms or legs). In spite of that, he’s managed to overcome his difficulties to live an incredibly active and inspiring life. His message is simple: “Are you going to finish strong?” I would encourage everyone to search for some information on this man.
Wow, that sounds truly inspiring. Is there something you still want to learn?
That’s a really long list of things! A few that I’ll share here would include the following: I want to learn more ways to inspire my students. I want to learn how to make my students feel they’ve accomplished as much as they can, and to feel they’ve lived up to their potential in all things. I want to learn how to better myself. I want to learn where I fit into the universe. I want to challenge myself to be a life-long learner. I’m happy to learn something from a small, trivial, tidbit of random information, to acquiring larger, important concepts.
The small and the big picture - both important! Now on to the last question: when you’re not busy helping your students and marking assignments, what do you enjoy doing?
I like spending time with my wife Michelle. In the summer we hike and camp, and in the winter, we snowshoe. I enjoy mountain bike riding and generally being outdoors. I follow motocross racing very closely (even though I no longer participate as a rider), and I love listening to music, listening to podcasts, and hanging out with friends.
Thank you, Mr. Stuttard, for taking the time!
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