Highland social studies teacher wants to empower students
Highland Middle School seventh-grade social studies teacher Marshall Sheffer says he loves empowering kids to see the ways they can directly and indirectly influence the world around them.
Teaching is a great profession, he said, because it offers a variety of opportunities to instill self-esteem and resilience in children.
Sheffer said he has spent his entire 10-year teaching career at Highland Middle School because he loves the community feel of Libertyville, the kids who he teaches, and the administration that allows teachers to teach to their strengths.
"I moved to Libertyville 7 years ago because I've become so invested in the school and the community," he said. "I'm proud to say that my 1-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son will be able to go through the Libertyville schools."
Q. What drew you to teaching social studies?
A. I've wanted to be a teacher since I was a kid, and I have always loved history. While history is what initially drew me to toward the subject, social studies is so much more.
In addition to history, it includes civics, geography, economics and all of the skills associated with each. I am truly passionate about the content that I teach. There is always more to learn, more to discover, and endless perspectives to consider.
Q. There's a lot of focus in schools these days on STEM programs. How do you convey the importance of social studies to your students?
A. Social studies is all around us. It's the story of who we are and from where we come. It's on the news and in the events that affect us every day. I am fortunate enough to teach kids that are really interested and engaged in the world around them. My role is to help them understand it better.
Q. What's your favorite part of teaching social studies?
A. I really enjoy seeing the kids excited about the content that I love. It's amazing to hear how many seventh-graders are talking about history and civics at home, and to know that they are really making connections to it.
My favorite part of teaching, though, is working with those students that struggle, those that give up their lunch period because they want my help. Seeing that my efforts are really making a difference is incredibly rewarding.
Q. What's one thing your students would be surprised to learn about you?
A. My students would be surprised to learn that I wasn't a very good student in seventh grade. There were a handful of teachers that really helped me during the times when I struggled.
Their support and encouragement was invaluable, and inspired me to want to make that type of difference in the lives of others.
They might also be surprised to learn that I spent my 29th birthday at the top of Machu Picchu. It was absolutely amazing!