In Carla Sheehan’s second grade class every day is an adventure. Whether it’s constructing a town out of cardboard or conducting a science experiment using vinegar and baking soda to blow up a balloon, Ms. Sheehan knows the value of using creativity to make learning fun. “My elementary teachers were extremely creative,” Ms. Sheehan remembers. “Learning was so fun when I was with them. I knew when I became a teacher, I wanted to make teaching really creative and fun.”
Ms. Sheehan wasn’t sure if she wanted a teaching degree or to pursue an art major when she got to college. She quickly realized that studying art wasn’t a great fit but found that she could still combine her artistic giftings into teaching. Now, her classroom is decorated with drawings or paintings she’s done and it’s not uncommon for her to quick sketch out examples of something she’s teaching to her students. “It’s funny because students are like, ‘Wow, Ms. Sheehan. You’re actually really good [at art],’” she says laughing. Ms. Sheehan was also inspired to become a teacher because of the impact she saw her father have on his students. Growing up, he taught Bible at her Christian school for over a decade.
Ms. Sheehan has taught second grade for ten years and has been teaching at New Life for seven of those years. “Second grade is the best because they’re independent and still get really excited about what they’re learning. It’s the year when reading really takes off and they start chapter books. They really take ownership in their learning,” Ms. Sheehan remarks.
In addition to finding creative ways to make learning fun, Ms. Sheehan also incorporates a lot of movement into her teaching. You’ll often find her students skipping laps outside of the classroom or on warmer days, she’ll take the classroom outside. She has found learning is strengthened and comes alive when you can combine singing or moving to stories or something like memorizing Bible verses. Ms. Sheehan also works hard to make her students feel comfortable being themselves. “I have all these different voices I use and sometimes I act weird or funny. When kids see that I can act like that, it gives them more permission to feel comfortable in our space.”
Ms. Sheehan has a lot of hopes for her students but something she wants them to always know is that “they had fun every day, did a lot of learning, and more than anything, know that Jesus will always be with them and love them no matter what happens around them.”
We’re so grateful for the many ways Ms. Sheehan inspires her students to love learning through her creativity, her nurturing heart, and love for Jesus.
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