The Californian

Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

Back to Article
Back to Article

Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

Photo by Abby Fritz

Photo by Abby Fritz

Photo by Abby Fritz

Anne Syed, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Since her high school days, teacher Shanna Gagnon has always been involved in her community. 

Recently being awarded the school district’s Teacher of the Year, Gagnon’s contribution to Cal High’s community has inspired students and teachers alike. 

“She goes above and beyond to make sure every student feels heard and appreciated,” said senior Nida Hasan. “Her dedication to her students and positive attitude really makes the class enjoyable.” 

Gagnon started at Cal in 2013, teaching world history and government. She now teaches government, iQuest and American Studies with Michelle Curach-Turner.

“In my seven years of teaching I have never met a teacher that is more deserving of the ‘teacher of the year’ award,” said AP US History teacher Troy Bristol. “She puts work into her craft and every student that leaves her class becomes a better person because of it.”

“I’m a better teacher because I work with her.” 

Teaching a class like iQuest, a course that allows seniors to enter the professional world through internships, is the perfect match for Gagnon. 

Gagnon loves that iQuest allows her to connect with people on a personal level, and gives everyone a chance to work on their own individuality.

“We get to build a framework in being able to turn those passions and our individuality into something that’s really meaningful to us,” said Gagnon. “I think this helps make our community stronger because we believe in what we are doing.”

She likes the class because it gives students a chance to have authentic experiences earlier in life and believes that it better prepares them for the future.

Gagnon denied her passions to go into teaching in the beginning of her professional career. As a first-generation college student, she took on many classes, switching between majors such as biology to political science to economics. When she graduated from UC Santa Barbara, there was a huge pressure for her to know what she wanted to do, so she went into accounting. 

After realizing that accounting wasn’t the best fit, her creative personality led her into advertising for William Sonoma, working with textiles. It was a fun experience for her since she did a lot of the drapery and clothes for the business. 

Through experience in two jobs in two completely different fields, Gagnon realized that she liked helping people improve their fields of work. 

“She is very passionate and determined and she does everything she can to help us succeed,” said senior Nisa Celebin.

Students say she has a unique style of teaching. 

“She’s innovative and effective with her lesson plan,” senior Mitchell Bias said. “Her lectures are hands on and she makes the effort to bring people in and give their professional input.”

Gagnon said some of the most influential people in her life were her teachers. 

A teacher she remembers having a huge impact on her was her high school government teacher. She said he changed the way she thought and learned. Similarly, she was in awe with how one of her professors at UCSB helped the classroom come alive every single class. 

“Honestly, what better job is there? I get to know individuals who inspire me and teach me something new every day,” said Gagnon. “To watch and help them go through their journey just feels really good.” 

Among all the students she taught, she felt most inspired by high schoolers, so she decided to teach high schoolers.

“I honestly believe you guys are the future so it’s really cool to be a part of that experience and help you guys navigate how you are all going to shape the future,” said Gagnon. “I love teaching courses like history because the subject really matters.” 

Gagnon feels empowered every day, especially by women, such as Principal Sarah Cranford, who are more involved in local communities. 

“I don’t think many people realize that there aren’t that many female principals,” said Gagnon. “She’s also very young, which is really inspiring and cool to see.”

Gagnon’s biggest advice to high school students today is to focus on their passions. 

“Don’t try to be like everyone else because that’s what you think you should do, because in reality what the world wants and needs are people that are more authentic, those who have found their purpose,” Gagnon said. “To be able to translate your passion into your purpose and to allow that to find your worth is important.”

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Left
  • Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

    A&E

    Reflecting on her passions

  • Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

    News Lite

    Legendary Bob Spain leaves Cal High

  • Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

    Features

    Clouding our judgement

  • Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

    Showcase

    Not horsing around

  • Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

    News

    City Center finally opens

  • Features

    The evolution of geekdom

  • Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

    Senior Issue

    2018 College List

  • Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

    News

    Honors Chemistry added

  • Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

    News

    District to offer Saturday study sessions

  • Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students

    News

    New dress code begins next year

Navigate Right
The School Newspaper for California High School, San Ramon CA
Teacher of the Year Shanna Gagnon inspires students