October 2, 2019
English Teacher Shana Wang, in her 23rd year of teaching and her third at Fenwick, greets each student (by name) as she and he enters her classroom.
What is your educational background?
SW: I graduated in 1993 from Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights. Then, I followed our beloved 'Quinnies' [Social Studies Teacher/alumnus John Quinn '76] to Amherst College, where I graduated with a B.A. in English and Black Studies. After working for a year, I went to L’Université de Montpellier III in France. There, I earned my Métrise in French Language and Culture. The following year, I enrolled at Columbia University in New York, where I earned my M.A.T. in English.
What did you do prior to becoming a teacher at Fenwick?
SW: I have taught in three different countries and in a variety of schools before crashing through the halls of Fenwick. During my second year of teaching in Qingdao, China, I met a math teacher by the name of Dan Navarro [Fenwick Class of 1997]. I told him that when my sons grew older, we would probably move back to the Chicagoland area. “You should go to my alma mater and see if they have any open positions. If Mr. Finnell is still alive, tell him that I became a math teacher because of him!” Imagine the odds of meeting a Friar in a Chinese city of 8,000,000. I’m sure Finnell could figure that out.
What are you currently reading for enjoyment?
SW: Well, I was reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. But, alas, my reading-by-the-pool days ended when Google training started. These days, I’m feverishly trying to get through our new textbook for English II Prep, Reading the World.
What interests do you pursue outside of the classroom?
SW: Hmm . . . Are teachers actually allowed to leave Fenwick, or is this more like the “Hotel California?” Any free time I may stumble upon is usually usurped by my two sons, Sage and Zen. Sage is a senior at Fremd High School and Zen is a freshman. Sage plays in the marching band and is on the gymnastics team, while Zen plays soccer. I have heard that Soccer Moms are the lowest form of humanity, so I suppose that is what I am pursuing outside of the classroom.
To what teams and/or clubs did you belong as a student?
SW: I played volleyball, basketball and ran track in high school. Now, I climb the steps to the 3rd floor and feel sorry for [Math Teacher] Dave Setum in the Bell Tower!
Which clubs/sports/activities do you run at Fenwick?
SW: I am the sponsor for the International Relations Club! We host the Anne Smedinghoff '05 Memorial Lecture and several Breakfast Q & A’s every year. Also, some students have approached me about starting an Asian Appreciation Association at Fenwick. I hope we can make this happen!
What quality/characteristic marks a Fenwick student?
SW: If I had to choose one, I would say gratitude.
When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?
SW: Hmm . . . I’m not sure that I decided to become a teacher. Who in the world would make such a decision??? I think I decided to travel and teaching was the perfect means for a broke college kid to do so. I’ll let you know when I decide upon a profession.
What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
SW: a) I can subsist on a mix of Starbucks and the free sludge they serve in the Faculty Lounge; and b) Whenever my positivity tank runs low, I can always visit my three favorite optimists: Father Winkels, Coach Konrad and Coach Nudo.
What are your favorite classes to teach?
SW: I’m really enjoying my Mandarin I class this year! English II is always ice creamy, but I do miss laughing with the seniors in Brit. Lit.
What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?
SW: I’ll let you know if and when that ever happens.
What challenges face students today?
SW: Students have trouble finding hope. They often seem overwhelmed by stress, academic pressure, extra-curricular commitments, lack of sleep and negative news. Over the past 23 years of teaching, I have witnessed a steady decline in idealism, optimism and agency.
Fenwick students, on the other hand, are buoyed by their faith. They lean on and support each other. They still believe that they can improve the world and, because of that, they will!
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