Our educator profile this week is of Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award recipient Karen Chouinard-Sheedy, who teaches cosmetology at William J. Dean Technical High School in Holyoke, MA. You can hear her dedication to and appreciation of teaching in her responses to the following questions.
What motivated you to become a teacher/educator? I started out as a professional in the cosmetology trade. Throughout my years working behind the chair, I had the opportunity to educate my clients about their hair and skin needs. I wanted to expand my horizons and decided to go back to school and become an educator in my field.
What support did you receive, or wish you had received, early in your career? I was very fortunate to have a great mentor when I began my career at Dean Tech High School. Her name is Sandie Longpre, and she was running the Cosmetology Department at Dean when I arrived there. She inspired me to become the instructor that I am today.
What keeps you enthusiastic about teaching/education, and where do you find inspiration? Through the years, so much has changed in education and hairstyle trends. It is both exciting and challenging to keep up with the rigouous needs of both DESE and the Industry.
Do you have a favorite resource, website, lesson/activity that you’d like to share? Because of the nature of the subject that I teach (cosmetology), I am constantly including differenciated activities to present the frameworks of the technical program.
How do you try to balance the demands of your professional and personal life? I am at the point in my life where the demands of my personal life are minimal. My family is grown, and many of the responsibilities that go along with a growing family are no longer an issue. This gives me more time to plan lessons and attend professional development activities. I also work as a graduation coach and mentor in my building.