This story originally appeared in the Winter 2016 Harker Magazine.
Kate Shanahan is the K-5 English department chair. A self-described “New England girl,” Shanahan was born in Middletown, Conn., and grew up in Connecticut and New Hampshire. She lives in downtown San Jose with her husband and two sons, and the family may be growing soon with the addition of a dog! She’ll be participating in the Shanghai World Foreign Language Middle School teacher exchange this year. Shanahan shares some fun insights with Harker Magazine about life, good advice and having great vision.
What are you obsessed with?
Good grammar. It’s a blessing and curse. Most days I can’t read a simple Starbucks menu without double-checking the spelling of each individual drink.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
A college professor once told me that “good teachers leave their backpacks at the door.” It took me a while to understand the power of his statement, but now it’s clear: Don’t bring my baggage into the classroom. Leave it at the door and be present for my students.
Brag about something.
I have 20/15 vision. Once I was getting a routine eye exam, and the nurse called the doctor over just to watch me read the eye chart.
What is something that you pretend to understand when you really don’t?
When I was a kid, my family rented the movie “Wall Street.” My dad paused the movie and spent over 30 minutes explaining the stock market to my sister and me. I still don’t totally get it.
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken in your life?
I moved to California by myself at 24. I left my family and friends behind and came to work at Harker. That first year wasn’t easy, but my inspiring students and friendships with faculty made me realize that this was where I wanted to be.
Where in the world are you the happiest?
Although traveling has its perks, I am a total homebody. I love the comfort of my home and hubby, chatting with my neighbors, hearing my kids play outside, and sitting on my front porch watching the world go by.