Shelby McNamara is our latest SAISD Spotlight!

High school history teacher Shelby McNamara graduated Stephen F. Austin High School in 2012. She was the sports editor for the school’s local newspaper, The Maroon, for two years, a member of National Honor Society, Hall of Honor, a softball player and a member of LINK Crew, an organization of upperclassmen that helps with Freshman Orientation and focuses on making freshman feel welcomed on campus. As a senior, she was one of the 25 finalists for the Maroon Society. Ms. McNamara attended college at SFASU and graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in liberal studies and a minor in secondary education. This is the third year Ms. McNamara has been a SAISD teacher. We asked Ms. McNamara about her experiences as a SAISD teacher. Read below to see what she has to say!

What personal strengths do you find especially helpful in your teaching?
Organization and stubbornness!
As a teacher organization can make or break you. There is SO MUCH to keep up with. Even for someone who has always been very organized, this was a struggle in the beginning. My life changed the day I was introduced to the Erin Condren teacher planner. I can keep my all of my daily lessons, year plans, parent contact logs, classroom due dates, meeting notes, school calendar, and my personal calendar all in one place. My planner is my LIFE!
I think that to be a teacher you have to have a certain degree of stubbornness. It helps that I was born with a lot! I think the key is to be just slightly more stubborn than your students. You can’t let students wear you down into complacency, even at the most difficult times of the year. Even in November and April when teachers and students are the most tired, there is still work to be done every day and rules to be followed! The kids will tell you, I don’t care how many times I have to tell a student to remove their hoodie/ hat, I WILL keep reminding them every day... multiple times a day… with love… until they don’t need reminding!
What do you do when the final bell rings?
I pick up around my classroom, change the board for the next day, and then get back to work! Haha! It’s rare for me to leave school on time. If I’m not staying to work on something for Student Council or Interact, I’m staying to get caught up/ ahead on grading and lesson plans. When I finally get home I enjoy taking my dogs to the arboretum and azalea gardens in Nacogdoches, learning to cook, and watching feel good TV shows. My all time favorite TV show is Gilmore Girls. I still watch it on repeat thanks to Netflix!

As a SAHS teacher, are you involved in club activities, if so, why do you do it?
Yes! I am the advisor for Student Council and Interact Club. As I mentioned before, I was very involved in high school. My campus involvement is what I enjoyed most about high school, and I have many fond memories of those experiences. I take pleasure in facilitating the same experience for my students. I think that being involved on campus helps me get to know my students on a deeper level. It is through these organizations that I can build personal relationships with my students that lead to breakthroughs in the classroom.

What is one of your hidden talents?
I don’t think I have one! I can’t sing or dance, I failed miserably at every instrument I ever attempted to play, and I’m not artistic. I’ve talked a lot about growing up in the baseball/ softball world, so that’s not really a hidden talent. Maybe falling? I’m very talented at falling/ hurting myself! For no reason! Haha. My middle name isn’t Grace, but it should be!

How do you show your school spirit?
I enjoy attending a lot of our events outside of school. Everything from football, volleyball, basketball, and baseball, to band competitions…. If I can make it, I’m there! I love cheering on my kids and getting to see them perform.

What is it about San Augustine that made you want to teach here?
After graduating from SFA I applied to many schools in East Texas, hoping to stay here but also knowing I might have to move closer to home. I still remember clearly the day I interviewed at San Augustine. I remember the raw passion the teachers and administrators had for our kids. I remember interacting with a few of the students, and thinking about how lucky I would be to GET to be their teacher. I remember, before I was even offered the job, being treated like family. There aren’t many times in my life when I can say with 100% confidence that I know for sure where God wants me to be or what decision he wants me to make, but in this decision there were multiple flashing neon signs pointing to San Augustine. Today… three years later… I still see that passion in my colleagues and administrators, I still consider myself lucky to get to teach these awesome kids who make my day EVERY DAY, and I am still treated like family while so far from my own.

Is there a quote or saying that you live by your life by?
Live life like a 3-2 count.
Everything happens for a reason.

What is the difference between SAHS and the high school you attended?
WOW, where do I start?! My high school is significantly larger than SAHS, much more diverse, and very urban. When I graduated, Austin High had around 2,400 students that were from all racial, ethnic, and socio- economic backgrounds. There was no clear majority in anything, which created a unique high school experience. Austin High sits on the shore of Town Lake in the heart of downtown Austin. I remember jogging along the lake in softball practice, walking to Zilker Park to have english class, and hearing music from ACL while sitting in class on Friday afternoons in October. We were allowed to go off campus for our one hour lunch, and the local options were endless. Maudies Tex Mex, P. Terry’s Burger Stand, and Home Slice Pizza to name a few. Doesn’t get any more “Austin” than that!
Despite all of the glaring differences between SAHS and Austin High school, there are two similarities that stand out. One would be the way both schools value their history and traditions. Austin High prides itself on being the oldest high school west of the Mississippi River and they showcase their history every year at Dedication Day. While SAHS doesn’t have an equivalent to Dedication Day I still see history and traditions highlighted throughout the year, particularly around homecoming and during end of year celebrations. The other similarity is the “family” atmosphere. The students at San Augustine are very close and they look out for each other. They care deeply about each other and their community, and they show it consistently. Although my high school was much bigger, there was a similar feeling. Everyone had something they could belong to, and within that community they were known. My principal used to say “Everybody is somebody at Austin High,” and as a student I felt it was true. I see the same in my students at SAHS. It’s a unique and heartwarming thing to witness from the other side as a teacher.
McNamara is currently attending SFA to pursue a Masters of Education in teaching and learning.

Article conducted by MaErika Josue
Published Print