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Trailblazer turned SC teacher: Shane Harrison, SC '11

Tom Fennell
In honor of National Teachers Appreciation Week, it's only fitting that this week's spotlight goes to SC alum Shane Harrison, who is an Assistant Teacher on the Lower Campus. Read on for our interview with Shane!



Shane Harrison graduated from Sierra Canyon School in May 2011. Having been offered a football scholarship with the Hornets of Sacramento State University, he eventually graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology in May 2016. Ironically or serendipitously, after so many years in the classroom, he finds himself on the other side of the desk as a 5th-grade Teaching Assistant at Sierra Canyon School. This summer, he’ll also be serving as the Sports Camp Manager for Sierra Canyon Day Camp, where he will oversee the Sports World program. 

With this week being National Teachers Appreciation Week, we thought that Shane would be an interesting Alumni Spotlight. 

Tell us a bit about your college experience, and why you chose to major in kinesiology.
 
I had a wonderful and interesting experience at Sacramento State. Oddly enough, I began as a business major, switched to psychology, and ended up receiving a degree in kinesiology. Sports and physical fitness have always been part and parcel of my life so a degree in kinesiology makes perfect sense. Such a background equips me to pursue a career in fields that I enjoy such as coaching, physical therapy, nutrition, or personal training. Opening up my own gym has always been one of my dreams.
 
I played football for the Hornets for four seasons. Handicapped physically and academically by a football injury, I sat out my junior year and resumed play as a senior.  My football experience at Sacramento was a blessing that allowed me to fully develop and use my physical and athletic potential. In addition, being enrolled in a large state university afforded me the opportunity to dabble in different fields of study before settling on kinesiology. 
 
What led you to become a 5th grade teaching assistant at SC and how is that experience going for you?
 
The 5th grade was not my original plan.  Encouraged by Tom Fennell, Steve Dasher and Mr. Skrumbis, I applied for a position that would have had me coaching and working with the kids as an after school yard supervisor. In the course of last summer, the 5th-grade teaching assistantship fell vacant. Once again, supported by the same faculty members, I applied for the position. I interviewed and was hired.
 
The teaching assistantship has been an extremely enriching and rewarding experience.  I get to bond and play with the kids in the yard, and then return to the classroom where I deal with them on an academic and more formal level. I firmly believe that learning how to interact with my students on both relaxed recreational and more formally academic levels is helping me to mature and learn skills that I will need to possess in any walk of life and, most especially, as a parent.
 
One of the most wonderful things I can say about my current job is that I truly wake up in the morning happy to go to work. The work is challenging and educational, but always fun.  What more can I say? I go to work happy. I learn and I have fun. What a life! I would very much like to give a shout-out to Molly Gunny and the entire 5th grade team that welcomed me with open arms and made me feel like I belonged. I am forming friendships that will be friendships for life and I am grateful.
 
Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?
 
That is a difficult question to answer since I consider myself to be spontaneous and like to remain open to possibilities that life might throw my way. Embracing a full-time career as an academic teacher would not seem to be my path but I remain open to it.  Given my passion for sports and physical fitness, I see myself carving out a career in that arena. I have thought of playing professional football for a foreign team. I am exploring the possibilities of opening a gym and eventually an athletic complex providing personal training, physical therapy, and nutrition counseling. Given my love of working with kids, I could easily picture myself as a high school coach or athletic director. 
 
How did you experience at Sierra Canyon help you along the way so far?
 
Before arriving at Sierra Canyon, my life had been nothing but sports, football, basketball, track…you name it.  Sierra Canyon, however, introduced me to a world of teachers, coaches and classmates who were not only committed to excellence in athletics but also excellence in academics. Coach Ellinghouse, Coach Serve, and their fellow coaches all took a great interest not only in our athletic prowess but also in our academic advancement. They constantly preached to us that skills we were perfecting were not only to win games but, more importantly, to win in life by making us better human beings and men. They checked in regularly with our teachers to assure that we doing our work and keeping up our grades. This was a totally new and good experience for me.
 
I think Sierra Canyon taught me how to have a good work ethic: you play hard and you work hard. Once again, these are important skills that anyone will need anywhere in life.  In short, the faculty and coaching staff of Sierra Canyon treated us not merely as students and athletes – rather, they also took a great and sincere interest in us as individual and unique human beings. 
 
As long as I live I will never forget the outpouring of love, care and concern showered upon me when I lost my mother in 10th grade.  Sierra Canyon was and is not just a school or community; it was and continues to be a family. 
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Sierra Canyon School is a private, independent, non-sectarian, co-educational, college preparatory school for students in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12 located in Chatsworth, California. The highly cosmopolitan campus community is reflective of the Greater Los Angeles area and the world at large. Students are empowered to realize their greatest creative, ethical, intellectual and physical promise through small class sizes, a diverse student-teacher culture and a family-like environment.