Q&A: New social studies teacher acclimates to Mayfield


Hannah Birnbaum

In Silvia Sheppard’s classroom, she utilizes the white board to write out the classwork and homework plans for each of her classes.

Hannah Birnbaum, Staff Writer

The Paw Print’s Hannah Birnbaum sat down with veteran social studies teacher Silvia Sheppard about her new job at Mayfield.

Hannah: What classes do you teach at Mayfield and to what grade levels?

Sheppard: I teach 9 Honors US History in The Option, 9 US history in the option, and 9 Honors US history.

Hannah: Alright, so what are your previous jobs before working at Mayfield?

Sheppard: So I most recently worked at Shaker Heights High School for the last 14 years. I taught several courses in my time there, including World History, American History, American experience, which was a joint US History and English class, Sociology, Psychology, and African-American history. Before working at Shaker, I worked at Cleveland Heights High School for seven years and I taught US History, World History, Psychology, and Sociology. Then I taught one year at Villa Angela St Joseph, where I was a social studies teacher and I also taught English there for a year.

Hannah: You have a lot of experience with other schools and communities! What is your history before Mayfield?

Sheppard: I studied psychology and women’s studies in college. After college, I traveled in Europe for two months and found my passion for history. When I returned, I started taking history courses and pursuing my teaching license for secondary social studies. My family and I moved to the Mayfield City Schools district in 2009, and I have two daughters and a niece who attend Mayfield schools.

Hannah: When did you decide to teach at Mayfield?

Sheppard: I was not looking to leave my position at Shaker Heights High School, but when the opportunity to teach in the 9th grade Option materialized, it was evident to me that this position was a good fit for where I was professionally and personally. In my previous position, I was already working towards self-paced units. My professional beliefs are aligned with Mayfield’s commitment to personalize learning, and I love the idea of The Option.

Hannah: What made you want to teach at Mayfield instead of other schools?

Sheppard: I think that having a personal and professional connection to the district is really what brought me here. Again, it was the right time, the situation came up and I was available, and Mayfield had a position that I was able to fill. Having my family here is really important, and it’s really nice to teach where my kids go to school. It’s nice to teach in the community that I live in, and I have always loved living in Mayfield. I’ve always been very supportive and believe in the mission of our school district.

Hannah: Who have you looked up to and who is helping you the most with the transition?

Sheppard: I think the better question is who hasn’t helped me the most. Everyone’s gone above and beyond and making sure that I’m acclimating, adjusting, and supported. The social studies department is amazing. Each teacher in the department has welcomed and supported me since my first day here. Mr. [Michael] Hughes has provided an incredible amount of support and helped me gain access to resources and checked in with me frequently. The 9 Option staff has helped me learn things about the building, different departments in the schools, procedures, things like Schoology and Infinite Campus because those were not the platforms they used in my previous job. Even down to everyone in the office and anyone I passed in the hall, pretty much everybody I’ve come into contact within the building has been helpful, kind, collaborative, and positive. I feel like I’ve come home.