Richard Whisennand poses with his model skeleton, Lucy. Photo by Bella Russo. (Bella Russo)
Richard Whisennand poses with his model skeleton, Lucy. Photo by Bella Russo.

Bella Russo

McCallum says farewell to faculty members

For these five teachers, end of school year is also end of Mac tenure

July 8, 2019

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Whether they’ve been here for three years or 30, departing faculty members have been important parts of the campus community. Here are interviews with five teachers who won’t be returning next year, in which they reflect on their favorite memories of McCallum, their favorite things about teaching in general, and their plans for the future.

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Burnette taking his talents downtown to help teachers teach better

Janssen Transier

Animation teacher Stephen Burnette helps Isabella Perez edit her AV project in Burnette’s Principles of Arts and AV class. “In this class they learn some more advanced techniques, working with a lot of special effects and different softwares,’ Burnette said. Photo by Janssen Transier.

Burnette taking his talents downtown to help teachers teach better

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The Shield: How long have you been teaching and how many of those years were at Mac?

Stephen Burnette: I’ve been here since 2015, but I taught at Anderson for six years before that.

TS: What are your plans for the future?

SB: I’m still going to be in education, but I’m moving to the downtown office for AISD, working for the CTE division, which stands for Career Technology Education. Essentially I’ll be overseeing a few high school’s CTE programs, doing program evaluations, evaluating their equipment, hardware [and] budgeting. It’ll be a really exciting change from working in a classroom to in an office. I love teaching, and I’ve gotten to learn a lot from my students as well as develop awesome relationships with some of them, but it’s time for a change.

This is one the neatest schools I’ve ever had the pleasure of teaching at.”

— Stephen Burnette

TS: What’s something that you’ll miss about teaching?

SB: Specifically about McCallum, I’ll really miss the atmosphere of this place. We have the Fine Arts program, which provides this really interesting mix of art and academia. This is an amazing place to work, I’ve had some great relationships with both the students, and the teachers, and some of the teachers are my good friends.

TS: What’s one thing you won’t miss about teaching?

SB: As teachers, we get a lot of extra stuff delegated to us, but we don’t always have enough time or support to get everything done. So one thing I definitely won’t miss is having all this extra work without compensation or support. So for that reason, I am looking forward to having more of a leadership role and being able to effect positive change. I’ve always said that my mission going into education leadership was to help teachers be better teachers, so hopefully that’s what I’ll do.

—interview by Janssen Transier

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Olson afraid that no other school will compare to McCallum

Janssen Transier

Dana Olson discusses Crime and Punishment with her sophomore English class. Photo By Janssen Transier.

Olson afraid that no other school will compare to McCallum

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The Shield: Could you talk a little bit about what’s in the future for you?

Dana Olson: Well, I’m getting married, and right after I get married, the Army is sending my husband to Missouri for a year, and I’m going with him. Once I get to Missouri, I don’t know what I’m doing for a job. I have some ideas though. I’ve thought about trying to become a social media influencer or maybe bodybuilding. I’m not really into either of those things, but I’m planning on sort of diving in once I get to Missouri. I would love to keep teaching, but it just doesn’t really make sense for me to go and get my teaching certificate in Missouri if I’ll only be there [for] a year.

Once I get to Missouri, I don’t know what I’m doing for a job. I have some ideas though. I’ve thought about trying to become a social media influencer or maybe bodybuilding.”

— Dana Olson

After Missouri, my husband will be out of the Army, and the whole world is there waiting for us. I would really like to teach internationally at some point in my life, because I went to an international school for high school, and I still have a lot of those connections with my old teachers, so they could help me get a job at a school abroad somewhere. I feel like that would be a really good contrast to living in the middle of nowhere for a year. At the same time, we love Austin, so I might be back.

TS: Now that your time at Mac is over, are there any moments that stand out as particularly memorable?

DO: I have always felt like I had a lot to brag about here, and that’s awesome, but I also feel like I might have gotten a little too lucky when I got to work here as my first job teaching, because this is the school everyone in Austin wants to teach at, and I don’t know if any other school will compare.

—interview by Janssen Transier

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Griswold to head to Harvard for grad school

Bella Russo

Lucy Griswold poses in her classroom, where she teaches ethnic studies and world geography. Photo by Bella Russo.

Griswold to head to Harvard for grad school

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The Shield: What are your future plans?

Lucy Griswold: I am going to the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I’m doing two things: I’m doing a master’s in school leadership, and part of that program is applied master’s programs, so I’ll be working in a school and I’ll be getting leadership experience working at a campus, working at a nonprofit, even working for a school district. It just depends on a person’s interests, and I’m still kind of unclear on what type of institution I want to work at. I feel like this gets to the core of why I want to leave the classroom, I just feel like there are so many limitations to working within a traditional public school. I’m committed to staying within the public school system, but I feel like in order for me to thrive and in order for my students to thrive in their learning, that the conditions where learning takes place need to be drastically different. I see that our current system of education was build for basically one type of learner: someone who can sit through a lecture … and I don’t see that that is the predominant student in the public school system.

I’m going to miss that feeling of ‘Wow. That was an amazing class,’ when you really see students engaged, when you see students’ minds change.”

— Lucy Griswold

TS: What are you going to miss about McCallum?

LG: I’m going to miss walking down the halls during passing periods. I love it. I think for some adults that’s probably like their trauma scenario: walking down a hallway of rowdy teenagers who are shouting profane language. But it’s so wonderful. It’s kids greeting you, kids greeting each other, kids singing and dancing. It’s so joyful and active. I love the daily ritual of walking in the hall. I’m going to miss that feeling of “Wow. That was an amazing class,” when you really see students engaged, when you see students’ minds change. I’m gonna miss collaborating with McCallum faculty. I’m going to miss the students, but I’m also sure that our relationships are going to maintain. Being able to see them every day, I’ll miss that.

TS: Do you have any parting words?

LG: This is not the end! I do feel like we’re all in this together, and the community I’ve built at McCallum is going to follow me in the work that I do. A part of me feels like I’m taking my experiences here and the students I’ve had with me in my next journey.

—interview by Bella Russo

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Although ready to retire, veteran teacher will miss his ‘McCallum family’

Dave Winter

At the year-end faculty meeting in the cafeteria on May 22. Mr. Whiz, a veteran science teacher who is retiring after 33 years at Mac and 49 years in the classroom, acknowledged the teachers who established McCallum's reputation long before the teachers in the room joined the faculty. He challenged the current faculty members to honor their predecessors by continuing to make McCallum a special place for teachers to teach and for students to learn.

Although ready to retire, veteran teacher will miss his ‘McCallum family’

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The Shield: How long have you been teaching at McCallum?

Richard Whisennand: This is year 33 at McCallum, but I’ve been teaching for 49 years. I moved around a lot, teaching public and private schools before I came here.

You always hear people talk about when they describe McCallum: this ‘McCallum Family.’ And it really is a like a family; we all support each other, not only the kids, but also the teachers.”

— Richard Whisennand

TS: What made you stay at McCallum?

RW: This is one the neatest schools I’ve ever had the pleasure of teaching at. What makes it so special is this that you always hear people talk about when they describe McCallum: this “McCallum Family.” And it really is a like a family; we all support each other, not only the kids, but also the teachers. One thing that I think is really interesting about McCallum is how diverse it is. I’ve always said that it’s like a cross section of Austin. And that sort of plays into the absence of cliques at McCallum. It doesn’t matter if you come from a wealthy family, or if you’re living in extreme poverty, there’s no separation, and your paths will still cross. No one is treated differently from other people, and that’s really unique from other high schools.

TS: What are your plans for retirement?

RW: I really don’t have any. [My wife and I] don’t have any concrete plans in the works, but I bet we’ll probably go on some cruises, we both really like to do that. I’m fortunate enough to have traveled a lot and lived a full life while also pursuing a career, so I don’t have any intense desire to go out and travel.

TS: Why do you love teaching?

RW: I just really like the kids. People ask me “between the wealthy kids you taught and the not-so-wealthy kids you taught, which ones were better students?” and I just say that they’re all just kids. Kids are kids. Some might have more money than others, but they’re all teenagers, and they’re all going through the same things.

TS: Any parting words?

RW: This has been a really good place for me, I’ve been department head for 10 or 12 years and it’s been amazing. You guys really won’t know how special this place is until you’re gone. It’s a little bit beat-up, but it has some of the finest educators I’ve ever seen. Teachers who don’t look at students as a grade point average, but as a person, and that’s rare.

—interview by Janssen Transier

Click here to read Lucy Marco’s complete profile of Mr. Whisennand.

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Shockley appreciates orchestra trips, teaching violinists

Courtesy of Parker Staveley

At Saturday’s orchestra banquet, Shockley poses with juniors Kaya Fagerstrom and Parker Staveley. Photo courtesy of Staveley.

Shockley appreciates orchestra trips, teaching violinists

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The Shield: What are your plans for the future?

Georgeann Shockley: I’m still in the Austin Symphony and the Austin Opera, so I’m still doing those. [My students] come to concerts, so they’ll be there.

TS: What are some highlights of your time at McCallum?

GS: I think our trips have been my highlights to be honest. To be able to play in Carnegie Hall, we did that twice, Lincoln Center once, National Cathedral once. This years’ trip was really great, doing it in Carnegie Hall again so, that’s about it. Getting sweepstakes with the orchestra, that was great.

The students. I really love them all. That’s what I’ll miss the most”

— Georgeann Shockley

TS: What will you miss the most?

GS: The students. I really love them all. That’s what I’ll miss the most. Here at McCallum I feel like I’ve been able to use my expertise: being a violinist myself and being able to transfer it over to the students, being able to help with bowings and all sorts of things that go with it because that’s what I do.

I’ll miss that, but the students, that’s what I like most. The administration here has been very nice. Mr. Garrison is really great. I appreciate the fact that they kind of let us do what we know we can do. That makes us a better faculty.

—interview by Laszlo King-Hovis

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