Damon O’Shea starts from the premise that every growing thing needs nurturing and patience.
That’s as true of children as it is of trees and flowers.
A new graduate of Western’s teachers’ college and a candidate to teach kids from grades 7 – 12, O’Shea earned a BSc from Western in 2016 and went on to attain a master’s degree in environmental sciences.
On June 18, O’Shea joins more than 328,000 Western alumni living in 160 countries as a newly minted graduate and member of the Western Class of 2021.
“Science has always been a subject of choice for me because I appreciate nature and wildlife and the study of living things,” he said. “I like working with kids in a classroom – I love their energy and personality – and that makes it exciting to explain science to them.”
O’Shea grew up in West London and belongs to the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, in Eastern Ontario.
Helping students understand the link that connects the land and Indigenous Peoples is important to him.
“I identify strongly with my Indigenous heritage and background. One of the unique things about being a teacher is I get to share my knowledge and my experience with students.
“I’m an introvert, so the thought of being a kind of Indigenous role model makes me a bit nervous. But it’s something I’m committed to doing.”
O’Shea is also winner of an Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) scholarship, an award honouring three outstanding student teachers each year.
The OCT noted O’Shea’s commitment to mentorship, to developing positive relationships with every group of students he works with.
O’Shea has been a long-time basketball coach and a teacher volunteer.
He, and the students he taught during his practicum sessions, have all had to show resilience during the pandemic.
“Schedules and routines have changed. Learning has changed. Teaching has changed. Something that has not changed has been students’ and teachers’ ability to adapt,” he said.
While he was finishing his education degree, he was also hired to supply-teach at a local school. He would often teach until 3:30 p.m. then race to Western and change clothes in the parking lot in time to make it to a 4:30 p.m. class.
Balancing studies, paid work, volunteer work and a personal life has been a challenge, and his advice to others walking the same path is to stick with it: “Just sit down, do your work, try to stay organized. Reach out if you need it and take time to do the things you like to do.”