A Tribute to my Uncle Shaun
Start writing a post
Student Life

A Tribute to my Uncle Shaun

Although I was never able to remember my Uncle Shaun, through stories and articles I now know how inspirational of a teacher and person that he was.

A Tribute to my Uncle Shaun
Tanya Gross

Something that many of you may not know about me is, the fact that I have quite a huge family. I've grown up in Agawam, Massachusetts with around twenty five or so cousins, as well as countless aunts and uncles on my dad's side. With that being said, there is one person that I wish I was able to meet as I've grown up. That person is my Uncle Shaun Bresnahan.

Just this past Monday, my family and I paid a visit to my grandmother from Holyoke. There, is where she showed me the many articles written about my Uncle Shaun, as well as specific tributes toward him. What I found after reading these was truly remarkable.

I always remember seeing pictures of myself with him when I was just two years old, but never understood exactly how inspirational of a person he was. Uncle Shaun worked at Belchertown High School in Massachusetts where he was a Social Studies teacher for over twenty five years.

Uncle Shaun wasn't just a teacher of Social Studies though. He was a teacher of life. Someone that would inspire former students to follow in the same great path that he did. For him, no subject was uninteresting. He could make a debate about anything whether small or big.

Big on the environment, Uncle Shaun was one of the few teachers who would do more than just keep his students in a classroom. In fact, he took it to a whole other level. For a couple of years in the early 1990s, he gave eight students the opportunity to head to Costa Rica during vacation where they studied the rainforests and how important they are to the environment.

What made him such a special teacher and person is, his ability to connect people's problems in the past to problems in today's societies. For example, he would compare the issues farmers faced during the American Revolution to the issues that Third World countries face with their crops today.

As a result of this, him and one of his classes bought 100,000 acres of the Ecuadorian rain forest, adopted a baby gorilla, and started a telephone hotline to answer energy questions in their own community. You don't see that very often in a normal classroom.

One thing that I was able to notice after reading the countless works about him was, how much he loved to think. He says multiple times that thinking will help you become a better person, while also encouraging his students to become problem solvers in order to become good citizens.

He's a teacher who always respected a student who brought out his/her's ideas to the classroom. Every idea deserves a chance to be discussed according to him. He's a person who has been described as "an old hippie trying to keep the dream alive." Uncle Shaun has always been an innovator when it came to coming up with different activities to get the students critically thinking.

His constant motivation has gotten him a Social Studies teacher of the year award in 1991 statewide, as well as a national teacher of the year award in 1992. His national award earned him an article in Times magazine that same year. Described as a "Renaissance Man", Uncle Shaun was determined to change the world in every way he knew how to.

There was a letter that I read from one of his former students who is actually a teacher himself. He states that, Shaun was the one educator who understood what life meant the most. He was the one person that impacted his own teaching style.

My Uncle Shaun sadly died of cancer ironically on September 11, 2001. He will always be remembered as someone who could change someone's life through his personality and experiences. He was a big dreamer, and a lot of this dreams he had turned into a reality because of his teaching ability.

People will talk about remembering athletes, and celebrities however, we forget about the impact an everyday person can have. A person like Uncle Shaun is necessary for society. He did what most teachers wouldn't dare to do; take risks. and those risks are what made him such an important person to so many.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Leaving My Backpack In The Library

Views about society and the stranger sitting right across from me


As a college student, my backpack is an extension of myself in many ways. It contains my notes, pens, and computer vital for my success in college. It contains the snacks and water bottle I need to survive long days on campus. It also contains the "in-case" items that help put my mind at rest if I forgot something from home: extra hair ties, masks, and that backup-backup snack. With so much in my backpack important to me and my life on campus, it is no wonder that I can get apprehensive about it when it is not with me or in my line of sight. And that makes me wonder.

Keep Reading... Show less

5 Cool Gadgets To Make Your Car Smart

Don't let this stop you from making your car smart. You can change the one you have using smart gadgets that transform your car into a smart car.


Cars are no longer just a mode of transport, where you only worry about the engine and how beautiful its interior is. These days, everyone wants to make their cars smarter, those with advanced technology systems. It makes sense for several reasons. It can make your vehicle more efficient and safer when you need to drive.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Inevitable Truth of Loss

You're going to be okay.


As we humans face loss and grief on a daily basis, it's challenging to see the good in all the change. Here's a better perspective on how we can deal with this inevitable feeling and why it could help us grow.

Keep Reading... Show less

'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' Film Review

Tom Hardy and Woody Harrelson lead a tigher, more fun sequel to 2018's 'Venom'

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FmWuCgJmxo

When Sony announced that Venom would be getting a stand-alone movie, outside of the Tom Holland MCU Spider-Man films, and intended to start its own separate shared universe of films, the reactions were generally not that kind. Even if Tom Hardy was going to take on the role, why would you take Venom, so intrinsically connected to Spider-Man's comic book roots, and remove all of that for cheap action spectacle?

Keep Reading... Show less

'The Addams Family 2' Film Review

The sequel to the 2019 reboot is an enjoyable, but unremarkable start to the Halloween movie season

Photo Credit: MGM – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kd82bSBDE84

There's a reason why the Addams Family have become icons of the American cartoon pantheon (although having one of the catchiest theme songs in television history doesn't hinder them).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments