Ms. Sheehan connects with Class of 2025


Benaiah Hanson

Spanish teach and class advisor Ms. Sheehan tries to nurture relationships with her students.

Grace Simmons, Contributor

The bright overhead lights shut off as the room erupts into cheers as the 2022 Homecoming Dance begins. Rainbow lights dance across the walls and floors. “Love Story” by Taylor Swift plays through the speakers as students gather in a tight circle jumping and dancing to the beat. In front of the tropical decorations, some students take pictures with their friends while others wait in line to purchase concessions sold by the Class of 2025. Class of 2025 President Owen Stewart smiles as he accepts cash and hands back a steaming piece of cheese pizza, its smell masked by a mix of sweat, floral body spray, and the cafeteria floors. 

Outside of the large wooden doors around the corner, the sophomore class advisor Ms. Sheehan sits patiently at a long white table with a cash box sits to her right and a list of almost 200 students lies in front of her. Her dark brown hair falls just past her shoulders, resting on her collarbone. On her neck sits a silver pendant she wears everyday, a staple in a wardrobe filled with unique skirts, a variety of shoes, and some “granola” inspired outfits that fit her personality and love for hiking.

For Ms. Sheehan, pursuing a career in education always seemed like the perfect plan. In her senior year at Memorial High School in Manchester, she decided that being a Spanish teacher was the right path for her. After earning a B.A. in Spanish and Secondary Education from St. Anselm’s College in 2015, she began teaching at PA, and for the past eight years, she has served as a role model to her students and colleagues.

“She offers a bright smile and a friendly ‘hello’ in the hallway as you pass by,” said sophomore Rosie Cummings. “She is always eager to listen to your daily activities or something new that happened in your life. It’s obvious that she not only cares deeply for her own students and the Class of 2025, but for the entire Pembroke Academy community.”

Ms. Sheehan believes that one of the most important aspects of teaching is nurturing successful relationships with her students and, in turn, helping them reach their academic potential. “[As an educator,] if you are disconnected and impersonal, the students won’t connect and won’t learn,” she said.

For Ms. Sheehan, this teaching philosophy emerged from the relationships that she had with her own teachers in high school. 

“The personal connections I created with the teachers that I enjoyed to be around were more meaningful and impactful to who I am now than the content that I learned in their classes,” Ms. Sheehan said. 

When Ms. Sheehan started at PA, she said she was interested in the role of a class advisor, but as a new teacher, she worried about her ability to balance both a busy leadership position and school work. In time, as she adjusted to both the challenge of being an educator and created friendships with colleagues, the possibility of being a class advisor didn’t seem far out of reach. 

After Ms. Sheehan gained a few years of leadership experience as a co-advisor for the Spanish Honor Society, she and fellow Spanish teacher Ms. McCrum became c0-advisors for the Class of 2025.  “It [was just] a matter of it being the right time in my career and the right person to pursue this role with,” said Ms. Sheehan. 

Mrs. McCrum left PA for Concord High School in 2022, and Ms. Sheehan took on the role herself, later being joined by English teacher Mr. Dee. The role of being a class advisor is different for everyone who holds it, she said. Each class advisor puts their own take on their responsibilities and considers what will work best for their class officers. In Ms. Sheehan’s case, the role involves being a leader and mentor to the class she advises.

“You just don’t really understand [all of your responsibilities] until you’re in the middle of it,” she said. “Even if you think that you’re going to be better than who came before you, you will never be prepared enough and you can always do more.” 

Ms. Sheehan said that one of the most rewarding aspects of being a class advisor is witnessing the growth, firsthand, in her officers. As freshmen, while being both new to the school and new to the position, officers tend to rely on direction and instruction. They are told when to report to meetings, what to do, and how to do it. But slowly, as officers become more confident in their skills and more comfortable with each other, they begin to take an active leadership role together. 

Ms. Sheehan has already noticed a significant change in her officers, specifically in their willingness to efficiently complete tasks on their own. Whether scheduling a meeting with administration, advertising for their homecoming dance, or reaching out to experienced upperclassmen officers for guidance, the class officers have become more autonomous.

“She tries to make us self reliant,” said Stewart. “Ms. Sheehan has always prioritized us in order to help us be the best versions of ourselves, not only as officers and leaders, but as people.”

Being the class advisor has also allowed Ms. Sheehan to create relationships with students that she may not develop in an academic classroom. But Ms. Sheehan said that bonding with those students outside of class has made teaching them more enjoyable. 

“The thing I love about teaching the most is the rapport I build with students and that’s always been super important to me. Now I have started to have that with not just my students but the entire Class of 2025,” she said.

The homecoming dance ends, and some girls hold their heels in their hands, trying to let their blisters air out after a long night of dancing, as they leave the building. 

But the night isn’t over for Ms. Sheehan and the officers for the Class of 2025. They all work together to tackle the mess of sequins and sparkles coating the floor. And the decorations, still intact, must come down before they can go home. They fold chairs and tables. They sweep. They organize. But they also laugh. 

There is a lightness around Ms. Sheehan and her officers. Despite the challenges, they did it. 

“Everything that’s happened so far, whether it was good or bad, has been a learning experience for both myself and the students I work with,” said Ms. Sheehan. “I’m grateful for that.”