Seven Rivers Christian School

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Shawn Hassen

Eastern New Mexico University
BS Political Science
MA English
Why did you become a teacher?
Becoming an English teacher was the greatest accident of my life.  Having decided against law school, I immediately began a master's degree.  The director of graduate assistants in the English department slapped a syllabus and a textbook in my hand and said, "You'll teach two freshmen comp classes every semester.  Call me if you have any questions."  I was on my own, and in some ways, free -- free to fall in love with teaching and to discover a passion I never imagined I would have.
Who was an influential teacher for you, and why?
I was blessed to sit under many great teachers, but the two who impacted me the most were my junior and senior (high school) English teachers.  One I loved for her artistry and passion for literature, and the other I stubbornly loathed for her ruthless Advanced Placement timed essays and her indefatigable attention to details as she turned us into good writers.  I have always hoped that somehow I could bring both Ms. Williams and Mrs. Bishop into my own classroom.
What is your favorite course to teach, and why?
My favorite course to teach is American Literature.  I love the connection between American history and American literature and ideology, and to the chagrin of European scholars (clinging doggedly to James Joyce), I boldly claim that America has produced some of the greatest fiction writers in the world.  American artists have also, unfortunately, taken hold of some of the most dangerous philosophies, and I love trying to teach students how to discern bad ideology from good art.