As the student council moderator and head of the no-bully program team, Our Lady of Guadalupe School (OLG) third-grade teacher Shannon Bellison teaches her pupils to learn to conquer mountains with God at their sides.
Bellison graduated from California State University in Hayward with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies and a minor in early childhood development. She received her teaching credential from Cal State TEACH program and has been teaching at OLG for 12 years now.
Over the years, she’s noted the changes within the educational realm to be in the curriculum itself. Common Core English language arts and math are now in place, and the standards have shifted in grading for the primary grades, along with the homework loads. There has also been a call for more individualized education.
“We have to be more creative about our teaching strategies in order to reach each student,” Bellison said. “Technology availability has improved. We have gotten better at accommodating all students’ needs.”
In the classroom, Bellison says the culture she has with her students has a familial dynamic, noting that the incorporation of Christ into everything they do has a huge impact on the level of love and kindness found within the walls of OLG – something more important than any academic lesson she could teach.
“We laugh, we love, we are silly, we are friends, we work together, we are accepting,” she said. “Sometimes, we have falling-outs, we hurt each feelings or we disagree. However, in the end, we are family.”
In addition to love and compassion, Bellison’s third-graders get to experience unique projects in her classroom such as Dia de los Muertos altars, Native American tribal research reports and being pen-pals with another school in the diocese.
Bellison hopes her students remember the message she has posted in her classroom, which is one she incorporates into her lessons – ‘God won’t make a mountain I can’t climb.’ To her, this means that even in the face of seemingly insurmountable struggles, anything is possible with God at your side and the will to never give up.
And this message carries over into her work with the leadership kids, who go above and beyond to support their communities. Student council leads morning assembly each day. The students organize spirit days for the school, plan activities for Catholic Schools Week, Red Ribbon Week, holidays and also organize outreach events. Some of the outreach events include Denim Day, which raises money for HERS Breast Cancer Foundation; Koins for Kids, which raises money to help with tuition assistance for other Dominican schools; and a few others as well.
“I hope (when my students leave my classroom), they remember that learning is fun and that I love each and every one of them just as they are,” she said. “I want them to remember they have made just as much of a difference in my life, as I hope to have made in theirs.”