HER Magazine | Creating her own story: Anna Shumake

Anna Shumake wanted to be a teacher since she was a little girl.

"I would line up my stuffed animals and chairs and teach them, I was that kid," Shumake said.

Shumake wasn't sure where she wanted to land, in terms of what subject she wanted to teach until she took Advanced Placement United States History in high school.

Shumake found herself drawn to the biographical details that she would read in textbooks and APUSH helped her realize her passion: learning about people.

"I've always really been really into biographies and this was a class I really did struggle with but there was a lightbulb moment where everything fell into place. It made sense to me," Shumake said.

Shumake learned during her senior year of high school that she was experiencing difficulties with dyslexia, which caused struggles processing language in written form.

"After taking that class, I realized that this is something I could do. I liked the subject and I understood it well enough to be able to explain it to others," Shumake said. "With history, it wasn't just words on a page or facts, it was the actual story part."

APUSH is where Shumake found her passion, in learning about others. She tries to bring this sense of connection to her students with her teaching, by creating a bridge between history and her students' lives.

"We do a lot of role playing when I taught AP Euro (Advanced Placement European History) and so I taught it as a family drama class. The kids really got into that," Shumake said.

Shumake referenced a lesson about the Holocaust, where she would take students to a field trip of the Dallas Holocaust Museum and show portions of the film Schindler's List.

"We went through the last room (at the museum) which was kind of a memorial grave site," Shumake said.

Shumake said leaving a stone at a grave is a Jewish tradition and one of her students felt a connection when walking through the last room at the museum.

"When we got out there, it was very quiet. We got out and kind of debriefed and one of my kids, I think a senior, was almost in tears and said: 'We should have brought rocks.' Those are the kind of moments why I do what I do," Shumake said.

Shumake enjoys her work because she gets to teach her students empathy and cultural understanding. She also continuously tries to push herself in her field.

"I'm a National Board Certified Educator," Shumake said. "I was doing it (at) the same time as my masters, I do not recommend that a little bit."

Shumake said she went through the process because she wanted to be the best teacher she could for her students and she committed to this process with the support of her teacher colleagues and her husband Andy and their daughter, Emily.

"I actually like doing these things even though they were difficult and I did have a lot of help. A lot of people at the school were great mentors and supporters," Shumake said.

"We kind of looked down the line of how this was going to be hard right now, but this is what's going to be best for our family in the long run," Shumake said.

Shumake said having her daughter in her life has taught her how to slow down.

"I'm a go-go-go person and she's helped me slow down and kind of focus, she's very much 'I want your attention', so I kind of always stop and play with her and enjoy that time," Shumake said."

Shumake said watching her daughter learn her own passions has been eye-opening, too.

"She told my mom yesterday that she loves reading and I'm really glad she's picked that up," Shumake said.

Shumake said her passion for history led her to teaching because it was the first time she ever felt gifted in what she was doing.

"I wanted to help others realize how smart they actually are, I want to help my students realize how smart they are because if you think of yourself as smart- the world is an open door of possibilities," Shumake said.

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