Teacher of the Issue: Sheppard working in her element within chemistry department


Lilly Gorman

Coppell High School honors chemistry, IB chemistry and IB chemistry II teacher Susan Sheppard helps CHS juniors Julia Cherkesov and Sven Collins with classwork during third period class on Sept. 9 in C202. Sheppard was selected as The Sidekick’s Teacher of the Issue.

Sally Parampottil, Executive Editor-in-Chief

The science department is no stranger to Coppell High School honors chemistry, IB chemistry I and IB chemistry II teacher Susan Sheppard. Having also taught forensic science, biology, physics and AP chemistry, as well as working as the academic decathlon science coach, science has been a major part of Sheppard’s life since she began pursuing chemistry in college. Sheppard was selected by The Sidekick staff as the October Teacher of the Issue. 

Why did you decide to teach chemistry?

My plan originally was to work in a pharmaceutical lab, looking specifically at organic design, tweaking subgroups to get rid of undesirable side effects. But life has a way of moving you into things that are better for you sometimes. I ended up, at the time, seriously dating my boyfriend who is now my husband, and at the time, if you wanted to work in pharmaceutical research, there were about four cities that there were labs you could work in. It’s much different now, but I got to thinking, when things started to turn serious, “What if he didn’t want to live in one of those four cities?” So I thought, “I will pick up a teaching certificate as a backup.” That way, if none of those four cities work out for him, I’d be OK. I started education classes and suddenly realized I didn’t want to work in a lab, I wanted to work with people. I love talking to people and helping them understand new things and getting excited. I realized that organic chemistry and lab research was definitely not what I wanted or needed to do. 

If you could listen to one musical artist for the rest of your life, who would it be?

The Beatles. I was raised by a Beatles loving mama; when you see the old newsreel footage of the ladies going “ahhhh!” she was there. I pretty much know every Beatles song by heart, and so do my girls [CHS senior Ashley Sheppard and Coppell Middle School East sixth grader Emily Sheppard]. I have a varied musical taste, but if I had to say goodbye to everyone but one, I’d keep the Beatles. 

What high school stereotype did you fit into and do you still fit into it now?

I was a band nerd. I played the clarinet [at Springlake-Earth High School in Lamb County, Texas]. I still enjoy music, both of my girls are in band. I will say I still think I’m a band nerd because every time the drums come down the hallway, I notice if I’m not paying attention, I immediately get into marching step. I’m in cadence walking down the hall because I’m so used to that. I was also very much an academic nerd and that’s still true. But, the thing I would say is different is that in high school, I was very shy and withdrawn. I was afraid to talk to other people because I was afraid of rejection. Although there’s still a little bit of that, I think that’s true for almost everyone; we’re all afraid of rejection. I would still consider myself an introvert, but if I know you and trust you, I become an extrovert around you, and that would not be true in high school. Even with my friends, I would sit there and listen to them talk and not really have anything to say. 

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