It sounds strange to call Mr. Patrick Shepherd a new teacher. While he is technically new to the BL faculty, he comes with twenty-eight years of experience teaching second grade at the Calvert School. And that only covers half of his experience working with boys. For more than thirty years, he has also worked as the head director of Skylemar, a popular boys’ summer camp in southern Maine.
“It’s been the perfect balance,” he reflects, “During the summers, I run the whole show, but during the school year, I get to work directly with the kids. The teaching helps to keep me grounded.”
Mr. Shepherd – or “Shep,” as he is called by most – is certainly no stranger to Lake Avenue. Two of his three sons, Nick ’12 and Blake ‘19, both graduated from BL, where they were integral to the community. Last year, Nick coached and taught upper school history, and Blake served as student body president. Their father had always considered joining the BL faculty but also wanted to give his sons their space. “[BL] was always Nick and Blake’s place,” he says. But when the two of them moved on from Lake Avenue at the close of the 2018-2019 school year, Mr. Shep saw that the time was right for a change of scenery.
Last fall, Shep took over the second grade and immediately, he made his presence known. His class feels a bit like a children’s television show, featuring an engaging and charismatic host, multiple costume changes, and a parade of special guests. There’s Sergeant Shep, who wears an army helmet, Thor, who wears a Viking helmet, King Swen who wears a crown, and a host of others. In fact, these “guests,” who make periodic recurring cameos to help teach various lessons, all seem to bear a suspicious resemblance to Shep himself. But regardless, even the most skeptical second grader is ultimately won over by the fun.
“When he’s in on something, he’s all the way in. That means, costumes, hats, the works,” says Lower School Head Greg Schnitzlein, “He’s Shep. He’s one of a kind.”