For our very first Feature Friday I have interviewed Shannon Persicke. Shannon lives in Calgary, Alberta with her husband and three children ages 10, 11 and 12. Shannon and I met almost three years ago through work at the lovely Renert School. She teaches elementary art and I teach math, but our paths crossed when she assisted me in a weaving elective class I was teaching. Now, Shannon is the art teacher here, so it was interesting for me to have her as MY assistant. She had never really woven before, but was a great resource for me. I listened to her interact with the students and picked up on little tips and tricks that I could then implement in future art based classes.
Learning how to run more of an arts based class is not the only knowledge I have gained from Shannon. But before I get into that, let me tell you a little bit more about her life. Shannon was born in a small village in the southeastern corner of Saskatchewan, Canada with a population around 100 people. Yes, let’s read through that again… 100 people! This is so, so different than anything I’ve ever experienced. Like, her statement was just so simple and matter of fact. “I grew up in a village”…! Super cool if ya ask me! She lived there until she was around 13 or 14 years old.
Shannon’s husband is also from a super small town, but one 15 times as large as the village she grew up in. So if I do that math for ya, the population was only 1500 people. And now, they are raising their kids in Calgary with a population around 1.3 million people. I asked Shannon about this big shift in life style from her childhood to her children’s childhood. She said she enjoyed how she was raised, but she finds that there are more opportunities for her kids living in a place like Calgary. They also aren’t living in a “glass house” since they are in a bigger city. I myself grew up in a town with a population of around 300,000 people, and I can even relate to the “glass house” idea to some extent. So I can only imagine that feeling is intensified the smaller a place is.
In terms of her career, Shannon started out as a high school English teacher. She took about a 10 year break from work after her kids were born to stay home with them. For anybody who is wondering, being a stay at home mom is work enough! That junk aiiiiin’t easy. After some time off, she thought about going back to work at a children’s art studio. However, her husband encouraged her to not just work at the studio, but to open one of her own! We discussed how impactful it is to have a partner like that who recognizes something you would be good at and encourages you to go after it. Way to support your wifey, Dewayne! (That’s Shannon’s husband for reference. :))
Owning the studio and teaching art to younger kids is what clued Shannon into the fact that teaching humanities to high school students wasn’t her niche area. Instead it was art for elementary students. Shannon mentioned how the buy-in with young kids is so rewarding and how there is joy in everything at that age. As she put it, “You can find a rock in your backyard and tell the kids they are going to paint it and they are excited to do it!” This was a great reminder to me for teaching younger kids, but also when playing with Andee and when looking for joy for myself. It doesn’t have to be a big elaborate thing, rather there is joy in even the smallest of things, like a rock… in your backyard!
After owning her own art studio for about five years, the economy took a downward turn and Shannon ended up walking away from the studio. She spent the summer with her kids and didn’t really know what she going to do career wise. She tried to get in with the Calgary Board of Education, but then found an advertisement for a job opening at Renert School looking for an art teacher. She applied for the job and basically was hired right away. Now, y’all have heard me talk about my love for Renert School, and I gotta tell ya that Shannon speaks the same truth I do! She feels so fortunate to work there and has grown tremendously by being around the staff, the students and plainy, just being involved in the vision that makes Renert School uniquely fabulous. But most of all, she feels lucky to work at Renert because she is treated like a professional. There is no one breathing down her neck and monitoring her every step. She is in charge of her classroom and her curriculum and is fully trusted to do her job well.
To help keep herself sane, Shannon walks and often partakes in different creative outlets. She looks at YouTube and Pinterest for ideas, and then implements those ideas. Even just watching various videos provides her with nourishment because she is amazed by the talent people have. This resonates with me so much because I am such an avid DIYer myself, and love being inspired by different peoples’ skills. Along with walking, Shannon typically enjoys group exercise classes to help keep her in a good place mentally. Unfortunately, those classes are on pause due to COVID, but she looks forward to getting back into them once allowed.
In terms of Shannon’s work-life balance since COVID, she feels like her and her family have handled it pretty well. She noted that they aren’t a family that rushes around a lot to begin with, so being at home more wasn’t that big of a transition for them. This led us to discussing some of her parenting philosophy, mainly on managing her kid’s activities. She allows her kids to partake in whatever they are interested in, but also believes in teaching them to be content with playing with each other. It helps that her kids are so close in age as well, so they still enjoy each others company.
It was also interesting to talk to Shannon about how she balances her kids’ activities financially. Growing up, her family was very much of the mindset where her and her siblings only got to do one activity each so that it was fair and even, but also it was super calculated. Shannon is more flexible with her own kids in that they don’t nitpick the nickels and dimes, but do make sure that all the big things (like vacations) are fair. When I mentioned earlier that I have learned so much from Shannon – her parenting philosophy is one of the things! She’s so open about sharing her thought process, and I find it incredibly valuable to ask and learn from someone who has already experienced stages of life I am currently going through.
As I have mentioned, Shannon has a wealth of knowledge and is such a level headed person who’s opinion I greatly value. I really appreciate her openness and willingness to answer all of my prying questions during this interview, but also when just chatting in general. Her outlook on life and her confidence in herself, her family and how she is choosing to raise her kids are admirable. So a big thank you goes out to Shannon!
Also, thank YOU all for reading this post. If you or anyone you know would be interested in being apart of Feature Friday, please DM me on Instagram or drop a note below. I am looking forward to continuing this series and sharing juuuust a little peak of the unique people I have been fortunate enough to cross paths with. Be on the lookout for next week’s post about a dear friend who suffered through a miscarriage. Hope y’all have a lovely day!