Harbor School welcomes new teachers

The Harbor School has hired two new teachers who have unique approaches to instructing inside and out of the classroom.

Shane Jewell, who teaches math, and Steven Smith, the science teacher, bring with them a wealth of experience and innovative ideas for teaching outside the box.

Jewell, a math tutor who is also a candlemaker and a founder of Vashon’s Free Range Folk Choir, said he’s fascinated by relating mathematics to the real world and teaching in an exciting way.

“I’m looking forward to subverting the way that math is taught,” Jewell said. “That’s the thing I like most about math: finding unusual ways to teach it and use it.”

Jewell plans to teach this year using tools such as “an epic math game” and outside-the-classroom activities.

Smith, a longtime teacher in Georgia, has a background in neuropsychology — he worked as a research scientist before deciding to teach instead.

He’s designed an all-new science curriculum for Harbor School students this year, he said, and he intends for each of his students to spend at least two and a half hours a week outside the classroom exploring and learning about science.

Smith has dubbed the science program “a field-based ecology academy,” and students will partner with local organizations such as Vashon Audubon, the Hydrophone Project and Vashon Park District to explore different aspects of science in nature.

“What we’ll be able to do is not only have the kids in the field doing science, but they’ll be learning and doing something that benefits our community,” Smith said. “I’m teaching science not as a group of facts, but as a way to approach problems so students can use it down the road — when the dishwasher breaks or the car breaks down. My goal is at the end of this year, not to hear one student ever say, ‘When am I going to be using this?’”

Both instructors’ enthusiasm for education and their subject matter is apparent, and Edele said he’s glad to have such motivated and high-caliber instructors on staff.

Jewell, he said, is an “even-tempered, easygoing, likable guy” who never gets frustrated or short with his students.

“He brings a very calm demeanor to the class, and the kids just love him,” Edele said.

Smith, too, is popular with students, and is bursting with “creative, innovative ideas about teaching science,” Edele said.

“I think he’s going to add a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of creativity,” he said. “We’re happy to have him.”

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