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Thirty-two Years of Schmitz

TEHMI DEN BRAVEN

ARTS & CULTURE EDITOR

   From chalkboards to SmartBoards, longtime Pinewood teacher Sheila Schmitz has seen it all.

   “I wanted to be a teacher from the time I was little; it was just a matter of what I was going to teach,” Schmitz said.

   Schmitz, affectionately known as “Señora” around campus, is obviously passionate about her profession.

   She followed her childhood dreams, and has been part of the Pinewood community for over 30 years, since 1983. To give you an idea of how long that is, the introduction of computers at Pinewood was a huge development for her. She remembers a time before a grading program like Veracross, when the Spanish department consisted of only two people.

   She has had the opportunity of watching the Pinewood community change and grow; from computers to Smart Boards to iPads, Schmitz has been here to witness it all. Despite all of these changes, however, some parts of Pinewood have always stayed the same.

   “The essence of [Pinewood] has stayed pretty much the way it was. Just an excellent place for students to learn and to have good guidance,” Schmitz said.

   Schmitz grew up in New Jersey and went to college in New York. She had enjoyed class with her high school Spanish teacher of four years, and therefore decided to major in the language. More than just the language, however, Schmitz was interested in the culture behind the language.

   “My interest is in communicating with other people, so language is very important for that, but understanding their culture is also very important so those are things that drive me… that I want my students to get out of studying Spanish,” Schmitz said.

   What some people may not know is that Schmitz also has a minor in French, as she had to be able to teach two languages to get her credentials.

   Schmitz does have a life outside of being a teacher, as hard as it is for some students to believe. She helps with several Pinewood events, she has six grandkids, and she has been happily married to an aerospace engineer for 50 years. She has traveled to different Spanish-speaking countries with her husband, Fred Schmitz, and with her three sons. She and her husband, an avid water skier, enjoy sailing and swimming at their lake house east of Mt. Lassen; Schmitz even jokes that her husband might never have proposed if she hadn’t learned how to water ski.

   Schmitz’ excitement in and passion for languages has shaped her and her family’s lives. Her skill with languages has even made vacations into adventures; when her husband’s job warranted a move to Paris, Schmitz explored the city with her sons, who attended French public schools.

   “In general, her love of language and teaching has also been quite important to her ‘raison d’être’ [purpose in life].  It also has made her a great partner to share life with,” her husband said.

   In the Pinewood community, she has gone far beyond the expectations of a teacher. Upper Campus principal Mark Gardner has enjoyed working with her for many years.

   “She has always been very involved with the school outside of her teaching and department head duties.  She rarely misses a Prom or a Winter Formal. She is in the front greeting students as they arrive to school, something she has done for a long, long time,” Gardner said.

   She was even the Cheerleader Advisor when Pinewood had cheerleaders. As someone who is constantly laughing and is excited about everything she does, this is not
entirely surprising.

   When asked about her plans for retirement, Schmitz
simply smiled.

   “Nothing here would make me want to leave. I love
it here.”

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