As if you didn’t know, or haven’t heard students of LFHS whispering about the new fashion teacher who, “played at Lolla,” I’d like to have you meet Mr. Brian Sheridan.
Mr. Sheridan is a new teacher to the high school in the Business Department who teaches Fashion Merchandising, Accounting, Sports and Entertainment Management, and Consumer Ed. Unknown to much of the student population not enrolled in his classes, Mr. Sheridan has a unique background in music. He plays the bass guitar, acoustic guitar, as well as singing vocals in multiple bands over the course of his career.
Mr. Sheridan is not just your local couch musician or a someone who relegates his talents only to his garage. Sheridan, in fact, has performed at numerous places in the country from San Francisco to Chicago, including a sell out show at Ravinia.
Having been in his class last semester, I interviewed Mr. Sheridan to get a little more insight on his life and his musical career. Of course, being his student, my first question centered around how music affects his performance in the classroom.
“I think being involved in the performing arts has definitely helped me. Aside from music I have taken improv and sketch writing classes at Second City, and then performed both in front of audiences. I think when you put yourself out there to be judged, it helps build confidence to be in front of and working with people.”
Sheridan has a clear knack for performing, as anyone who has taken his class could attest. he is comfortable in his own skin and has no problem sharing a joke, an anecdote, or even a full-fledged story from his younger days.
Next, curiously, I asked how someone who was so skilled in performing arts got into education, and if he originally saw himself as a music teacher?
“My brother is a teacher,” Sheridan explained, “and was for many years before I made the change. He said it had its own challenges, but he still enjoyed it.” At the time, Sheridan was working full-time in sales and was enjoying life. “I enjoyed my sales career, but I had been in that field for 18 years. Teaching was always in the back of my mind, so I decided life was too short not to give it a go. I’m glad I made the change. I couldn’t teach music because I am self-taught. I know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to teach it legitimately.”
Mr. Sheridan also discussed his previous teaching job at York High school in Elmhurst. I was curious how similar it was to LFHS, to which he responded, “Really, the only difference is the lack of bells here, which took some minor adjusting.” York, a high-achieving high school in Elmhurst, a western suburb of Chicago, is very similar to Lake Forest demographically and within their academic statistics. “Both are excellent schools with good teachers and administrators who care about their professions and their students,” Sheridan added.
When asked whether he prefers to teach Fashion Merchandising, Consumer Ed, Sports Management, or Accounting? He admitted that his favorite class is definitely Sports and Entertainment Management. Sheridan elaborated as to why, explaining, “I have a Marketing degree, and have always been a creative thinker and a concepts person. I love teaching classes that ask you to think out of the box. I enjoy those other classes too, but my favorite is Sports and Entertainment Management.
As for his dream career, Sheridan might not be pinned down to the basement hallway. “If money wasn’t an issue, acting without question; if money is an issue, I probably would go back to my previous career in sales, but I try to live my life somewhere in between the two of those, so I love teaching.”
Mr. Sheridan was born and raised on the north side of Chicago (around Fullerton and Cicero) by an Irish immigrant father and a Polish-American mother. He attended Weber High school, an all-boys Catholic high school. “I would not trade growing up there for anything,” Sheridan explained. “My experiences in the city made me wise to the various ways people approach life.”
Musically speaking, Mr. Sheridan was “influenced by many,” growing up in Chicago. His favorite bands while he was growing up were diverse. Really, anything The Beach Boys and The Beatles to Van Halen and Rush whet his musical appetite. His favorite concert he’s ever been to was The Police at Wrigley Field. Now, he still likes variety, but he says “in my heart I’ve always been a metal head. Often you can hear me blasting Metallica on my way out of the parking lot!”
Overall, Mr. Sheridan seems to be one of the most well-rounded teachers I have come to know in my time in high school. Not only can he impact a student’s life inside the classroom by teaching them skills that are applicable to real life, but he proves to them that the road less traveled yields many positive results.