2004 Outstanding Teacher of America
Oakland High School; Oakland, CA
Larry Shepherd has been teaching for approximately eighteen years, the last eight of which he has been at Oakland Senior High School. Before coming to Oakland Senior High, Mr. Shepherd taught English for nine years at Edna Brewer Junior High School, also in the Oakland Unified School District. He currently teaches ninth and tenth grade English. These are mostly mainstream classes, with one “Upward Bound” class for students with low skill levels. He also teaches in the Environmental Science Academy.
He decided to become a teacher because he enjoyed training outdoor guides as part of his career as manager of a professional river rafting and outdoor education business in Oregon, during which time he co-authored a book on Sierra Rivers: A Guide to Three Rivers, F.O.R. Books, 1981.
Mr. Shepherd is known for reaching out to students whether or not they are in his classroom. Students remark on how Mr. Shepherd is always standing in the hallway outside his room between classes, greeting students. He offers students a calming presence and a supportive smile, while pushing them to pursue higher education and their dreams.
In addition to teaching English and chairing the English department for five years, Mr. Shepherd is the faculty advisor for the California Scholarship Federation, a member of the National Scholarship Federation, which is an honor society club to recognize academic excellence in students. The group has approximately 125 students participating each year. He is proud to have coached more than 75 student winners of local and regional student literary and speech awards. He was yearbook advisor for seven years, and advisor to the Vietnamese Student Association for several years, as well.
To further his reach in determining the outcome of his students’ education, Mr. Shepherd has participated in many school and district programs, as well as professional training and development. These include participation in the School Site Council, being Chair of the Faculty Advisory Committee, working as a CAP Reader for ETS during summers, attending the Bay Area Writing Project course and passing the Language Development Specialists Exam.
Mr. Shepherd participates in school committees. He has served on the Facilities Committee and on the WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) Accreditation Committee. At the District level, Mr. Shepherd is serving on the Textbook Adoption Committee. Larry Shepherd received both his BA in Education and his Single Subject Life Credential from UC Berkeley.