Before teaching, Shaen Polasky served five years with the Marine Corps. But claims he doesn't have a "no nonsense" approach to teaching. His teaching methods work in the classroom. He is this month's Golden Apple Award recipient.
To the students and faculty at Indianola High School it was no surprise Shaen Polasky deserved an award. It was for Polasky himself… “All I can say with this recognition is that I hope I can live up to it and keep doing a better job”, he told the assembly.
Psychology is his specialty. He’s been teaching the subject for 5 years.
Misty Sievers says, “He’s just an amazing teacher. He makes every student feel like the lesson is individualized and it`s a personal approach.”
It was in study hall, when 11th grader Misty Sievers overheard a conversation between another student and Mr. Polaski. She was sold on psychology ever since.
“He starts explaining it and I was just amazed how engaging his conversation with the student was,” Misty continues. “I stopped what I was doing and I was totally focused on what he was saying. I had no clue what it meant or anything. I was just so fascinated with the way he talked and it seem like it could all make sense.”
It’s the type of interaction that helps students thrive, says Principal Brian Carico.
“Every school has great staff members and do really good things for kids. But when it’s your kids nominating them, because that means they really had an impact and made a relationship with the kids.”
Polaski believes in the aspect of learning not the outcome... “People’s motivations are done by reward or a punishment. You work because you want a reward to get a good grade or to avoid a bad grade.”
Perhaps his methods stem back to his military training.
Sievers says, “Unique, very unique. He has an unorthodox way of teaching but it works. It really works.”
He didn’t even stop teaching during the interview... “Here, I’ll even explain it. So, this is performance,” he says, gesturing at the board at the front of the room. “It all makes sense. This is performance right?”
Polaski has a passion for teaching, “Prepared people for when they enter in the field they can operate independently and be creative rather than sort of being dependent on everything provided for them.”
Makes it all worth it, when students like Misty succeed, “I’ve decided to possibly attend a college in Tennessee and that I`ll end up having a degree in clinical psychology.”