By Suzanne Schmidt
WESLEY CHAPEL—A local teacher chose a life of working hard to make a difference in the world rather than going the corporate route. Sean Gaudet’s work ethic paid off when he was voted Teacher of the Year at Wesley Chapel High School earlier this school year and now Teacher of the Year for all of Pasco County.
“I worked for Whole Foods for nine years,” Gaudet said. “I was working there part-time while I was going to college for education. I was on track to be a store manager where I would have been making a lot of money. It sounds so cliché but I started to think about what I wanted to do with my life. I decided I wanted to make the world a better place.”
Gaudet applied to Wesley Chapel High School as an English teacher in 1999, because that was what his degree and certification was in. Then, when the school year started and there was no drama teacher, he decided to give teaching performing arts a try.
“I didn’t know anything about drama but I thought why not,” Gaudet said. “I wanted to put on a musical because you know how hard that could be. It was not my finest work. I was working hard but I was not getting good results so I just kept telling myself next year will be better.”
After an emotional first year, Gaudet learned a lot about how to improve.
To date, his goal is to keep getting better. He expects the same from his students.
“The students I love to work with are the ones who work hard and are always trying to get better,” Gaudet said. “My job is to become obsolete by the time they graduate. As long as they just work hard, that is all I want.”
The most important lessons Gaudet wants his students to learn are accountability and responsibility, which is why he likes to assign group and partner activities. In his classes, his students create short films. The students are responsible for creating their own storyline, scripts, costumes, shooting the scenes, editing, adding a soundtrack, lighting and acting.
“In the work world, you can’t say you are going to do something and not do it,” Gaudet said. “If you do, you could get fired. These students are going to be adults in a few years and these are traits I want them to have.”
One of the things that Gaudet said helps his ability to get along with his students is his respect for them.
“I find something to like in every student,” Gaudet said. “I honestly and truly respect them. They may have a priority that I don’t like, like they might decide their friend is more important than my classroom. I respect that decision but there are still consequences and usually the next time they make the good choice.”
Lindsay Hail, senior, said she thinks Gaudet is a great teacher. She is the president of the Thespian club at the school.
“He is really supportive and not just as far as drama goes but also outside of school,” Hail said. “He really deserves to win Teacher of the Year because of all the hard work he does.”
Tori Musco, senior, said she has learned a lot from Gaudet. She thinks his lessons will stick with her for the rest of her life.
“I have learned leadership skills, team work and confidence,” Musco said.
For more information visit www.gaudetwc.com.