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Dan C. Shannon – History Education, 1948

Dan C. Shannon

May, 1948 – History Education

I am Dan C. Shannon and graduated from Southwestern Louisiana Institute (as USL was known then) in May 1948. My major was history.

I was introduced to SLI by the U.S. Navy. While a senior in high school in Terre Haute, Indiana, I enlisted in the Naval Air Corps, in the spring of 1943 and expected to be in the V-5 program. Because there were many young men like me who wanted to be Naval pilots, the V-5 program across the nation was filled, so the Navy sent me to SLI in the  program, which was a program leading to officer training.

Our days at SLI in the  program started with a run from the old McNaspy Stadium, where I was billeted, out of the campus and around the Heyman house. Our day ended with the sound of taps played by buglers, both Navy and Marine, which meant lights out at 10:00 P.M. Being forced to stay in our rooms each evening probably developed good study habits for me. There was nothing else to do but study!

I was impressed by the friendliness that was shown by all the civilian students. When walking on campus, invariably a person would say “Hey” as a casual greeting. It soon became a habit with us; thus, friendships developed quickly. I have never known of any campus as friendly as SLI in those days. One Sunday evening, I was invited to attend a fais-dodo off campus. This wholesome family gathering really impressed me.

                The Navy transferred me after four semesters, but I returned in the summer of 1946, after an honorable discharge from the Navy. I dug right in and completed my undergraduate education two years later. Coming back to SLI as a civilian, fully responsible for my own lodging and meals, was interesting. Until I could find more suitable lodging, I stayed in a dormitory set up at the airport. A bus would take us to campus. But I soon had enough of that “barracks” type living quarters and searched for some space nearer the campus, with fewer men. I lived with seven other men in two rooms in a private house just three blocks north of the campus. The G.I. Bill gave us ex-service men  tuition and books plus fifty dollars a month. After paying for room and meals, there was very little left; so I decided to get a part-time job and found one at Joe-Joe’s, a small restaurant on Johnson Street. I waited on tables at lunch time and dinner.

                Looking back on my education at SLI, I am impressed at the wide range of courses a small college offered. Classes in biology, physics, chemistry and geology gave me a well rounded education in science, which was my minor.

                Education classes were conducted well. Dr. Turner’s “Test and Measurements” and “Statistics” gave me a solid foundation for my professional life. Practice teaching at Lafayette High School was a valuable experience. Under the supervision of Miss Ruby Whitfield, I developed many good teaching techniques which have been extremely valuable to me.

                We were an eager bunch, both in  and as G.I. Bill students. There was no “animal house” behavior. We were eager to learn, and there was no ra-ra college boy stuff. My social life was rather mild and often connected to my studies. I joined Phi Gamma Mu, a social studies group, and was voted into the Blue Key. Friendships developed with other G.I. Bill men which lasted well after graduation. I met my wife, Sophie Martin, at SLI. In fact, she was the teacher of a chemistry laboratory I took.

                Attending SLI was a valuable part of my life. Besides giving me a well rounded educational foundation, it instilled in me a friendly attitude, which I still have.

                Teaching during the regular school year and attending Colorado State College at Greely, I earned my masters degree in the summer of 1952. My growing family moved to California where I attended  A during the summer as well as taking extension classes in San Diego. I completed my graduate work and was awarded my doctorate in 1958, ten years after leaving SLI.

                I taught elementary school for several years and then was transferred to junior high school to teach science. During the regular school year and in summers, I took classes sponsored by the National Science Foundation. These classes, plus several others, have formed me into a well – rounded teacher. Traveling to Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa has broadened my view of people and customs as well as observing geologic features about which I had previously only studied. The junior college in San Diego hired me to teach history classes and physical science classes. My last ten years of teaching were in high school, teaching physical science, biology and chemistry. I was editor of the California Science Teachers Journal for 10 years, a real challenge but a worthwhile endeavor. In 1981, I was honored by the California Science Teachers Association as the outstanding science educator of the state, an award I sincerely respect.

Dan C. Shannon