Planting a Seed of Vision and Hope.
“The classroom feels like home to me. That’s how I know I’m in the right place,” said Shawn Winebrenner 2019, UNC Asheville alumnus and visual arts teacher for Asheville City Schools. “I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”
Winebrenner’s career journey did not take him directly to the classroom, however. After years working in graphic design and make-up artistry, Winebrenner’s husband suggested he pursue teaching, a career that had long appealed to him. But that would mean going back to school, himself.
“I tell people this all the time, and I really mean this: one of the best decisions that I ever made was to go back to school and to do it at UNCA,” Winebrenner said.
Now an art teacher at Ira B. Jones Elementary School, Winebrenner said teaching young children in particular is important to him. “I’m planting seeds in hopes that wherever they go, that I’ve done my part and I have given them the information that they need to be able to make it in this world,” Winebrenner said.
“One of the other reasons that I wanted to work with this age group is because I’m a Black male educator,” he continued. “I wanted to make sure that all these students—Black, white, Asian, Native American, Latino—I wanted to make sure that that they had an opportunity to experience a Black male teacher. Not that I’m going to teach every kid in Asheville. I’m not. But I think it’s important that I am in this role.”
Showing his students that teachers are “real people,” and not just some figurehead at the front of the classroom, is also important work for Winebrenner. “I’m really open and really honest with students. I stopped a class last week, there was just something that was on my mind. I said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if I’ve told you this lately. But I love what I do. I love that I get to come over here and hang out with you and be creative.”
He continues, “I have lots of love for kids. I have lots of concern for the future of these young people, and I am trying to do my part to make sure that they get started in the best way possible.”
To learn more about UNC Asheville’s teacher licensure program and how to apply, visit education.unca.edu.