Geneva teacher follows in her late mother’s fifth-grade footsteps, right next door

‘I knew it was what I was meant to do’

Eryn Shannon teaches fifth grade in the classroom next door to the classroom her mother, the late Beth Shannon, taught in for many years at Western Avenue School in Geneva. Eryn also attended the school.

A fifth grade teacher at Geneva’s Western Avenue Elementary School, Eryn Shannon teaches the same class her late mother once taught.

Actually, she’s right next door.

“Growing up, I definitely watched my mother as a teacher and I looked up to her,” Shannon said of her mother, Beth Shannon.

As she marks her ninth year in the classroom, the past two at Western, Eryn Shannon said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher. Now, she’s back teaching in the school where, as a youngster, she attended from kindergarten through the fifth grade.

Though her mother taught fifth grade at Western while her daughter attended the school, Shannon was not in her mother’s class.

“It was fun having mom there as a teacher,” Shannon recalled. “It was fun.”

While Shannon followed in her mother’s footsteps, the two never taught together in the same school.

“We were both teachers at the same time, but not in Geneva,” Shannon said. “I taught somewhere else up until 2020. I’ve only been in Geneva two years … but we would share resources and stories. I had an opportunity when the fifth grade position was opening at Western Avenue to come back to my roots [when] Tammy Thompson retired.”

Western Avenue Principal Ron Zeman praised Shannon’s teaching.

“She is not only an excellent teacher, but a phenomenal person,” Zeman said in an email. “Completely child-centered, great teammate, excellent communications skills and an innate leader.”

Beth Shannon died of breast cancer in 2016 at age 54.

“It’s not just the classroom, it’s just being there teaching fifth grade where she taught so long,” Eryn Shannon said. “There is a lending library and a bench the school dedicated to her that I can see right outside my classroom window.”

Eryn Shannon teaches fifth grade in the classroom next door to the classroom her mother, the late Beth Shannon, taught in for many years at Western Avenue School in Geneva. Eryn also attended the school.

Shannon and her brother, Brett Shannon, are involved in fundraising events for the Beth Shannon Memorial Scholarship, which awards money to Geneva students pursuing a degree in education and to fund other school-related activities, such as outdoor education for fifth graders.

This year will mark their fifth annual golf outing fundraiser that includes a dinner and a raffle.

Eryn Shannon said there were other teachers in her family who also influenced her to become a teacher.

“I grew up playing school. It just felt natural. Once I started college in education, I knew that was what I was meant to do,” Shannon said. “I’m very fortunate that it came naturally and I’m lucky to love it.”