A closer look into one of Argo’s honors biology and chemistry teachers


Kori Briley, Staff Writer

Shannon Sundberg or as most students know Ms. Sundberg wasn’t always a science teacher.

“Originally, I went to Illinois State University to get a degree in business. Ultimately, I wanted to be an attorney. I figured that having a business degree is a good undergrad for corporate law,” Sundberg stated.

How did she change career paths? Why did she change career paths? What motivated her to change career paths? Teaching science-related classes might not be the most fun thing ever, but she makes it more fun to learn.

The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Why did you pick your old profession? 

I have always liked to win an argument. Lawyers get to fight for their clients and hopefully win their cases. It seemed like a great career for me.

What changed your mind about that profession? 

When I was a senior in college, I received a letter from my dad’s job. It stated that I would no longer have health insurance after I graduated from ISU. This was before the law change that kept kids on their parent’s insurance until they are 25 years old. I needed to get a job, any job after I graduated so that I had health insurance. I put my law school plans on pause at that time.

Can you tell me how you came about the idea of changing jobs? 

My first job after I graduated was for a document management company. It was part sales and part training. I enjoyed the training portion of my job. Over time, I realized that I had the opportunity to earn more money with another company doing administrative assistant work for an accounting firm. I left my first job and went to my second.

Where did the idea of teaching come from?  

After spending some time at the accounting firm, I realized that I hated being tied to a desk all day. I realized that I enjoyed my previous job, especially the training part. It made me feel good to help others learn something new. Becoming a teacher seemed like a good path for me.

Why an Honors Biology/Chemistry teacher? 

I went to the counseling office at St. Xavier University and asked them how I can become a teacher. After reviewing my undergraduate transcripts, they said that I can become a math teacher or a science teacher. I would have to take 2 additional classes to teach science, but I knew I could make science fun. The additional 2 classes would be worth it.

I am certified to teach any science class at the regular level. I can teach honors classes for the classes I am endorsed in.

Can you tell me more about that? 

An endorsement in a particular science class means that I took an exam and passed. The state of Illinois has deemed that I am qualified to teach a course at the honors level. Currently, I am endorsed in biology, physics, and earth science.   

Was it hard to stick with teaching after your last job? 

Nope. I enjoy teaching. I would never go back to my job as an administrative assistant. I was not challenged at all and was incredibly bored.

Is it challenging to be a teacher and a parent? 

The only challenge, if that’s what you can call it, is that there are not enough hours in the day. I only grade when I am at school because my children are still very young and need my attention more than an older child. Because of this, it takes me longer than other teachers to grade some things. I will get it graded as soon as I can, but it might not be asap.

What would you recommend to your students if they wanted to become a teacher? 

I would recommend that they choose a grade level that they can relate to and choose a subject that they are interested in. If you are not interested in the subject you teach, it can be difficult to make it interesting and relatable to your students.

I would also recommend a work-life balance. Teaching is a profession that can be all-consuming and overwhelming at times. Teachers, whether they want to, wear a lot of hats. Sometimes, we are the first line of defense for some students. We notice things that counselors, nurses, and (sometimes) parents miss. It is important to make sure you have some separation from school and grading so that you can be the best at school and the best for your family.