Military spouse finds joy teaching back home in SW La.

Published 10:06 am Thursday, March 23, 2023

After spending much of her adult life traveling the world with her husband, Lake Charles native Shon Merritt, 53, has found a home with her students at Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy.

She left Southwest Louisiana in 1999 with her husband and spent 16 years as an “army wife.”

During her time abroad, she taught on and off. She has taught in Kansas, North Carolina and at Department of Defense Schools in Germany. “As a military spouse, I had to adapt to every new location and the job availability in that area.”

She was encouraged to pursue jobs in school systems by her mother-in-law, who was a teacher herself. She steered Merritt towards substitute teaching. After seeing her succeed in that role, Merritt’s mother-in-law told her to become a teacher. “She told me that I had a gift for teaching and should get into education full-time,” she explained.

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The more she taught, the more she realized how much joy it brought her. “As I began teaching, I realized that there is something wonderful about the moment the ‘light bulb’ clicks on in a child’s mind,” she said. “To see the excitement in their eyes when they comprehend what I have taught them is quite fulfilling.”

After nearly two decades of migration, Merritt and her husband returned to “Cajun Country” in 2015.

She now teaches 7th grade English Language Arts at SWLCA, where she also serves as a member of the Black History Committee, Veterans Day Committee, PBIS Committee and a mentor for SWLCA’s Distinguished Gentleman and Sista-Sista Mentoring Club.

In the classroom, Merritt institutes a wide-range of classroom techniques and methods to teach her students, such as emphasizing student involvement, developing an enriching learning environment and building motivation and interest in learning for students.

Through her hard work, she aims to “impact students’ lives and to leave a storied legacy”

However, Merritt’s favorite aspect of the job is getting to know her students. She believes it is the most enjoyable part of being an educator, as no two students are alike. “I believe that every student is different,” she explained.

Through building distinctive connections with each of her students, she is able to teach more effectively. “Each has their own unique, individual qualities and I want to be that teacher that caters to their individual needs in a safe and stimulating environment, so students feel safe to take risks and express themselves.”

Her students, in turn, motivate her to become the best version of herself as a teacher. “At times in life, we all can become a little lazy,” she said. “Each morning that I enter my classroom and see the future leaders of America, it motivates me to be the best for them so that they can be the best when they leave my classroom.”

Merritt views education as a “tool to create a thriving and sustainable community” by affording students the opportunity to “develop leadership skills and the knowledge needed to stand out in their prospective career fields.”

“With a good education, students are more likely to start a business of their own, create jobs, and contribute to the overall economy of their community,” she explained. “Overall, education is key to creating productive citizens who are engaged in and are committed to making where they live a better place.”

She is grateful for the opportunity to provide this service for the youth. “As a teacher, I have a greater opportunity to fundamentally make the world a better place.”