Joseph Shinn shares his fiery passion

A teacher and a dean who believes in the dream


Abdlrhman Alayah

Mr. Shinn joined the staff this year as a physical education teacher and dean.

During an interview in March 2023, Joseph Shinn shares why he loves his job at BRHS.

What is your job?
“I am a PE teacher as well as a Dean.”

What is your job like?
“So, it’s like a roller-coaster of emotions; One minute you really feel like you’re gettin’ through to some people, the next minute it comes crashin’ down and you realize you gotta start over again.”

Why did you choose this job?

“I know that this work has great fulfillment and it’s important for me to have some type of change in young students’ life. I always wanted to make change, always wanted to be a part of something that would change people’s life for the better. I always gravitated towards the youth and I think if I can change not everything, but some parts of our youth then it can be beneficial for greater change.”

Mr. Shinn, a physical education teacher and dean, coached the 10th grade basketball in the school tournament. (Abdlrhman Alayah)

How did you figure out that this was the job for you?

“So, I guess the feedback from the students, that I’m doing a good job. That the connections I’ve made, that the tears I’ve seen. You know, that people just come to me with their problems and on the flip-side even with PE and seeing them row with their skill sets. Things they didn’t have coming in, and things that they can do now. Seeing that growth really solidifies that this is for me.”

Do you plan on doing this as a career in the future? 

“Yes, I plan on doing this in the future. To this degree, not sure. It could be at a higher scale, when that is I don’t know at the moment. I still plan on being in young people’s lives and putting that work to help them better themselves. In return that does better me as a person, so I plan on doing this forever.”

What was it like during your first year of this job?

“It was fun, it was challenging. Not too challenging though, I feel natural at this, it didn’t come to me as I had to fully learn it. It came to me very naturally; it was fun, still is fun. Learning how we do this school and how we run things here. All in all, I’m having a great time. I’m enjoying my time with my colleagues and the students, and I’m glad I landed here.”

 What are the negatives of this job?

“To be honest, I don’t see any negatives. I do this for a reason and I see positivity that comes out of it. To me to see a negative, it doesn’t fit my vision of what I plan on doing here. Having a disagreement with a student, I don’t see this as a negative. Teaching something over and over again, I don’t see it as a negative, only as a teaching moment. Even when I’m frustrated, and I feel like I can’t get through to a student, they just are real standoff-ish, I just see it as a challenge to get through that student and help them grow, so I don’t see any negatives with this job.”

What are the positives of this job? 

“The positives of this job is honestly the freedom to be me, to handle situations the way I handle it, because if I felt like if I can’t do that, I wouldn’t feel as good as I am at  this job. The community itself, the students, the staff, they’re very caring. They seem to have the same goal in mind for the students and the school. Just the overall growth of each student that comes in this building feels very touching to me.”

Do you feel as if your job is scheduled to your liking?

“Yeah. The schedule to me is actually pretty perfect. I’m a person that needs freedom, so with this job, it doesn’t tell me who I need to talk to at that moment . It gives me the time to reflect on what I’m going to say, how they’re going to receive it, and what I’m going to do. I really appreciate that because I’m not a person that is great with working on a super tight schedule. I need that freedom, baby.”

What trials and tribulations did you have to go through to acquire this job?

“A lot. I wasn’t the best student, I actually was really bad at school;  I tried really bad in school.  I came from a bad neighborhood that had horrible schooling that didn’t care about you. I had reading disabilities, couldn’t write, stuttered a lot. It was embarrassing man, I didn’t want to go to school, I just wanted to do sports. It really was embarrassing. I had to take a step back and look at my friend circle, see what they were doing, how they were acting, what I could look up to them about. I had to make a decision on what I had to do with my life. So I would read Cat-In-A-Hat books. I would read 3rd grade level books, 4th grade level books until I felt more comfortable talking to people. College was tough; it was real tough man. Oh man that was tough, and I failed a lot. I failed a lot, but I always decided to keep going.”

Do you feel as if you are as adequate at your job as you are hoping to be? 

“I think I’m pretty good at my job, so yeah. But, there’s always room for improvement, so, I definitely have a lot more work to do to get better, but I think I’m pretty adequate at the moment. I’m looking for about near perfection.”

Did you ever have any feelings of inadequacy or inferiority while working? 

“I never had feelings of inferiority or inadequacy. I think I was put in this position for a reason, so I’m only going against myself. I don’t look at what other people are doing, per say. I look at my colleagues to see if they have a good idea they can teach me, but I don’t really compare myself to how well I’m doing to what they’re doing. I don’t really do that.Would you recommend this job to anyone?

“Yeah, of course! I would definitely recommend this job to any PE teacher, or someone that really does care about the youth or the change in the community. I think the school that Bronx River is is a great community with great staff. I believe that coming here will make you a great teacher, a more patient teacher, and it probably really confirms why you do this, why you love it.”

Do you have anything else to add? 

“Go Huskies, baby!”