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Willowbrook English teacher named as winner of Oak Brook Barnes & Noble ‘My Favorite Teacher Contest’

Left: Pictured is Willowbrook English teacher Brian Shanahan, who was honored on April 11 by Barnes & Noble in Oak Brook as the store’s recipient of the 2018 Barnes & Noble “My Favorite Teacher Contest.” Shanahan was nominated by Willowbrook senior Anna Marie Cuccinotto (pictured at left). Right: Willowbrook senior Anna Marie Cuccinotto reads the entry she submitted to nominate Shanahan, a poem entitled "Belonging."

On April 11, Willowbrook English teacher Brian Shanahan was honored by Barnes & Noble in Oak Brook as the store’s recipient of the 2018 Barnes & Noble “My Favorite Teacher Contest.”

That contest takes place annually and is an opportunity for students to write an essay, poem or thank you letter sharing how a teacher has influenced their life and why they appreciate and admire that teacher.

Shanahan was nominated by Willowbrook senior Anna Marie Cuccinotto, who submitted a poem entitled “Belonging.” The entry shared how Shanahan helped her discover her passion for and develop her skills in writing, as well as find the confidence to join the Willowbrook Speech Team. Through that outlet, she has met a group of peers who have become close friends and has found a sense of “belonging.” To read her poem, go to https://www.dupage88.net/site/public/files/?item=3902. Cuccinotto received a certificate of recognition in honor of her contest entry. She plans to attend Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and major in communications.

“I wanted to recognize Mr. Shanahan because he never minds when I stop by his classroom to talk,” Cuccinotto said. “He always makes me feel welcome.”

Shanahan said he was shocked and grateful to be nominated for this award.

“I am completely overwhelmed and beyond humbled to be nominated by Cuccinotto,” he said. “It’s difficult to find the words to express what her nomination means to me.”

Shanahan has been in education for 20 years, and 18 of those have been at Willowbrook. Along with teaching English at Willowbrook, Shanahan also has coached boys and girls soccer and Speech Team at the school and served as the initial sponsor of the Muslim Student Association. His undergraduate degree is in broadcast journalism from Marquette University, and his graduate degree is in secondary education with a concentration in English from Roosevelt University.

Shanahan said teaching has been a part of his life since before he was born.

“I kind of have teaching in my DNA,” Shanahan said. “My mother taught in the Archdiocese of Chicago for 20 years. I also have an uncle who was a college professor, and my father was an English major who wrote press releases and worked in public relations for First National Bank of Chicago. Growing up, I always gravitated toward jobs that involved teaching. I was a swim instructor, trained lifeguards and coached adults to complete running races from 5K through the marathon distance. What I most enjoy about teaching is the exchange of ideas between student and teacher, as well as witnessing students mature and become more than just someone on a class roster.”

Shanahan's nomination will now be reviewed at the District level and compete for a chance to advance to the Regional and National levels.

For more information about the Barnes & Noble “My Favorite Teacher Contest,” go to www.barnesandnoble.com/h/my-favorite-teacher.

Willowbrook High School
1250 S. Ardmore Avenue Villa Park, IL 60181
Phone: 630-530-3400 Fax: 630-530-3401
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