The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

Meet New Dean: William Shanahan


Niles West has welcomed three new deans this year, one of them being William Shanahan. Before coming to West, Shanahan was a dean at Evanston Township High School for 10 years. Before that, he was an ELL [English Language Learner] teacher at Maine East, Maine West and Elgin High School.

Shanahan originally went to school to major in International Business, but after teaching English to adults in corporate offices in Mexico City for a year and a half, he found his passion in education.

“It was so rewarding getting to see them not have a strong command of English, to after we were having classes, to being able to have conversations and see that growth. So when I came back to Chicago, I was like, ‘you know what I think I want to be a teacher.’ But before I made that decision I was like, ‘you know what, I’m going to substitute teach and see what it’s like being around high school kids.’ I liked substitute teaching and that’s when I was like, ‘I’m all in on education,'” Shanahan said.

A part of many school districts, Shanahan was a substitute teacher at Maine East and Niles North. This knowledge has benefitted the rest of the team of deans to making West a better place.

Mr. Shanahan is a great addition to our dean team. He had experience as a dean for many years and because of that, he was able to move right into the position with ease. We like to collaborate with other schools on a regular basis and it has been very helpful to have Mr. Shanahan share his tools with us from another schools,” dean Amy Tucker said.

The counselors Shanahan works with see this passion shine through as well.

He has a clear passion for working with students and wanting them to feel like they have a place here at West. We are both new to our roles, so it has been great collaborating with him while we both settle into our positions. I am excited to continue working with him,” counselor Katie Romack said. 

Shanahan has always had an unwavering passion for education, even after making the switch from teacher to dean. He continues to find joy in helping students this way.

I’m always encountering students who are struggling in some way, whether its attendance, whether its behavior, sometimes even academics and then to work with them, to see their growth… [and] to just see that success and [see] everything that we’ve worked to achieve is being achieved. The other piece is the connections that are made wth the students, … when kids see and get to know me and they build that trust, then all the sudden it’s just a great working relationship,” Shanahan said. 

Shanahan has always had a passion for traveling and exploring different cultures. In the middle of his undergraduate degree at Depaul University, Shanahan moved to Costa Rica for four months to work with an international coffee bean business. After transferring the Northern Illinois University and graduating there, he moved to Cancun to work in jewelry stores.

Shanahan’s upbringing has also played a role in his passion for education, specifically his original role in teaching ELL students.

“My mom immigrated from Columbia. So she came to the U.S. without any knowledge of English. I understand how hard it can be for the parents that come from other countries and trying to navigate a new language, a new culture, a new way of doing things and then sending their children through the American educational school system which isn’t something they went through. So I understand first hand what the challenges are, so that’s been one of my passions,” Shanahan said. 

Outside of work, Shanahan enjoys spending time with his family, especially watching his daughters play basketball and soccer. When he has time, Shanahan will always say yes to a game of golf with his friends.

Welcome to Niles West Dean Shanahan, and best of luck in your new position!

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