Gabbing With Gomes: The Newest Addition to Stuyvesant’s Social Studies Department
Reading Time: 4 minutes
As the first marking period has come to an end, Stuyvesant students have gotten to know and love new faculty member Sheldon Gomes as their Global Studies, Government, or Economics teacher. Though his love for history is unparalleled, he exercises many other passions and has even explored other career options before becoming an educator. Here is a dive into Gomes’s unique life and the message he hopes to impart to his students.
While growing up in Albany, New York, Gomes was unsure of what his future would hold. At first, the idea of becoming a teacher did not even cross his mind. It wasn’t until he was a high school sophomore when he started to consider the idea of teaching. Gomes, a student of Mrs. Miller at the time, recalled his standout Global Studies teacher. “[She was] a middle-aged white woman [who] just had energy like I’ve never seen before. She made learning fun. Every day she’s in class, and she’s joking, she’s laughing, and she’s dancing,” he said. “It was basically a performance.” It was at that point that Gomes decided that if he ever was to teach, he would have to teach social studies.
Gomes was first introduced to teaching when he worked as a hallway assistant at a residential center in Westchester, New York. There, he was exposed to a learning environment where at-risk teenagers from all across New York City were sent to school. As time went on, he became increasingly concerned about the lack of diversity. “Many of the teachers did not look like the students. There were no black men and very few women of color,” he explained. Gomes, a person of color from Guyana, experienced firsthand what it was like to have no educators with whom he could relate at school. “It would be beneficial if [the person] standing in front of the class [was someone who] could share some of their stories, some of their struggles,” Gomes said. From that experience, Gomes knew he wanted to make an impact in the academic world and embarked on his path to officially become a teacher. In 2007, he obtained a position as a teaching assistant and eventually worked his way up the ranks to become a certified teacher.
Gomes started educating at George Washington High School, where he was both a social studies teacher and a dean. Remote instruction proved to be a difficult transition for Gomes and his students for many reasons. “Those students come from a variety of backgrounds and challenges, so getting them on camera proved to be very difficult,” Gomes said. However, after his reassignment to Stuyvesant this year due to budget cuts at George Washington High School, he emphasized the stark contrast between the two learning environments. Gomes described how Stuyvesant students were ready to turn on cameras, deeply engage in conversation, and participate. Some students arrived to class early to casually talk and ask questions and stayed after to continue their thoughts. “Today I talked to some kids about the NBA finals and what I think is going to happen. So they’re always asking me questions, and I feel that being transparent is very beneficial to my relationship with my students,” Gomes said.
During the first five minutes of Gomes's remote classroom, students translate the meaning of a daily quote and put their responses into the chat while bopping their heads to music. In fact, Gomes is a strong believer of the message behind quotes. One of his favorite quotes is “If you don’t know your past, you’ll never know your future.” Gomes described how the past represents the many challenges and motivations of life that shape the comforts of the future. He hopes that the younger generation will become more aware of the discussions and changes in history that allow them to be where they are today.
Gomes finds passion in areas outside of history and education. He has been a licensed minister for four years and regards his faith as an important part of his identity. He also loves sports and has coached basketball, track and field, volleyball, and cheerleading. At one point, Gomes was a performing artist, and he wrote and performed his own music. Gomes’s passion for music comes from the universal message of music and how it transcends all barriers. He still exercises his love for music by playing a wide variety of songs for his class every day. On top of that, Gomes wrote a book called “Love in Education,” in which he narrates the emotional and often challenging stories of his years as an educator.
Gomes hopes to spread the message of love to his students. The words “I love you,” Gomes has found, aren't heard that much at home. When students feel safe at school, with an educator who has a healthy amount of love and respect for them, their environment changes. “I believe that love is a word that belongs in the world across academic institutions, not just in the high school level but all levels. I love my students, I love what I do, and I don’t find it inappropriate to tell my kids that ‘I love you, I want the best for you, and I want you to succeed,’” Gomes said.