Office: North Hall, Room 105
Dr. Sheehan began teaching at Post University as an adjunct in the 1970’s when the Accelerated Degree Programs were introduced for Veterans who were looking to advance their careers and utilize their GI benefits in pursuing Bachelor’s degrees in Business and Arts and Sciences. After being hired as a full-time faculty member, she introduced the critical reading and thinking courses and redesigned the developmental English and writing classes. Over the years, Dr. Sheehan has taught most of the core English classes and the English and humanities electives. In particular, she introduced the travel seminar courses that have become very popular. Students and chaperones have traveled to Italy, Greece, London, Ireland, France and Spain. In addition, she has guided creative writing students in the publication of their literary magazine, the Tapestry for several years. Four of the initial originators of this magazine have gone on to become published authors of fiction and poetry. Her student’s accomplishments validate the work she has done over the past thirty years and motivates her to continue to advise and mentor students who wish to pursue careers in writing and teaching.
Dr. Sheehan was born in Waterbury, CT and attended local schools before moving to New Jersey to attend college and begin teaching. She taught high school and grammar school in New Jersey and Florida and then returned to Connecticut to attend graduate school. After completing her masters in reading at SCSU, she began teaching at Mattatuck Community College, now Naugatuck Valley Community College. In the early 70's, the Veterans Program was initiated at Post College, and she was hired as an adjunct to teach English in the evenings during these accelerated modules. As an adjunct, she began testing all the incoming freshmen for their level of reading proficiency and subsequently designed the critical reading and thinking courses for full time students. In 1978, she was hired as a full-time instructor and has continued to teach in the English department since then. While at Post University, she wanted to enhance her skills as a writing instructor so she enrolled in a master's program at Northeastern and earned a second masters in English/Writing, and then continued her education and training by enrolling in a doctoral program at the University of Rhode Island. She completed her dissertation and degree requirements for her PhD in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of Rhode Island in 2002.
The main focus of Dr. Sheehan’s research has always been the acquisition of language and writing skills. Given the multicultural atmosphere that prevailed on the Post University campus for several years, her main concern became how the University could best provide second language acquisition in writing, reading, and speaking. The case studies that she did for her degree from Northeastern focused on the difficulties that many students face because they are first generation Americans who speak another languages at home. The first languages were mostly Eastern European, Southeast Asian, and Spanish, and their struggles with the writing, composing, and editing processes provided her with the material for the research she conducted over the years. More recently, she has turned her attention to the assessment of composing and writing skills and looking at the ways in which instructors evaluate student writing.
One of Dr. Sheehan’s specific interests has been Irish Literature and history. In 2006 she attended a two week seminar at the International Yeats Summer Festival and Workshop in Sligo, Ireland. While there, she gathered materials to team teach a course in Irish history and literature and a seminar in modern Irish literature. These courses were well received and popular with students interested in literature and history.
Dr. Sheehan’s philosophy of teaching is founded on the belief that the education of individuals is one of the noblest professions because it allows the one doing the teaching to influence and shape the lives of so many individuals. Having taught at all levels of education, she has had the opportunity to participate in the exciting and complex process of learning for young children as they began to read, for young adults as they developed their critical thinking skills, and for adult learners as a whole new world of adventure and experience opened up to them. She has seen reluctant learners suddenly discover that they could compete with their peers in the classroom; she has seen the underachievers and less prepared students blossom into creative and excited learners in a nurturing, non-competitive environment; and she has shared in the joy and excitement of students, their parents, spouses, and children as the once shy, immature and insecure college students went on to achieve great success in graduate school and careers. The philosophy that has been the foundation upon which she has based her teaching for forty-five years is that each student has the potential to succeed. She, as the teacher, works to find the genius, the passion, and the desire to learn that lies deep within all of them, and she tries to motivate them to set their eyes on that 'ever-fixed mark' that will guide them to the end of their journey. Dedication to the individual with his/her differences in learning styles, preparation, specific needs, and educational preparation is the lynchpin of her teaching style and philosophy. Her goal is to meet each student where he/she is on the educational journey and to guide them in their quest for immediate knowledge and for life-long learning. Dr. Sheehan wants them to understand themselves, other people and the world in which they live through the careful, thoughtful, and analytical reading of literature. Students who like to read and delve into the understanding of literature do well in English classes. Students who are creative and inquisitive and those who want to share their understanding of human nature and the struggles that individuals face in their day-to-day lives seek to channel their humanistic approach to the world through the study of literary works and criticism. She is particularly impressed by those students who take a literature course and discover a desire and passion to learn more about themselves and others through the study of literature – she has taught several of this type of student and is proud to say that they have gone on to graduate school and have become excellent successful teachers of English. They have made her proud to be a teacher.
Dr. Sheehan hobbies and interests include traveling and spending time with her children and grandchildren. Currently, she and her husband take several trips to New York to see theatre productions and visit museums. During the summer, Dr. Sheehan loves to read, garden, make james, jellies, relishes, and chutneys. She also loves to explore the beaches of CT, RI, and NJ.