Charles Shewman...
Mr. Shewman was one of the most dedicated teachers that I ever encountered at McKinley. He knew how to get you involved into a conversation – often taking a position in an argument just to get you involved in the discussion – even if he didn't truly believe in his newfound position.

Mr. Shewman grew up in Rockport, Indiana and later moved to St. Louis. He attended Washington University and got his B. A. and M. A. in education. At McKinley, he taught History and Geography during the late 40's to mid-50's before moving west to Riverside, California in 1956. He taught Social Studies at Riverside Community College when he moved west.

He wanted to his students to make a difference in the world, not just pass the class. His peers described him as caring, compassionate and committed to his students. The following article is primarily my personal experiences with "Chas."

Mr. Shewman did much more than teach History and Geography at McKinley. He was the "B" Football coach, was the sponsor of the Camera Club, Stamp Club and the Goldbug newsletter. Also, he wanted you to learn enough so that you could use what you learned. He was very dedicated to his students and always wanted you to learn more so than most wanted to learn.

After arriving in St. Louis, Mr. Shewman completed his grammar school work and then attended Webster Groves High School. After graduating from high school, he went to Washington University for his B. A. and M. A .degrees in education. During WW II he spent 44 months in the U. S. Army Signal Corp. During the draft induction at Jefferson Barracks, his brother told me that there were nearly 1000 draftees taking the required test and he had the highest test grade of the entire group.

Being involved with photography, he took many photos during this time in the Army, and I have often felt the photos he would show in his Geography classes whet my appetite for travel later in my life. One project, which lasted the entire semester, was each student had to pick a country and collect information from the newspaper for that country. I picked Spain and Sandy Moore picked the USSR. Her collection dwarfed all others.

During lunch hour at McKinley, several guys – John Supic, Don Capone and I – would usually go to Mr. Shewman's home room, where he would always eat his lunch. It was during these discussions over lunch is where we had some great discussions with "Chas." He would always make you think about what you were going to say – and at times, take a position in the argument just to get you to think about your position thoroughly.

Once he made a bet with John Supic about the grades he would make and the average grade in Math, Science, History and English. To this day, John swears Mr. Shewman restated the basis of the bet. Nonetheless, John had to wash his car as payment of the bet.

The only other class I took with Mr. Shewman was World History. Being interested in Math and Science, I did not spend much time on World History. One day after mid-semester week, Mr. Shewman called me aside in class and said, "I know you are not studying for this class. You just pay attention in class and you are doing "C" work without any studying, but you are not going to get a "C" in this class. You are going to start studying this material and get a "B" or an "A" for a final grade. If you don't start studying, you are going to get a "D" even if you continue getting the same grades you have been getting.

At the end of the semester, my grade was the same – and sure enough, he gave me a "D" for my final grade. I never squawked the grade because this is what he told me he was going to do. During the 20 years that I taught at Webster University, I told that story to every class that I had taught. I don't know how many students got much out of my version of the talk, but it was one of the best life lessons I learned at McKinley.

In 1956 Mr. Shewman moved out west and began teaching Social Studies at Riverside Community College in Riverside, California. In 1963, while I was living in Los Angeles, I decided to surprise him with a visit to his home. When I arrived, he was washing his car in his driveway. As soon as he saw me, he said, "After I gave you that "D" in World History, I never thought I would see you again." I told him that I was very glad that he didn't fail me. I ended up spending the weekend with him and his wife and that began one of the most satisfying relationships of my life.

While I lived in Los Angeles, I saw Mr. Shewman several times. Mr. Shewman invited me to the Synanon House, with one of his Sociology classes. The Synanon House was one of the most successful and most innovative communal societies in the United States. We sat through a talk whereby they explained how the 2000 people lived in this facility. It was a very interesting talk and I remember it very well. We went to other events and they were all very interesting including a movie premier.

Throughout the years, even after moving back to St. Louis, I would make an effort to get by to see him in Riverside when I was out there on business. He maintained his extensive stamp collection throughout the years and he worked on it well into his eighties. The last time I saw him he and I were sitting on his patio and talking about old McKinley stories. His neighbor mowed his lawn for Mr. Shewman and when he introduced me to the neighbor, from his head, he read my resume to the neighbor. I was overwhelmed.

In about a year from that last visit, I received a letter from his wife telling me that he had passed away. He was 83 at the time. Truly a magnificent and elegant man who lived a tremendous life with a great deal of experiences to render his life very well lived.