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John Sheehan: Russian teacher meant world to his students

John Sheehan: Russian teacher meant world to his students

For three decades, the dozens of students who entered John Sheehan’s classroom at Winter Park High School every school day got a taste of the world beyond Central Florida.

With his thick moustache, deep voice and larger-than-life persona, Sheehan ushered several generations of students through Russian grammar and syntax — and more.

“He not only taught the language, he taught the history of the Soviet Union,” said Brett Wellman, a former student who remained close to Sheehan. “It was very well-rounded.”

The Russian Club he founded was one of the school’s most popular extracurricular activities.

Sheehan, known to his charges as Dyadya Vanya (“Uncle John”) took students to visit the Soviet Union even during the Cold War, allowing them the chance to use their fledgeling Russian language skills and to learn something about the real lives of the country’s people. He also encouraged Central Florida families to serve as host homes for foreign students with the hope of fostering cultural exchange.

Sheehan, 71, died of lung cancer Saturday.

extract from orlandosentinel.com (21st June 2012)

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-06-21/news/os-obituary-john-sheehan-20120621_1_john-sheehan-russian-teacher-students