Like my older brother Dave, the Node Nerd, I grew up on various rural routes in western North Carolina. With a pastor for a father and an English teacher for a mother, we were immersed in language from the get-go. In 1973 I followed my brother to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I was a physics major for a semester–just long enough to fail calculus.
I eventually meandered my way to an interdisciplinary humanities degree at UNC. After college I went to the Black Forest of Germany, where I studied German at a Goethe-Institut in a small town named Staufen. (The historical Dr. Faustus, made famous by Marlowe and Goethe, died there.) During my time in Germany, I did a stint as a street musician in the nearby university town of Freiburg.
When I came back to America, I lived briefly in the Capital of Obfuscation and Acronym (right in the belly of the beast, in the heart of DC not far from the National Zoo), where I worked in a law firm and specialized in operating a sophisticated piece of office machinery known to the uninitiated as a “copy machine.”
Feeling less than challenged, I changed jobs and worked in the publishing industry for five years, during which time I held the wonderfully euphemistic job title of “college traveler.” In the summers of 1981 through 1984, when I was not “college traveling” for Oxford University Press, I earned a master’s degree in Liberal Education at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland (the home of the Great Books curriculum).
Since 1985 I have been a high school English teacher–first at Good Counsel High School in Wheaton, Maryland (a northern suburb of the Capital of O and A), and for the last twelve years at Asheville High School in Asheville, North Carolina. At Asheville High, I have earned the reputation of “that Hamlet guy” and the biggest grammar curmudgeon on the faculty.
Email me directly: Howard Shepherd’s email
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