Thurston teacher is state all-star

Roger Shew, a music teacher at Thurston Middle and Laguna Beach High schools, was one of two Orange County educators chosen for an award announced this week.

StudentsFirst, an educational advocacy organization based in Sacramento and active in 18 states, chose Shew and 28 fellow teachers for its California All-Star Teacher honor, according to a news release.

Shew, 38, who teaches jazz band at both schools, was one of 16 teachers selected from Southern California, according to the release.

"I was floored," Shew, who was nominated by two students, wrote in an email. "In a school district full of amazing educators, I am humbled and honored with the award."

The honor recognizes teachers for their efforts to promote student success and innovation in the classroom, build relationships with students and staff, and foster a sense of school community, the release said.

Shew also teaches at Fullerton College, Mt. San Antonio College and Cal Poly Pomona and is a part of the band BUG, which performs across the United States.

Shew started playing bass in middle school and took the musical cue from his brother, who was in a rock band.

"I thought the noise they were making was very cool," Shew said. "I wanted to make noise too. Once in high school, my band teacher gave me lots of recordings and direction and I started playing upright bass. That's when I knew I didn't want to stop."

Shew's plans for the coming year include performing with BUG and holding a workshop in Laguna; the high school's jazz orchestra will also be releasing its fifth CD, he said.

"I love to teach music because of the interaction with young and hungry musicians," Shew said in the release. "I love helping direct new styles of music, trying alternative ways to tackle difficulties encountered in the classroom, and just being on stage with young people who want to perform and share their hard work."

For more information about the award winners, visit

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