Shawn N. Costantino was named the founding Director of Arts at Ransom Everglades in May 2021, tasked with advancing arts education at Ransom Everglades while forging a stronger connection between the school and Miami’s multicultural arts community.
Costantino, who arrived to RE from Los Angeles, has been overseeing the performing and visual arts programs on both campuses since July, working alongside the school’s academic leaders and department heads. He previously served as Performing Arts Department Chair and Director of Instrumental Music at Harvard-Westlake School, an independent school in Los Angeles, and Professor of Jazz Studies at Occidental College.
“We are pleased to welcome Mr. Costantino to this important new post at Ransom Everglades,” Head of School Penny Townsend said in May. “His passion for the arts, performance background, classroom experience and extensive leadership skills make him the perfect fit for this position and our school.”
What attracted you to Ransom Everglades?
It is a really big honor to come here and lead the visual and performing arts programs at RE. I can see that the school is committed to elevating the profile of the arts, and with this amazing arts faculty, we should be poised to build a sustained and excellent program at RE for years to come.
When did you first become involved with music?
I started playing music in about third grade because my dad was a guitar player and his bands used to rehearse in my childhood home in Massachusetts. I grew up in a town that had a terrific music program at the public high school. We had marching band, jazz band, symphonic band and, with proximity to Boston, I was able to be involved in groups at a young age there as well.
What inspired your passion for the arts?
Various teachers in middle school and high school, and I’ve had some amazing and world class band directors, private teachers and mentors in music. They showed me that art was a passion that would last a lifetime; and that if you took small, tangible and regular steps, and practiced hard, you could reach a level that was fun and extremely rewarding.
Why did you decide to enter the field of education?
Nothing gives me more gratification than helping young artists work towards mastery of a subject. I also love working with bands because it takes every single member of the ensemble doing their job at a very high level for the group to achieve success.
What historical figure would you most like to have dinner with, and why?
Robin Williams for sure. He is my all-time favorite comedian and actor. His range, reach, and the way in which he gave a piece of his soul to every role he played blows me away. My two absolute favorite Robin Williams movies are Good Will Hunting and Good Morning, Vietnam. He’s an absolute legend
and I miss him.
What are you most proud of in your career?
The fact that I have had the amazing fortune to teach over 1,000 students so far gives me a tremendous sense of pride and purpose. I’m starting year 19 of teaching and am looking forward to seeing how many kids I can share my love of music with here at at RE.
What was your most memorable academic experience, and why?
This one is easy! I was so bad at algebra in middle school, and I had an amazing teacher who made me see her every day after school for almost the whole school year. Getting an A in that class is, to this date, my proudest non-musical, academic achievement.
Who was your role model growing up, and why?
My parents have been and continue to be amazing role models to me. They have both overcome great personal adversity in their lives and the grace and dignity that they carry themselves with is something I will always cherish and try to honor in my own life.
What do you like to do when not working?
I love practicing all of my instruments, and I play regularly outside of school in various bands and with lots of different artists. I enjoy golfing, exercising on my Peloton and at the gym, and of course, hanging out with my family whenever possible. I’m also hoping to get to some ‘Canes games this year. I graduated from the University of Miami 20 years ago and haven’t been to any games since!
What will make you smile, without fail?
My daughter Nora. She has a very infectious laugh, and I will do almost anything to get that girl to start giggling. She cracks me up every single time.