2021 Extraordinary Educators: Sally Shipley
Great communities have great schools. High Point Schools Partnership creates impactful connections between our schools and the wider community to ensure students and their families are supported and can reach their full potential in High Point schools.
Part of High Point Schools Partnerships’ mission is to improve the image of our schools through storytelling. Who better to tell the stories of High Point’s schools than the people experiencing it first-hand? In this series of eight articles, we will highlight our 2021 High Point Extraordinary Educators as we dive deeper into what keeps them motivated in the face of constant challenges.
Sally Shipley has been an educator at The Middle College at GTCC High Point for 8 years, but she’s been a school social worker for 21 years. With The Middle College at GTCC High Point being a smaller school, Ms. Shipley is “grateful to be here because she can truly get to know our students and their families.” The Middle College at GTCC High Point is, according to Shipley, “a place where all staff, students, and families can work together” in an “it-takes-a-village approach.”
Angela Polk-Jones, the principal at The Middle College at GTCC High Point, says Ms. Shipley has “gone above and beyond to locate students, help students devise a plan of action to help get them through this school year, held numerous student/parent conferences, visited students, took boxes of food and clothing items to families, assisted in making sure students had electronic devices or connectivity, and supervised students that were placed in individual classrooms to work” throughout the last year.
Q: What inspired you to become an educator?
A: As a social worker, I primarily worked in crisis situations. I was working at a homeless shelter when I faced a move and was looking for a job in Greensboro. I decided I wanted to work in schools to help students graduate and have a better chance of taking care of themselves as young adults. The diploma is so important, but life skills, social skills, and work habits are also critical for thriving as a productive person. I am pleased to be supporting that growth.
Q: What’s your teaching/leadership style?
A: Servant Leadership – It is not always easy or obvious how to be of service to others. Our social worker code of ethics includes key points that help me: the self-determination of others and empowering others to do what they can do for themselves. To me, this often means not being the hero, but helping others find their own heroic journey.
Q: Do you have a classroom motto or philosophy you abide by? Why?
A: Before you speak, take time to think. Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Consider that your message should be all three before you say it. I post this in my workspace. I talk to people about it all the time and how hard it is to accomplish. The depth of this practice creates caring communities that can learn and grow together in the home, at school, and in the community.
Q: What’s your favorite part about every day?
A: The best part of a day is knowing that I mattered. Fairly often, I have a brief chat or an in-depth problem-solving conversation with a student or a family member and I know that I showed up in the right place and I offered meaningful service to another human being.
Q: What’s your most memorable moment as an educator?
A: I love Make A Difference Day! Our Service-Learning Ambassadors Club works for weeks to identify local concerns and leaders in non-profit organizations who will work with our students to help them do community service. The students help with all the details and learn so much about life and how they can be productive. I love those moments when teachers and students see each other in a new light and have opportunities to really like each other as real people. And I know that building relationships makes education work.
Ms. Shipley wishes she could tell her students and their parents that they “ will be family and important to each other for many years, so be kind and supportive to one another. Be curious about all the possible ways to be brilliant people who will make the world a better place.”
Thank you so much to Sally Shipley for your dedication to High Point’s students. Congratulations on being selected as your school’s 2021 Extraordinary Educator!
Article written by High Point Schools Partnership Staff