Thirty-nine years ago, Shelby Queen walked through the halls of West Severna Park Elementary, ready to begin teaching the newest students in Millersville. This June, she left the halls of Shipley’s Choice Elementary School - the same building, renamed in 1988 - for the final time.
The reason she had stuck with it so long: the children. As Queen stated, “Every single day, they make me laugh … They are so innocent; everything I have to say is so important. They light me up daily.”
Being there for so long, Queen has seen the works, even teaching the children of her former students. She has always had that personality for it, growing up around teachers, including her mother and aunt. Yet, apart from a change of students every year, there have been extra factors that have changed the whole school’s environment.
“Children haven’t changed that much, but the curriculum has,” Queen said. “Technology especially. [Students] know more than I do. They know how to maneuver a computer, while I’m always still learning!”
With virtual learning starting as the coronavirus pandemic took hold of the world, Queen knew she wanted her final year to be in-person. She had had a tough bout during the time of quarantine but was helped by those who love her.
“I actually lost a sister during the pandemic, and it was a really rough time,” Queen expressed. “But with the Shipley’s community, the staff, the principal, Dr. [Beth] Burke — she was just awesome — our team came together and worked to fit in the pieces of the puzzle. It was great. And we all made it through.”
Queen is valued by the Shipley’s Choice staff and will be remembered and learned from for years. The administration even dedicated a bench outside of the school, with the inscription, “Be the reason someone smiles today.”
As her legacy holds, she said, “I hope I am remembered for being happy all the time, and make the children laugh and feel they are important. And that’s why I listen to their stories, look at them eye to eye, and not be busy while they’re trying to talk to me. I think children are important, and so if people remember me, I hope I touched many lives.”
Queen isn’t taking this as the end of everything for her, however. She has general plans for the coming years as to what she would like to do with her new allotted time.
“My daughter had a baby in March, and I want to be there to help out. My mother as well, just seeing her more often,” Queen said. “Just enjoying traveling and spending time with the family without work on the back of my mind.”
Queen will be missed in the teaching community and beyond. As her 40-year career ends, she has one piece of advice for educators and students alike.
“Learning is a journey; take it slow,” she said. “Everyone has their own pace. Everyone’s different, and some things come off harder or easier for others. Just know there is something out there for you to be great at.”
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