Ms. Shelly Starr Named North's Teacher of the Year
Mustang North Middle School's Teacher of the Year, Shelly Starr, always knew she would be a teacher. Her mother was a teacher and so was the rest of the family. She knew she would coach, but couldn't decide on a subject. Her college major was physical education but she still needed an endorsement or another major to graduate.
One afternoon, she had her answer. "We had to take a course in adapted PE," she said. "We went to the pool to help the children with special needs so they could get some exercise."
Starr was assigned to a girl in a wheelchair. "She was so cute," Starr said. "The aides that help her told me I would never get her into the water. She was too scared. So, I just sat and talked to her. She watched the kids in the pool laughing and having fun. Finally, I asked her, 'Why don't we try? I promise I will not let anything happen to you.'"
After a few minutes, the child agreed and Starr helped her into the water. The effect was magical. "Her face lit up and she started to splash around, laughing. I called her Tinkerbell, because that's what she reminded me of - so cute. When it was time to leave, she wouldn't let me go. She said she wanted to stay with me forever and she loved me. Then I started to cry. It was the best semester of my college experience. I knew right then I was going to be a special education teacher."
Starr has been teaching for 20 years, and has spent time in classrooms from pre-kindergarten to high school. This is her seventh year in Mustang, teaching seventh and eighth grade special education courses in English, Science and History and she coaches seventh and eighth grade softball and track.
In her first year in Mustang, she had a student who wouldn't participate and didn't know how to read. One day, he sat beside her and opened a book. "He said, 'Teacher, teacher, I can read.' And he started to read. He read and read. It made my cry. Moments like those are why I teach special ed. Every child can learn if you just give them time."