With more than 40 years in the education field, Belinda Shatley, vice principal at Theodore G. Davis Middle School, has the experience and dedication it takes to not only encourage students, but mentor teachers and support fellow administrators.
“She has been my right hand person when I am in the building, and my trusted leader when I am out of the building,” Davis Principal Kim McClarin wrote in nomination materials. “As principal, I truly have learned from her talents and leadership which has helped me [in] my role. I do not know if she is aware that I am a better principal because of her. Belinda truly epitomizes what great leadership looks like in any school building.”
Shatley was named the 2017 Charles County Public Schools Vice Principal of the Year. Nominees for the honor must have a strong work ethic, a commitment to the success of students and staff, and an ability to foster a positive learning environment. Her contributions to Davis include educational leadership, her ability to resolve complex problems and giving back to the community. She also is a presence in the school. “I don’t know if she realizes it, but her presence is missed when she is not in the building,” McClarin said. “I have heard students and staff members complain if she is not there to greet them.”
Shatley began her career in education with Prince George’s County Public Schools. She started as a seventh- and eighth-grade science and math teacher at Roger B. Taney Middle School (now Thurgood Marshall Middle School) in Camp Springs. A year later, she started teaching math and science classes at Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine. She was at Gwynn Park from 1977 to the 1990s. In 1994, Shatley was the named the vice principal at Crossland High School in Temple Hills.
She has been with Charles County Public Schools for 17 years — all spent as a vice principal in various county schools. She was the vice principal at Henry E. Lackey High School before moving to the role at Matthew Henson Middle School. She spent a decade as a vice principal at Milton M. Somers Middle School and arrived at Davis in 2015.
Her contributions are remembered at Somers where she worked from 2005 to 2015. “Over 10 years of working with Ms. Shatley she has helped shape me into the science teacher I am today. Having her as an administrator and supportive mentor with a background in science has helped me earn the title for Charles County SMECO Science Teacher of the Year and become a Nationally Board Certified Teacher,” said Erin Gartland, Somers science teacher and department chair. “Her leadership is more than what her day-to-day job criteria is; she helps encourage and empower teachers to be their best.”
Shatley’s years of experience in science and math instruction make her an asset to the teachers of those subjects.
“She has extensive knowledge of mathematics and her skills are appreciated and utilized among our math department,” said Megan Parsons, an eighth-grade Algebra teacher and department chair at Davis. “Her demeanor and attitude toward teachers is always professional and she always has her teachers’ best interests in mind.”
“As a brand new science teacher, Ms. Shatley was my mentor, supervisor and life boat,” Alexandria Bumb, science teacher and department chair at Somers, said. “Her consistent expectations and communication made the difference when helping me and my students strive to be the better [people] she knew we could be.”
Patty Howard, a language arts teacher and team leader at Somers, said Shatley was looked at to provide guidance and advice. Not only are her suggestions based in proven theories of child development, her ideas and solutions are logical. “And more often than not, [they] were successful in helping the neediest students succeed,” Howard said.
“She reminded struggling students to make each day their best and was always available to help any student in whatever capacity they needed assistance,” Amy Vanden Berg, sixth- and seventh grade science teacher at Somers, said.
Just because she’s no longer in the building, Shatley’s advice is still sought after by former Somers’ colleagues.
“Even though Ms. Shatley is not at my current school anymore, that has not changed her willingness to support,” said David Wood, math teacher at Somers. “Now instead of walking into her office whenever the door is open, which was always open, I know that she is always an email or phone call away.”
Wood’s coworker Stephanie Walent, a language art teacher and team leader at Somers, agreed. “She still helps and interacts with us as much as she is able — giving insight and support as needed,” Walent said of Shatley.
Her willingness to make people welcome followed her to Davis. Kymani Gilmer, former attendance secretary at the school, remembered his first day on the job and the nerves that came along with it.
“On my first day in, Ms. Shatley welcomed me with applause, celebratory exclamations and the type of warm hug that you’d only expect to receive at a family reunion,” Gilmer said. “The great thing is, it’s not just me that she has had this impact upon. As she’s spent 42 years, yes 42 years, in education, her impact expands with the days.”
Shatley can be counted on to bring a sense of serenity to the table. “Ever since I started working here, I’ve reaped from Ms. Shatley’s over 40 years of experience,” said Faith D. Lewis-Ruffin, a first-year secretary at Davis. “She is very welcoming and makes the work environment a positive one. I appreciate the fact that she brings an ease to even the tensest situations.”
She is also reliable when it comes to pitching in around the school, even if it means working behind the scenes to make sure the students are ready for show time. When Davis’s Women’s Choir was invited to perform at the White House last year, Shatley helped hem dresses for its members. And when the school staged productions of “Aladdin Jr.” and later “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” Shatley got to work on costumes and props. “She truly is the definition of a team player,” said Mark Pavlecic, choral director at Davis.
“She is extremely detail-oriented and was always willing to put in extra time to make sure things went smoothly,” said Allen Hopkins, a social studies teacher and team leader at Somers. “I distinctly remember her being the last to leave every single eighth-grade dance so that teachers would not have to stay longer than needed.”
Shatley is hailed for another reason among the staff at the schools she’s worked at. “She makes the best cupcakes when it’s your birthday,” Lewis-Ruffin said. “Baked goods are synonymous with who she is and we have all been fortunate enough to experience her hand made specialties. Whether it’s a birthday, appreciation day or a random Thursday, Ms. Shatley extends her loves and apperception for all her colleagues with a personal touch from her own kitchen,” Gilmer said.
At the core of her more than 40-year career, Shatley’s dedication to students and staff make her the sort of leader who deserves recognition. “She always had the students’ best interest at heart,” said Peter Wilt, a social studies teacher at Somers. “And at the same time would do anything to help fellow staff members.”
The Board of Education on June 13 honored Shatley with the Vice Principal of the Year award. Charles County Public Schools recognizes one outstanding vice principal with its Vice Principal of the Year award annually.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.