Shelly Shumpert is the Special Education Director at Willamette Connections Academy (WillCA). She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pitzer College and a master’s degree in education from Claremont Graduate University. Ms. Shumpert joined the Connections Academy® family in 2008 because she wanted to make a difference in the lives of young people and use her aptitudes of creativity and organization in the service of others. She shares her story below:
“At Willamette Connections Academy, I love the ability to get to know students on a deeper level than the busy classroom environment allows. I like being able to see students blossom without the social pressures and environmental distractions that the brick-and-mortar setting involves.
“Willamette Connections Academy is all about student engagement and growth. We’re always working to grow in our supports and program; serve students, families, and communities; and explore new ways to meet student, family, and community needs. We actively seek input from families and try to provide onboarding activities, field trip opportunities (even under COVID-19), and ways to make our school feel like a family and not just an educational institution.
“My favorite part of my job is seeing and being a part of the success stories—when students are given a place they can thrive. Thinking outside of the box and coming up with new and creative ways to approach education, and seeing the impact it has on students.
“The nature of our environment helps students develop soft skills, like self-advocacy, written communication, self-monitoring, and time management—skills they don’t always have to develop in the brick-and-mortar setting. We also offer a rigorous curriculum that allows for a deeper dive into content than is often offered at brick-and-mortar schools, because our setting doesn’t have the same distractions.
Willamette Connections Academy offers flexibility—in scheduling, in attention and focus on assignments, and advocacy and autonomy in lesson requirements.