Shell retiring from W.S. Neal

Published 11:58 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2010

For nearly 10 years students at W.S. Neal High School have counted on Gwynn Shell for everything from testing, college applications and even a shoulder to cry on at times. With the retirement of Shell, upcoming students at the school will have to rely on someone new.

“It was time for me to retire and I know that it’s the right time,” Shell said. “I will miss everybody here at the school, both the students and the faculty. I have worked with some wonderful kids and staff, too. I hope to be able to take advantage of some grants to be able to work part time with some at-risk students. That would be enough work for me and it would allow me to be able to do some other things that I have been planning, and haven’t been able to.”

Shell attended LBW Junior College and received her bachelor’s degree in education from Troy University. She received her master’s degree at Livingston and went to work with first graders where she remained for the next 15 years teaching first grade with W.S. Neal Elementary School. She spent another six years teaching in the county school system in classes at Pollard-McCall and Huxford Elementary.

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“I was encouraged by Curtis Ray Parker, Escambia County Superintendent of Education, to go to the University of South Alabama, to get my masters degree in administration,” Shell said. “I had been thinking about getting out of teaching so I took his advice and got my degree in counseling.”

Parker’s suggestion gave Shell the ability to get back into W.S. Neal Schools, this time as a counselor. Her nine years on the high school campus have been enjoyable, she said, but hopes her future will be a little less stressful.

“I am going to miss it all,” Shell said. “I will especially miss the students, but I believe that God will work it all out so I will be able to stay involved, but just not in the same way. This is a stressful job and I need to be doing something a little less stressful. A person should not be in education if they don’t love it.”

Her growing children have kept her and her husband, Joey, busy in a variety of sporting activities over the years, Shell said. This move will allow them to time to attend events with her children.

“I will have more time to spend with the kids and their involvement in sports,” Shell said. “Since Joey retired we will be able to attend so many more events. We will probably spend more time at the camp and do a little fishing.”

The end of her full-time career at the school gave others and opportunity to show appreciation at a special gathering recently.

“We had a little party at the end of school,” Shell said. “I was presented with several things, including what I consider the best present; a lifetime pass to all of W.S. Neal’s sporting events. Everybody who knows me, know that’s a great present.”

Although Shell will be moving at a different pace, she still plans to be involved in education in some form. She said she hopes her love of education has allowed her to pass along something positive to some students along the way.

“I hope I have been able to make an impression on somebody’s life,” Shell said. “At the end of 30 years, I want to thank everybody and I have loved every minute of it. I wouldn’t change a thing.”