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Sandy Creek Central School District

District bids fond farewell to longtime middle school principal

Carolyn Shirley
Carolyn Shirley
January 29th, 2019 by Lani Camp, Public Relations

You could say Carolyn Shirley spent her entire life in the Sandy Creek Central School District, and in part you would be correct. While she grew up in New Jersey and attended college in Pennsylvania where she studied Special Education, she came to Oswego County when her sister recommended that she apply for a position at Oswego County BOCES following graduation.

It was Dr. David Stern at Oswego County BOCES who introduced her to the area where she was impressed with the beauty and friendliness of Oswego County and the people here. She took a position with BOCES and was placed in the Sandy Creek District as a special education teacher. After a several years working for BOCES, she was offered a permanent teaching position as a Sandy Creek employee, and the rest, we can say, is history.

She remained a classroom teacher for many years, taking some time off to raise her three sons, who all attended and graduated from Sandy Creek, before pursuing her administrative degree at LeMoyne College. In 2010, she became the principal at Sandy Creek Middle School.

One of the tenets of her leadership at the middle school has always been to teach and encourage kindness among the students. If you can be anything, she is famous for saying, be kind. And, most students and staff will tell you that she not only said that, she lived it.

Implementing, along with her Lead Team, the Leader in Me program at the Middle School is one of the programs she is most proud of during her leadership at the school.

I believe that every student can be a leader, she said. Every child has a gift and helping them find their gift is one of the most rewarding things a teacher, or school leader, can do.

For Shirley, the decision to retire was somewhat bittersweet. There was not a day when I did not want to come to work, she said, admitting there are many things she will miss about leaving the position, especially the students and staff, whom she called her extended family. Our kids are incredibly friendly and have wonderful manners. I will miss the staff, teaching alongside them, leading them. Ill miss my relationships with the administration here, past and present. Everyone has been an amazing family. For a Jersey Girl who moved up here, Ive always felt welcome.

Thankful for her many years in the district, Shirley said she is ready to spend time with her grown children, her husband and her family who now live in four other states. Theres a big world out there, she said, and Id like to see more of it. Adding, I love to travel, see new places, meet new people.

One thing is sure, no matter where you travel, Mrs. Shirley, Sandy Creek will always be your home.


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