“I never thought in my wildest dreams I’d be a teacher,” said Shelley Slade.
The Cynthiana-Harrison County Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year is quick to say she had no great aspirations from her youth to be a teacher. But, now that she is, she can’t think of a profession she would rather be in.
Slade, 39, who now teaches third grade at Eastside Elementary and is in her seventh year, began her journey through education while she was working two jobs, substitute teaching, full-time student at both Midway and Maysville Community Colleges.
It was a cohort program offered as a partnership between Midway and MCC that seemed feasible to the busy mother of two.
Husband Roger was the first to go through the cohort program. He lured her into the same path he was taking.
Slade earned her bachelor’s degree through the accelerated program with classes on Friday nights and Saturday mornings.
“If it hadn’t been for that program, I wouldn’t be teaching today,” Slade said.
Already providing in-home child care, Slade knew she liked working with children.
“This really doesn’t seem like work,” Slade said. “It feels like a part of my life.”
She said she is a firm believer in the cliche` that if you find something you enjoy, you’ll never work a day in your life.
“It’s true,” she said. “Enjoying your work makes it easier.”
She said when she first started teaching, she wanted to fix everyone.
Now that she’s seven years deep in her career she said she has learned many things from her students.
One of those lessons was to loosen up.
“Sometimes I let my kids help me teach,” she said. “We’re all working together in that room.”
She said she treasures the relationships she has formed with her students.
“We’re like a family,” she said of her class.
She said she tells her students on the first day of school that they are a family, they look out for each other, help each other and take care of each other.
“It’s a little weird at first, but by Christmas, we’re all working together,” she said.
Slade said she was skillfully outwitted when it came to the Chamber awards banquet.
She was led to believe that Roger was receiving the award. So while she was secretly texting family and friends about Roger’s award, Roger was going behind her and texting the same people, telling them not to believe Shelley’s texts that she was actually to be the recipient.
While James Smith, friend and Chamber president, read the nomination, each Slade sat smugly listening, knowing they had the answer to a great mystery.
It wasn’t until Smith referred to the recipient as “she” that Slade realized she been duped.
With generous tears spilling from her eyes, Slade hugged one of her students and nominator, Addison Peak.
Slade sees herself still teaching 10 years from now.
“I hope I’m well enough to keep doing what I’m doing,” she said.
Roger and Shelley are co-owners of the Rohs Opera House, a business they operated for a few years before purchasing the building three years ago.
They have two children, Sydney, 18, a freshman at Northern Kentucky University, and Brady, 15, a freshman at Harrison County High School.