Shelly Black


What would you say your best teaching strategy is? 

Answer: Differentiation has been a long-standing strategy that has evolved immensely over the years. As special education teachers, we have become well adept at catering our lessons to the learning styles for individual students from the beginning of our teaching careers.  It has been my pleasure to be able to work with my colleagues to determine the best learning style for every child.  COVID has really given all of us a more unique challenge with differentiation, and it has stretched our creativity when it comes to assuring our lessons are meaningful and rigorous.  Particularly as a co-teacher, I have felt that my experience with catering to different learning styles has been the best strategy I can impart with my co-workers and students. 
Question: What do you teach? 

Answer: Special Education- Self-Contained
Past experience also includes Self-Contained EBD, Co-Teaching (primarily math), Resource Math

Question: Have you always taught that? 

Answer: Yes.

Question: Why is this what you wanted to teach? 

Answer: I earned my degree in Secondary Social Studies, but I did not feel led to teach this particular subject. My first job out of college was the Outreach Coordinator Director with Girl's Inc. (now a part of Boys and Girls Club). Through my travels throughout northeast Georgia, I worked with a group of young ladies after school, and I enjoyed it immensely.  I later learned those young ladies were involved in the EBD program, and it was there that I felt my calling.  I returned to get my masters in Special Education at UNG, and I haven't looked back since.

Question: What led you to choose to teach this age group? 

Answer: Although I have taught all grade levels Kindergarten through Senior, I have always felt a connection with the older students.  Typically you will have the students throughout high school, gain relationships with their families, and strive to the end result......GRADUATION.  It is so very pleasing to see a former student walk across that stage at Bobby Gruhn Field!

Question: What do you feel is the most important thing to have in your classroom? Why? 

Answer: The most important thing would not be a "thing", yet it is a feeling.  I hope that the students that I teach get a warm, inviting feeling when they come into the classroom. I strive to greet all of my students so that they know they are welcomed and respected.  I want them to genuinely know that I am glad they are in class every day.

Question: What is your favorite thing about teaching? 

Answer: Building relationships with the students and their families is my favorite thing.  Once a student realizes that your respect for them is organic, there tends to be bond that will make even the most reluctant learner want to strive for their best in your classroom. 

Question: What makes your school special? 

Answer: Come on!  We are GAINESVILLE HIGH SCHOOL- HOME OF THE RED ELEPHANTS. As a graduate myself, I see how this community, former students and current students feel a pride for their school.  This school offers so many varying opportunities for our students, and their is a pride in wearing the "G". Our vast history, unvarying traditions and pride for this school is palpable inside and out of the hallways. 

Question: 2020-2021 was a year like no one has ever experienced, with many challenges and yet, you were selected as the Teacher of the Year. What do you think was a differentiator for you and your classroom especially in the wake of COVID?

Answer: I feel that I made a concerted effort every day to be as positive as I could during those uncertain times. With mental health issues weighing on everyone (students and faculty alike), I hope that my attitude may have had some impact in some way. 

Question: What is the best way for parents to support our teacher's?

Communication is a key factor in maintaining school/parent connections.  Any concerns or words of advice are always welcome. Working with students with special needs can be puzzling at times. The parent, who knows them best, can often offer tips for their teachers. This open line of communication is best for all around.

Question: How can students show their appreciation? 

Answer: Student attendance and effort is one major way of showing their appreciation towards their teachers. Students can also show their appreciation by their behavior towards the teacher and their fellow students. 

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