Deborah Gulick Shepherd is a retired elementary educator celebrating more than 30 years of excellence in teaching. Ms. Shepherd’s interest in teaching was sparked by her own positive experiences as a student. She recalls being an engaged student who enjoyed every subject and liked the school environment, and by her high school years, she was excited about the potential that elementary education had to make a positive impact on children at a key stage of growth. She earned an Associate of Arts at Centenary College in 1974 before continuing her education at Oral Roberts University, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1976. Though she began teaching at Sandshore Elementary the same year, Ms. Shepherd pursued additional coursework at Fairleigh Dickinson University through the end of the decade, and was awarded a Master of Arts in 1981.
Ms. Shepherd remained at Sandshore Elementary until 1988, when she moved on to Mountain View Elementary, where she spent the next 13 years as a teacher. Throughout her career, she primarily worked as a fourth grade classroom teacher, delivering grade-level instruction in all subjects, though she remembers spending several years working with third and fifth graders. Between 1994 and 1997, Ms. Shepherd co-taught larger combined fourth grade classes, sharing instructional duties with colleague Donna Restaino, a teaching style she recalls as both a challenge and a career highlight. In 2001, Ms. Shepherd accepted a position with Chester M. Stephens Elementary, where she continued to teach, specializing in fourth grade, until her retirement from teaching in 2009.
Ms. Shepherd is a certified K-12 supervisor and K-8 teacher in the state of New Jersey. She is the recipient of a 1991 New Jersey governor’s Teacher Recognition Award honoring her dedication to her students and profession, and has recently been presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. She attributes her career success to her tenacity, explaining that her stubbornness has served her well over the years. Ms. Shepherd remains affiliated with the Morris County Council Retired Educators Association and New Jersey Retired Educators Association, and the National Education Association as a lifetime member.
Since 2014, Ms. Shepherd has been the financial secretary for the First Presbyterian Church of Hackettstown, New Jersey, where she also serves as church historian, Sunday school teacher, and a member of the senior and chime choirs. She is active in the Sussex County Oratorio Society and is the former editor and publisher of several community newsletters, including the Mountain View News and the Light from the Steeple. A talented fiber artist, Ms. Shepherd enjoys knitting, cross stitch, and sewing, and sponsors a Yarn Girls ministry at First Presbyterian Church.