Holding considerable expertise in public speaking, health care, education and volunteer work, Rev. Shirle Moone Childs, PhD, has had a long standing desire to share her knowledge and expertise with others. Embarking on her studies at the William Cullen Bryant High School in New York, she graduated with an academic diploma in 1953. She subsequently joined the University of Hartford, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in 1968 and a Master of Education in 1970, both in early childhood education and teaching.
From there, Dr. Childs began her career in early childhood education and eventually obtained her Doctor of Philosophy in educational leadership and administration from the University of Connecticut in 1978. After years of working with children, she eventually transitioned to working in health care to help older populations. She concluded her career as a health equity advocate with St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut, where she was active from 2013 until her retirement.
An advocate of lifelong learning, Dr. Childs notes that continuing to learn throughout your career is what allows you to keep moving forward. To that end, she sought to further her education with a Master of Divinity form the Yale Divinity School of Yale University, which she earned in 2005. During this time, she founded God’s Bridge Over the Atlantic Inc. as part of a course project at the divinity school in 2002, and remains active as the president and chief executive officer in her retirement.
God’s Bridge Over the Atlantic is a charitable organization that works to provide support to people and organizations in Ghana, West Africa, and to encourage people in the United States to look beyond their own borders when it comes to giving back. Some of Dr. Childs’ work with God’s Bridge includes providing books to schools, clothing for infants, and holiday gifts, as well as raising money for student scholarships. All schools cost money to attend in Ghana, unlike the public school system in the United States, and, therefore, she emphasizes the importance of providing funding opportunities so that children and receive a good education.
Dr. Childs’ current efforts with God’s Bridge revolve around building more stable and permanent churches in Ghana. Many modern churches in Ghana are made with mud and clay, and they are prone to falling apart and collapsing over time. Since places of worship are vital sources of spiritual support, she wants to ensure that there are churches that will last for years to come. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some delays, she is still moving forward with these plans and is looking for volunteers to help build the churches on the ground in Ghana.
Having traveled to Africa on a number of occasions throughout her career, Dr. Childs notes a particular memorable moment that occurred when she was working with young women in Ghana. She noticed that there were a number of young mothers who were working with babies strapped to their backs, and when they would stop to feed the babies, they weren’t talking to them. Having been told to talk to her children to aid in language development when she was a new mother herself, Dr. Childs began to encourage the women to talk, sing or read to their babies, and it grew into even encouraging older women to share their stories about how they were raised.
Having achieved much over the course of her career, Dr. Childs considers true success to be the ability to keep your mind active, and the energy and passion that you have to keep yourself thriving. There are so many exiting things to do and keeping your mind sharp to figure what you need to do is important. She has always loved engaging with people throughout her career, and since becoming a minster she has found new opportunities to engage in new ways with even more people.
Above everything, Dr. Childs wants to share her stories and knowledge with the upcoming generations of professionals. She feels that if you have knowledge that can help others it should be shared, so that the people following in your footsteps can not only learn from your mistakes, but also enhance your knowledge with their own. Dr. Childs hopes to leave a legacy as someone who sought to mentor others and was always willing to freely share her stories.