Gary educator earns national recognition
January 19, 2007
BY KASS STONE Post-Tribune
Shirley Dillon (2001) is one of the best in her field.
According to the most recent edition of the annual publication “Who’s Who In American Educators,” the Pyle Elementary School academic support provider is one of the best teachers in America.
A graduate of Roosevelt High School, Dillon took an interesting path to her career. After high school, she earned a degree in interior design at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., then relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a career in that field.
After making a go of it in California, Dillon decided she needed to make a major life change on behalf of herself and her two children.
“Jobs were sparse and I had two sons I had to support, so my sister, who was an elementary teacher already, convinced to me to go back to college and get a degree in elementary education,” Dillon said.
She relocated to Gary with her family and enrolled at Calumet College of St. Joseph in Hammond. After earning her degree, Dillon was hired to teach fifth grade st Pyle. She taught that grade for 10 years and earned a masters degree in education from Indiana Wesleyan University.
In 2005, Pyle devised a plan to improve students’ academic performance and raise test scores. The plan called for the creation of an academic support professional who would work with faculty members to ensure they were following the school’s curriculum.
At the end of last school year, the previous academic support provider retired. Seeking a new challenge, Dillon applied.
Now, she works in every classroom, helping every teacher. She also spends half of her day tutoring students who need extra help.
“I guess you never stop teaching,” she said. “I like it; I get to see my former students, which I never got the chance to do before like this, and I get to see how what we did last year makes a difference now that they are in the sixth grade. That’s an opportunity I never had before.”
How she ended up in “Who’s Who In American Educators” is a mystery to Dillon. A teacher must be recommended by a former student, who remains anonymous.
“I don’t know who did it,” Dillon said. “I wish I could find out. I’m very curious. I asked (the book’s editors), but they wouldn’t tell me. It would have to be somebody from my first couple of fifth-grade classes.
“I have it narrowed down from there, but that’s it. It’s a big honor, and I wish I knew who nominated me.”