Get to Know Teacher Mr. Jon Shipley

Shipley+standing+in+front+of+his+classroom+in+the+US.+

Megan Magruder

Shipley standing in front of his classroom in the US.

Megan Magruder, Reporter

English and Music Theory teacher Jon Shipley can be seen in various places on campus with his iconic sweater vests: in Catherine Collins-Vecino’s room where he teaches English, or in the library where he teaches Music Theory. As of this year, he will have been a part of our Country Day community for 45 years.

Shipley attended TCU, where he double-majored in Public Relations and German. He was more interested in getting a corporate job rather than becoming a teacher. However, he had a hard time finding a job after graduation, so he started teaching woodwind instruments at Tarrant County Community College. In 1977, he got a call to be a part-time substitute at Country Day for the woodwind department and was offered a job within months.

“I just knew that getting that call was a push from the universe to become a teacher,” Shipley said.

Shipley spent about 10 years as the woodwind teacher before being asked to become a full-time teacher. He agreed and started teaching a prep class for juniors writing the Magnum Opus. The Magnum Opus was a paper that juniors had to write in order to attend their senior year at FWCD. The 10,000-word paper took students about a year to finish. 

“Then a big change happened. Computers,” Shipley said.

Shipley was asked to become the Freshmen English and computer teacher, and he taught these classes for another 10 years. In the 90s, the computer department was getting larger and Shipley was given a big choice to be a teacher or work in administration. He chose to be a teacher,  picking up electives in subjects like computer science and imaginative writing. 

Anyone who has had Shipley knows that he takes the time to get to know about you both in and out of the classroom. Because of those bonds he has with his students, former students reach out to him and grab lunch with him. For example, he and a group of former students go to lunch at La Madeleine once every few months to catch up.

“A student that graduated in 1982, emailed me out of the blue to let me know that he was now a grandfather. Wow, that made me feel old,” Shipley said.

Shipley is also a writer and a published author. He has sold over 100 short stories and is currently working on a novel. So far, he has finished two novels and is a quarter of the way through the third. Recently, he received a call from a publisher about publishing one of his science fiction novels. He finds out in the next month whether or not his book will be published. 

“If I get published, I want everyone to go buy my book,”  Shipley said.

In his free time, other than writing or teaching, Shipley’s passion is music. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, playing has been made unsafe. His instruments of choice are woodwind instruments, but because of the pandemic, he has to wear a mask, therefore putting an end to his music career. 

“I don’t think that I will ever go back to playing music unless the pandemic goes away soon,” Shipley said.

If Shipley was not here at FWCD, he would want to live in either England or Scotland to write all day in the countryside.  

Mr. Shipley is a wonderful man, mentor, and mystic.”

— Rogan Crumley '22

Shipley has left a positive impression on all of his students. He has been very influential on his former students and left a lasting mark.

“Mr. Shipley was a friend before he was a teacher,” Cooper Collinge ‘21 said. “He helped me find my passion for writing. Without Mr. Shipley, I’m not sure how similar my life would look right now. Not every teacher can feel as loved by their community as Mr. Shipley should.”

Shipley has been influential to teachers as well.

“Mr. Shipley is always a student-centered educator who thrives at getting students to become better writers while also modeling a citizen that is curious about the world,” Colin Douglas, US History Teacher and Department Chair said. 

His fellow English teachers have admiration for him too. 

“He is a true master of the arts,” Myrna Sam, US English said.