West Wilson Middle School special education math teacher Wanda Shipp has received the Sam Finch Special Education Award for outstanding service from Cumberland University.
Shipp is a seventh-grade inclusion math teacher at WWMS where she began teaching this school year. She co-teaches three periods and one period on her own each day.
“The Lord blessed me when I got hired at West Wilson Middle,” Shipp said. “I was shocked and humbled to receive this award.”
The Sam Finch Award recognizes excellence for outstanding service to special education students in recognition. Cumberland University professor Dr. Sandy Smith nominated Shipp for the award that was started by the Finch family in honor of their son who was a special needs child.
Smith was Shipp’s educational consultant while Shipp pursued her master’s degree in teaching with a dual endorsement in special education and ELL (English Language Learners).
“She has a great attitude and works hard to make sure she fulfills the needs of her students,” WWMS Principal Kevin Dawson said. “She spends the appropriate amount of attention to make sure her students feel valued.”
He said 11 percent of WWMS’s student population are special needs students.
For years Shipp worked as a tech specialist and traveled a lot. However, her son, Evan, had an illness that forced Shipp to step away from her career to care for her son and also transport him frequently to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. She quit her job when he was 2 and stayed home until he was 5.
“I then volunteered at Coles Ferry in the Lebanon Special School District, and then moved on to Winfree Bryant Middle School,” she said.
She was asked to be an educational assistant and worked often with intervention students. This is where she became acquainted with special needs students. She stayed at Winfree Bryant seven years.
“And then I was blessed to be hired at West Wilson Middle,” the Lebanon resident said.
Shipp said she loves working at WWMS and plans to stay teach there next year.
“I love math and I love special children; it’s a great combo,” she said. “The kids keep me young and happy.”