New principal a familiar face at St. Patrick’s School, Washington

Photo Caption: Doreen Shipman has lived in St. Patrick’s Parish for 40 years and for the last seven years has been technology coordiantor and assistant principal at St. Patrick’s School.

WASHINGTON — She may be the new principal, but Doreen Shipman is a very familiar face to the students, faculty and parents at St. Patrick’s School here.

Shipman and her husband, Howard, have lived in the parish for almost 40 years, and their four daughters graduated from the school she now leads.

“I got involved here at St. Pat’s when my children were going to school,” she said. “I was a learning center mom and then a substitute teacher. I took a job teaching some of the math and computer classes and here we are.”

There were a few more steps in between.

After teaching at St. Patrick’s for seven years in the 1990s, Shipman was named principal at St. Mary’s School in Metamora and served there for eight years. She returned to St. Patrick’s seven years ago and has been the technology coordinator and assistant principal to Dr. Sharon Weiss ever since.

When Weiss stepped down in December to work full time as superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Peoria, Shipman succeeded her at the Washington school they both love.

“Doreen is very intelligent and she is tenacious in the sense that she really works hard to accomplish a goal that she sets,” Weiss told The Catholic Post.

“I think her leadership is proven,” Weiss continued. “The teachers respect Doreen and she definitely turned around our technology program.”

She credits Shipman with upgrading the entire computer system at St. Patrick’s, which enabled the school to go wireless last year.

While she never guessed that she would be working with computers and training youngsters to work with these tools, Shipman knew at an early age that she would be a teacher.

“I had an excellent first grade teacher and I wanted to be like that,” she said. “I had other really good teachers along the way.”

Shipman earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Illinois State University and certification in technology from Illinois Central College. “I didn’t want to be the little old lady who couldn’t drive the computer,” she said with a smile.

She also holds a master’s degree in educational administration from Bradley University.

She taught in Pekin public schools and then took some time to stay home with her children when they were young before volunteering her way into a job at St. Patrick’s in Washington.

Shipman has seen computer use evolve and accepts it with equanimity, saying, “We don’t use slates anymore.”

What did surprise her last fall is that some of the younger students seemed to struggle with using the computer’s mouse.

“Then it dawned on me: They swipe. They touch their screen, like on an iPad,” she said. “One boy swiped the screen thinking it would do what he needed. He wasn’t used to the keyboard. I thought that was so fascinating.”

Shipman said she loves seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when they’re learning something and arrive at an “aha” moment. She’s seen a lot of those as she’s worked with students in kindergarten through eighth grade, watching them grow up.

“It’s great when they come up and give you hugs,” she added.

A new computer teacher has been hired so that Shipman can devote herself totally to leading St. Patrick’s School. That includes taking their 2012 National Blue Ribbon from the U.S. Department of Education and moving forward.

“Hopefully we’re going to do as well or even better as time goes on,” she said. “That’s our goal — continued school improvement. We don’t just stop now.”

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