Monday, October 2, 2023

‘A lifer in education’ | GISD board names Baccus’s Melissa Shipp as new Mambrino principal


A familiar face will be joining the STEAM Academy at Mambrino campus starting this summer.

The Granbury ISD school board named Melissa Shipp as the next Mambrino principal during its monthly meeting on May 15.

Shipp is no stranger to GISD — previously serving as teacher and instructional specialist at Oak Woods School before spending the last three years as assistant principal at Nettie Baccus Elementary School.

While working alongside Baccus Principal Julie Rohleder and other staff, Shipp was also instrumental in improving the campus’s accountability rating last year.

In 2022, Baccus received a B (88) accountability rating from the Texas Education Agency — an impressive jump from its F (57) rating in 2019.

"When you come into a school that is in need for an accountability change, it's hard because you have to evaluate all your programs at the beginning, so we took it back to just the bare basics of what we needed, and then we pushed forward from there,” Shipp explained. “I think the coolest part has been able to see not only the staff, but the kids reach goals that they never thought they could reach. We're big here on student data, and kids being in charge of their own data and their own learning. Nobody wants to present bad data, so everybody works really hard to improve here.”

Shipp said her favorite part about being assistant principal at Baccus the last three years has been being part of a family that leans on each other.

"We work hard together, and we play hard together,” she said. “Just seeing the growth that we've been able to make over the last several years together as a campus is not because of the leadership necessarily — it's because of all of us, because we all came together and said, ‘We're going to do what's best for kids.' The most exciting thing is seeing the growth on this campus, and then seeing the change in our culture on campus with our teachers, students, and staff; it's a big family.”

Originally from the Dallas area, Shipp grew up in Garland, where she attended Naaman Forrest High School.

She attended Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth and obtained her education degree in 2002.

The first year that she taught at Fort Worth ISD, Shipp met her now-husband, Scott.

“He has been there from day one,” she said. “I met him in the middle of my first year. After my award ceremony my first year, he went and bought a ring and proposed and said, ‘If she can love these kids, and stand there and talk about those kids, then she can talk about my kids.’ We've been together ever since."

Shipp spent four years teaching fifth grade at Carroll Peak Elementary and two years at Leonard 6th Grade Center in Fort Worth before starting at Granbury ISD in 2008.

"I taught fourth grade for one year and third grade for seven years at Oak Woods, and I was self-contained,” she explained. “Then, I came to Baccus actually, as the instructional specialist, and I was here for two years. I worked under Mr. (Robert) Herrera, who was the principal at the time. I went back to Oak Woods to go back to the classroom to teach fourth grade writing. It was something I had never done, so it was a new adventure for me. I was also a part time instructional specialist, so I did a dual role for a year, and then I became the full-time instructional specialist there."

Shipp came back to Baccus in 2020, where she assumed the role of assistant principal alongside Rohleder — a position that fueled her desire to eventually become principal.

"I knew whenever I started interviewing for assistant principal jobs that ultimately I wanted to go to a principalship,” she explained. “But you have to learn and I learned a long time ago from a mentor, ‘Don't skip any steps — really sit in each job role all the way up, so that you learn it really well,' and that way you can do a really good job when you are at the top because you've done everything below. I haven't been in a hurry. I've loved all three years at Baccus and growing with Julie. She has spent a lot of time mentoring me one-on-one and pouring into me to prepare me for this, as well as district admin. They have done a really good job of guiding me towards that decision and helping me to see that I am ready to take that next step.”

She said the biggest change in transitioning from a teacher to a principal position is the number of children that you impact daily.

"When you're a teacher, you're influencing one or maybe two classes depending on what grade you teach, so maybe 20 to 60 kids depending on your age range,” Shipp explained. “Taking a step out of the classroom was hard for me because I love the classroom. I love building relationships with kids but getting to build a relationship with 400-plus kids instead of just 20 kids (is amazing). The biggest difference is just being able to impact more kids — and that's one thing I'm super excited about with Mambrino. It is one of the largest elementaries in our district, and I'm excited to be able to influence even more kids.”

She said her husband, Scott, has been her biggest supporter — helping to shuttle their twin 16-year-olds — Addison and Cooper — while she pursues her dream job of becoming principal.

"He will tell you he's the proudest husband ever,” she said. “He likes to be in support of all this and he knows that this is definitely a calling and a mission for me. I love kids and I love spending time with them every day. I'm a lifer in education.”

Shipp said her goal as principal for Mambrino is to keep the school’s accountability rating at an A — but more than anything, she wants Mambrino to become her family.

"It’s going to be my home away from home, so we're going to do what's best for kids every single day,” she said. “I'm excited to jump in, get to know them, and take them to that next level — to really get them to the top where they want to be.”

Granbury ISD Superintendent Jeremy Glenn also expressed his support for Shipp during Monday’s school board meeting.

“Baccus has had a huge turnaround over the last few years and just a lot of support," Glenn said. "We're looking forward to great things from you, Mrs. Shipp. You've been in the district a long time. You’ve earned this opportunity, and we're looking forward to great things for our students and teachers on that campus.”

Shipp will officially become the new principal at Mambrino on July 10.

"I'm sad to leave Baccus because this is my family and I love it here,” she added. “I love the teachers and the students here. I'm going to miss them dearly, but I am excited about the new challenge and getting to step out on my own and lead a campus. I will always and forever be their biggest cheerleader from across the lake, and I hope that they will do the same for me. I'm excited to see where we go.”


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