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Blast from the Past
Shelley Hummon, Class 33

Shelley is a local girl, who grew up and went to school right here in Scottsdale at Navajo Elementary School, Pima Middle School and finally Saguaro High School.  She was always a good student and studied the Spanish language starting in the 8th grade and is now fluent in Spanish.  She is also the daughter of another distinguished Scottsdale Leadership Alumna Cindy Slick of Class 4.  Shelley remembers how cool it was to be in the audience when her mom was presented the Frank W. Hodges Alumni Achievement Award in the year 2000.  After high school, Shelley decided to head to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona (U of A) where she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology. 

Initially out of college she went into the social services world, doing everything from working on a 24-hour crisis hotline to being a victim advocate in the Maricopa County Attorney’s office.   That work was rewarding but very heavy, and difficult to do on a day to day basis.  When Shelley was pregnant with her first child, she decided to go into teaching because she loves working with kids and would have more time for her family.  She attended night school at University of Phoenix to get her master’s degree in elementary education and her teaching certificate.

In a crazy case of coincidence, she started her teaching career as a student teacher in the same classroom she had studied in as a student at Navajo Elementary School in Scottsdale. She told us she moved on to other teaching jobs within the Scottsdale Schools District like Pima Elementary where she taught fourth grade, which she loves.  Then one day out of the blue, one of her teaching partners told her that she would make a really good principal.  At first Shelley thought her friend was crazy, but the idea grew on her.  She was up for a new challenge and the pay was certainly better as a principal, so she decided to go for it.  Shelley attended Northern Arizona University to get her second master’s degree in educational leadership. It turned out her timing was great because as soon as Shelley completed that second masters, an assistant principal position opened up at Pima Elementary.  She interviewed for the job and got it.  She split that job between Pima and Hohokam. 

It turned out Shelley really was cut out to be school principal after all because after two years at Pima, she got her first principal job at Supai Middle School in 2014.  She was very excited to get that job, but the minute she walked in the door in June she realized that the bureaucracy had thrown her into the lion’s den.  It turned out that she would have to hire 34 teachers before the start of the school year in August.  She put on her running shoes and did it, rising to the occasion.  Her ability to pull off miracles was certainly on the district leadership’s radar after that.  She went on to pull off many more seemingly impossible tasks at other schools in Scottsdale, and burnishing her growing reputation. 

In 2018, the district asked Shelley to take over Pueblo Elementary School to ensure the integrity of the Dual Language Immersion Program and manage an anticipated total rebuild of the school. Even though she was fluent in Spanish, she had never worked with the Spanish emersion programs before.  After another herculean effort, she managed to turn things around at Pueblo.  She finally had the chance to really put her stamp on a school’s culture, which she did magnificently.  Shelley told us that she may not be the best principal in terms of budgets and paperwork, but she knows how to treat people in a way that builds a great workplace environment.

After settling in at Pueblo, she felt she had the time and space to follow in her Mom’s footsteps and apply for Scottsdale Leadership.  She was accepted, and joined Class 33 and finished the program in 2019.  She has gone on to help facilitate Scottsdale Leadership’s Education Day ever since and has had a huge impact on subsequent classes.  Shelley has also made it her mission to get more Scottsdale educators into Scottsdale Leadership.   She is now building a program to do just that.  In what little time she has left, she is also pursuing her PhD in educational leadership and policy at the U of A.

Shelley told us that she met her husband Matthew while studying at the University of Arizona. They made a great couple and got married 25 years ago.  Matthew studied culinary arts and was a high-end chef for many years before he changed careers and now is an executive with Aspire Bakeries which among things makes Otis Spunkmeyer cookies. They have two college age children who are currently attending the University of Arizona; one attending virtually while living at home, and their youngest resides in Tucson. Among their many shared pursuits, Shelley and Matthew love to cook together and entertain people, including their work colleagues.

Education is obviously fundamental to everything we do in our country.  The problem is our society can move from being boiling mad at our education system one minute, to being completely apathetic the next.  Shelley does not have the luxury of following that bouncing ball.  She is committed to making constant improvement to keep up with the standards she has set for her school.  Shelley has been recognized as one of the top educators in not only Scottsdale and the state of Arizona, but nationally as well.  Her school, Pueblo Elementary, has also been granted the A + designation from the Arizona Educational Foundation and the A rating from the Arizona Department of Education. And yes, there have been times when controversy has swarmed our educational community, but people like Shelley are there to help steer the ship back on course.  By focusing her efforts on what is best for her students, she has rebuilt the trust that parents must have in their educators.  Scottsdale Leadership and our community in general are very fortunate to have people like Shelley on the front lines of teaching our kids to be the leaders of the future.

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