Q&A with Dean Shropshire: On Helping Students Succeed

Recently, Dean Shropshire took a moment out of his busy day to share why he loves his job, what makes Carroll truly special and the one piece of advice he most often gives students.

Q: Why did you choose a career in education?

A: My mother is an educator. She’s been in the field for 42 years, so she definitely influenced my career choice. But I also started working in education because I wanted to help young people, especially young men. I remember how challenging it was when I was growing up in this area. As a young black man, you’re constantly told, “You can’t do this. You can’t do that.” It’s frustrating. So I’ve always wanted to uplift young people, help break down stereotypes, and give back to the community.

Q: Tell me about your role as Dean of Students.

A: I joined the faculty in 2008. Dr. David Stofa [past president] hired me as the attendance officer and assistant dean of students. I was also a part of the football coaching staff. In 2009, I became the dean of students. In this position, I primarily work with students on issues pertaining to discipline, attendance, and behavior within and outside of the school building.

I try to be the liaison between parents and teachers when there is an issue with a student in the classroom. I develop strong relationships with parents because working together we can help ensure successful outcomes for students. Many of the students understand that I’m firm but I’m fair. They know they have to be forthright and upfront with me about the issues they might be having in the classroom or with another student.

This is probably the most stressful job I’ve ever had. Some days I lose sleep because I want to make sure that I’m making the right decisions on things. But despite all of that, I love my job. We hold our students to a high standard. And I enjoy watching the students try to live up to that standard.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

A: Everything! Every day is different. I get a chance to build relationships with a lot of people. I know about 95% of the students here. And for about 80% of those students, I know their parents or family members. It feels good and I believe the students really appreciate it. I can walk down the hallways and say to a student, “How’s your grandmother doing? Is she okay?” I see myself as a part of their support system. I want each student to look back years from now and remember how much I cared.

Q: What is special about Carroll?

A: There are so many special things about Carroll, but I think one of the big ones is all of the traditions. It’s an honor and a privilege for those in our community to be a part of them. I want our students to really understand them and appreciate them. When students or alumni go places and they have on a Carroll jacket, it really means something. To me it says, “We work a little bit harder than the next person.” That’s not a knock to any of the other schools. I think it is just a testament to the fact that we do things differently here.

Q: What’s the most common piece of advice that you give to students?

A: I always tell students, “Be yourself!” I cannot stress that enough. We have some students here that are caught up in pretending to be someone they are not. For example, many of our students come from great homes with supportive families, and yet some of them want to make it seem like their life is so hard – what I like to describe as a “studio gangster”. They have great opportunities and resources at their disposal, but they want to present an image that their life is so hard. I remind them that pretending to be something they’re not is unnecessary. Their parents have worked so hard to get them where they are. I tell them to embrace who they are. “Be yourself! If you’re an artsy kid, live it up. Just don’t mess up the uniform!”