Shirley Anthony, Educational Coordinator

Shirley Anthony Photo 2

For the past three years, Shirley Anthony has served as PCHAS’ Educational Coordinator on the Itasca and Waxahachie Group Home campuses. In this role, she has made a lasting impact on the lives of countless children. She gives each individual child what he or she needs to be successful in school, and makes sure they are provided the services that will help them do so. This involves monitoring their grades, hiring tutors, training Group Home Parents how to help them, and, of course, providing emotional support.

“I make sure the kids are getting everything they need,” said Shirley. “At meetings we ascertain if we are providing the right services for the child and determine how we can continue to serve the child in the best way possible. We first make sure we are doing everything we can to ascertain and be cognizant of the strengths of each child rather than the weaknesses. Responding with gentleness and kindness helps us to teach the child to ‘use their words’ – to have a voice and to acknowledge their own strengths. These are the stepping stones to success.”

Shirley has worked with children for most of her career. She was an education counselor for twenty-five years and also worked with special needs children. “Kids have always been my ministry. I believe God planned this for me, and it’s what I’m meant to do. Children are our future and I want to equip these kids with the skills they need to lead successful lives. Each day if I have helped just one child realize that they can be successful, I have done my job,” she said.

Shirley is a valued member of the education team at PCHAS. “Shirley’s extra efforts, dedication and insights are all extremely valuable to the success of our students. Shirley is greatly appreciated, said Virginia Knight, PCHAS’ Director of Education.

Shirley believes that highlighting the successes of the students is the best way to motivate them to improve academically. During a recent community meal at the Waxahachie Group Home, Shirley handed out awards to students with the highest grade point averages (GPA.s) and to the most improved elementary, junior high and high school students.

“The kids get excited about their success and then we use that excitement to fuel future successes. We try to highlight every accomplishment and help them figure out what they did to achieve that accomplishment. It is crucial for every child to know we care about their successes. If we can convince them of this, they are more likely to share them with us and celebrate with us. From there, we ask them to make a commitment and to set a timeline, such as a day and time they will turn in an assignment. This helps them to make short-term ‘smart goals,’ and we celebrate each time they achieve one of their goals. Everything we do is geared for success now and for when the kids are living independently for the future,” she said.

Shirley says she loves working for Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services. “I am so blessed to work for an organization that is Christ-centered,” she said. “I embrace the opportunity to pray together as a staff and with parents before discussing plans for a client or a client’s family. I appreciate the ideology that PCHAS focuses on helping not only the child, but the entire family. And I love that my job allows me to make a real difference in a child’s life. When a child achieves a milestone, big or small, I see a spark, a building block of success and know that it has the potential to lead to greatness.”

 

By Lindsay Sloan