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Your Neighbor: Meet Pauline Shepherd

By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier

Pauline Shepherd grew up as the youngest of five children in Alleghany County near Sparta. “Being raised on the farm, you’re outside all the time with your siblings,” reflects Shepherd. “I loved horseback riding and sled riding. If we weren’t outside doing something active like tubing or canoeing on the New River, you could find me reading good books. From an early age, I recognized my love for academics and teaching. I would arrange my bears on our dining room chairs to be students and I was their teacher.”

Naturally, Shepherd chose a college where education was important and a degree option in that field. She headed to Appalachian State University in Boone. “I had a lot of friends that had chosen ASU as well as a teacher that were strong influences on my decision. So when it came down to select a school, ASU was like being at home for me,” explains Shepherd.

While at ASU, Shepherd embraced opportunities to learn and grow as a person. “I was involved in 4-H,” she notes of the Cooperative Extension program offered to help kids learn about making their communities better. “Community has always been important to me, and so is giving back. I learned a lot in this program.”

Another area where Shepherd’s life was enriched in college was connecting with her future husband, Bruce. He had remembered his wife from growing up in the same area because they had attended rival high schools. Bruce had recalled Pauline when she was a cheerleader. Serendipitously, Bruce and Pauline wound up in the same music appreciation class. One day, a group of friends ended up going out to breakfast. “One of my friends that had attended the breakfast was the rhododendron queen, I assumed he was interested in her because she was quite beautiful. I was surprised when he asked me out after that breakfast, but I said yes,” remembers Shepherd. “We became best friends first, and just seven months later Bruce proposed.” The Shepherds married Pauline’s senior undergraduate year and the end of Bruce’s graduate degree year.

After graduation, the newlyweds headed to Elizabeth City for Bruce’s job at the College of the Albemarle. “Having a health, physical education and recreation degree, I thought I was going to teach kids in high school. When we got to Elizabeth City, there were no physical education jobs so I taught eighth grade,” recalls Shepherd. After staying there for several years, the next move took the Shepherds to Marion. “I ended up teaching fourth grade and received a master’s in elementary education at Western Carolina University. I discovered how much I love that age in the fourth and fifth grades because of how innocent the students are but yet they area able to understand humor and wit,” says Shepherd. She also contributed to the school program as a curriculum coordinator.

The Shepherds were enjoying making their mark in the academic realm. They also decided while in Marion to have their first child, Jon. Just a couple of years later, they added their daughter, Megan, to the family. While they were learning what it was like being parents and raising children, they were presented with an opportunity in 1980 to move to Winston-Salem for Bruce’s job at Forsyth Technical Community College. The Shepherds packed their bags and family to embark on what has now been 40 years in the Winston-Salem area.

“We have loved raising our children in this community. It is exceptional to say the least. Both of our children attended West Forsyth High School and loved it. All the teachers, coaches, and friends along the way impacted Jon and Megan so positively. We were blessed by all of them,” reflects Shepherd.

Shepherd herself impacted the many students she taught in the fourth and fifth grades. Most recently before retiring last year, Shepherd was teaching at Meadowlark Elementary School. Shepherd has also taught at Southwest and Moore elementary schools. If you ask any of her students, they will echo her dedication, patience, and compassion to them. Helping contribute to her students’ academic journey was of the utmost importance to Shepherd, and she took each year and grade with gusto. “Each child holds a special place in my heart and also taught me something,” notes Shepherd.

Now the retired Shepherd has the opportunity to spend more time with her family, including her grandchildren. “You learn quickly when you have your own children that they are always there in your mind. You’re always thinking about them. You hope your influence is on the positive side and that will be for their betterment,” reflects Shepherd. “Every age, every stage of their life has been humbling and a joy to experience. I prayed for them a lot. I still do. Although, you realize quickly their plan is in bigger hands with God.”

The Shepherds have turned to God a lot as a family recently with Bruce’s diagnosis with pancreatic cancer. “I don’t know how people go through major health problems without their faith. That’s where the calmness and peace comes into my life. I feel God’s presence as he walks with us. Although they are not good times, there is still a peace about it. Our friends and community have been beside us on this journey. They have called, sent cards, and done things for us to show they are thinking of us,” says a grateful Shepherd. “We remain positive. We make plans for our future, which includes spending more time on our families’ farms in Ashe and Alleghany counties. We also want to volunteer more in a community that has given us so much. My passion is volunteering especially at our church, Calvary Baptist, with the youth.”

Although retirement for Shepherd looks to be quite busy, she realizes that these activities fuel her soul and recharge her in ways that is much needed. As Helen Keller once noted, “Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much.”