CCES Voices

Russell Shelley

CCES Faculty Spotlight: Russell Shelley

CCES English teacher Russell Shelley says that most students likely remember him for the essays they write in class. 

They often joke about my ‘red pen,’" Shelley says, “but it is in the best of nature.”

But Mr. Shelley wasn’t always a teacher! Although Shelley has been teaching at CCES since 2002, his journey to the head of the classroom began somewhere you might not expect: in the business world. While he majored in business in college, it took Shelley only two years to find out that business was not a field he wanted to build a career in.

“It left me unfulfilled professionally and spiritually,” he said.

What actually did bring Shelley joy was coaching soccer -- a passion he enjoyed while still working in his business career -- and literature. 

“I then decided that I would take my love of literature and teaching kids and combine them,” Shelley said. “I started to pursue additional degrees to become an English teacher.”

Connecting Life with Literature

Shelley taught high school English in the public school system before arriving at CCES. He’s found the fulfillment he was looking for.
“As a teacher of the humanities, an English classroom is often about making connections to the literature that we read and what is happening in my students’ lives,” Shelley said. “This allows me to make connections to my students with the classroom discussions that we have but more importantly through the writing that we share.”
If he had to pick, Shelley says that To Kill a Mockingbird is his favorite piece of literature to teach.

“The lessons the novel gives its readersthose of empathy, racial and gender equality, and tolerance are just as prevalent today as they were since the publication in 1960,” he says.

Community Involvement and Mentoring

Shelley looks for opportunities to share lessons with his students outside the classroom too.

“CCES does an excellent job fostering opportunities during our advisory program, community outreach, and field trips that transcend the typical academic relationship between student and teacher,” Shelley said.

In the school’s advisory program, Cavalier Way, Shelley and other teachers discuss mindfulness, gratitude, substance abuse, and other topics. Shelley also serves as a good example for his students by helping those in need in the community.

One of the school’s chief outreach programs is with the Washington Center, a school for children with special needs in Greenville County.

“Our students read to students at the Washington Center,” Shelley says, “and we attend the center’s Halloween and spring events.”

Students also volunteer at Ronald McDonald house, the Soup Kitchen, Loaves and Fishes, Hope for Harvest, and others. Field trips to Disney World, the Whitewater Center and to see plays are more ways for Shelley to interact with his students outside the classroom. 

Every opportunity students have participating in the advisory program, helping others in the community, and going on field trips is another opportunity for them to find their own fulfillment. And, of course, these opportunities provide material for students to write about, as well as a chance for Shelley to use his famous red pen.

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Christ Church Episcopal School (“CCES”) admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at CCES. CCES does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, national or ethnic origin, creed, religion, or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, financial aid, scholarship or other programs, or athletic or other school-administered programs and activities.