Retiring from career in education has Hagerstown woman seeking new opportunities

July 18, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • Sandy Shepherd retired June 30 from the Maryland State Department of Education.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Sandy Shepherd grew up in Hedgesville, W.Va., but has lived in Hagerstown since 1968.

“I’ve been in Hagerstown so long that it feels like home,” Shepherd said.

Her bachelor’s degree in English/journalism from Shepherd College, followed by a master’s degree from Shippensburg State College in communications, launched a varied career.

“Everything I have done has been related in some way to journalism and public relations. I was in the right place at the right time,” Shepherd said.

Education became a career focus as she worked for Washington County Public Schools, then the Maryland State Department of Education. Locally, Shepherd was a vocational job placement coordinator, coordinator of public information/community relations and coordinator of business partnerships/Maryland School to Careers program.

Shepherd started as a public relations officer for MSDE, but when her boss became the deputy state superintendent for academic policy, her job also changed. Most recently, Shepherd worked as education program specialist/supervisor for the state education department involved with accountability issues for the No Child Left Behind program, among other things.

“It was a really good opportunity to go to the state. It was an incredible experience,” said Shepherd, who said it was a privilege to work with Nancy Grasmick, the outgoing state superintendent.

“I’ve been fortunate to see both sides of issues, the local side and the state side, where I was a lot more involved with legislative and emergency management issues,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd retired June 30 from the MSDE in Baltimore, but at age 64, is looking for the next opportunity.

“I look at this as a pause between two jobs. I’m not sure what will be next,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd worked in Baltimore for 12 1/2 years, 11 of those sharing an apartment with a work colleague from York, Pa., during the week and returning for weekends with her husband, Thomas “Tim” Shepherd, at their Hagerstown home on Woodland Heights Drive.

Tim retired from Washington County Public Schools after working as a guidance counselor and secondary vice principal.

“My husband, in particular, has been extremely supportive. I couldn’t have done it without him,” Shepherd said.
When her colleague decided to give up the Baltimore apartment, Shepherd started commuting to the city daily, and a year of that was enough, although she said she’ll miss the job “tremendously.”

“In all fairness to my family, I wanted to be back in Hagerstown. It was time to come back here and find a new challenge,” Shepherd said.

The Shepherds met in a journalism class while students at Shepherd College. They have been married for 42 years, have an adult daughter and son, and four grandchildren, all of whom live locally.

“A lot of my career has been networking — being in the right place at the right time,” said Shepherd, who added that each job built on the previous one.

She said her first job out of college at Harper & Row Publishers laid the foundation for all future jobs and taught her to pay attention to details. That led to a reporter/editor position at The Herald-Mail in the early 1970s, followed by a public relations job, before she was hired by Washington County Public Schools.

The Shepherds are members of First Christian Church in Hagerstown. Sandy Shepherd, whose maiden name is McDaniel, also belongs to the Hagerstown Business and Professional Women’s Club and National School Public Relations Association.

“The question for me is: What am I going to do next? I can’t believe I’m retired,” Shepherd said.

“I would like to take the next month to do things I need to do here, but come September, I’m going to want to have something under my belt,” whether it’s a paid or volunteer position, or a combination, she said.

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