BY JACLYN ROSE –
The daughter of a retired Air Force Captain, Linda Shelley was raised in Mena, and graduated from Mena High School in 1989. After completing high school she began her path to higher education, and in 2010 graduated with a Master’s Degree in Special Education from Southern Arkansas University.
In 1994, Shelley married her husband, Keith, whom she met at Mena High. “Our faith is so important to us; it is what has held us together. We attend Saint Agnes Catholic Church and have raised our children in the church. That is what has gotten us through the hard times,” explained Shelley.
The Shelley’s have four children: Allison, a Special Education Para at Holly Harshman Elementary (HHE), as well as wife to Matt Hughes and a mother to Shelley’s grandsons: Adam, Mason and Bryce; Katherine, a LPN at Sparks Hospital in Fort Smith; Michael, a current student at Arkansas Career Training in Hot Springs; and Matthew, a student at Mena High School. “The fact that God trusted me enough to have me raise these children is one of my favorite things about being a mother, He trusted me with these three beautiful individuals. And being a Nana to my grandsons is the best gift from God ever,” said Shelley.
One of Shelley’s sons, Michael, was born with special needs and through raising him, Shelley found her inspiration for the work she was to do in her life. Shelley has been with the Mena Public Schools for 12 years now and currently works at Mena Middle School (MMS) as a Resource Teacher for sixth through eighth grade. “I work with students that need a little extra, mainly in literacy. I will work with students in their classroom, re-teaching what they have learned. I also pull out some and teach them in my classroom,” explained Shelley. Prior to her move to MMS, Shelley spent five years in the self contained classroom at HHE. “I am happy at my job. I work with the most amazing people. Our Principal, Mr. Hobson, is so caring and I greatly respect him. You think about middle school kids and how they can be at that age, but they are different when you are helping them. One of my students was testing and told the teacher, ‘I don’t understand it until Mrs. Shelley explains it.’ That is their way of showing appreciation. My job is very rewarding. I’ve been on both sides of the special needs table as a teacher and a parent and I know what it’s like and how my own child felt. I feel like God knew exactly what He was doing when He placed me in this line of work,” Shelley explained.
For Shelley, her life simply revolves around her faith, her family, and her job. “Church, school, and my family, that’s my life in a nut shell and that’s enough,” explained Shelley. “I don’t think I could do much else and still be able to give it my all.”
“I feel like we are so privileged to live in a community like Polk County. When anyone is hurting, the people here always rise up and take care of their own. I recently had a problem at school and I had to call the Mayor and he jumped on it and helped. We live in a community of very caring people. We also have a wonderful school system. All of my children did very well in Mena and Michael would not have made it through if it weren’t for Mena Schools,” said Shelley.