Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “The (person) is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children.”
Using this description as a measuring stick, Beverly Shatto, who passed away last week, was a true success. She achieved great respect as both an educator and administrator. She was a coach, a mentor, a friend, a leader, and perhaps most importantly, a mother and grandmother.
The long-time educator began her career in Jackson County in 1984 as a special education teacher. She then went on to teach social studies at both Ripley Middle and Ripley High Schools. Her administrative positions were at the high school, first as vice-principal, then serving as the first female principal of the school.
Superintendent of Schools, Blaine Hess, first met Mrs. Shatto when he was principal of the school she would later lead.
“She was a fine social studies teacher,” he said. “I was always impressed with her organization. She was that teacher who could bring social studies to life. She had control of her classroom but still allowed her students to interact.”
A former student and now Jackson County teacher, Angela Crank, remembers her teacher vividly.
“I had her for ninth grade world history,” she said. “It was my favorite class of the day because she made history fun. As a teacher, my goal is to make learning important and fun, encouraging my students to do their best as Mrs. Shatto did for me.”
Hess said as an administrator, one of Mrs. Shatto’s strengths was curriculum.
“She was always looking for ways to improve class offerings at the high school,” he stated. “She thought improvement was always possible. She focused on academics, her faculty and the safety of her students.”
Her faculty appreciated her care, concern, and support.
“Mrs. Shatto was more than my boss, she was my friend and mentor,” teacher Tabatha Craddock said. “She was an amazing principal whom I could always count on to listen, guide, advise and assist.”
Her support and encouragement of both her teachers and her students were legendary.
Christina Iman, theater teacher at Ripley High School, could always count on her principal attending all her students’ productions. She remembers one particular performance well.
“Last year, after a tragic incident with one of our students, I wasn’t sure Mrs. Shatto would allow us to do our scheduled performance for the school,” Iman recalled. “But she did. It turned out to be one of their funniest performances ever. Afterwards, she hugged me and said ‘that’s just what we needed.’ I’ll never forget that.”
In a school of almost 1000 students, it would be easy to be lost in the crowd. Many of those students said that that wasn’t the case at the high school because Mrs. Shatto was aware of who they were.
Anne Blizzard saw her principal every day.
“As a service learner for one of my teachers, I had to stop by the office many times,” she said. “Mrs. Shatto always had a smile and warm welcome for me. I am honored that I was able to call her my principal.”
While Mrs. Shatto’s smiles and warmth were spoken of frequently, her actions to resolve issues for her students was greatly appreciated.
“She became more than a principal to my daughter in her senior year,” said Missy Runnion. “When she was having great difficulty in a class, Mrs. Shatto worked with her and the teacher to get the help she needed and my daughter passed the class.”
Leslie Haynes gives Mrs. Shatto great credit for her son thriving in high school. According to Haynes, high school was not an easy adjustment for him.
“It’s important that Gabe have patience, compassion, and clear directions,” Haynes said. “Mrs. Shatto always made him a partner in his education, involving him in planning his coursework. She appreciated everything about him from his intelligence to his kind heart to his struggles. Gabe clearly felt this.”
Those who attended Calvary United Methodist Church say they benefited from serving alongside Mrs. Shatto. She taught the children’s lesson many times on Sunday, was a member of the women’s Mary Martha Circle, and went on a number of mission trips to Nicaragua.
“Her faith and serving others were very important to her,” said fellow church member Pam Braden. “She comes from a hardworking, philanthropic family. She and her children went on mission trips to Nicaragua where they pitched in to do anything asked.”
Kiersten Templin, who knew Mrs. Shatto as both principal and mother of Ryan, one of her best friends, recalls one Nicaraguan mission trip distinctly.
“I got really sick,” she said. “I couldn’t leave and I didn’t have my family with me. Bev selflessly stayed with me for a whole week. But what I most remember is her exact words when I graduated in 2018. She said ‘my girl, there is nothing that can stop you and your radiant smile. I’m beyond proud.’”
With all her accomplishments as an educator, her worth as a friend, her influence on her students, the most valued role Beverly Shatto served was as mother to Morgan, Justin, Arin, and Ryan.
“Our mom loved so many things,” said Morgan. “She was passionate about tennis and enjoyed family vacations. If you wanted to make her happy, give her sweet tea from Pete’s Hot Dogs, a Tudor’s biscuit, a Donut Connection donut, let her watch a Hallmark movie or a Law and Order rerun.”
Most of all, the thing that made her happy was spending time with her grandchildren. She would take many trips to Atlanta to be with her grandson Gabe. Once she set up a nursery so she could chaperone a school dance but still have time with her grandson Harrison.
“I’m not just saying this because she was my mom,” Morgan said, “but if you crossed her path you would be the better for it.”
Perhaps Mrs. Shatto’s impact as an educator and as a person can be found in the simple statement of the superintendent of schools.
“What Beverly Shatto wanted for her own children, she wanted for all children,” he said. “Her counsel was always wise and her legacy will be her compassion, her empathy, and her desire to see others succeed.”
Loved by All
“Our mother was the epitome of resilience, warmth, kindness, and grace. She thrived most while watching others chase their dreams. My siblings and I are so lucky to have had her not only as a mother but as a beacon of courage.”
-- Arin Shatto, daughter
“She could have a million things to do but if you needed her, you’d never know she had anything going on. You felt you were her top priority. She truly had a servant’s heart.”
-- Morgan Lee, daughter
“Mrs. Shatto was a true Viking who inspired others and wanted all to succeed. It was my honor to have known her as a parent, friend, and administrator.”
-- Carolyn Rader, Mayor of Ripley
“Bev was passionate about her faith, her children and grandchildren. She was a dear friend who was there for me during some tough times.”
-- Elizabeth Sayre, teacher
“Mrs. Shatto was a great comfort to me when two of my uncles passed away. She came to the funeral for my Uncle Matt. I’ll never forget her hug that day. She pushed me to be a better person and always made my day better.”
-- Doug Torres, class of 2018
“She played a great part in my going to West Virginia Wesleyan. I will be forever grateful.”
-- Laine Stover, class of 2019
“Not only was Bev an outstanding educator, she was a friend to the Viking nation.”
-- Mike Ruben
“When I would stop by her office, no matter what she was busy doing, she would smile, make me feel welcome and ask me how things were going.”
-- Gabe Haynes, class of 2019
“At church, she was so compassionate and soft-spoken but when she spoke, everyone listened.”
-- Pam Skotnicki
“When my son Gabe’s French class was online, he told Mrs. Shatto that the noise was too much for him. She arranged for them to have noise-canceling headphones. I never knew that.”
-- Leslie Haynes