Caring for our community
C.W. Shipley Elementary School
Supporting alumni to honor an art teacher
Shawn Barnhouse presents her donation to Dr. Brooks Kursey, principal of C.W. Shipley Elementary School (Photo: MainStreet Bank)
It’s been five years since Shawn Barnhouse has had any children enrolled at C.W. Shipley Elementary School in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. But the school’s impact on her family sticks with her.
“It was just kind of a family atmosphere, you know. The principal knew my kids’ names. Everyone just seemed to care,” said Shawn, MainStreet Bank Senior Vice President and Controller. “I loved the staff, so caring and always welcoming.”
When Shawn was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy, the school provided a warm, supportive, and compassionate environment for her family.
“The school organized various fundraising activities to help less fortunate students. My family was offered a free Christmas dinner and gifts for my children the year I had cancer,” she said. “Although I did not accept it, since I was able to continue working at MainStreet Bank, it was a heartfelt experience for me and my family.”
“We’re just a family,” said kindergarten teacher Heather Williams. “We take care of one another.”
Shawn donated her $1,000 to the C.W. Shipley Elizabeth Seibert Scholarship Fund, established in memory of a beloved art teacher to help alumni pursue higher education.
Heather helps run the scholarship program. She’s worked at the school for 24 years and taught both of Shawn’s children. Heather was a Shipley student herself and Elizabeth Seibert was her art teacher.
“I loved Miss Seibert,” Heather said. “She was a great factor in why I wanted to become a teacher.”
Heather says Elizabeth made all her students feel successful.
“You didn’t do anything wrong in art,” she said. “Everything was beautiful to her.”
C.W. Shipley’s 2000-2001 yearbook was dedicated to the memory of Elizabeth Ann Seibert. (Photos: Heather Williams)
Elizabeth’s art classes had a major impact on Heather and how she teaches.
“I love art because of her,” she said. “To this day, I draw constantly with my students.”
Elizabeth didn’t have children, so she treated the C.W. Shipley students like her own, Heather says. She attended every school event, taught pottery classes over the summer, and painted faces every year at the fall festival.
“She always had the biggest smile,” Heather said. “This was pretty much her passion in her life.”
Elizabeth passed away unexpectedly in November 2000, after working at C.W. Shipley for 21 years.
The school’s faculty decided to honor her memory by creating the scholarship fund.
“I think she would be very proud of what we’ve done in her honor,” Heather said. “She always was talking to her past students. They always would come back to see her. She would always keep in contact.”
In the 22-year history of the scholarship, they’ve awarded over $44,000 to 118 students.
Every year they get about five to ten applicants. To qualify, students must have attended Shipley for at least four years, have a 3.0 grade point average, write a short essay, and submit a recommendation letter. Every student who meets the requirements is given a scholarship.
The scholarships are funded by donations from faculty, staff, families, and community members. Faculty members also run fundraisers and collect box tops. In 2023 they gave out 6 scholarships of $500 each.
Hannah, Shawn’s eldest daughter, was one of the 2023 recipients. She’s studying photography at Shepherd University. Shawn’s son Liam is in 10th grade and will be eligible when he graduates.
The scholarship is available to students pursuing any form of higher education – whether a trade school, a military school, or a traditional college or university.
Heather says they’ve had several alumni to go on to study education and eventually come back to C.W. Shipley as teachers, like Heather did.
“I mean, I teach in my kindergarten classroom that I was a student in,” she said. “This is home.”
Shawn volunteered for the parent teacher organization when her children attended Shipley, and she was actively involved in school life.
“I really thought C.W. Shipley was a great atmosphere for my kids and it was just something I wanted to give back to,” she said.
“We felt honored that she chose us,” said Heather. “We’ve never had anyone donate that much before for our scholarship fund and we just felt truly blessed.”
“I am grateful that MainStreet Bank created such a wonderful donation program,” Shawn said. “[It’s] a great opportunity for the employees to support and thank the community they work or live in and care about.”
Left: Hanah shows off certificates she earned at C.W. Shipley in 3rd Grade. (Photo: Shawn Barnhouse); Right: Hannah’s senior portrait. (Photo: Shawn Barnhouse)
To learn more about C.W. Shipley Elementary School visit cwses.jcswv.org