Archived Story

Greg Shelton

Published 6:39pm Friday, April 1, 2011

Dadeville High School coach and teacher says: ‘Kids don’t care what you know until they know you care’

Greg Shelton is currently a teacher of physical science, physics and chemistry at Dadeville High School.

“I’ve been teaching, coaching and living in Dadeville for 11 years now,” he said.

Commonly referred to as “Coach,” Greg has spent his entire teaching career in the Tallapoosa County school system.

“Well, I’ve been a coach forever,” he said, “mainly girls’ varsity basketball for 16 of (the) 27 years (I’ve been teaching).”

Although he was born in Birmingham, Greg’s father, Jack Shelton, was a minister at Sunny Level United Methodist when he was still in diapers. During his time in Sunny Level, which is just a few miles north of Alexander City, the elder Shelton was approached about being the guest speaker at the nearby Hackneyville School’s graduation celebration – a place where, years later, Greg would begin his career as an instructor.

“(My dad) was asked to give the graduation speech at a school I would later teach at,” said Greg.

He has been in the county 28 years, now. After a stint at Hackneyville, Greg taught at New Site High School, which would relocate and change its name five years later. He taught at the newly named Horseshoe Bend High School “for the first eight years of its existence before I moved (a few miles south to Dadeville).”

One item of note about Greg’s tenure at New Site is that he coached in the last athletic event the old school ever held when he led the Lady Warriors to the 1992 1A girls’ basketball title. He still holds the distinction of being the only Tallapoosa County girls’ coach to win an Alabama state championship.

The road to the Lake Martin area for Greg began with a life in Tuscaloosa when the Shelton family, which included his dad (Jack), mom (Martha), and two brothers (Rick and Steve), all moved there in the mid-60’s.

“I was there from the time I was four until the time I finished college,” Greg said.

“Coach” was a member of the last senior class to walk the halls of Tuscaloosa High School – it has since been rechristened as Central High School. In 1983, Greg graduated from the University of Alabama with a major in physical education and a minor in biology.

Greg’s career in Hackneyville began shortly after graduation from UA with a chance call about job openings by the elder Shelton to former New Site principal Bill Hayes.  At the time, Jack was the director of the UA Department of Rural Service and Research and was familiar with Hayes because he had done some work in New Site.

“He said there was an assistant coach, Larry Barron, who had just retired and would I get in the car and drive down there,” said Greg.

Initially, he did not get the job, but when the school’s first choice decided not to take the position a call went back out for Greg.

“We did a very quick pack and move,” said Greg. “My mom was down here looking for a place for me to stay while I was packing up in Tuscaloosa. It was a team effort.”

Rural life suited Greg, as homesickness was as fleeting as a vapor.

“It didn’t take long to fall in love with this place,” he said. “It’s about the people here that I have met, just the salt of the earth kind of people. (As a teacher), when you earn their trust with their kids, they’ll do anything to help you.”

Another kind of love would cure any vestiges of homesickness in Greg and cause him to pack up and move a few miles south.

“I got married to a woman who taught – and still teaches – in Dadeville,” he said of Kimberly, his wife of 11 years. “Her kids were already in the Dadeville school system, so I moved here.

Kimberly is also on the staff at DHS, teaching geometry, algebra I and algebra II at the 9th, 10th and 11th-grade level. Between them they have had four children: Samantha, 22, an Auburn University graduate living in Boston; Andy, 20; Adam, 19; and Charlie, who was a couple of years old when he passed away in 2004.

“She is a fantastic teacher and wife. I’m very proud of her,” said Greg.

The Sheltons have a “mantra” that states “kids don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” It is with that philosophy that Greg seeks to develop scholastic relationships that “blossom around learning” and mutual respect.

“If you think about teaching, I’m imparting knowledge to kids,” he said. “You try to prepare kids for a job or career, but all of that is based on how you treat people. If they have my trust, if they know that I’m invested in them, I can teach them anything.”

He enjoys the social and racial demographics that exist at DHS with students from diverse heritages and economic backgrounds.

“I think it’s a great environment for kids to grow up in and for education to go on in,” Greg said. “They leave here with a real good sense about people.

“I just can’t say enough about the people – the kids, the parents. I’ve learned more since I’ve been teaching than I’ve ever taught. I’m certain of it.”

Tallapoosa County Schools

The mission of the Tallapoosa County School District is to educate and motivate students of all ages and abilities and to ensure that they reach their potential as learners and as citizens. All schools are accredited through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Dadeville High School
David Sikes, principal
Total students: 526
Grades 8-12
Recent Awards: DHS baseball coach Randy Nolen was recently inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches’ Hall of Fame.

Councill Middle School
Chris Hand, principal
Total students: 292
Grades: 5-7
Recent Awards: Recently received a 21st Century grant. The grant program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children. Councill also has an after-school program that is sustained by grants.

Dadeville Elementary School
Joe Windle, principal
Total students: 463
Grades: K-4
Recent Awards: DES is also a 21st Century Community Learning Center.

Horseshoe Bend School
Casey Davis, principal
Total students: 767
Grades: K-12
Recent Awards: U.S. News and World Report ranked HBS among the top high schools in the country in 2008.  The school scored above the state average that year in reading profiency and standardized test performance. HBS teacher Felieia Williams is National Board Certified, she was also the Alabama Family and Consumer Science Teacher of the year.

Reeltown School
Tom Cochran, principal
Total students: 753
Grades: K-12
Recent Awards: RHS won the 2A state football title in 2009. Teacher Wendy Moore is a National Board certified teacher and the Wall Street Community Center is a 21st Century Community Learning Center.