New principal, familiar face

HARPERS FERRY – When Mark Osbourn announced plans to exit after 23 years as principal at C.W. Shipley Elementary School here, it didn’t take long for the school’s staff to agree on the right person to take the helm.

Once school board members formally named long-time Shipley teacher Heather Boucher to become principal, there was much celebration, reports Connie Davis, a third-grade teacher at the school.

Heather Boucher is the new principal at C.W. Shipley Elementary School.

“We were texting each other hoping to find out if she was at the school board meeting – we knew that would mean she’d gotten the job,” said Davis, a former Shipley student herself. “We’re a close-knit school and everyone knew Mrs. Boucher would be the right person to continue to lead us in the right direction. We were all rooting for her.”

As at other schools across the county, Boucher, Davis and other staff members have been putting in long hours ahead of the start of the 2012-13 school year, which kicks off a week from today.

Boucher, who came to Shipley in 2004, has taught kindergarten, fourth-grade math and most recently served as the school’s reading/math interventionist.

She and her husband, who works with the National Park Service, live in Harpers Ferry. Their oldest child graduated from Jefferson High two years ago and is studying at Boise State University; their two younger children both attended Shipley and now are at Jefferson.

Counting Boucher, the school – home to a student body of about 400 – has had just four people serve as principal since it opened in the fall of 1972.

Born into a family of teachers in Iowa, the 47-year-old Boucher said she knew early she wanted to make education her career. She earned her teaching degree at Pennsylvania’s Westminster College and has taught in Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. In 1999, she completed her master’s degree in reading at West Virginia University. She also holds a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from WVU.

Shipley’s perennial presence as a West Virginia School of Excellence means there’s already a winning strategy in place, Boucher said.

“Teachers, parents, students – we’re all working toward the same goals,” she said. “I’m excited to have the new school year get underway. I’m looking forward to the chance to work with not just some of our students, but all of them.”

And while Osbourn may be out as principal, he’s still focused on education. The top vote-getter in the May election for a seat on the Jefferson County Board of Education, the Shepherdstown resident formally was sworn in as a board member last month.

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