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Principal Shelby Gorski Interview

The best educators are passionate about helping kids, and lifelong learners themselves — but those traits are just the beginning of what makes Principal Shelby Gorski so great.


Principal Shelby grew up in Maryland and moved to North Carolina for college. She was a nursing student with a variety of interesting jobs along the way, including selling knives and hopping around as her school’s mascot — until serving at a camp for chronically ill children changed the trajectory of her life. Shelby had always known she wanted to work with kids in some capacity — but the camp solidified her decision to become a teacher. She changed majors and never looked back. “It was perfect,” she reminisces.

After graduation, Shelby stayed in Wilmington for a bit and then moved to New York City, to pursue a teaching opportunity in Brooklyn. She married a fellow educator and eventually moved back to North Carolina on the coast where they started their family. Today they’re the parents of three children and a dog named Lucy. Shelby’s professional career progressed too. She initially began teaching in a classroom, was later accepted to the North Carolina Principal Fellows Program, became a National Heritage Academies Dean, and is now opening our new school in Rolesville. Her passion for serving kids burns brighter than ever.

“My vision for this school is to be an incredibly inclusive place. I believe people matter, teachers matter, our students’ stories matter. The only way we can truly teach kids is to take time and connect with them. That’s the core of Rolesville. Our whole hearts are dedicated to student success whether they’re working two grade levels above or two grade levels below. I think there are so many teachers who can get what they want from students simply by being “all business,” but that’s not the portrait of a school that I want to paint. I will be at the door welcoming every kid to school each day. I want our kids to know that they’re part of a community of people who are there to raise them up.” 

“I believe a school’s leader has the ability to impact all aspects of the school. I want to make it all it can be, and what our students desire. I’m excited to have staff who are happy to be here too — safe, respected, skilled educators and nurturers who are focused on building quality relationships. When your core values are exactly the same as the organization you’re aligned with, you’re in the right place. I believe wholeheartedly in the moral focus and commitment to programs that work at NHA. They make sure their staff is nurtured and trained, developed to meet the needs of our kids. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”

Shelby’s zest for life, education and the future of Rolesville are contagious. She’s hopeful about creating a place that embodies these ideals of education and kindness — but her students are sure to be in for a lot of fun too. Shelby admits she doesn’t know what a typical cookie cutter school leader looks like — but she’s certain she doesn’t fit the mold. She’s committed to “being true” to herself and learning new things — like playing the harmonica, painting, and developing her love of skateboarding! When you take this open-hearted approach to life “you connect with people that care — people you enjoy. My husband and I love it here — this is where our roots are going to be.”