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Lifelong Educator Doubles Down on Education and Opportunity

When Helen McBee Shimp made a recent gift to the McDowell Technical Community College Foundation, she knew all too well that the true value of her gift was not monetary.

As a lifelong educator, Shimp was well aware that the value of a community college education to both individuals and the community is about opportunity, not money.

“Every adult in our society needs a marketable skill,” she said. “This is important not just for our individuals, but for our community. A skilled work force attracts more industry and business to our community and that benefits everyone.

“The reason I chose to make this gift to MTCC is because of the work that is done there. McDowell Tech has so many programs that provide skills and certifications for students and potential workers, that provide opportunities to improve their status in the workplace, or that provide opportunities for students who want to transfer to a four-year college or university for more advanced degree.”

In honor of her gift, the college held a brief recognition ceremony on Wednesday in the William Harold Smith Building.  Classroom 203 will forever be dedicated to Helen – the classroom where her nephew, Chip Cross, primarily taught business courses during his first five years at MTCC after he joined the college in 2007.

Shimp knows a thing or two about education. The daughter of the late Dr. Paul and Mrs. Ivy McBee, she grew up in Marion, attended Marion City Schools and graduated from Marion High School, which was located in the building which now houses East McDowell Middle School. She continued her studies at Wake Forest University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in History with teaching certification in Social Studies. Later, she received a Master’s degree in Education and an Educational Specialist degree from Georgia State University.

For 34 years, beginning in 1967, Shimp taught in the Dekalb County, GA School System. For 25 of those years, she was Social Studies Department Chair at Cedar Grove High School, teaching U.S. History, Economics, Citizenship, World Geography, Sociology and even a few Latin classes. During her tenure, she was honored with three yearbook dedications and was twice named Teacher of the Year.

Beyond the classroom, Shimp coached water ballet, the school Academic Team and was a sponsor for several clubs and groups, including Key Club, National Honor Society and Senior Class. At the state level, she also served on the board of the Georgia Academic Team Association.

Shimp’s husband Ron passed away in 1992, and when she retired from public education in 2005, she returned to Marion, where she has continued to be active in education on a volunteer basis. She has tutored in the AVID program at McDowell High School and has tutored individual students at the high school in U.S. History. In recognition of her tutoring experience, she has been honored with a Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service. At McDowell Tech, Shimp has served on the college’s Foundation Board.

Shimp is an active member of First Baptist Church of Marion, where she serves on several committees. For pleasure, she enjoys needlework, flower and landscape gardening and early morning walks with her dog, “Reva, the Diva,” a Great Pyrenees/hound mix.

“When I was serving on the MTCC Foundation Board,” said Shimp, “Chip Cross, who was Foundation Director at the time, reminded us that donations of $5,000 or more could result in a plaque being placed on a classroom to recognize the donation. I had already given a part of that amount, so I decided to round up to the total of $5,000. At the time, I really didn’t want any public recognition of my donation. However, I hoped, and continue to hope, that my action might inspire others to make similar donations, or greater, if they are able.

“I would ask others,” she said, “to consider what a significant gift to the college can do. If just three more people would make a $5,000 donation as I did, then my gift would be multiplied to help even more students, whether they are studying nursing, law enforcement, machining, esthetics or any of a great many other programs. As a lifetime educator, I know the importance and value of an education and the development of career skills, such as the ones taught at McDowell Tech.”

“It is because of friends like Helen Shimp, who donate to our Foundation in support of quality educational programs and student scholarships, that we are able to continue to providing opportunities for success and to strengthen our local workforce and economy,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “We hope her generosity will be an inspiration to others to do the same.”

To learn more about the MTCC Foundation and various giving opportunities, visit
Photo: Chip Cross, Business Instructor, joined Helen Shimp and Dr. Penny Cross, Vice-President of Learning and Student Services, for a room dedication ceremony honoring Shimp’s recent gift to the McDowell Technical Community College Foundation. 

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