Shelly's Story

Shelly Simonds is an educator and a community leader in Newport News. A former teacher, Shelly is a member of the Newport News School Board with a passion for excellence in education.

All my life, I have been passionate about learning and using my education to help others. In college, I studied in Spain and Chile, where I became fluent in Spanish and discovered my love of writing and journalism. My passion led me to pursue a Masters in Communications from Stanford University, then to a job in journalism. I moved to Newport News in 2000 with my husband Paul, a NASA engineer. We decided Newport News was the perfect place to raise our two daughters, Georgia and Tessa. I became a Spanish teacher at their school, Hilton Elementary, and found my second passion: teaching. I had never had a workplace where I felt like I was part of a team with such purpose. We spent our lunch breaks talking about our students and how we could encourage them.  

In 2012, I was elected to the School Board on a platform of support for teachers and workforce development. As a School Board member, I still feel like I’m on the teacher’s team, fighting for resources for my colleagues, and understanding, first-hand, the challenges and joys of their important work in our community.

I’ve been a vocal advocate for education through the Virginia School Board Association and helped write the final report for our Challenged Schools Taskforce in 2015.  This report helped secure funding for extended learning programs in the Commonwealth. I’ve also been a longtime environmental activist. I got my start in Virginia politics as a member of the Legislative Contact Team with the League of Conservation Voters. 

As a mother, an educator, an activist, and an entrepreneur, I know I can hit the ground running to bring positive change to my community when I become a member of the General Assembly. 

Community Involvement

  • Newport News School Board Member (elected) 
    • Board received the Magna Award from the National School Board Association for innovative summer learning program called Spark 
    • Shelly received Award of Distinction (2014-2016) from Virginia School Boards Association 
  • New Horizons Regional Education Centers: BOD CHAIR
  • Sister Cities of Newport News: BOD Vice Chair 
  • Virginia Living Museum: Appointed Representative 
  • Board for Professional and Occupational Regulation Meeting Agenda: BOD Member
  • Virginia Civic Engagement Table: BOD Member (2016-2017)