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Faculty Spotlight


Mrs. Holly McShurley

February 28, 2024
By Emile Doak

For years, Mrs. Holly McShurley happily homeschooled her 10 children in the greater Front Royal area. But when Chelsea Academy started to expand its lower school a decade ago, she jumped at the opportunity to be involved.

“There are so many benefits to homeschooling, but Chelsea provided opportunities for things that as a homeschooler I would never have been able to do,” Mrs. McShurley says. “The field trips, canoeing trip, camping trip…these Chelsea adventures are opportunities for students to connect with their peers and develop beyond the classroom.”

For Mrs. McShurley, this social interaction is a key part of a Chelsea education. “One thing that I love about this job is I’m training children to go beyond the ‘first society,’ their family, and into the ‘second society,’ Chelsea, before they ultimately go out into the world,” she says.

Mrs. Holly McShurley

“We want to train them how to interact with one another, especially when there are tensions, and there are difficulties. But we’re dealing with them in a directed environment, where they can learn how to navigate those things.”

As importantly, Chelsea creates this “directed environment” while remaining mindful that, as Mrs. McShurley puts it, the family remains the “first society.”

“The school wants you to be home with your family,” Mrs. McShurley says, “Chelsea is always mindful of family life in scheduling after-school activities and extracurriculars. It’s always been a true partner to parents.”

As Chelsea’s inaugural 4th and 5th grade teacher, Mrs. McShurley has played a hands-on role in the growth and success of Chelsea. She has taught in the lower school since the addition of those grades in 2013—and credits, in part, the different types of professional development offered by the school for her longevity at Chelsea.

“In our lower school, we have very practical professional development. But we also have school-wide professional development that is the development of our minds. We are sitting there talking about our patron, St. Thomas More, what his virtues are, and how we as a faculty can emulate him and foster those virtues. Cultivating that life of the mind as a faculty is so important to being effective in the classroom.”

Reflecting on a decade at Chelsea, Mrs. McShurley suggests that what makes Chelsea special can’t be reduced to one specific aspect of the school day. It’s the combination of dedicated stakeholders coming together in support of one mission.

“I would not want to teach at a place where the parents were not involved and supported. Where we didn’t have a vibrant Catholic ethos. Where I didn’t get along with the colleagues, and we didn’t have a sense of humor,” she says.

“At Chelsea, it’s really all one thing: The colleagues, the parents, the students, the Catholic ethos, the school activities, the Chelsea Houses….That all creates a school environment that is an absolute joy to work in every day.”