Excellent Educators is a WAVY-TV 10 initiative to celebrate local teachers who have gone above and beyond for their students and communities during the last academic year. These Excellent Educators were nominated by their school divisions. Congratulations to these educators for all of their hard work and accomplishments!

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – At Cox High School in Virginia Beach there is a teacher who originally wanted to be a pediatrician. Sabrina Shumate says she changed her mind after tutoring athletes in college. She realized her passion lies with students in the classroom, but she takes her responsibility as a teacher to another level.

“Everything that I do I am passionate about, and people rely on me to do it, and I will always follow through, and I want students to know that I’ll always follow through and that I’ll be there for them,” said Shumate.

Mrs. Shumate is from Virginia Beach. She’s been a teacher in her home city for 16 years. She’s been a Biology teacher at Cox since 2012.

“I love it. I do. I love it,” laughed Shumate.

“Love” is the word she uses over and over when talking about teaching, but even more so, her students.

“Every person that walks through the door, I consider them my baby, and I can tell just from them walking in if they’ve had a bad day, a good day, if they’re stressed out, if they’re hungry I have snacks for them. I just create an environment where they feel welcomed, and they come to me when they have bad days. They come to me when they need hugs, and I think that might be different than other teachers, and they know that I’m like a safe place for them.”

The wellbeing of Shumate’s students is clearly her top priority.

“I have little comfy chairs and sometimes the kids will just come in and just need to sit, put their hoodies on, have a minute, and then they leave. I have a prep room, sometimes if they have like panic attacks, they can come in for a moment. I have mints for my kids to calm them down, and little fidget spinners and things like that.”

One thing we quickly found when speaking with the AP Biology teacher? Her joyfulness is contagious.

“I like to bring in a lot of fun and games and competition, and I also love taking the students out of the classroom and doing lots of field trips. Earlier in the year we went to the Virginia Aquarium. That was fun. Later on in the year, we’re going to go to a farm to talk about sustainability and strawberry picking,” said Shumate.

Through teaching, Shumate admits she learns a lot of the kids.

“I grew up here my whole life, and I assumed as a student that every child had the same experience as I did like going to the beach and doing things hands on, but once I became a teacher, I realized that that’s not an assumption that anyone can have. So, when I took my students to the Aquarium, over half of them, that was their first time at the Aquarium, and they’re 16, 17, 18-year-olds, and I’m like, ‘This is your first time going to the Aquarium?’ and so those experiences are going to just stay with them their entire life.”

Mrs. Shumate also co-sponsors organizations like the Student Council Association which can have her working all hours of the day and night.

“SCA is a group of student leaders that are elected from a pool of students that apply, and we meet every other day, and we have about 50 students that we meet with every other day in one class. It’s myself and Miss Gilespie, my co-sponsor, and we plan school-wide, community-wide projects We do everything from homecoming, we do a CHKD love run race in February. We do anything you can think of. It’s organized by the students, and it’s my favorite part of being part of this community. Sometimes we’re up and like midnight or 1:00 A.M. trying to organize and get things done, and then the events are sometimes in school and sometimes the events are after school or sometimes at night.”

Shumate is also involved in a new criminology club.

“One of my students was like, I’m really interested in forensics. Could you be a sponsor in your free time? And I was like, I don’t have any free time, but I will 100% do it!”

In her non-existent free time, this teacher loves to mentor other teachers!

“I help them with logistics of the school. I help them with just being a teacher in the classroom, like, it’s different than what you learned in your masters’ programs. I love teaching and so I want to take other people in and just share that love of teaching with others,” said Shumate.

Joyful, caring, and selfless. A good biological make up of an Excellent Educator.

“What we’re doing matters, and just remember, every kid needs love.”

Name: Sabrina Shumate

Division: Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Position: Science teacher at Cox High School

What the school division said about this Excellent Educator: Sabrina Shumate is a superb science educator who consistently plans creative lessons that both excite and motivate her students.  She currently teaches biology and advanced placement biology. She is a mentor to other teachers and has served on numerous committees. 

Outside of the classroom, she serves as the co-sponsor of the SCA, and she is sponsor of the Future Medical Professionals Club and Criminology Club. Shumate lends tireless support to community events; this is evident through her dedication to the Annual CHKD Love Run/Walk. She is talented and dedicates herself to supporting and empowering students across her school and community.