About Dr. Shipman
Dr. Terance Shipman is a 25-year veteran teacher. He spent much of his teaching career working with elementary aged students. In fact, he spent his first 11 years teaching kindergarten! He is proud to say that he built strong relationships over those years and has an incredible network of his students and their parents and co-workers that he has remained in contact with over these years. Dr. Shipman calls this ever-developing network “Team Shipman”.
Through Team Shipman, Dr. Shipman offers continual encouragement, leadership, and mentorship to his students, their families, and his professional peers. Dr. Shipman currently teaches middle school and extends membership to Team Shipman to his current students and their families.
Dr. Shipman received his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the Tuskegee University in 1992. After obtaining this degree, he attended Hampton University in Virginia and obtain a Master’s degree in Elementary Education in 1994. For the next 13 years, Dr. Shipman was an elementary teacher in Atlanta Public School System. Most of his time at APS was spent as a kindergarten teacher, and in 2009 he earned his Educational Specialist degree from University of West Georgia in Administration Supervision and soon after, he completed his doctoral degree at Clark Atlanta University in 2013. Since completing his final degree, Dr. Shipman has worked with middle school and high school aged students. And through it all Team Shipman is still growing.
Catching up with Dr. Shipman
1. Can you recall an early experience where you learned that language has power?
I saw that language had power sitting in Coach William Godfrey’s literature class. We read and read everyday. Reading in Coach Godfrey's class inspired me to read and write more. I saw how much an impact great books and well-coordinated powerful words could have on people’s lives.
2. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It depends on what I’m writing. If it’s something I really want to write the energy is overflowing. There are times when I’m forced to write and I must look for the energy.
3. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think the main trap is not writing. There is never a perfect moment or time to write. You have to just make the time and just write. I read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. It helped me understand how to break through the blocks of resistance and win inner creative battles. It characterizes resistance as this living force that holds you back from greatness. You have to fight resistance to create greatness. You must sit there and just keep putting words on the paper. You can always come back and change things. The important thing is to just put the pen to paper and write.
4. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No, Terance Shipman is the brand. Mr. Shipman’s Kindergarten Chronicles, is based upon true events. The story and the experiences are a part of who I am.
5. Do you try to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to be original and tell a really good story. I want to tell my story. A story of a black man who teaches kindergarten and LOVES it! The tale of a teacher who sees the importance of good teaching and who forges positive healthy relationships with young people and their families. In telling my story, I’m telling the Team Shipman story. My years of teaching kindergarten were some of my best years. I touched many lives. I’m still in touch with many of the students I taught.
6. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes, you can be a writer and not feel emotions strongly. There are many genres to choose from. Some require emotions and some don't. The freelance writers write for the money, no feelings or emotions involved.
7. What is your favorite childhood book?
There was no favorite childhood book. I read DC and Marvel comics as a child. I have a love for comics. I have been reading and collecting them for many years.
8. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Each book will stand on its own. Children will be able to be read each book without having the previous books but they will be connected, so that readers will feel a part of Mr. Shipman’s class.
9. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
I would tell my younger self to read and write more for pleasure. By doing this, I would have grown more in many ways and might have been able to create Kindergarten Chronicles at an early point. I didn’t spend enough time reading for pleasure during my younger days. I was going to school, working on advanced degrees, and only read and wrote for my classes. I carried the Kindergarten Chronicles in my mind and spirit for years. I would tell my younger self to stop being so busy and water that seed.
10. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
After publishing the first book, my writing process hasn’t changed much. I wrote several books in advance. I planned out the series. I will write to connect my books, but make sure each book tells its own story. I want to make sure I tell the stories of Mr. Shipman’s class.
11. What is the first book that made you cry?
The first book that made me cry was the fourth book of the gospels in the Bible, John. I cried over the death of Jesus. He gave His life for us. Reading about the last days of Jesus’ life and all He went through, being able to see that He was human, seeing Him cry and being afraid, understanding that he hurt with human pain made me cry. Jesus laid down His life for us.
12. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
The eagle would be mine. It’s a beautiful and powerful bird.
13. What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
I owe them a thank you. I thank them for making me a great teacher and human being. I thank them for letting me know after all this time. I thank them for allowing me to offer them an unforgettable educational experience.
14. What does literary success look like to you?
To achieve literary success, my books will be popular! They will become timeless classics that most parents purchase for their kids and schools keep on the shelves of media centers and classrooms. Literary success also means that my books achieve academic notoriety.They receive acclaim for their structure and their story.They become books that scholars reference when discussing the greats!
15. What kind of research do you do and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I research education, Black history, book marketing, and business ideas. There is no set time limit. I research until I feel comfortable with the results.
16. How many hours a day do you write?
When I sit down and write, I can write 8 to 10 hours. I usually make an outline before I write. That keeps me focus on my writing. Most of the time I write until I can’t anymore.
17. Do you hide any secrets in your books only a few people will find?
Yes, each book will have a hidden apples, ships, and question marks. The next book, , will have them in several places.The apple symbols education. I truly value education. I try to make all my students understand that the one thing people can’t take from you is your education. The ship represents Team Shipman. I have had a ship kite in my classroom for 24 years. It has been through a lot. The students and families know that we are Team Shipman. The questions marks are there just for fun. It takes a team for a child to be successful in school.
18. What are your hardest scene to write?
No scene is truly hard.What is hard is staying true to the events that occurred in my classroom and capturing the excitement and energy of kindergarteners and the apprehension and love of those kindergarteners’ parents.Kindergarten is a special time.Every event, every day is a new experience for the kids.Capturing that innocence and awe is often very hard.
19. What are your favorite literary or educational journals?
The Journal of Educational Psychology, the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and the Journal of Research and Development in Education are some of my favorites. Since the completion of my doctorate degree, I haven’t read many journals. When I must do deep research, I refer to my journals.
20. How long on average does it take you write a book?
It takes about two to three days. It takes about a day of prep work, followed by two days of writing.
21. Any final words for your fans?
We (Team Shipman Publishing) are working hard on preparing great books for children. We released our latest publication on July 19th. The response has been fantastic. To see people from all around the country and world read our books and love them is a great experience. Mothers tell me how their children wanted the book read to them several times. Adults tell me how it took them down memory lane. This makes me feel very humble and proud inside. Now, through books, I’m teaching and sharing our experiences around the world.
Connect with Dr. Shipman