Shirley joins Cathedral School administration; ‘I wouldn’t do anything else’

Published 10:30 am Tuesday, June 25, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Retirement for Whest Shirley doesn’t look much like retirement at all.

It looks a lot like slipping out of one job and right back into another one like it, he said.

Shirley said he knew for three years that his retirement date from Concordia Parish Schools was coming in July 2024 and had been contemplating what he would do next.

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“My last day is Thursday and Monday I’ll be starting at Cathedral, so I’ll be retired one day and rolling right into another job,” he said.

Cathedral’s former middle and high school principal Robin Branton stepped down from that role at the end of the 2023-2024 school year.

Shirley said he’d met with Branton around April and asked her about any open teaching or coaching positions. “I toyed with the idea of getting out of education and into other things … but the more I thought about it I knew I wouldn’t do anything else,” Shirley said. “I approached them about a job and thought I’d teach history and get involved in coaching again like I’d done back in the old days.”

Then the next week Branton called him to say she was resigning and offered him her old job instead.

Shirley will now be responsible for the students and faculty of the middle and high school as well as discipline and curricula. Shirley will also oversee Cathedral Athletics while working closely with the athletic director Josh Loy and assistant athletic director Paige Iseminger, “making sure they have everything they need,” he said.

Shirley is well-equipped for the role, having a career in education and administration that spans over 30 years.

From 1991 to 1995 Shirley said he taught anatomy and physiology and religion at Adams County Christian School. From 1995 to 2002 he was a teacher and coach at Vidalia Junior High School. Then from 2017 to 2021, he led Concordia Parish Schools as the Superintendent. Since 2021, he has been the principal at the Concordia Parish Academy.

Shirley has also been a “coach of everything” from junior high and high school football and basketball to cross country — everything except golf and tennis, he said.

“I still have a big blue trophy I can’t throw away from a 1994 State Championship for AC,” he said.

Shirley is no stranger to Cathedral after his son Pate graduated there in 2016 and his daughter Molly is entering her junior year there.

Shirley said he would be coming to Cathedral with twins Jackson and Meredith, who will be entering the eighth grade.

“The quality of education they’ve gotten is high on my list,” he said. “They have a top-notch faculty and I’m just excited to be working with them.”

Shirley said his number one goal for Cathedral is fully staffing the school by hiring and keeping quality teachers, which “has been a challenge all over” in both private and public schools.

“I’m very honored to be working at one of the oldest institutions of education in the southeastern United States.”

Also returning to the Cathedral administrative team for the 2024-2025 school year is Kimberly Burkley, who is both the head of the school and the elementary school principal.

JoAnn Waycaster is the Director of Fatih Formation and Catholic Identity and Justin Johnson is the middle school coordinator.