Women’s History Month: Pirate Spotlight
In honor of Women’s Month, Cutlass is featuring influential female staff at Palatine High School.
March 7, 2021
Shepherd a strong voice at Palatine
This will be Dawn Shepherd’s last year seeing excited students leave school before retiring after 20 years of teaching.
“One of the teachers I worked with there [Hoffman Estates High School] inspired me to become the special education teacher that I am and partly the woman that I am, the leader.” Shepherd said about the start of her career.
Shepherd works in the education life skills program within SPED, has hosted many of the department’s school-wide events, and was a former volleyball coach at multiple D211 schools. As a leader in her department, she hopes that girls and women believe in themselves that they can do anything, as she has seen that in herself and influential women like her mother.
“As a woman you have a voice, and that your voice along with your actions speak for who you are as a woman, and by showing that you will never give up, is what makes a woman someone for others to respect and to follow,” Shepherd said.
Shepherd has had roles that have made her become a leader within her family in an instant. From a young age, she took care of her younger sister and “lead by example as best as I could with her.” As an adult, she has transitioned to being the best she can be for her step-children and her granddaughter.
“Now with being a grandma, it’s the most exciting, fun time ever imaginable to spend with this new little person,” Shepherd said.
As the world progresses with the idea for equality for many people, Shepherd hopes women receive the same opportunities men have and hopes that one day the United States will have a motivated woman president that will lead our country. For now, Shepherd is thankful to have made such fantastic friendships with the teachers and students in SPED, wishing them success futures.
“I have tried to be an example of a strong woman in the SPED department,” Shepherd said. “I hope that the young teachers behind me have seen all the things that I have led Cupcakes for a Cause, Holiday Luncheon, etc. and now that I am retiring, that they see themselves being the leader for these things and many new things in the future.”
Richardson wants the PHS community to know “you are nothing short of fantastic”
Seen throughout Palatine High School, Joyce Richardson is a light to those who walk the halls of the school.
“I think it is the most wonderful thing to be a woman,” Richardson said. “I am able to be sensitive, yet strong all in the same moment.”
Richardson is a PHS math teacher, dean of students, and former volleyball coach. She plays a large role in-and-out of the classroom. On the volleyball court, she was intimidating to the team by saying “I already ran two miles at five in the morning today” to motivate them to do their best during practice. She uses grit to encourage all women in her life to do their best.
“I really think my role is to provide an example to other women that we can have high standards, have our own dream, and overcome obstacles that stand in our way,” Richardson said. “Experience is the best teacher, but having a daughter has really made me think how I want her to be as she grows older.”
As her experience has grown, she has looked at how influential females in her life (mother, grandmothers, friends, etc.) have shaped her into who she is. As well, the man who has shaped her to advocate for everyone, especially those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, with PHS’s “Spike out ALS” volleyball games honoring Richardson’s late father.
“I think I recognize the students here at PHS in the classroom or on the volleyball court, but I am going to make sure that my fellow female colleagues know how much I appreciate them,” Richardson said.
Richardson hopes that with the celebration of women, younger girls see their potential. She emphasizes that having those supporting you and being a representation for you and others. She likes to add that “well behaved women never made history.” Richardson hopes her colleagues see the same.
“At PHS, we have a wonderful array of strong women in this building who are incredible people represented in both students and staff,” Richardson said. “I see you grinding out each day balancing your lives with school and home, and you are nothing short of fantastic.”
Capalbo believes in the power of the purple cow
Nicole Capalbo plays a pivotal role in the PHS community on a daily basis. As the PHS Guidance Department Chair, she oversees many students’ needs. Additionally, she is the PHS Girls Softball head coach, a former professional softball player, and a PHS alum.
“Being a woman is something that I celebrate every day with my daughter and the girls on my softball team,” Capalbo said. “I want to make sure with every word and action that my girls believe that the future is female.”
Capalbo’s definition of a woman is those who are strong in every aspect of their life. She thanks her mother for influencing who she is and being the best she can in roles such as herself being a mother, a daughter, a sister, colleague, etc.
“[Capalbo’s mother] is a strong, compassionate, supportive, confident, reliable, brave, loyal, resilient, and amazing woman that I am fortunate to look up to on a daily basis,” Capalbo said.
Capalbo believes that there are many women that can be looked up to. She believes that those who exhibit “qualities of strength, courage, empowerment, support, compassion, and kindness” are those who will have the most lasting impact on someone.
“My hope [for the future] is that girls (and even boys) will have more female role models, visible women leaders, and women in power to look up to,” Capalbo said.
Capalbo is excited for what’s to come of the celebration of women at PHS this month. She hopes to take the positive traits she’s learned from motivational females and apply them to daily life.
“Woman up (not man up),” Capalbo said. “Be a purple cow. Be remarkable, be unique, be you, be someone that lifts others up. Being a purple cow makes people stop and see you! Choose to be a purple cow.”