MONTCALM COUNTY, Mich. — Mary Jo McKeever considered Shelly Gilman to be a “staple” both in and out of the classroom, she said. They worked together for 30 years in the Tri County School system. For the last seven years, her room was next to Gilman's kindergarten class at MacNaughton Elementary School. She often walked over to her room for a “pick me up” or encouragement.
“Shelly enjoyed life. She loved life,” McKeever said during an interview at the school's administrative offices. “And she wanted everyone else to have that same perspective on life.”
Monday morning, Gilman’s room sat empty. She was killed Saturday afternoon on M-91 when a driver crossed the centerline and collided into her vehicle head on. MacNaughton principal Dan Clegg said school officials got together as a crisis team the next day.
“This morning was obviously very tough as we brought in all of our teaching staff and all of our students,” he said. “We had made contact with all of the students from her class. So we had a lot of parents in this morning that were there to support their students and their students friends.”
Clegg said they brought in social workers to talk to Mrs. Gilman’s kindergarten class about her passing. He said there were lots of tears from students, staff and parents. They held a few recesses to keep them moving Monday morning.
“The kids are actually what kept us strong today because you know kids are pretty resilient,” Clegg said. “They did an awesome job helping the adults out to be honest with you.”
Funeral arrangements have been set for Saturday at 10 a.m. at Tri-County High School. The visitation will be held the day before at New Life United Methodist Church at 3 p.m. Superintendent Allen Cummings said he expects both events to be packed considering she was beloved at school and in the community.
“You could go into her classroom and their just be energy in her classroom,” Supt. Cummings said. “She brought energy through her passion, through her love for the students. But also for the staff and everyone she touched.”