Hearts of Yolo: Shelton Yip

Thursday, Jul 12, 2018

Shelton Yip has had a long career in education. He started teaching special education over forty years ago, then worked as a school counselor, then became a school principal, and then worked in administration at both the Napa County and Sacramento City Unified School districts. He now sits on the Yolo County Board of Education. “All throughout my career I worked with CASA volunteers and I really admired them for helping kids who really needed a solid relationship in their lives. I’ve always kind of known that I, too, would become a CASA volunteer someday when my schedule allowed.”

That day came a couple of years ago and Shelton has had his CASA child for about a year and a half. “He is elementary school aged and on the autism spectrum so I used my educational background to help him. For example, when we first started our visits, he would squeak instead of using his words when he was uncomfortable socially. We worked really hard on changing that behavior and now he communicates very well, even when he is not comfortable with what is happening around him.”

Shelton tries to push him out of his comfort zone in fun ways he doesn’t usually experience. “He plays video games a lot and sometimes he will ask if I can play video games with him on our visits. Because of that, I try to think of fun things that will take him away from his usual activities. One time I took him to the zoo and realized it was his first time there. I handed him the map and told him that he could guide us for the day. We retraced our steps so many times but he was in control and you could tell that he started realizing he was in control and getting more and more confident in his choices. At one point I asked him if he was hungry and he said no. Five minutes later he changed his mind and asked me if it was okay. I told him of course and we had a bite to eat together. You could tell that he was just processing a lot about his own abilities that whole day.”

 As for the advocacy component of being a CASA volunteer, Shelton says he has found a lot of purpose in helping his CASA child’s biological father navigate his son’s education. “He calls me for advice a lot. I enjoy working with him on how to advocate more and more for his son. It’s really fulfilling to find a way to use my experience to make life better for my CASA child’s whole family.”

 If anyone is considering becoming a CASA volunteer, Shelton stresses that you don’t have to have experience in education to make a good one. “I just happen to have experience in education so I’ve found ways to really improve my CASA child’s situation in that way. Other CASA volunteers have unique backgrounds that they incorporate into their visits. I think diversity in our volunteer base is really important because it brings really special experiences to foster kids.”

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