By Angie Mayes
Special to Mt. Juliet News
Wilson Central High School assistant principal Ranesa Shipman had a dream come true.
She appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres daytime talk show last Wednesday afternoon and was able to speak to one of the people she admires the most.
But it wasn’t just Shipman. She was thrust into the spotlight a month ago when the school’s dance team coach Katie Stricklin invited Shipman to dance with the team at a school pep rally.
Shipman learned the steps and was on her way to fame. That’s because the video of the dance routine to Ciara’s “Level Up” went viral.
“It started off because I previously dressed up for a routine, and when I dressed up, the kids went nuts,” she said. “They enjoyed it so much.”
After she was invited to dance, Shipman performed with the team for two days. It was videoed, and with the help of her daughter, she learned the exact steps for the performance.
“The kids loved it,” she said, reflecting on the dance. “It’s all about the kids. I am nothing without my school family and district. This is a great opportunity Dr. [Donna] Wright and Mr. [Travis] Mayfield have given me. This brought joy to the kids, and that’s what it’s all about. I want to give a special thanks to Dr. Wright and Mr. Mayfield. Without them, things aren’t possible. This is a great school system, and I have a great, supportive school family.”
She said the original plan for the dance was to do it as a joke.
“We wanted the kids to laugh and have fun,” she said. “Coach Stricklin then said she was going to make it go viral. She posted it on Facebook, and people shared it and tagged Ellen.”
“I was focused on giving the ACT [test] and giving to my school. I was doing my roles and responsibilities as assistant principal,” Shipman said.
After the performance, DeGeneres presented a $15,000 check from Shutterfly to the dance team. Shipman said the money would probably be used for uniforms, travel costs and dance team-related events.
DeGeneres also presented Shipman a check for $15,000 from Shutterfly. She doesn’t know what she’s going to do with the money, but said she does know she’s going to tithe to her church.
“I want to give back to God,” she said. “Give back to where it all starts from.”
When Shipman was allowed to talk to DeGeneres, her excitement was apparent. She said talking to DeGeneres was “an out-of-body experience. It was overwhelming. I’m a huge fan. At the end of each show, she tells people to remember to be kind. That’s what we have to focus on as human beings. If we do that, the world will be a better place. Everyone needs to look at the glass as half-full, not half-empty.”
Shipman also said talking to DeGeneres was “amazing. It was a life-long dream to hear her sweet and caring voice. It was a great feeling. It was like Christmas Eve, waiting for Santa and I see him, and he sees me.”
Shipman said she loves her job so much, “if I were to win the lottery, I probably wouldn’t be able to cash the check because I have responsibilities at the school. I have duties as the assistant principal.”
Shipman said she is proud of the dance team.
“They go above and beyond what you saw on the video,” she said. “That was a very mild performance. They give 1,000 percent when they perform. They brought this dance down to my level.”
During the interview, DeGeneres invited Shipman to come to Los Angeles for a taping of the show.
“I don’t know when I’ll get to do that, but I’m just flattered that she offered,” Shipman said. “I’m thankful for the small things like Lebanon and Wilson County Schools. I’m blessed. In life, I focus on the small blessings. Hopefully, this video will make somebody’s day brighter.”