Meet Shawnette Olney Somner
Meet Shawnette Olney Somner
- Certified Leadership Coach, Speaker, Trainer
….in that order….
“I once posted on social media – “Don’t try to be me; you might hurt yourself.” That self-made quote garnered lots of attention. Multi-tasking is one of my strengths. For as long as I can remember I have worked hard and tirelessly and I’ve helped people with all range of matters and situations. I feel joy to know that someone can move forward or begin to see things differently after seeking my help. I recognize I’m not perfect, but I’m thankful and blessed for my God-given multi-talented abilities in numerous areas that allows me help others excel – and to feel good about themselves. My hope and prayer is that this website will encourage people to reach out to me and to take the first step towards their next goal, with my help, as I do my part to motivate to inspire.”
Selected by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1984 as a Future Outstanding Teacher, Shawnette has fulfilled her childhood dream of being an educator since graduating North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1984. She graduated Magna Cum Laude Honors with a Bachelors Degree in Education. She obtained her Masters Degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in Educational Leadership and Supervision in 2000.
Shawnette has enjoyed every year of her educational journey! After spending 20 years as a teacher in the Bermuda public education system at the elementary, middle and high school levels, serving as a mentor to new teachers and also serving as a principal at one of Bermuda’s elementary schools, Shawnette realized her greatest childhood dream by opening her own school, Star Academy, in 2004. Regrettably, her school fell prey to the economic downturn and seven and a half years after successful operation, Star Academy closed in December 2011.
In September 2012, Shawnette began a new educational career path by becoming the Education Officer for the Bermuda Department of Corrections where her responsibilities included overseeing the academic education programs for the incarcerated men and women in the three corrections facilities and hiring and supervising the teaching staff for the clients. She also engaged in training for Corrections Officers, particularly with writing skills. For ten years she thrived in the Education Officer role, forming close and respectful relationships with the incarcerated clients while developing a host of new personal development programs for the incarcerated clients to help develop and stimulate their mental growth, focus on future plans and to remain engaged in a positive activity. For seven of her ten years in this role, Shawnette was also an integral member of the Prison Officers Association Executive – an immensely time-consuming and intense role which not only allowed her to continue to fight for coworkers’ rights from minor policy matters to extremely serious matters to the Supreme Court – with an outcome of a historic victory for the POA and its members – but exposed her to the many facets of the department’s escalating dysfunction which greatly affects those incarcerated as well as those who work there – something she had never experienced before. In September 2022, Shawnette retired from the Dept of Corrections due to mandatory retirement age requirement. However, she developed a strong passion for working with incarcerated men and women while at the same time fighting through the subtle and overt behaviors from persons to whom she simply refers to as “people who ought to know better so they can do better but won’t, because they lack know-how, intertwined with egos that blind them to the fact that help is needed.”
Shawnette enjoys writing and has self-published three poetry books. She was a weekly columnist for the weekend newspaper, The Bermuda Sun, until it ceased printing. In July 2002, Shawnette founded The Etiquette Class for Girls and has had hundreds of young ladies complete her program in the areas of self-esteem, self-presentation, selflessness, relationship with parents, communication, and leadership. She spent many years working with the pageant contestants of the Miss Teen Bermuda Island and The Miss Big and Beautiful helping to prepare the contestants for stage presence in speaking and posture. While there have been numerous requests over the decades for Shawnette to develop programs for young men who need support in these areas, she passionately believes that such programs should be run by men. However, her first forum for young men age 13 to 18 in October 2019 was successful. The participants interacted with strong upstanding men and left each participant with value food for thought. Additionally, Shawnette was quite instrumental in working with quite a number of disenfranchised young men at one of Bermuda’s local high schools for four years by helping them through challenges to avoid the pitfalls of incarceration.
Remaining in high demand, the once radio show host of Generations – a radio talk show geared to encourage young people to call in to express themselves – Shawnette has been a public speaker to countless events and has been invited to be a panelist for numerous “hot button topics” to offer her expertise and feedback on a number of topics including single parenthood and violence among youth.
In her free time, which she readily admits she rarely has, Shawnette enjoys spending time with family, socializing with close friends, singing, writing, and taking get away trips locally or overseas to relax.
She is the mother of two adult sons.
Other Noteworthy Information:
- Certified Maxwell Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Trainer
- Nominated finalist for Bermuda’s first Teacher of the Year program (2001)
- Member – Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (since 1995)
- Certified Tourism Ambassador (2014-2019)
- National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certified (2018)
- SCARS facilitator – Saving Children and Revealing Secrets (2016-2020)
- Former mentor for MIRRORS (a program designed to help young people transform their lives)