Spotlight: Priscilla Shaw does it all
By Patricia Kaowthumrong, Asian Avenue magazine
Priscilla Shaw credits her competitive edge and desire to fulfill cultural expectations for her multitude of achievements. The Korean American has worked in education for nearly 20 years and is a top five national body building competitor.
Shaw, who moved to Denver from Texas in 1996, works at Denver Public Schools as a Leading Effective Academic Practice (LEAP) Peer Observer. Shaw was a teacher for 14 years, a principal of a K-12 Ku’pik Eskimo school in Bush, Alaska for two years and an assistant principal at an elementary school in Brighton for one year.
Shaw says growing up in a family where her father was in the army and her mother was a first-generation Korean taught her to work hard and strive to be smart and successful.
“My mom grew up when there was one Korea before the war,” Shaw says. “She was 13 when the war broke out and came to the U.S. in the 1950s, so her traditions are very Asian.”
Shaw became Colorado’s first National Board Certified Teacher in early adolescent/young adult music in 2002. A seasoned vocal and instrumental music instructor, Shaw’s choir students have performed at the Sydney Opera House, The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, and all throughout Denver for dignitaries and at special events, according to Denver Public Schools.
Shaw says her mother would always offer her advice passed down from her grandmother.
“My grandmother would tell her all the time, ‘In order for you to get ahead, you work while other people sleep,’” Shaw says. “So that’s kind of in me. Where I lack in skill or knowledge, I make up in tenacity or time—it may take me longer, but I’m going to get there.”
Priscilla is the youngest of six siblings. She has also been influenced by the work ethic of her oldest sister, Hon. Judy P. Draper, who was born in Seoul and currently serves as Honorary Consul to Korea for the State of Missouri.
Shaw currently serves as the director of Frequency Chorus, an all-male urban youth chorus and the Denver MountainAires Barbershop Chorus. She is also the Chair for the DPS Asian Education Advisory Council (AEAC).
“You’re going to get paid for the amount of information you know,” Shaw says. “If you want to have choices in life, you have to know more than the person next to you. You have to know something that they don’t know.”
In addition to her achievements in the education system, Shaw has been a body builder for eight years and won the Natural Colorado Overall Master’s title in 2008. She decided to pursue the sport after accompanying a friend to a body building competition. Within a year of attending her first competition as a spectator, Shaw was ready for her first show.
“I just got hooked,” Shaw says. “And the rest is history.”
Shaw also enjoys playing on the Asian Tennis League and volunteering with the Korean Heritage Camp. Shaw is also a sponsored athlete. When she was featured as a “Featured Athlete” by Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Highlands Ranch in 2011, Shaw offered advice to her fellow competitors.
“First, keep balance in your life,” she says. “You need to keep your stress levels down. Make sure you incorporate things into your life that keep you sane and bring you joy.”