by Khalil Shipman
It’s Field Day at Anne E. West Elementary school. Kids are pulling ropes and falling in mud, doing relay races and making massive jump rope competitions. The smell of freshly cut grass pressed down by pint size sneakers wades in the air yet, on the bleachers next to the field is a boy, sitting alone in his white t-shirt with a bright TS drawn in a superman symbol. His teacher and coach for the day, Mr. Shipman, walks up to him and says, “What’s wrong?” The boy said, “I don’t know what I can do. I’m not good at any of these games.” Then Mr. Shipman looked at him and smiled, saying “You’re part of Team Shipman, and that means we’re all on the same side. Everybody has a part to play.”
Dr. Terance Shipman, CEO and founder of Team Shipman Publishing LLC, takes the family spirit he brought to his classroom into the publishing house.
When reminiscing on his former students, his eyes grew brighter for just a second until he said, “I taught kindergarten for 11 years, and I wanted to tell the story of that experience. We had such a bond: the former students, parents and I that I wanted to tell their story. You rarely see that today, when teachers bond with their students’ families and form a relationship.”
Shipman is still in contact with many of his former students through Facebook Groups and the occasional invitation to their kids’ birthday parties or a graduation. One thing is made clear: his students love him.
“When I wrote the first story, I asked [former students] and they said it had to be either Field Day or the December Celebrations. It all started with these two stories.”, Shipman said.
Terance Shipman is not only the head of a Black-owned and operated publishing house, but a self-published author, with three books available on Amazon and on his own website, Teranceshipman.com. His Mr. Shipman’s Kindergarten Chronicles series, covers his more than a decade of teaching kindergarteners and the importance of teamwork. Every event they had in Mr. Shipman’s class was a Team Shipman event, and done to the maximum.
“The holidays in my class were a huge deal. We didn’t only celebrate Christmas, but Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. It was a huge event.”
Team Shipman has scholastic origins as well. The idea of making a formal group came to Dr. Shipman when he needed a way to build morale in his kindergarten classes. He decided that instead of the feigned “school spirit” other classes had, his class would be a team! The Team Shipman Facebook Group currently has over 400 members: former students, parents, readers, and family.
“When you come across that threshold, into that classroom, you want to feel safe. You want to feel loved. You want to feel like you’re part of a team”
“It’s just a way of keeping up after all these years. When I teach… I want to give you something that no other teacher ever gave you. ”, Dr. Shipman said.
“I made Team Shipman because when you come across that threshold, into that classroom, you want to feel safe. You want to feel loved. You want to feel like you’re part of a team, a family.”
Another unique quality of Team Shipman Publishing is who works there. Terance Shipman has his whole household working to share the TSP message. His wife, Prudence Williams Shipman uploads and edits the books, his sons Zaire Shipman, Khalil Shipman, and Jerontai Mcfee (& his girlfriend) make the videos, audio and uploaded the first book, respectively. Besides team meetings being a lot easier when you already sit in the big chair, I asked him why he had incorporated his whole family into his business.
“To teach them life skills and give them exposure. I think it’s important they know how to run a business, and how to be professionals… You have to learn how to work with the world”, Dr. Shipman said.
The Shipman family has collaborated on a number of multimedia projects.
Shipman and Shipman @ The Movies was originally a Youtube show where Dr. Shipman and his sons, Zaire and Khalil, would review a handful of in-theatres and online films. Also, Dr. Shipman and his wife, Prudence, host a podcast, titled Mr. Shipman’s Class, where they dissect the unspoken rules of teaching they’ve picked up in their over 25 years of teaching and learning.
Zaire and Khalil Shipman recently worked together to produce the ‘Mr. Shipman’s Kindergarten Chronicles: The Field Day’ Audiobook on Audible.
“You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. The best way to do it is to be around people who love you and will tell you the truth.”, Dr. Shipman said.
Out of the house, the impact of Team Shipman Publishing’s family model can not be understated, either. For the Holiday season, Dr. Shipman gave his 5th grade class a signed copy of Mr. Shipman’s Kindergarten Chronicles: December Celebrations and is hosting a Goodreads.com book giveaway until December 16th. Dr. Terance Shipman has gone on numerous book tours with his sons Jerontai, Zaire, and Khalil. They bring their books to festivals, schools, bookstores and coffee shops around Atlanta, all culminating in a Christmas-time temporary pop up in a local Mall.
However, when Team Shipman Publishing has events, they don’t just push Dr. Shipman’s books. Team Shipman Publishing has worked with and published works by four. Dr. Shipman personally promotes and helps his authors grow a brand. When asked about the importance of being a Black publisher and promoting the growth and success of all artists, but specifically Black artists, Dr. Shipman had this to say:
“So many times when I do events I have authors come up and tell me horror stories of their experience at a large commercial publishing company. They get checks of two or three dollars, or how they paid all this money to get their book published and the publisher only pushes them for the first month. They get left on their own. It’s not just that you need a website, you need other things around to build your brand. I think it’s important that a good publisher has your back, that they’re up front with you. I tell the authors at Team Shipman Publishing: If you’re not willing to work, you shouldn’t do it. It has to be that type of relationship, that type of communication. If you’re going to be successful, you’re going to have to work at it. Don’t expect the publisher to do everything because it won’t happen.”
Team Shipman Publishing is small but has all the features of a mainstream publishing house. The publisher’s website, Teranceshipman.com, hosts merchandise (t-shirts, mugs, and other marketing goods), blogs featuring a variety of authors discussing a variety of topics. The site has developed an extremely active community of readers and reviewers online. In fact, Dr. Shipman’s first published work, ‘Mr. Shipman’s Kindergarten Chronicles: December Celebrations was ranked #1 amongst interfaith books on Amazon, in the Top 5 Kwanzaa books, and among the Top Black characters in books by numerous reviewers.
But not all reviewers are so kind.
“I remember when we first started, we had entered a couple contests and lost. And I remember my wife, she said: ‘You can either win awards or make money’.”, Dr. Shipman said.
In order to stick around on the publishing scene, Dr. Shipman has had to follow a philosophy of grinding to get the job done.
“Within the last couple of years, I’ve seen a couple of authors that started at the same time as me who aren’t around any more. [Bad reviews] let me know that you have to stay constant. You have to keep climbing that mountain.”, Dr. Shipman said. He says that he has had to learn from successful people. “I have learned from people who are highly successful. Tyler Perry said that he ‘reads his reviews but doesn’t comment. Stan Lee told his writers, ‘I want you to sit down and write for you. I want you to write for yourself’. And I did. I wanted to tell a story, so I told a story.
For readers, Dr. Terance Shipman had this to say:
“It kills me how people feel like you have to read a book in one day. You don’t have to read it all in one day. I think our society is in such a way now that we want a quick fix. I want to pick up a book, read it and then say ‘okay, kid I read you a book, now sit down’. How about reading a book with your child or any child and spending time together? Talk about the book. I remember so many times when my mom or my teacher would read a story to me and put a bookmark in the story, and you wake up every day and look forward everyday to go see that bookmark. We don’t take the time to do that anymore and I think that we should. Slow down. Enjoy The Story.”
Team Shipman has always been about giving people a sense of family. Terance Shipman brings his classroom sense into Publishing by encouraging, educating, and working with other authors, and every member of Team Shipman.
The future of Team Shipman Publishing looks bright. Team Shipman Publishing is still taking on new authors, and plans to release a book in 2021 from, Prudence Williams Shipman, called Ruby Smiles. After that, will be the release of Mr. Shipman’s Kindergarten Chronicles:ABCs, Mr. Shipman’s Kindergarten Chronicles: Field Trip to the Farm, and a new superhero series that follows a pair of young Black siblings with supernatural powers and their grandmother trying to find and rescue their abducted grandfather.
You can find more information on Dr. Shipman and Team Shipman Publishing at Teranceshipman.com or the Team Shipman Facebook Page. His books and audiobooks are available on Amazon, as well as anywhere Podcasts are heard.