Dismayed by moments such as when a first-grade girl put her hands on her hips and gave her teacher a piece of her mind, Sheila Ray began a personal mission: to teach etiquette and manners to a generation that seems to have been overlooked. Basics such as saying “please” and “thank you,” how to sit modestly, shake hands properly and table manners are a mystery to many youth today, says Ray, a 1994 graduate with a degree in communication arts.
Now a reading tutor at W.E.B. DuBois Academy, a public charter school in Cincinnati, Ray spends summers teaching her unique etiquette program to the students. Ray founded the SHR Academy of Etiquette and Protocol in 1999 and offers weekly lessons to youths and adults alike.
She recently published a manual, Don’t Sell Me Short—I Know How to Use a Knife and Fork, that parents can use at home to help them teach table manners to their children.
“I’m trying to bring the lost art of manners back into the mainstream,” she says. “They took prayer out, at least we can put manners back in. Let’s teach children how to treat their classmates and talk to their teachers.”