Molly Shea started out with the goal of creating country music videos — targeting a specific college in Nashville to do just that.
But after graduating in December, she’s decided to follow another calling to help the Stoughton Area School District tell its stories, and is excited to start her career.
Shea started last week as the new Stoughton Area School District Community Information and Resource Coordinator, succeeding former Hub reporter Derek Spellman, who had served in that role since the summer of 2013. The Sun Prairie native told the Hub Monday when she graduated from high school, she really wanted to work on country music videos, and found a place to do just that, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
There, Shea studied audio and video production for a few years until she felt she was going down too narrow a path. She switched her major to corporate communications, with minors in Spanish and music business, and worked on a half-dozen internships during that time.
“While I was in school, I tried to get as much communication experience as possible,” she said.
One of those was Big Machine Label Group, a large independent label of country artists.
“The semester I was there was when Taylor Swift left the group and went to Sony, so it felt like somebody passed away,” Shea said.
Back in Wisconsin, she interned at the Madison Public Library Foundation’s Wisconsin Book Festival, which she enjoyed.
“That was a blast, because I love books and event planning,” she said.
She also interned with the Wisconsin-Madison Global Health Institute, experience that she said is coming in handy as one of her first duties is helping to coordinate plans for dealing with the coronavirus.
“Right in my first week,” she said. “I hit the ground running.”
In the meantime, Shea is working with district officials to redefine the role of community information and resource coordinator.
“We really want my role to be more higher level direction and coordination,” she said. “For example, I will be tasked with creating the district strategic communication plan, so my plan for that is to just go around and interview everybody I can think of, and then come up with something that makes sense for us.”
Shea said when she was job searching after graduating in December, she started seeing openings for communications positions at school districts, and was immediately interested.
“It’s a big role, but I’m very excited – it’s the perfect intersection of education and communication,” she said. “I come from a long line of teachers, so I’m very much in tune with education, and always loved being a student, so once I came up (to interview), I was, ‘Yeah!’”
In fact, Shea said “pretty much everybody” besides her mom are current or former educators, including principals, teachers and librarians.
“Of course, every time we are together, like Christmas, there’s a lot of teacher talk, and principal and school talk, and that was always interesting to me,” she said.
After her interview, Shea stopped by Fosdal Home Bakery, one of the spots she’s learning as she gets to know more about the district and community.
“I’ve never been here for Syttende Mai, but my grandmother’s parents were 100% Norwegian,” she said. “I’ve been learning Stoughton culture, asking people where I should go, what I should check out.
“It’s been a good meeting everybody so far, everybody’s been really welcoming.”