Students learn etiquette with Miss Shelia

By DeeAnna Haney | Feb 21, 2014
Shelia Sumpter watches over Mena Tanner and Reagan Mulvey as they practice their etiquette at gift giving and receiving.

In a world that may sometimes seem to be lacking in manners and etiquette, one local woman is teaching children how to behave properly in almost any social situation.

Shelia Sumpter, also known as Miss Shelia to her students, holds seminars and visits elementary schools to teach children about manners and etiquette.

Six elementary school girls attended a recent session of T.E.A. with Miss Shelia, an etiquette seminar that was held at Waynesville First Methodist Church.

During the class, Miss Shelia first stressed the importance of standing up when meeting and greeting someone and to always look the person in the eyes when speaking.

Anyone who walked by the door at the church were urged to come in and give the girls a chance to practice their handshakes and greeting.

"There's a difference between manners and etiquette," said Sumpter.

Manners, she said, are simply treating others well. Etiquette is how one acts to feel comfortable in social situations and assuring that others feel the same.

"Follow the Golden Rule and you can't go wrong," said Sumpter.

Other topics discussed were how to give and receive gifts and write thank you notes. Another important topic was how to be considerate while using cell phones and while online.

"Never use electronic devices at a meal or when your attention should be on others," said Sumpter.

Speak kindly, even online, don't use all caps, don't post things when you're angry, don't talk to strangers and don't give out personal information, said Sumpter. She also reminded the girls that everything they post online can always be traced.

"Don't post pictures of yourself or others unless you mind them being shared with everyone," she said.

Next came the topic of how to properly set the table for a dinner gathering. The basic table setting starts with the dinner plate in the center with the fork to the left, knife and spoon to the right with the sharp edge of the knife pointing toward the plate. A water glass goes above the knife and a folded napkin is placed under the fork or on top of the plate.

In the end, the girls left with a better sense of how to act in almost any social situation.

"I was very pleased that the young ladies seemed to enjoy themselves and will hopefully remember some of the information, said Sumpter. "Most importantly, I hope they will remember how important it is to treat each other with kindness and to treat their loved ones as the special people they are."