In 1975, Rev. C. Edward and Gloria Shipman founded Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home, a residential school for severely disadvantaged children and youth in Granbury, Texas. The Shipman’s wanted to give at-risk young people safety, nurturing and the education they need to become productive citizens. Today, 110 boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 18 now live, work and study on the 500-acre farm campus located southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Because of the Shipman’s vision, sacrifices, commitment and talents, hundreds of young people headed for delinquency are now exemplary, happy and fruitful young adults. Hundreds more of today’s youth and those in the future will benefit from the legacy created by the Shipman’s. In addition, the Happy Hill Farm Academy model is inspiring other people to create similar programs in communities across the country.
Before creating Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home, Rev. Shipman was directing a private foundation and pastoring part-time at a rural church. One evening the city marshal called asking for help with two runaway teenage girls. The Shipman’s agreed to take the girls in temporarily while looking for a permanent home for them. The Shipman’s did find a suitable place for the girls to live; and out of this challenge, Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home was ultimately born.
Happy Hill Farm Academy/home was set up as a non-profit charity and the Shipman’s deeded their assets to the non-profit entity. The Shipman’s leased their first living unit from friends and both families lived together with five foster boys for the first three years. The Shipman’s two sons, Chuck and Todd, who grew up on the Farm, have gradually assumed a leadership role in the non-profit organization. Rev. Shipman is attempting to build an endowment to secure the future of the organization. Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home does not accept public funds but relies on foundations, corporations and individual donations.
Students at Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home come from backgrounds of abuse, neglect, and other family trauma. Having experienced only disappointment from adults, Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home is a complete change of environment, with safety, security, a good education in small classroom settings and the experience of being valued by adults they highly respect. Students live in homes housing eight boys or girls, with married couples and their children, attend the accredited K-12 school on campus and participate in a wide variety of athletic, academic, vocational, leadership, spiritual (interdenominational) and cultural activities. Instead of treating these youth as “poor clients with problems,” students are given the clear message that they are worthy of this investment of time and money.
Happy Hill Farm Academy/Home changes students’ horizons and broadens their dreams of what can be achieved with their lives.