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Teacher Spotlight - Cara Shirley - Sports Medicine

Teacher Spotlight - Cara Shirley - Sports Medicine

Ms. Cara Shirley - FutureForward at Washington Square

First year teacher Ms. Cara Shirley is our January teacher spotlight. Ms. Shirley is the primary instructor in the new Sports Medicine program at Washington Square. She has an undergraduate degree from Ohio State University and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Indiana University. Ms. Shirley also has certifications in Dry Needling, Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization, and Vestibular Specialization.

What was your experience prior to teaching?

I was a physical therapist for seven years in a variety of settings. I started my career in an outpatient clinic with Select Medical where I mostly worked with high school athletes who suffered from sports-related injuries. I then worked for Rose Hospital’s outpatient clinic in Denver where I treated a variety of conditions from strokes, to car accidents, to sports injuries, to post-surgical patients. My most recent physical therapy job was with the State of Colorado, where I treated patients in mental health facilities with a variety of physical disabilities. When you are a physical therapist, you also treat most of your friends and family members on the side…..everyone wants to ask you about their pain, and honestly, I enjoy helping! :) As a side note, before I went to physical therapy school, I worked for three years at an ABC television station in Indiana, writing all of the stories for the 11 PM news.

What are your hobbies?

I love hiking, biking, paddle boarding, traveling, and trying out new restaurants (all of those typical Colorado things).

What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

I love the interaction and personal connections you get to make with students. I hope I can steer them in the right direction in achieving their career goals, even if they decide the medical field isn’t for them!

What is your favorite genre of books, movies, and music?

I mostly read historical fiction, watch true crime documentaries (I wish I could take CSI at Washington Square), and jam out to some 80s power ballads when I work out.

Anything else you could share?

When my job at Rose Hospital was put on hold due to COVID back in 2020, I worked as an aid in the ICU, helping the nurses with intubated patients. This was the most heartbreaking and somehow also rewarding job I think I have ever had. While I hope something like this never happens again, I am glad I got to be a part of a healthcare team that was working around the clock to save lives at such a critical time.


  • FutureForward
  • Washington Square