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Shelly Samuels to be Honored as Ex-Students Association Coming Home Queen

Shelly Martin Samuels’ involvement during her four years at Cleburne High School was a reflection of who she would become--an engaged community servant, most especially when it involves children and public education.

            As a student at CHS, Samuels was a four-year member of the Fighting Yellow Jacket Band, also serving as secretary and treasurer. She was a member of Willard House, spending one term as secretary. As a member of National Honor Society, Samuels served as treasurer and she was the vice-president and historian of the Spanish Club. Her involvement also included Future Teachers of America and she was on the staff of the Santa Fe Trail as a House representative.  

            Following graduation in 1968, her studies at The University of North Texas focused on education—vocational home education—inspired by her mother, and her aunt.

            “I always wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “My aunt was an elementary teacher and I always looked up to her. My grandmother and mother always did a lot of sewing, which led to my interest in vocational home education.”

            Following graduation with a Bachelor of Science Degree in 1972, she taught three years at Godley High School before joining the Cleburne High School faculty in 1976. She was awarded a Master’s Degree in vocational home education from UNT in 1977.

            “As a vocational home education teacher in Cleburne, I split the subject areas with Sandra Gilliland,” she said. “She taught cooking and I taught sewing. My role at one point was training students for positions in the garment industry including Walls Industries, which was a major employer in our community at that time.”

            After 15 years at CHS, Samuels continued her role as a vocational education teacher at the middle school level, making the jump in 1991.

            “What I’ve always said about my years in middle school is I taught a little bit of sewing, a little bit of cooking and a whole lot of getting along,” she said. “Those are challenging years for students, as they transform from elementary school toward high school.”

Samuels retired from teaching in 2007—but not from education.

            A longtime member of St. Mark United Methodist Church, she is also a longtime member of the Academic Excellence Awards Committee which coordinates the church-sponsored recognition of CHS students who have achieved a 3.4 GPA in the previous school year.

            Samuels is also a member of the Johnson-Somervell Counties Retired School Employees Association. Her involvement also includes the Alpha Gamma chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, which promotes professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education.

            Her latest service initiative is the Cleburne Education Foundation, including past-president and currently, its Advisory Council. From reviewing grant applications from CISD teachers to paying surprise classroom visits, armed with giant-sized checks in announcing exciting news to grant recipients, Samuels continues to impact students and learning.

            “I have loved being a part of the Cleburne Education Foundation. It’s been a new way for me to help out in education,” she said. “There are so many extra things CEF can provide our teachers, for the benefit of students and what they are striving to achieve in the classroom. It’s very rewarding in having the opportunity, through our grant awards program, to help teachers help kids get on track—and stay on track and engaged in learning. I am so grateful to be involved in this partnership with CISD.”

            Shelly and her husband, Sam, have been married for 48 years. They raised two Cleburne Yellow Jackets and have five grandchildren. Their son Adam and his wife, Holly, reside in Abilene where he is the director of worship and the arts at St. Paul United Methodist Church. Their younger son, Aaron, and his wife, Carrie, live in Burleson where is a financial planner with Equitable.

            Samuels admits she is very surprised to be playing a starring role in the 2021 Homecoming celebrations.

            “It’s pretty crazy,” she said. “When I received the email that I had been selected as Coming Home Queen, I was very surprised. I never dreamed I would be a part of Homecoming—this year or any year.”

            “I’m so appreciative of the Ex-Students Association for this honor—and being thought of in this way.”