Shearer Elementary dedicates library, tree in honor of long-time employees

Published 3:00 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

Over the years, faculty members have come and gone from Shearer Elementary School.

Now, the names of three of them will remain at the school located on East Broadway Street in Winchester.

The Samuels-Hall Library was dedicated on Wednesday, May 24, to honor the late Evelyn Samuels and retiring Anne Hall, while a tree planting ceremony paid tribute to Paula Branham Thomas, an employee of over 30 years.

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The ceremony began at 10:00 a.m., with the recognition of Samuels and Hall.

“We feel very privileged to bring our past together with our future, to celebrate two wonderful pillars not only in our school family but our community as well,” said Lindsey Campbell, the Assistant Principal at Shearer Elementary School.

Individuals including former Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham, current Judge-Executive Les Yates, Clark County Public Schools Superintendent Dustin Howard and Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed attended the dedication ceremony.

For over 40 years, Evelyn Samuels served the children of Clark County as a librarian beginning at Oliver School.

In 1972, Hickman Street School – where Samuels worked at the time – merged into Shearer Elementary School. She would then spend 35 years working with pupils there.

Samuels’ influence on library studies was also felt outside the public school system, as she founded the First Baptist Church library in Winchester.

Although she passed away in 2011, Samuels was represented by Joyce Morton.

Morton, who founded the Winchester Black History and Heritage Committee, grew up with Samuels as one of her teachers.

Her influence continued afterward.

“One thing that she reminded us [of] almost every day, she said ‘You might go to school for twelve or sixteen years plus, but learning is a lifetime experience,’” Morton said. “We, her church family, the community, and students, valued and appreciated [her] for giving her students the tools to grow.”

Hall, who began her career in the library as a student worker at Berea College Library and later was Youth Services Librarian at the Clark County Public Library, spent 21 years at Shearer Elementary School, starting in 2002.

“We have a lady that has given our community and our students the very best every day,” Howard said. “Whether she feels the best, the worst, [or] in between, no one would know because there’s always a smile and joy in her face and in her actions.”

Though Hall is retiring from full-time work, where she will look to spend time with family that includes her husband of 50 years, she foresees continuing to share her creativity as a professional storyteller.

Hall spoke to the students inside the school’s gymnasium.

“You have been my world for so long, and I love you with all my heart, and I hope you never forget how fun reading is and how great it is for you,” she said. “You…help me all the time in the library. We can’t do half the stuff we do without you helping me.”

Later that day, following the library dedication, a surprise awaited long-time Shearer Elementary School employee Paula Branham Thomas.

At 2:00 p.m., a tree was dedicated on the outdoor grounds of the school in her honor.

Thomas, an employee since 1992, has served as an Instructional Assistant, Computer Lab Aide, Attendance Clerk and Secretary/Bookkeeper.

A Winchester native, Branham was one of Shearer’s first students, attending from 1972-74 after the merging with Hickman.