Brewer retiring after 33 years

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By ANTHONY FLORES

For over a decade, the presence of assistant principal Shellie Brewer has remained a constant in the halls of Liberty Hill Elementary. For 33 years, Brewer has remained a presence in the world of education.

As the school year comes to an end, so does the veteran educator’s long and accomplished career. After more than three decades, Brewer is retiring.

“It’s so hard to put into words the blessing of having a family as I have in Liberty Hill, they’re just so amazing,” Brewer said.

Brewer began her career in the small town of Springtown, Texas, in 1986, the first of three school districts where the longtime educator would work.

“I had some great first grade teachers that helped me grow there (Springtown),” she said. “From there, I had the opportunity to work in Eastland, Texas, and I guess that’s where I found the gift of leadership. I was allowed to lead a teachers’ organization there. I realized that I liked being able to make a difference.”

With offers from both Liberty Hill and Pflugerville, Brewer, not realizing it would be her home for over a decade, chose Liberty Hill.

“I received a job offer from Pflugerville, but Liberty Hill was just tugging at my heart,” she said. “I don’t know why, but it was.”

Before working her way up the ladder, Brewer began her time in LHISD as a kindergarten teacher. Brewer’s principal at the time allowed her to work in the role of a team leader. This opportunity led Brewer to pursue an administrative position officially.

“A sweet parent-professional named Agnes Aldridge said ‘Shellie if you’re going to do the job of a principal you might as well get paid to do it,’” Brewer said.

With some encouragement, Brewer, alongside two other teachers, went to Texas Tech, where they earned the education required to become principals.

“It’s been the greatest blessing of my life,” said Brewer. “The opportunity to serve people and help people every day, especially kids, is wonderful.”

Many young adults graduating high school face the uncertainty of what career path is meant for them and what they’d like to pursue isn’t a crystal-clear image. For Brewer, the path of an educator came to her early.

“When I was in high school, I was teaching Bible classes at my church, and I realized that I loved working with small children,” she said. “In high school, we had the opportunity to go and work in an elementary school, so I’ve been helping in the classroom since I was a junior in high school.”

The fulfillment of working with children and broadening their horizons proved to be the most significant draw for Brewer.

“I just fell in love with helping kids and seeing the difference you can make in a child’s life,” she said. “Helping them learn, giving them the gift of being able to read and opening that world to them. It’s just such a blessing to see their little faces light up when they learn something new.”

Aside from educating children, Brewer’s experience provides lessons for other administrators. Liberty Hill Elementary Principal Heather Collison sees working with Brewer as an invaluable experience.

“It’s been a learning experience, and that’s one of the great things about working alongside Shellie,” Collison said. “As she learned from me, I learned a lot from her. She has great relationships within our school and community. Watching how she caters to those relationships and how she helps parents and works kids through things, just observing that I was able to learn a lot from her.”

Collison, who has worked alongside Brewer for three years, sees her as a strong complement to her style of leading.

“She was a great compliment to my weaknesses,” she said. “She can get up in front of a crowd and speak on the fly, and I’m someone who has to plan everything out. She’s very meticulous and detailed about her tasks. So, when I give her something, she focuses on it, and I don’t have to worry because I know in the end it’ll be done and done to perfection.”

Brewer’s ability to manage time and her organization skills make taking on an educator’s most difficult challenge – time management – a much less intimidating mountain to climb.

“The hardest part of doing this job to this day is having enough time to do the things you need to do,” Brewer said. “Our teachers are so motivated and so devoted and give 110 percent every day. It’s so hard to work in every single thing you want to do for those kids. You want to give them everything you’ve got, and there’s only so many hours in the day to do that.”

With a three-decade career behind her, Brewer has witnessed many changes in the classroom and the advent of technology. Proving herself to be a consistent and unwavering presence, Brewer has rolled with the punches, making adjustments along the way.

“In education, you have a pendulum that swings back and forth; you have one method of teaching, then you go to another way, and eventually it comes back,” she said. “I think the biggest impact I’ve seen in my career is technology. It was quite an experience as an older teacher to figure all of it out. Now technology is what we’re relying on to teach our kids, and the biggest change I’ve seen is how we deliver instruction in a way that is engaging to kids. Technology is their way of life. When I started teaching, I didn’t even have a computer in the classroom.”

Rolling with the punches and keeping her head held high during hard times or when facing daunting odds is something Brewer does well.

“Her key phrase in times where things were hard, in times when things were frustrating and challenging were always, ‘We’ve got this, take the high road, trust the plan, and God will take care of us,’ and that’s been her mantra since I’ve known her,” said Collison.

The most valuable thing for Brewer is the relationships she has developed and the chance she has had to change the lives of the children who have entered her halls.

“For me, it’s the relationships with the people,” she said. “And the love that you feel when you walk into Liberty Hill Elementary is just second to none. The hugs, how I’ll miss those. Just knowing that you have the opportunity to provide a safe place for kids every day and that they are loved and cared for and nurtured every minute, they’re there. I mean, who could ask for anything more?”

As Brewer closes this chapter in her life, she has just a few words for the people she has worked with and the community she has served.

“Thank you so much for allowing me to serve this community,” she said. “My prayer is that I have made a difference in the life of your family and your student.”

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