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'Passionate': George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum Director of Education retires

Dr. Shirley Hammond says farewell after over 21 years of service to The Brazos Valley.
Posted at 4:32 AM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 10:06:45-05

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The George H.W. Bush Library & Museum in College Station has said farewell to Dr. Shirley Hammond after serving more than 21 years as the director of education.

Acting Director Robert Holzweiss has worked alongside Hammond for the past two decades, describing her as passionate.

“When Dr. Hammond arrived [in 2001] we realized right away that she was very passionate of education, especially K-12 education," Holzweiss said, "and she demonstrated that every day she showed up to work, being highly engaged with the teachers and came up with a lot of innovative programming which we still use today 20 years later."

“Of course, I’m going to actually miss my job,” Hammond said. “I’m going to miss the wonderful staff and the people I was associated with very closely at the Bush Library."

Since 2001, Hammond has had the opportunity to work closely with educators across the state, beginning numerous programs especially and working with First Lady Barbara Bush to create the “Reading Discovery Distance Learning Program” that featured Mrs. Bush.

“This is where I thought where we could broaden the range of children and make it even national so that children around the world could have the privilege of meeting [Mrs. Bush] and asking her a question during the program," said Hammond.

Other annual programs included the Art and Essay Contest, High School Days, UNT’s Journalism Department’s collaboration with their Young Spur’s Essay Contest, Juneteenth Celebration, Presidents Day, Summer Camps, Constitution Celebration, Bush Library Storytellers Guild featuring a variety of educational programs, i.e., Chemistry Road Show, Early Explorers, Safari in South Africa and “Hank the Cowdog."

There are 10 Classroom Premier Programs aligning President Bush’s actions and legislative acts with the United States Constitution. Museum tours for all grades are popular and often combined with a scavenger hunt or a Docent Tour. The “Spotlight on Art Educators Exhibit” is linked to the art contest — and many Outstanding Educators of the George Bush Presidential Library have been recognized annually.

Renee Richards, a former Bryan High School teacher and education docent for the museum, said Hammond personified the Bush family.

“George [H.W. Bush] had [once] said that 'when you have power, that it should be used to serve the people,'" Richards said. " I think she personified that. She used her strength and her endless and tireless energy to help people.”

Hammond recalls that energy of helping people, even in a time of crisis, especially on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I came into the workplace near the end of August 2001," Hammond said. "Two weeks later 9/11 happened and I remember my boss came in and said, 'Shirley we have to leave because of what has happened in New York City and we are in a federal building' and I said, 'I don’t want to leave I have so much to do.'”

Hammond told KRHD that she’s “thankful” for having such a fruitful career at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum and hopes her legacy carries on into the future but is ready to spend her retirement close to her family and grandchildren.

Hammond holds a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University in educational administration. Previous education positions include teaching at Trinity School in Midland, at Sophia University in Tokyo, and at Nishimachi International School in Tokyo.

The mission of the George Bush Presidential Library & Museum at Texas A&M University is to preserve and make available the records and artifacts of George H.W. Bush, 41st President of the United States. The library and museum promote civic literacy and increased historical understanding of our national experience, and foster a community of public service and volunteerism by offering rich educational and public programs, original museum exhibits and access to archival holdings.