Education Foundation holds annual gala to fundraise for educators
By LYNETTE SOWELL
It was an event more than two years in the making, and three Copperas Cove alumni were honored as their names were added – at last – to the Copperas Cove Education Foundation’s Hall of Honor.
Glynn Powell, along with Les and Linda Ledger, had been selected as recipients for 2020, but due to the pandemic, the foundation’s annual Boots and Buckles Gala was canceled in 2020 and 2021.
On Saturday evening, hundreds of supporters gathered to celebrate, raise, funds, and recognize the three alumni.
Etta Kay Kirkpatrick, foundation president, welcomed those in attendance and thanked the supporters for continuing to help fund innovative teaching grants which were still awarded annually in spite of not having a gala for two years .
“We know how difficult things have been for our teachers, especially over the last two years, and we’re just excited and happy to be able to do anything we can to help them. So as you know we were not able to have a gala for two years. But I’m happy to tell you that we were able to give teacher grants and award student scholarships, those two years thanks to you, our donors who stayed faithful to us, even though we didn’t have this event.”
Kirkpatrick said that in addition to the collegiate and dual-credit scholarships the foundation awards annually, starting this year they will award a scholarship to a student who wants to attend a vocational or trade school.
“Those jobs are just as important, and maybe more so if you’re in the middle of a winter freeze and your pipes break,” Kirkpatrick said.
In addition to the live and silent auctions, the evening included a “heads or tails” game, where for $10 participants could wear a “blinky ring” and play the game. The winner of the heads or tails game received $100, and the second-place winner received $50.
CCISD Superintendent Joe Burns introduced each of the Hall of Honor nominees, and before doing so, read a poem dedicated to the gala that was written by retired educator and current schoolboard member, John Gallen.
Burns called the inductees some of the “superheroes of Copperas Cove.”
The first two honorees, Linda and Les Ledger, met in Copperas Cove. Burns joked that because “Les had a reputation, he had to go out of state to find somebody.”
Burns also said the pair would give their remarks together, because “Linda and Les are like peanut butter and jelly. They’re good together. And there’s no way to separate it and they’ve been together a long time.”
Linda came to Copperas Cove from South Carolina as “an Army kid” and became involved in school activities like band and cheerleading. She and Les married in 1965 and she graduated from Southwest Texas State University, now known as Texas State University.
After college graduation in 1966, both she and Les returned to Copperas Cove in 1968.
Her nomination said that her love of family and history led to her involvement in the history of Copperas Cove and involvement in organizations dedicated to the welfare of families and children. Likewise, she did the documentation for the first historical marker in Copperas Cove, the Ogletree Gap Post Office. She also served on the CCISD board for 18 years. She was a founding member of the Coryell County Child Welfare Board and its first president as well. Likewise, she was honored by President George H.W. Bush as one of the Points of Light awardees. She was also a Bluebonnet Girl Scout Woman of Distinction in 1999.
Les attended Copperas Cove all 12 years at one building, the Avenue E Campus, graduating in 1962. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southwest Texas State, and a master’s degree in business from the University of Texas in Austin.
He became the manager and owner of one of Copperas Cove’s icons of business, Ledger Furniture. Les served as the President of the Chamber of Commerce for 10 years, on the Copperas Cove Planning and Zoning commission, and served as the head of the Copperas Cove United Way. Les continues to impact future generations through classes he teaches in Central Texas College.
The two recalled several educators who made an impact on them during their years in Copperas Cove, Linda speaking of a young Army lieutenant who came in the middle of their sophomore year, Mr. Charles Wayne Turner.
“I remember him so fondly because he wrote my letter of recommendation to get into the University of South Carolina. I still have that letter and when I have a bad day, I take out that letter and read it, that says I’m highly qualified to go to the university.”
Les said he recalled Turner’s advice to “square the corners and keep your shirts tucked in.”
The third honoree, Glynn Powell, is a 1955 graduate of Copperas Cove High School who dedicated more than 50 years of service to Copperas Cove ISD and influenced the lives of thousands of students over his career.
Powell played six-man football and his athleticism earned him a football scholarship to Southwest Texas State Teachers College, where he played all four years with the Bobcats and played a starting position his junior and senior year.
He said he always wanted to be a teacher and his initial goal was to teach agriculture. He received a bachelor’s degree in vocational education in 1959 and returned to Copperas Cove to teach, where he started as a middle school science teacher and coached football, basketball and track. He was the high school’s first Driver’s Education teacher. He went on to earn his master’s degree in educational administration in 1967, so he could remain in Copperas Cove and was assistant principal of Copperas Cove High school from 1967 to 1973, and went on to be the high school’s longest serving principal for 16 years.
Powell made it a practice to learn all his students’ names and even practiced pronouncing their names so he could read them correctly at graduation, and read them all.
He worked to make sure the course offerings piqued the interest of students, and oversaw the transition from the old high school building to its present location in 1985, and likewise ushered in the age of technology with computers. As principal, he made sure to attend nearly every event, to include athletic events, dances, proms, livestock shows, band and choir concerts and theater productions.
He retired after 38 years with the district in 1997, and then ran for school board and served another 12 years.
Powell shared a few remarks and added a story of his own regarding Les Ledger.
“From the time I was in high school in Copperas Cove to the time I was assistant principal, we never had dances at school. Les generated a petition, and presented it to the scool board.” As a result of that petition, Powell said that Les is the one to thank for having dances at CCISD.
Powell reflected on the teachers and the changes that have come to the district.
“Dorothy and I feel blessed. This is a diverse community and a very special school. I’ve been fortunate to have viewed CCISD from many perspectives. One of the leaders in our district who impacted my life personally, was my high school football coach, the late J.L Williams.”
He credited Williams for developing him to walk onto the field at Southwest Texas State Teachers College, with an athletic scholarship, not a small task for a boy who had only played in the six-man football program. JL Williams put him on the path towards success.
“Four years later, when I was graduating with a degree in vocational agriculture, the same J.L. Williams, who was now the superintendent of schools at CCISD, recruited me to return home and teach and coach at CCISD.”
He said the two most special parts of his service were the 16 years he was a high school principal, and that he loved just to talk with his students in conversation. The second part was being part from the rapid growth of this district from a small rural school district of about 150 students to a district with over 8,000 students today.
“I feel fortunate to have been part the planning and execution involved in these decades of expansion.”