CCISD principal's 40 years in education celebrtaed
By BRITTANY FHOLER
With the current restrictions on large gatherings, saying farewell to Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy Principal Mary Derrick after 40 years as an educator required some creativity.
Typically, when a Copperas Cove Independent School District employee retires, especially after 40 years, there would be a party, but that party couldn’t happen this year. That didn’t stop the staff at Mae Stevens, though.
The campus’s parent liaison, Brandy Petty, organized a retirement parade for Derrick and sent out an invitation. When no one RSVP’d, though, Petty said she wasn’t sure what to expect.
“We sent an RSVP out, and so no one RSVP’d, so we were just kind crossing our fingers and hoping, but you know, when you work in the district or education for 40 years, you make a lot of friends,” Petty said. “Lots of people love you, and so I’m super, super happy that it turned out this way. You know, it’s good to feel loved.”
Derrick sat on a rocking chair with a quilt and surrounded by balloons Tuesday morning as a Copperas Cove fire truck decorated with “Mary” on the side led the line of an estimated 50-plus vehicles from the parking lot of Eastside Baptist Church on Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Mae Stevens parking lot.
There was at least one vehicle representing each school Derrick worked at during her career, plus a vehicle representing the different organizations Derrick is involved with, including Recycle Michael with Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful.
As the vehicles drove by, some stopped to hand over a card or a gift. One vehicle carried precious cargo in the form of Derrick’s grandson.
Each vehicle received a cupcake made by Sandra Ziehlke, who worked at Hettie Halstead Elementary with Derrick.
Before the parade started, Derrick said she didn’t think anyone was going to show.
“You know, my staff has always gone above and beyond and it’s just very humbling,” Derrick said.
Derrick said it was surreal to be retiring after 40 years as an educator.
“After 40 years of getting up and going to work every day, it’s going to be different not doing that and leaving all the kids and friends I’ve made over the years,” Derrick said. “It’s just happy and sad at the same time I guess.”
After the parade finished- starting at 11:30 a.m., with the last car driving by at 11:54 a.m., Derrick was at a loss for words.
“It’s just overwhelming, and it’s just so humbling to know that many people care,” Derrick said.
Derrick said she knew her students would be in good hands with her successor, Leah Miller, and the faculty and staff, adding “the excellence will continue.”
“CCISD has been fortunate to have staff who are committed to the students we serve,” said CCISD Superintendent Joe Burns. “Mrs. Mary Derrick is a living example of that commitment. While employed with CCISD, Mary has served as a teacher, assistant principal and principal at Hettie Halstead Elementary and Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy. Mrs. Derrick was instrumental in the transition of Mae Stevens Elementary which served Pre-k through 5th grade to Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy serving 3- and 4- year-old Pre-Kindergarteners. She has been a true leader and visionary for the campus and the Pre-Kindergarten program. Mrs. Derrick is completing 40 years of service to students and we are thankful for her service and sacrifice over these many years.”
Derrick spent 37 years at CCISD of her 40 years in education. She has served as the principal of Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy since the campus opened as the district’s Pre-K center in 2014. Prior to that, Derrick was principal at Hettie Halstead Elementary School.