Copperas Cove teacher closes classroom door after 50 years
By WENDY SLEDD
Special to the Leader-Press
Tears well up in Brenda Stanford’s eyes as she packs up the last of her things at Copperas Cove High School. After 50 years of educating students, the tenured teacher is retiring. It is bittersweet.
“It doesn’t seem like 50 years. Where did the years all go? Educating students has been my life – my blood flow. It is who I am and who I always wanted to be,” said Stanford who is remarrying and moving to the Lake Whitney area. “I know it is time to excel in retirement, but I will miss the daily interaction with students and teachers.”
At a time when the nation is struggling for certified teachers, Stanford has known since she was a child that she wanted to be an educator. Growing up in rural Louisiana, Stanford began teaching Science at age 21.
“One of my most memorable moments happened during my first year of teaching when I had a student, who was 20 years old and in the ninth grade, come to my class each day, put his head of the desk, and sleep. So, I began investigating. I found that Charles came to school for the free lunches and that he loved art. I started asking him to draw posters for my classroom which he loved to do and that resulted in him learning the classwork,” Stanford said. “At the end of the grading period, he passed Art and my Science class. The principal called me in to see why I passed Charles when he knew that Charles was at school only for the food. I explained and the rest is history. I knew at that moment that I had made the correct career choice.”
As Stanford’s career progressed, she began teaching career preparation classes to ensure students were ready for the world of work beyond graduation.
“I loved teaching students how to prepare for the workforce and seeing them being successful on their jobs. This teaching position fit my personality perfectly,” Stanford said. “I never meet a stranger. I can talk to anyone and make tons of friends and acquaintances. Every day was different, and I enjoyed working with not only students but also with business and industry.”
Stanford’s teaching career culminated at Copperas Cove ISD where she served as the CCHS Career Technology Education Coordinator and introduced SkillsUSA to the district.
“SkillsUSA has been the backbone of my teaching career and definitely the glue that held it all together,” said Stanford who had student qualify for the National SkillsUSA Conference after winning state again this year. “I love this organization because it develops leaders in students who don’t realize they are leaders.”
Through her education journey, Stanford taught 17 different subjects from Science to AVID to Chief Architect to Food Science and other Career and Technology courses. She is a recipient of the Texas Industrial Vocational Association Teacher of the Year Award followed by the TIVA Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Association for Career & Technical Education National Hall of Fame for Lifetime Achievement.
“I feel that God placed me in each teaching position for a reason,” Stanford said. “Hopefully, I have fulfilled His requests.”