Education Foundation holds annual gala
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Education Foundation saw a lot of hats, boots and buckles at the sixth annual Boots & Buckles Gala held at the Copperas Cove Civic Center Saturday evening to raise funds for CCISD teacher grants and more.
The meal was catered by Boogie’s Backyard Barbeque and consisted of ribs, sausage, chicken, beans and potato salad, with banana pudding for dessert. Giovanni’s and H-E-B provided appetizers prior to the dinner, and guests had the opportunity to roast their own marshmallows and make s’mores with a s’mores bar after dinner.
In addition to raising funds, the event recognized Copperas Cove alumni Joan Manning and Keith Turner as the next round of inductees to the foundation’s Hall of Honor.
Manning and Turner will have their names on plaques that will hang in Lea Ledger Auditorium.
Manning attended Copperas Cove schools from the third grade through high school, graduating from Copperas Cove High School in 1972. She married her high school sweetheart, Jay Manning, and attended Baylor University, University of Texas at Arlington and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. She has served on the CCISD board of trustees since 1995 and currently serves as the board president. She is also on the boards of the Salvation Army and Hope Pregnancy Center. She is active in her church, Eastside Baptist Church. In 2018, Manning was selected as one of five Women of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of Central Texas.
According to CCISD superintendent Joe Burns, Manning said she enjoyed going to school and that many of the people who were instrumental in her life were teachers.
One of those teachers was Mrs. Blankenship, Manning’s third grade teacher, who stayed after school to help Manning learn cursive.
“There’s where we see a brave teacher making a difference for one child and we’re very fortunate that Copperas Cove is represented here tonight as well by a number of retired teachers and active teachers who do just those things,” Burns said.
During her speech, Manning used her time to thank the many educators that shaped her life over the years.
“It’s amazing what teachers do and what administrators do in their roles with our children,” Manning said. “I know the impact that they’ve made in my life and I appreciate it so much.”
Manning acknowledged one teacher who stood out above the rest, Sarah Straley, her sixth-grade social studies and home room teacher. Straley was seated at Manning’s table as an honored guest on Saturday night.
“Mrs. Straley had one special attribute that I believe all great teachers have,” Manning said. “She cared about her students, and we all knew it. She took time to talk to each one of us and I can remember her staying at recess with us when I’m sure she wasn’t required to be with us.”
If there had been an Education Foundation during Manning’s time as a student, she imagined Straley would have received a grant for some type of art project or to help teach baton twirling, Manning said.
“Every young person needs a mentor and teacher like Sarah Straley,” Manning added.
Keith Turner attended Martin Walker Elementary School and Copperas Cove Junior High School and graduated from Copperas Cove High School in 1993. He attended the Dallas Institute of Funeral Services, and shared on his application that when he finished, Mr. Bowers, of Crawford Bowers, would not let him return to Copperas Cove to begin work, encouraging him to go work in a bigger city and gain experience.
This was a hard lesson, but looking back, he said that was the greatest gift anyone has ever given him.
Turner is currently the Market Director for the Texas West Territory in the Main Street Division of Service Corporation.
He continues to be involved in 4-H, FFA, Mt. Hiram Masonic Lodge #595, Coryell and Lampasas County Livestock Shows, the Texas Funeral Home Directors Association and National Funeral Home Directors Association. He has served on the board for the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, the Copperas Cove Education Foundation and on several committees for the Copperas Cove High School Vocational Department. He has been recognized as the George Washington Candidate for Mt. Hiram Masonic Lodge #595 and the Paul Harris Fellow for the Copperas Cove Rotary Club.
Currently, Turner owns 31 funeral homes across west Texas, six cemeteries, five crematories and oversees about 450 employees in a $50 million operation.
He said it was an honor to come back to Copperas Cove, which means a lot to him.
“Education in Copperas Cove is huge to me,” Turner said. “I oftentimes think about George and Laura Bush, they began the ‘No Child Left Behind’ campaign, and in fact George signed the act into law when he was the President, and that rings true for me because it took a whole education system to get me through there.”
Turner encouraged gala attendees to make a donation to the Education Foundation and bid on the items through the silent and live auctions.
“As I go around and visit people throughout the state, the one thing I’m very proud of is the Education Foundation that we have here in Copperas Cove because it does give teachers the opportunity to have things done in their classroom or whatever they apply to the grant to use that’s outside of the box, and it’s outside of the scope of your tax dollars,” Turner said. “And it’s up to the folks here in this room to raise this money.”
Silent auction items lined two of the walls of the Civic Center and featured dozens of items of all price levels.
The items available for the live auction included a pencil sketch of a bald eagle by CCISD paraprofessional Wilford Elmore with a custom frame donated by Frames and Things, which sold for $300 to Phil’s Paint and Body; a handmade druzy crystal necklace by renowned artist and CCHS alum David Copher, which sold for $675 to Donna Thompson; a modern painting by CCHS alum Bill Alexander, which sold for $375 to Rick Love; a full day fishing trip in Rockport, Texas for four people, which sold for $950 to Phil’s Pain and Body; and a handmade Texas themed 71” by 76” quilt made by retired CCISD teacher and Education Foundation member Coleen Timmons which sold for $1,600. Also available were two separate trips to New Mexico. One was for a three-night stay in David Copher’s Cozy Casita in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which sold for $500. The other was a three-night stay at Eric and Dawn Nueharth’s Chalet in Angel Fire, New Mexico, which sold for $725.
The Boots & Buckles Gala serves as the Education Foundation’s largest fundraiser of the year and allows the Education Foundation to fund teacher grants and scholarships and the CCHS Senior Walk of Fame. So far in 2019, the foundation has awarded $15,318 to four schools and eight teachers. Since the foundation’s creation in 2008, $348,973 has been awarded to teachers through the Innovative Teaching Grants.