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FBISD Profiles: Retired Educators Remain Dedicated to Serving Students and Families

(FORT BEND ISD) – Fort Bend ISD has an invaluable asset in a team of devoted retired educators who continue to serve students and families in the district.

These retired administrators serve as campus leaders when principals are absent for family leave or when there is a vacancy. Their combined experience totals hundreds of years and helps keep the district stable as it continues to grow.

They know that teaching is more than a job, it’s a calling. Some knew at a young age that they would choose a life of leading and shaping young minds, while others were drawn to the profession from a previous career. Once they stepped into the classroom, they realized it was where they were meant to be all along.

“They all sub every year in leadership capacities to ensure that students and parents have excellent customer service experiences,” Assistant Superintendent Carmela Levy-David said. “They are amazing role models and coaches for new and experienced district leaders and I am very grateful that their rich knowledge base and diverse skills were not lost to us upon their retirement.”

Here are brief profiles of a few of those who continue to serve FBISD. Years of service prior to their official retirement dates are noted next to their names.

Ronnie Adams, 42 years

Ronnie Adams began his teaching career in 1980 in districts near the Texas-Louisiana border, but his philosophy has remained the same from day one – to build relationships with students that will have a lasting impact. During his decades of service, he has been a leader and role model to countless students, and no word or act is too small to him. Years after he taught them, many of his students reconnect to tell him how his advice positively influenced their lives.

“We often create, produce and plant seeds in ways that are unimaginable until we get a glimpse at these results,” Adams said. “Many students that I have encountered years later have made life choices because of a simple encounter they have had with an educator – often in the smallest ways. When you make your interactions the vehicle for your educational delivery it makes all the difference in the lives of our students.”

Retiring only several months ago, Adams did not stay away very long. He returned to the district because he continues to feel led to provide guidance to students, families and younger educators. He knows that can be difficult, but he said its rewards are long-lasting and rich, for students and for those who serve them.

“Become a guide and make thoughtful, ethical decisions that take into account the true intent of an educator,” Adams said. “Always listen first and observe, and never let anyone take your smile.”

Kenneth Blanche, 44 years

Kenneth Blanche spent his entire career in Fort Bend ISD, officially retiring in 2008. He is not only a member of the district’s staff, but also a resident of the community. He sees coming back to support schools as his way of contributing to the vibrancy of the area. He knows that he is taking part in building the future through his decades of service.

“I love the work environment because there is never a dull day,” Blanche said. “I have been fortunate to sub as an administrator on many campuses and all of them are so different. The variety of great people you come in contact with, the changing challenges and the daily discoveries all combine to make each day very interesting and adventurous.”

What never gets old for him is the satisfaction of seeing students discover something new and seeing them succeed. He encourages younger educators to set this as their goal when developing relationships with students and establishing classroom protocols. Blanche said it is critical for young educators to remain true to why they began teaching and to the students they are charged with educating. It is what called him back all these years later.

“Veterans educators impact students, families and schools with their commitment, resilience and quality retention,” he said. “We demonstrate and exemplify our investment and enthusiasm for education.”

“I come out every day because the work helps keep me young. Being surrounded by young people in the energetic environment of a school has been a great way to keep my outlook youthful and to retain a since of playfulness and possibility.”

Irma Cobos, 45 years

Irma Cobos began her career in Houston ISD, and after two years, moved to Fort Bend ISD where she’s been ever since. Her passion for teaching may be hereditary because her daughters, both FBISD graduates, now teach in the district also. Officially retiring in 2015, Cobos still feels she contributes to the success of students and younger teachers.

“I still have the desire to serve in schools to support the teachers and students,” she said. “It gives me purpose to come to school each day and give that part of myself as an experienced educator who can add value to the overall success of the campus.”

Cobos acknowledges that much has changed in the decades since she first began teaching; some of her former students are now educators as well, and she encourages them to stay focused on equipping students for bright futures ahead.

“Educators are a strong group of people and the common thread we share is our perseverance. Even though schools have changed, we see goodness in everything schools are trying to accomplish. Stay the course, use wisdom as you lead and model by example. Remember everyone is watching and learning from you.”

Yvonne Friday, 40 years

Yvonne Friday began her career in Mississippi, and spent time in Houston ISD, before joining FBISD during the 1982-83 school year. She and her husband had moved to the area during the city’s oil boom, and though she didn’t start her career as a teacher, she always knew she would become one.

In addition to the 40 years of experience in K-12 education Friday had when she retired in 2011, she has also served as a junior college and college professor. Still, she continues to lead. For her, the reason is simple: the students.

“We care, as educators, we care,” Friday said. “Students and parents support what we do when they know that we care.”

Her attitude of caring is easy to spot as she walks the hallways. Friday thinks back to Superintendent Christie Whitbeck’s message of kindness at the start of the school year. She recounts how a former student shared with her about a difficult home life and how it made school hard for her. Now as a professional, the former student is grateful for the compassion she received from Friday years ago. It made a lasting impact.

Friday believes younger teachers and educators can have the same kind of impact today. What teachers do every day still matters, their interactions with students leave an imprint that will help guide young people toward their futures.

“We don’t know what students go home to or what they come back to school with, and we still expect them to learn and to pass all the tests we put in front of them. I would just encourage teachers to listen to the children, and listen to parents,” she said.

Billy Polk, 44 years

Billy Polk officially retired in 2008, after having served in Fort Bend ISD for 30 years as a teacher and administrator. Though he kept his promise to himself to retire “on time,” he realized he missed being in schools. After receiving calls from his former students and colleagues asking for guidance, he knew he still had more to contribute. He decided to become a substitute in Houston ISD, and before long, he became a mentor to two principals who were still early in their careers.

“In working with younger educators and administrators, my first goal is to always remind them that they must learn to be flexible, learn to work as a team with staff and parents, and devote time and portions of their budgets to the advancement of technology in schools,” Polk said.

Polk helps guide others through the challenges that now exist in education. He said student achievement must be a team goal, involving students, parents, teachers and administrators.

He recognizes that experienced teachers bring something special to school communities due to their years of experience. He said there is very little they have not seen or handled and that particular perspective is not easy to replace.

“Veteran educators are well known for working with all aspects of the school and community setting and know that at the end of the day, education remains a ‘key’ factor in life,” he said.

“As a veteran educator, my goal is to simply make that key – education – a goal obtained by all students in Fort Bend ISD.”


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