A recent El Campo ISD retiree was encouraged to become a teacher by her parents after she learned as a young adult that she could not bear children.
“I’ve always loved kids, and they said it only made sense to them. Next thing I know, I have spent 37 years in education,” said Liz Reed, who has devoted 35 of those years as a teacher and an administrator within El Campo ISD.
Those two years apart from ECISD schools were spent teaching at a Catholic school.
“It was the best beginning educator experience ever with great teachers/mentors, parents and children. Truly a ‘Little House on the Prairie’ experience,” Reed said.
Getting hired on at ECISD was an intimidating experience, she said.
“Mr. Dowden, ECISD superintendent, hired me after an interview with 22 people in the board room. Yet when he called to hire me, Mr. Dowden was so supportive, and I can remember his words of wisdom were, ‘Never stop learning – education is always changing.’”
“That was an understatement,” she added.
Reed began her career at ECISD in the fall of 1984 at the old Northside building in the part that is now the Boys & Girls Club.
“I was fortunate enough to have a group of teachers who helped me learn the educational trade,” she said.
People she looks back on with fond memories include Gloria Nordeen, Marie Rod, Nancy Helfley, Jeannette Macha, Betty Parma, Edith Bard, Lorraine Clayton and Susan Halamicek, who were all instrumental in helping Reed grow as a teacher.
“I was very sad to leave that old building with the huge walls of windows to the new Northside with smaller rooms and especially because my new room had no windows. But progress is always good,” she said.
After teaching fourth and fifth grade math, science and social studies for more than 10 years, Reed was asked to teach reading.
Helen Johnson, Mary Jane Kaiser, Linda Harrison and Dot Hermansen helped Reed become a better reading teacher.
“Dr. Thedford and Claudia Bures encouraged me to go back and get a master in educational leadership and with the help of my family, it took two years of night classes and summer school to complete that degree,” she said.
“Next Dr. Gorden hired me as an assistant principal at Northside with Principal Paulette Whitmire, a lady who knew educational law and programs to improve learning,” she added.
Reed later replaced Whitmore at Northside as principal when she left.
“This was a tough time in education because budgets were cut along with teachers. Classroom numbers exploded, and the accountability system was changing across Texas,” Reed said.
Next Reed moved to become the Myatt Elementary principal, and soon she “fell in love with the little ones.”
With this new assignment, Reed set out to change Myatt’s reading instruction knowing the huge challenges the students would have higher up the grade levels.
She did this by incorporating individualized learning for reading through a developmental reading program and investing heavily in new materials and new engaging technology to where the reading levels at Myatt improved. Her next assignment was the high school’s alternative campus.
“Most people do not realize the amount of students that very small building helps graduate from high school (up to 20 percent of students many years) and little staff. We worked to improve the technology-learning program and developed guidelines for the alternative learning program,” Reed said.
Reed also supervised the high school’s 504 Program, but she missed being around children.
Her last three years at ECISD have been spent at the middle school.
“This year my great nieces and nephew were at ECMS and I sure enjoyed being part of their educational activities this year,” she said.
Reed has done it all at the middle school: from hall, lunch to athletic duty, to working with the Limited English Program, at-risk students to coordinating all the testing on and off the campus.
“The paperwork for this job is exhausting. I spend way too many after school hours working this job. It is someone else’s turn to enjoy this job,” she said.
As for “retirement,” Reed has a few part time jobs in the works, and she is looking to breed miniature Australian Sheppard’s, do landscaping, teach horseback riding lessons, fish, travel and play dominoes.
“I am blessed to be able to retire from education at this time in my life,” she said.
Reed wants to thank everyone who did incredible things for ECISD students including teachers, parents, administrators and students.
“Our community is better for your participation in education. The public does not know that there have been years when families purchased shoes for kids who did not have new shoes at Myatt Elementary in September, donated to cover lunch charges and donated to help teachers have catered lunches so they can attend meetings during lunch at school and not have to stay after school.
“The public does not know the many kids who get glasses through our local groups. If you have not done anything for your school – and have the means – go talk to a principal or teacher. It makes everyone feel good to give,” she said.