Brenda Burks has made a name for herself at Stephenville ISD and has taught two generations of students since she began her career in 1978.
Burks grew up in Granbury attending school there through high school and then went on to Tarleton State University where she graduated with a bachelors degree in business administration.
“I did my student teaching at Stephenville High School in English and business and one of the business teachers was retiring and I was hired in 1978,” Burks said.
Burks left Stephenville ISD and moved to Bluff Dale in 1983.
“I stayed there for 15 years until a divorce brought me back to Stephenville. But during that time I stayed home for nine years when my kids were born and then I came back to teach full time,” Burks said. “So this is my 30th year at Stephenville High School. I was here five and then I’ve added 25 to that.”
Burks has a daughter and son and raised them as a single mother while working.
Besides teaching, Burks has also been the DECA advisor since 2002 taking students to district, state and nationals.
“Getting involved in DECA has been a wonderful experience,” Burks said. “DECA is an organization that prepares emerging leaders in the areas of marketing, hospitality, finance and management. It’s kind of our business organization for Stephenville High School, so I always say DECA is to marketing what FFA is to ag."
Burks teaches marketing dynamics, principles of business marketing and finance, professional communications and accounting.
“I just want to make a difference in kids’ lives and sometimes you don’t know you’re making that difference. You’re planting seeds and sometimes they grow and prosper and sometimes they don’t,” she said with a laugh. “I feel like I’ve had good relationships with kids through the years. I’m on second generation and in fact, there is a student in the building who’s a freshman and I taught her grandmother and I had her mother, so I’ve thought that once the third generation comes through that’s going to be the end. I said I wasn’t going to go through three generations.”
Burks had made plenty of memories throughout her time at the high school, but said there are some that have stuck with her.
“Of course those three trips to ICDC (International Career Development Conference) with DECA are standouts as well as UIL,” Burks said. “In 2001 I had the state 4A speller, Katie Weckwerth; she was a junior. So those are moments that stand out because not all teachers who are UIL coaches get the distinction of being the coach of a state winner.”
Burks has thought about retirement, but said this year has been rough with the passing of her father back in February and taking care of her mother.
“I don’t want to retire on a crazy year, I want a smoother year than this one has been,” Burks said. “But the administration has been wonderful.”
Outside of the classroom, Burks is the president of the Association of Texas Professional Educators (ATPE) for the Stephenville unit.
“It keeps us informed about education issues that may be coming before the legislatures and then in turn I have been to the Capitol and so I’ve tried to stay involved because it’s our career and we need to take care of our career,” she said. “If we don’t care of what’s going on in the state in Austin, our careers are going to change a great deal.”
Burks has spent most of her life in Stephenville and said she will never leave because she loves the small town feel.
“Granbury grew and I don’t know people over there, we’re very friendly in Stephenville. That’s what always amazed my family when they would be out and about with me. I can’t go anywhere without being spoken to and called by name,” Burks said. “This is home and I don’t have any desire to ever leave Stephenville and my daughter is basically right there with me. The small town atmosphere and friendly people are perfect for me.”