Janice Stalder always knew that she wanted to teach; the only question was what she would teach and on what level.

In college, she majored in English and History but also took numerous journalism and speech courses and was a newspaper editor as well as a member of the debate team.

She spent the summer after her graduation as the acting public relations director at her college and moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned a masters in English in less than a year and then returned to teach at her alma mater while working on a doctorate at the University of Texas.

However, a marriage and eventual divorce derailed her plans and after working as a Title One coordinator and teacher in Georgia, she returned to Texas and began her true career at Copperas Cove High School as an English teacher, debate coach and UIL coordinator, history teacher, newspaper and literary magazine adviser, and AP and Dual Credit teacher. Now, after 45 years as a teacher, she is saying goodbye.

Stalder is very much aware that students have affectionately nicknamed her “Dragon Lady” for her rigorous curriculum that they say have thoroughly prepared them for college English.

“The students go into their advanced placement tests knowing that they are prepared to do well not only in the tests but also in all their college classes and professional activities,” Stalder said. “They have learned how to work in groups, how to evaluate their own efforts and those of others, and to plan for improvement and carry out their plans. It is the most important lesson I can teach and they can learn.”

Stalder began her career at Southwest Texas University, which is now Texas State, back in 1969 and takes credit for her students who are now administrators and elected officials in the district including Copperas Cove Independent School District Deputy Superintendent Rick Kirkpatrick and CCISD board of trustees member Dr. Karen Harrison who is a family medicine practitioner. Students agree Stalder pushes them beyond what they even trust they are capable of achieving.

“I firmly believe that given enough support and encouragement, students will rise to our level of expectations, and I saw this belief reinforced by the attitudes and actions of the majority of the students in my classes,” Stalder said.

“The students rarely let me or themselves down.”

As Stalder packed up her classroom with multiple boxes of more than four decades of memories, she admitted she will miss CCHS, the staff and most of all, the students. She said she does not plan to substitute but may do some magazine or newspaper writing.

Stalder was named CCISD’s Secondary Teacher of the Year this year and is a nominee for the Region 12 Teacher of the Year.

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