His dream job became a reality, but not without experiencing fear, anxiety, anger, discouragement and months of fighting a disease that could have taken his life.
These sentiments were shared with members of the Heights Rotary Club at their regular meeting June 12 by Larry Brazzil, the new principal of the Harker Heights High School.
The stories he shared with the group were about personal growth, relationships and the culture of the school.
He used an analogy of teachers working with students as people who are mechanics or builders and described the incredible amount of tools needed to teach students today.
“All I needed when I started teaching in 1979 was a small toolbox,” he said. “It had a hammer, screwdriver and a crescent wrench in it and I was good to go.”
He said that education and students today have changed so much that now students and educators need one of those snap-on toolboxes, with 32 drawers filled with everything that Sears makes to reach students and their learning styles.
Before becoming principal, Brazzil served as the high school’s assistant principal and decided it was time to apply to become principal when Ralph Bray retired. He didn’t get the job.
“I blamed everyone except myself for being the reason why I lost out,” he said.
In the meantime, Brazzil soaked in everything he could learn from the person who did become principal, David Manley.
“As he and I became close friends and co-workers, we made a good team and helped each other with the challenges of operating the school,” he said.
Visits with several doctors during this time added a new word to Brazzil’s vocabulary: Cancer.
“As many of you know, nothing will change your life like having cancer and especially when they tell you that you’re going to M.D. Anderson in Houston for tests and possible treatment,” Brazzil said.
Brazzil thought of himself as a “fat boy” until he was diagnosed.
While receiving radiation treatments, he was put on a liquid diet for over two years and lost 55 pounds. “After all of that, every day is a good day.”
“Lessons learned from not getting the job then getting cancer were that I was not ready to lead that high school. There was a personal plan from a higher power and a Killeen ISD plan that made it clear that it wasn’t my turn,” he said. “I had some leadership growing to do and I could not have cancer and run a school. As I followed the mentoring from David, another opportunity came around again to apply and I did. I got the job this time and am happy to be here.”