Departing UGES administrator reflects on her 37-year career
By Dave Fidlin
When she joined the Union Grove Elementary School faculty in 1985 as a physical education and health teacher, Brenda Stevenson never imagined her entire career in education would be within the K-8 feeder district.
But fast forward 37 years, and Stevenson is closing out her foray into education at the same place she got started — most recently as the superintendent.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Union Grove’s a good place,” Stevenson said in a recent phone interview with the Westine Report as she reflected back on the changes and milestones that have transpired.
While much has changed in and outside the classroom, Stevenson said there has been an unwavering constant throughout her tenure, and that is the support and collaboration from the School Board, community, parents and students.
“I’ve had a lot of support,” Stevenson said. “That’s the only way I could’ve done it.”
Stevenson’s career trajectory within UGES went through several steps. After 17 years of teaching, Stevenson in 2002 assumed the role of school principal; for the past 13 years, she has been the superintendent.
The education arena has undergone a number of notable changes in recent decades — some more visible than others. Technology has grown by leaps and bounds, but so, too, has a number of protocols, such as security precautions and approaches to meeting students’ needs.
“Education — it’s a very rewarding profession, but very challenging,” Stevenson said. “Kids come here with their own set of unique issues. You want to find a way to try and reach each and every child. We have to make sure we do the very best for them.”
Stevenson said she has been astutely aware not all of the students walking through the UGES doors each day come from the same backgrounds.
“Not all of them are coming from the perfect world,” she said. “You can’t treat every child the same. That child might not have had breakfast that morning. That child might not have had the best night’s sleep the night before. That’s a challenge for all of us.”
But from one year to the next, Stephenson said she has received immense joy through her career in watching students grow and advance before the headed off to Union Grove High School.
“I like to smile, I like to laugh,” she said. “Even as an administrator, to see a kid —their eyes light up — it just brings so much joy.”
To read the complete version of this story see the June 16 edition of the Westine Report.