EARLY — Early ISD Superintendent Wes Beck was a teacher for 13 of his 40 years in education.
For 27 of those 40 years, Beck has been a school administrator — assistant principal at Stephenville High School, principal at Early High School, superintendent in the Panhandle district of Shamrock, and for the past six years, superintendent in Early.
As superintendent, Beck said, he’s never quit being a teacher. “You’re always concerned about the kids,” Beck said. “I’m not as closely tied to the kids as I used to be but I’m still incredibly concerned about what goes on with them.”
Beck is in his final year in public education. He recently announced he is retiring after the current school year. Early school board members have opted to choose a search firm to assist with selecting Beck’s replacement.
In a recent interview in his office, Beck reflected on his career and impending retirement.
“Forty is a nice round number,” Beck said. “I could’ve retired 11 years ago and didn’t do it. They don't tell you when it’s time to retire, you’ll know it, and it just kind of felt right.”
Beck and his wife, Lisa — who teaches English at Early High School — are the parents of two married daughters.
Beck said he’s looking forward to his retirement — although it was harder to announce than he had anticipated.
“I’ve got some things I’ve not been able to do for a long time,” Beck said. “I’m going to build a shop in my back yard and get back to doing some woodworking. I’m a furniture builder and a carpenter. I look forward to doing some of that. I’m going to run some cows out at my wife’s home place at Zephyr.
“I’m ready to slow down. I’ve not been able to do anything like that for 20 years. I used to build Christmas presents for all the family, furniture and things. I’ve not been able to do that in so long. I’m ready to spend some time with my family and myself and travel. I’ve never been able to travel.”
Beck said he’s been on a few vacations of two or three days' duration — but he’s never been on “a real, live, long vacation.”
Places Beck wants to visit with his wife include Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Big Bend national parks, and he wants to visit New England in the fall.
Beck went to work at Stephenville High School as an ag teacher in 1980. After becoming an assistant principal at the Stephenville school, Beck came to Early High School as principal in 2003. In 2007, Beck became superintendent in Shamrock and returned to Early as superintendent in 2014.
“We went to the panhandle and loved it,” Beck said of his move to Shamrock. “People think I’m crazy when I say that. We loved the weather, we loved the people, we loved the country, and I wouldn’t have left there to go anywhere else except back to Early. Once you’ve been here you always want to come back here. Everything just fell together.”
Beck said when he interviewed to become superintendent in Early, he told Early school board members he went to Shamrock so he could get experience as a superintendent and return to Early.
“I knew I had to have some superintendent experience to be the superintendent of Early and I went to Shamrock so I could come back to Early as superintendent,” Beck said.
Beck listed helping get the district “on really firm financial standings” as among his accomplishments as superintendent. “Finances for the district are sustainable in the future,” Beck said. “I’m rather proud of that.
“We maintain our high standards. We’ve been one of probably 120 or 130 schools in the state that have ‘A’ on the report card two years in a row. Out of 1,200, maybe 130 have done that.”
Beck also said the district has seen its safety and security enhanced.
“I feel good about the administrative team we’ve got in place,” Beck said. “They have roots here.”
When asked what he would tell someone who is considering becoming a teacher, Beck said, “I would tell them it’s an honorable calling. I feel like it’s a calling, just like it’s a call to ministry. I’m not sure that you can train somebody to be a teacher. You can train them to teach. I’m not sure you can train them to be a teacher. I think that’s almost inborn.
“From the time I was 7 or 8 years old I wanted to be a teacher. That’s who I’ve been my whole life. That’s who I am and what I am. My whole adult life has been doing this.”
Beck said although it’s a hard profession and getting “harder all the time,” it’s worth the effort.
“There’s so much at stake,” Beck said. “It’s an honorable, worthwhile profession. It’s worth doing. These kids are worth it. There’s some of these kids we have — this is their safe place. This is the only thing they’ve got going for them, is what goes on in school. It’s been an honor to do this.”