The 2012-13 school year will bring many changes for the students and staff of Blanco Elementary School—a school in the middle of a renovation project. But new principal Linda Romano sees it not so much a challenge as a gift and clear evidence that the city of Blanco supports its school system, to the tune of a $1million renovation. She looks forward to a truly “Grand Opening,” at which the community sees that the Blanco Elementary “is everyone’s school.”
This is not Romano’s first time in the Blanco Independent School District, although a long and winding road brought her back. The San Francisco native and “Army brat” actually grew up in San Antonio and attended UT-San Antonio when it first became a four-year college. She attributes her desire to teach to “influential teachers” and the novel Christy. She majored in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Language Arts and first taught sixth through eighth graders in the Judson ISD. After five years she and her husband moved to San Marcos, where she continued teaching in the private sector, training tellers at a bank. But she missed teaching in the public schools, and in 1984 she accepted a teaching position in a combination third-fourth grade class at Blanco Elementary School. Current middle school teacher Collin Gasskamp remembers her from those days, and some staff—Nurse Peggy Pepper, and administrative office worker Lula Corley—were working in the district at that time. Romano remembers that Phyllis Owen was the principal at that time. At the end of that school year, Romano moved to Wimberley, which had recently become a district separate from Hays County, and took a position as a sixth grade Language Arts teacher.
Convinced that reading is the most crucial component of education, Romano returned to UTSA for a Masters Degree program and became a reading specialist. Later she returned to school again and received a degree in Administration. She worked in Marble Falls for three years as a principal, opening Cole Elementary School. And then she retired to enjoy her “getaway home” on Lake LBJ, where she enjoys boating, jet-skiing, and just sitting outside on her deck looking at the water.
Only one thing brought her out of her perfect retirement lifestyle—the enticements of Blanco ISD friends and employees who kept telling her what a great place Blanco is. Although she says she “wasn’t really looking,” the idea of returning to Blanco “had a life of its own.” She was impressed with Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford, and by February she was “all in.” So she applied and was hired in May, in time to come to Field Day, and was invited to a staff meeting, where she was greeted warmly with a cake decorated with the words “Welcome Home.”
“It was meant to happen,” says Romano.
As to what the appeal of Blanco is, Romano says, “There’s a really good energy here—I couldn’t be more excited about the potential here.” She cited stories of many residents and school employees who grew up in Blanco, left, and then returned. She wants the community “to be a part of what we do, and for us to be a part of the community. “She sees a lot of respect from the community for education, as evidenced by the commitment to the renovation project. She looks forward to working with businesses and increasing parent involvement, especially among parents who feel disenfranchised or had a bad experience in school. She calls parents “the make-or-break” piece of the puzzle which includes students and teachers. “It is too big a job to do alone,” she concludes. “If we work together, the sky’s the limit.”