Connie Walker graduated from Ector High School in Odessa, TX, and continued her education by earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Theatre Arts, and Speech with a minor in Library Science from North Texas State University (now UNT). It is impossible to categorize someone as passionate and dynamic as Connie Walker. Mrs. Walker taught in Midlothian for a few years, but a desire for an adventure led her to accept a teaching position in Australia. While there she taught in a small, rural school that was similar to Venus ISD at the time. Experiences like these served to teach Mrs. Walker that every child has a story to tell and that every child has talents to share.
In 1973, she returned to Texas from Australia. Hearing of an opening in Venus, she pulled into the school and asked a man who appeared to be a maintenance worker painting the building for directions to the superintendent’s office so she could attend her interview. The man said the superintendent would be along in a few minutes and directed her to the office. A few minutes later, she discovered that the superintendent and the maintenance man were the same person! She was hired to be THE English teacher for the district and the rest is history. She applied her full efforts and talents to make Venus ISD a great place to learn. Mrs. Walker takes great pride that she was able to establish the Venus High School chapter of the National Honor Society, a campus institution which is still thriving today.
Throughout her time in Venus, she says she is privileged to have worked for Superintendent Joe Hall, Assistant Superintendent Margie Fenton, as well as VHS Principal Dean Minor, each of whom made a lasting impact on the district which can be seen today. She credits Mr. Hall and Mrs. Fenton for working tirelessly to bring VISD the additional state and federal funds that the district so desperately needed. She holds Mrs. Barbara Hall, wife of Joe Hall, in special esteem because she was a longtime champion of the library. Prior to the construction of the current VHS facility, the high school “library” was more of a closet with some shelves and books. Mrs. Hall worked tirelessly to establish a REAL library so the students and staff of the district would have a first-class learning resource. Her work paid off with the incorporation of a full service library which was built into the current VHS campus in 1994. Mrs. Walker would stumble into her current position as District Librarian through a seemingly random conversation with, VHS Principal at the time, Dean Minor that revealed that she had minored in library science for her undergraduate degree. Though it was not an easy decision to step away from the classroom, Connie Walker embarked on the second act of her career with the district and has overseen the continual modernization of the libraries.
Mrs. Walker didn’t stop being a teacher when she left the classroom. As technology, education, and students have changed, Mrs. Walker has ensured the libraries have stayed relevant to the needs of the district’s learners. She continually takes on new challenges to make Venus ISD a better place to learn. Her latest of which has been the VHS UIL Academic Team, which saw students advance to Area Competition this year due in part to Mrs. Walker’s passion for helping students identify their talents.
Mrs. Walker is one of the few current district employees who was employed by VISD at the time of the fire in 1984. She is able to pass on the story of this important event, the impact of which can still be felt today. She was gracious enough to share her account of the fire which paints a vivid picture of the district and community at that time.
The “old school” building, as it is commonly referred to by longtime community members, was built by the Works Progress Administration as a part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930’s. By the 1980’s, the building was increasingly in need of repair and modernization. Keep in mind that at this time the building was not air conditioned. The majority of classroom learning during warmer months was condensed into the morning hours so students could spend the afternoon outdoors where conditions were more favorable.
One afternoon, Mrs. Walker wrapped up One Act Play practice on the stage and headed home after yet another long day at work. When she arrived, her husband ran out of the house to meet her, exclaiming that the school was on fire! They rushed back to the school building to see the building had already burned to the ground. She says she remembers the entire town gathered around the place where they had shared so many memories and was now in a shared state of mourning. In the aftermath of the fire, the community unified in their shared loss and was determined to rebuild. Community leaders Joe Russell and Glen White plead a convincing case that the district could continue independently. The Texas Education Agency agreed. Hard times were still ahead as there was still a new school building to build, but the citizens of Venus were able to come together when it mattered most to preserve what had always been a central fixture to the community, Venus ISD. Mrs. Walker can confidently say, “We survived the fire, we can survive anything.” A testimony to the strength of the Venus community.
What do you do for fun?
Mrs. Walker is an avid participant with the Duncanville Community Theatre, gardens, enjoys spending time with her family, is active in church, and of course is an avid reader. Mrs. Walker also continues to feed her need for adventure by traveling as often as possible with her husband. It is her desire to have adventures while they are able to enjoy it. They have traveled to Russia, Ireland, England, taken the Queen Mary across the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and make road trips across the United States as often as they can manage. Next on the list is exploring New Mexico via hot air balloon.
Mrs. Walker says she wishes she had a good answer to the often asked question of “Why stay in Venus for so many years”. The best she can say is that it became home. After turning the corner from Highway 67 onto FM 157, it isn’t just going to work, it’s going home. Mrs. Walker has watched, laughed, and cried while sharing in joys and sorrows throughout the years. Venus students, Venus people, come together when it matters most. She believes it is a privilege to be a part of such a wonderful community.
Who would you like to brag on?
Michelle Smith- “Ms. Smith is beyond generous with her talents and time, and is fantastic at what she does.”
Tina McCormick- “She has an impeccable talent for learning that surpasses many others. She runs her cafeteria program more than effectively.”
Mrs. Walker has had the privilege of teaching many current district employees. When discussions arise about the type of teacher that the district needs to attract, her name comes up frequently. The chorus of “we need teachers like Mrs. Walker” is impossible not to hear. When asked about her former students she can’t help but beam with pride, call them by name, and share memories of them. She relishes in the joy and privilege of having been able to make an impact on so many VISD students over the years. She says in her mind, all of her former students are forever 18. She knows she is fortunate that her “kids”, her former students, are working in the district. The district was so small for so long that the sense of family is engrained into our culture to the very core. Her goal for her students was to grow up, go out into the world, become somebody, and be great citizens. She would always say to her students “remember who you are”. We are proud and eternally grateful for the considerable impact Mrs. Walker has made and continues to make on Venus Independent School District.