Behind every success is a story. At Highlands Junior School, there are 40 years of success stories that have a common thread that runs through Eva Bradford.
Bradford spent her career in education coaching and teaching in Goose Creek CISD. In a life dedicated to kids and teaching, she has touched countless lives, inspiring both students and co-workers to excellence. Looking for a way to say thanks, Highlands Junior High assistant principal Heron Thomas and teacher Tracy Gaston-Gray brainstormed for ideas. From that a petition was floated that gained steam and attracted 3,257 signatures in support of asking the district school board to name the Highlands Junior School Competitive Gymnasium after her.
Susan Passmore, Goose Creek CISD spokesperson, said the district has not received an official letter or proposal for naming the gym.
Bradford found out about the online petition and the gesture completely floored her.
“I was overwhelmed because of all the love,” she said. “I never taught for the accolades. It was for love of the kids. That is why it is so overwhelming and so humbling. It’s an honor.”
Highlands Principal Gary Guy noted Bradford is loved throughout the school and community. She serves as a role model while teaching lessons that resonate with him as a former coach.
“I have the pleasure of working with Coach Bradford,” he said. “She instills teamwork and sportsmanship. It’s a lost art and she does it with PE classes as well. It’s an expectation and she has done it the right way.”
Bradford attended Barbers Hill High School and stood out in basketball and track, earning a spot in the school’s athletic Hall of Honor. During her school years, she gained inspiration for her profession from family in education as well as other teachers. Her goal was simple.
“Seeing students succeed,” she said. “I never thought I would teach 40 years but I guess God had a plan.”
The plan has reached generations. Earlier last week, Thomas recalled a student who approached him.
“They said Coach Bradford taught my mom and grandma,” he said. “Her name is synonymous with Highlands Junior School.
“As a young teacher, she has been a role model. I could be in a situation and she has taught me to take the high road. She is as fair as they come. Her honest and integrity stand out to me.”
Gaston-Gray was a student of Bradford’s and is currently a co-worker who continues to learn from a woman for whom she has great admiration.
“When I entered teaching, she guided me and I watched the way she handled her classes, spoke to her classes and taught them,” Gaston-Gray said. “She gave me great advice and always encouraged me when I was doing things right, even to this day.”
Gaston-Gray also described Bradford as the consummate professional, taking pride in all that she does including the way she takes care of the gym.
In looking at God’s plan, Bradford said she only intended to teach 25 years. One thing she can say is she will not teach another 40. And when she does decide to hang up her whistle for a well-deserved retirement, Goose Creek CISD will have a chore on its hands.
“She tries to retire once a week but I don’t accept it,” Guy said. “We don’t have anyone like her that can fill her shoes.”
That is probably one of the many reasons more than 3,000 would like to see a gym named after Bradford.
Find the HJS gym petition here: