Andrea Canady and Gail Copeland are close friends who share an
interest in mystery writers and a certain Broadway musical.
Canady and Copeland are avid readers of J.A. Jance and Sue Grafton
mystery novels, and they are “phantom” buddies.
“Whenever ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is playing, we go,” Canady
said this week.
The similarities don’t stop there. The women met when they began
their careers as fourth-grade teachers at Jefferson Elementary School
more than 40 years ago, and both women retired July 31.
“Where does the time go?” Canady asked. “I can remember my first
day in the classroom.”
Canady, who is stepping down as director of elementary education,
has worked out of the district office for the past 17 years. Copeland
was Miller Elementary School’s principal for 18 years.
The women said they have encountered many changes in education.
When they started, there were no English learners in their
classrooms, and most of the children had stay-at-home moms, Canady
Over the years, Burbank has become multicultural with many
languages spoken by students, and many moms employed outside the
home, Copeland said.
“Neither one of us are quitting because we don’t like what we’re
doing,” she said. “It’s time.”
If she were beginning a career today, Canady said she would have
more career choices.
“Way back when ... you were either a secretary, a nurse or a
teacher. Choices are endless now,” she said. “I might have gone into
law, but I certainly haven’t regretted going into education.”
Copeland said she was a good student, so school was always a
comfortable environment. Her husband, also an educator, retired five
“He has traveled without me,” Copeland said. “Now I’ll be able to
go on some trips with him.”
The women also plan to do some traveling together.
“It’s been a good ride for both of us, and we intend to keep in
touch,” Canady said.