Beginning, ending together

Molly Shore

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

years ago.

“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.