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Copeland “drives” off to spring retirement

SAT.| 12-19-20 | FEATURES

     Automotive teacher Bruce Copeland has been teaching at Rose for a total of ten years and is retiring at the end of this school year. He is originally from Bethel, North Carolina, and has been an automotive mechanic for his whole life, Copeland’s journey to working as an automotive mechanic led him to continue his career as a teacher. 

     “Automotive was my favorite subject in high school but I never dreamed of being an automotive technician teacher but here I am,” Copeland said.

     Copeland’s original career started in 1980 as an automotive mechanic where he worked at Toyota for 15 years. In August of 2010, Copeland attended his son's sophomore open house at D.H Conley where he was introduced to the auto tech teachers. Working at Toyota for so many years and meeting the auto tech teachers is what influenced Copeland to begin teaching automotive classes at Rose. 

     “[I went down to talk to my son’s automotive technician teacher] and I made the joke that this is the kind of job I need; he actually said I qualified for the job and ‘you ought to apply for it’,” Copeland said. “I applied for it on a Monday night and I got a phone call Tuesday morning saying they wanted to interview me, and that afternoon I got the job.”

     Copeland is extremely thankful for his Rose family. He feels his classes are more “laid back” and this has allowed him to make special connections with his students. Building connections with the students and staff has been one of


Photo by Annie Sullivan

Copeland’s favorite parts about being a teacher at Rose.

     “The main thing I will miss about being at Rose is the bonds I have made with the staff and students,” Copeland said. “My favorite thing to see is a former student out doing well in the world and being good stewards of what they have learned in school.”

     Some of the things Copeland has learned from teaching is learning how to have patience and also feels that he has learned how to communicate with others. Copeland works to create the connections he so values by taking the time to listen to his students. 

     “The biggest thing with the kids is that you need to listen to them because they have a lot to tell people,” Copeland said. “A lot of time teachers don’t have time to listen to the students because their classes are a lot more structured than mine, and I get to know a lot about my students.”

     Although Copeland has really enjoyed his time here at Rose, he has decided that retiring at the end of the school year would be the best for him and his family. Copeland has been considering retiring for some time, but COVID-19 was the deal-breaker for his decision. 

     “I have underlying health issues, my wife has MS [multiple sclerosis], and my sister-in-law [that lives with us] is mentally challenged,” Copeland said. “I am really just trying to take care of the family and keep everyone healthy.”

     Copeland does not have any specific plans after his retirement but he plans to use his newfound free time to help his daughter with her new business. Copeland also wants to purchase an older car for him to restore in order to continue his passion for working in the automotive industry. After Copeland retires he will sincerely miss all the relations he has built with the students and staff at Rose, he considers them to be family.

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