The journey has come full circle for Brandon Cope, a former Riesel student who will become Riesel Independent School District superintendent after the school board named him the lone finalist for the position Tuesday.

Cope, 37, graduated from Riesel School, which serves seventh- through 12th-grade students. He is now principal of the secondary school, but will ascend to superintendent after waiting at least 21 days as required by state law.

A school board must name the finalist or finalists for superintendent at least 21 days before officially voting to employ the person, according to state law.

Current Superintendent Brian Garner will stay until the end of the school year, Cope said. He expects to move into the superintendent role in June.

Cope said his goal when he joined the district in 2015 was to become superintendent if the position ever became available. He has served as principal for the past three years.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for me, having graduated here, and it’s an honor to come back to serve the community,” he said. “We’ve got a great district out here. The biggest thing is to maintain the momentum and keep the good things going and continue to raise the bar. We’re trying to get a little bit better each day.”

Cope graduated from Baylor University in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies. He started teaching in 2009 at Cesar Chavez Middle School in Waco. Cope then earned his master’s in education administration from Baylor. He also has served as assistant principal at Waco High School, principal at Crestview Elementary School and director of both the Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy and the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy.

“My biggest goal is I always want kids to achieve their maximum potential,” Cope said. “We need to be able to give kids opportunities to reach their full potential in whatever they want to do. Kids need to be able to give their best at something and learn that mindset of hard work and doing what it takes to be successful. I want kids to be prepared for whatever life decision they make when they leave us.”

Riesel ISD has about 645 students in two schools: Foster Elementary and Riesel School. The city located southeast of Waco has a population of about 1,000.

Brooke Crum joined the Tribune-Herald as the education reporter in January 2019. She has worked for the Springfield News-Leader in Missouri, Abilene Reporter-News, Beaumont Enterprise and the Port Arthur News. Crum graduated from TCU in Fort Worth.

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