(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) Brian Ward keeps his Tuba in the backseat of his car. It shows that the 1994 Cedar Hill High School Valedictorian is never far from the instrument he played for most of his life.
In fact, he still plays with the Carroll Wind Symphony, which has grown to an ensemble of 90 members and performed as far away as Chicago.
But while music is undoubtedly Ward’s passion, he’s grateful that a fellow educator helped extend an opportunity into public education – at a time when he didn’t even know if it was a path worth taking. Today, Ward – the District Data Follow and a CHISD employee since 2005 – couldn’t see himself doing anything else professionally.
“I love working with data – that’s my wheelhouse,” Ward said. “It appeals to my right brain.”
Ward, a Cedar Hill citizen, knows exactly when his trajectory toward CHISD teacher, and then administrator, happened.
He had just completed a Master’s Degree in Music Literature and History from the University of Montana and was seriously considering a doctoral program. In between programs, Ward returned to Bray Elementary – where he was a scholar from 1980-1986. His mother, Fran Ward retired from Bray a few years ago. She had worked at Highlands Elementary when that campus opened.
In 2005, Fran was teaching at Bray, whose staff was preparing for standardized testing. Ward’s job was to substitute for the teachers’ classes while they were out tutoring.
His teaching approach caught the attention of then-Bray Principal Patricia Byrd, who went on to become the 2021-2022 Cedar Hill ISD Elementary Teacher of the Year.
Byrd had a conversation with Ward about earning his alternative certification. He replied by saying he was considering it.
“I didn’t ask if, I asked when,” Byrd responded.
Byrd was transferred to West Intermediate where she hired Ward to teach fifth grade math and science. Ward was there from 2005-2010, until he was called into CHISD Administration, working a variety of coordinator roles in nearly every subject area and grade level at one time or another.
CEDAR HILL ROOTS
The Wards moved to the Dallas Fort Worth area from New York, and Ward was born in Carrollton. They moved to Cedar Hill when he was a toddler.
In his eighth grade year of 1989-1990, Ward was part of the first class of eighth graders to attend Permenter Middle School. He had previously attended the old middle school, which is where the current high school baseball and softball fields are located.
Ward is grateful for the diversity and inclusion that modern day Cedar Hill presents.
“I’m thankful for it every day,” Ward said. “We are much more diverse and much more open than ever before. We have a beautiful mix of all kinds of people living together as a community. That’s the kind of community I enjoy.”
When it came time for Ward to deliver his Valedictorian Address to 312 classmates, he emphasized originality.
“It was not a time to be quoting others,” Ward said. “It was time to use our voices and for us to become the people who are quoted in the future. My speech was short, sweet and to the point, which was odd for me, because I have a tendency to drag on.”
Ward graduated from Cedar Hill High School with 45 college credit hours, long before the days of Early College Academy or the Collegiate Pathway.
“I didn’t challenge myself against others, I challenged myself,” Ward said. “It wasn’t a matter of getting the highest score. It was a matter of getting the highest score I could get.”
Ward attended DePaul University in Chicago as a freshman but transferred to East Texas State University, which became Texas A&M-Commerce a year later.
“At the time, I wanted to reach music history,” Ward said. “When it comes to Tuba, I was a good player but not world class. There are maybe 25 gigs in the world where you can make a full living out of playing tuba.”
During his time at Commerce, Ward didn’t know he was in the presence of greatness. In the band, he sat next to Tim Buzbee, who’s now a world class tuba player with the Melbourne Symphony in Melbourne, Australia.
“I could never beat him and that drove me crazy,” Ward said. “He’s probably the best tuba player of my generation”
With close to two decades of service to the district, Ward doesn’t ever see himself working anywhere else.
“I would like to finish in Cedar Hill ISD,” Ward said.