‘I couldn’t imagine my life without Blinn,’ she says
When Robin Branecky arrived at Blinn College-Schulenburg, she had no idea what the future held for her.
The Moulton High School graduate was interested in science, especially genetics, and was considering going into veterinary medicine. At the same time, having just completed her own basketball career, she was drawn to the possibility of becoming a high school basketball coach.
Finally, she asked Campus Director Barbara Parker Moore at Blinn what she should do. Moore told her to shut her eyes and imagine what she wanted to be doing in five years.
“I closed my eyes and I told her I could see myself coaching on a sideline, and she told me if I could see myself doing it then I was meant to do it,” Branecky recalled. “Then she told me the steps I needed to take to get there.”
Now, as the principal at Flatonia Secondary School, Branecky has the same conversation with her own students.
“I got that from Mrs. Moore,” Branecky said. “Students can always see the big picture at the end of the tunnel, but they don’t always know how to get there.”
Prior to attending Blinn, Branecky wasn’t even certain she could see the big picture. A basketball standout at tradition-rich Moulton High, about 20 miles southwest of Schulneburg, Branecky had scholarship offers to continue her basketball career at the next level. But after devoting so much of her life to the sport, she was ready to move on to the next challenge and focus on her education.
“My senior year in high school, when I walked off the court for the final time, I was ready for the next chapter in my life,” Branecky said. “I was ready to start fresh and start something new.”
Without the financial aid a basketball scholarship would have afforded her, she enrolled at Blinn’s brand-new Schulenburg campus and immediately took a job as a student worker, assisting Barbara Parker Moore in the school’s reception area. Among other duties, she answered phones, helped clean the campus and even mowed the lawn and painted the gymnasium walls.
“That was probably one of the best learning experiences of my life, knowing that I was going to get my college degree no matter what,” Branecky said.
Branecky’s future teaching style was inspired by instructors such as Tommy Born, Daniel Wagner and GayeLynn Thompson during her two years at Blinn. Wagner would incorporate hunting and fishing stories into his math class, and Branecky was delighted to see the Houston Oilers, her favorite team, mentioned on one of Mr. Bourne’s history exams. Now, Branecky encourages her teachers to find similar ways to make the information they present relatable to their students.
“I want my teachers to connect with their students and become a part of their students’ lives,” Branecky said. “I hope that I’m emulating what I grew up with and what I learned from my professors in Schulenburg.”
Those professors also taught Branecky to keep working toward even higher accomplishments. As she built her foundation at Blinn, they regularly asked when she planned to transfer to Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University—San Marcos). Once she transferred and earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science in 2001, they asked her when she planned on getting her master’s.
“There was always that further push because they always cared,” Branecky said. “That’s what I hope my teachers today do for our students, telling them, ‘OK, you have a high school diploma and that’s great. Now what are you going to do next?’”
Branecky, whose mother is fourth-grade teacher at Moulton Elementary, taught at Gonzales High School in her first year out of Southwest Texas State. A week before she married her husband Douglas, a Flatonia native, she got the offer to teach and coach at Flatonia Secondary School. She signed the contract the day after she returned from her honeymoon.
As she had promised her professors and friends at Blinn, Branecky earned her master’s degree in history in 2006, and in 2007 she returned to Blinn, this time as an instructor teaching dual credit courses.
In 2011, after adding a degree in administration, she was named the dean of students at Flatonia, and in May she began her new position as principal.
“My heart is happy,” she said. “Being in a community where you’re so loved, with this relationship between school and parents and friends and relatives, it’s just such a blessing. I couldn’t imagine my life without Blinn. I don’t know if I’d be sitting here without it.”