ENNIS — After 31 years of teaching in four different communities, Delores Vrana says it’s time to move on.

“I just feel like it time – we need younger faces around here and new ideas,” the veteran teacher said.

Vrana was raised in the Czech community of West, just a few miles north of Waco, where she graduated from high school at St. Mary’s Catholic School there.

She and her first husband, who served in the U.S. Air Force moved back to West after he completed 20 years service. He passed away in 1994.

Delores returned to her alma mater in 1980 – St. Mary’s to teach sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade social studies. Later, she accepted a teaching position at an elementary school in Waco, where she taught third grade for nine years, commuting from West.

Three years after she lost her first husband, Dolores met Ennis native Joe Vrana at a SPJST anniversary dance in Belton, south of Waco.

“We just started dancing and then it just took off from there,” she said with a laugh. “We married in August 2001 and moved back to Ennis.”

She wasn’t able to find a teaching job in Ennis, so she accepted a third-grade position in Kaufman and commuted from Ennis for two years before beginning her teaching tenure at Travis Elementary School.

“Mr. (Steve) Huff interviewed me and offered me the job teaching third grade,” she said. “This was my first experience having a man for a principal and I just have to say, I’ve worked for two wonderful principals here at Travis – first Mr. Huff and then Mr. (Ryan) McCabe.

“I really love teaching the fourth grade here and especially teaching writing,” she said. “Third-graders are such a delight to teach.”

She says her activities for retirement haven’t been totally planned yet, but her eyes light up at the idea of coming back and working as a volunteer – or maybe substitute teaching.

“I’m not an office person so volunteering to work there will be out of the question,” she said. “My heart is with children and whatever I do I want it to be with the children.”

Vrana admits to being a little apprehensive about walking away from showing up in the classroom every day for 31 years.

“It’s going to be different getting up the first morning and not coming to school,” she said. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who have retired and they tell me they have more things to do than ever.”

She loves gardening and has kept a nice garden in her back yard.

“I love to do canning, especially salsa – as long as my tomatoes turn out good,” she said.

Making the transition from her hometown in West to Ennis wasn’t very difficult – although Ennis is much larger.

“I consider Ennis just another home. I attend St. John Catholic Church here and have been in contact with many people,” she said. “It’s like West – a Czech community and so it has been very easy to get to know people here. I really enjoy Ennis – and I don’t feel like I have come to a new place.”

She has equally fond feelings for Travis Elementary.

“The people here are just another family to me – they have gone out of their way to make me feel at home here,” she said. “And it’s been wonderful working for both Mr. Huff and Mr. McCabe – everybody here is always willing to help. I think that’s one of the difficult things about retiring – I’ll miss being around the people here.”

Both Vrana and her husband enjoy travel: He has been to the Czech Republic four times and she’s made three trips there.

“When we go, we usually take a guided tour, but Joe knows the Czech language well enough, we could go and be on our own and do just fine,” she said, saying she doesn’t know the language as well as her husband, but she is able to understand what people are saying in Czech.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1420.