A friendly face: Teacher associate brings smiles to campus

Teacher associate brightens days around campus


Solily San Miguel

Virginia Pittman smiles while helping one of her students during a fifth period class on Dec. 9.

Solily San Miguel, Staff Writer

She’s known as the “nice lady.”

She walks the hallways, greeting every student with a smile, a “hello,”  a “good morning.” More than 2,000 faces on campus, and she lights up the eyes of each one. 

Her name is Virginia Pittman. 

Pittman is a retired court supervisor who works as a teacher associate on campus to help students in need. 

“You never know the one person who’s gonna need that ‘hi’, who you can stop from hurting themselves, or something bad happening,” Pittman said. “You don’t know what anybody’s been through in life. So your smile and your ‘hello’ can turn that around for them.” 

Before school starts, Pittman determines which students she will visit throughout the day, then goes to their classrooms to check up on them.

“She’s very encouraging and very supportive,” American Sign Language teacher Claudia Barthuly said. “I think she makes a very positive influence on the students.” 

Students are assigned to Pittman through teachers, who notice a student’s struggle with school work or personal issues that might cause distractions, and she hops around campus to get to the necessary classrooms. 

“You always gotta remember that you get stronger in all the trials you go through,” Pittman said “If you fall, you gotta remember to look up, because when you’re looking down, you can’t see the hand reaching to pull you up.”

 Pittman has faced some trials of her own. 

She spent her childhood in Chicago with a full house of five sisters and three brothers. When they first moved to Chicago, they were the first Hispanic family in the neighborhood.

Pittman’s maiden name is Pelican, which caused the occasional fight for her growing up.

“I learned how to fight because I’m half polish,” she said. “My maiden name was Pelican, like the bird, and the boys used to say, ‘Keep scooping them up, Pelican’, so I would have to beat them up.”  

After she moved to Houston, one of her brothers died from gang violence.

Pittman was married in 2000 and had four daughters and three sons. She later attended Shirley Baker Career Institute in Houston for court reporting, but did not finish her education after her son passed away. 

“It was too much to be away from my family,” Pittman said. “It was very demanding.”

She pursued her career in court, starting as a reporter and working her way to court supervisor, where she helped kids with parking tickets and minor crimes. Her goal was to help young people get back on the right path. She retired in 2016.

Pittman and her husband, Bruce, moved to Bulverde in 2018, and she got a job on campus soon after. Bruce, who worked at Canyon, was diagnosed with lung cancer just two years later, and died in 2021. 

After spending some time at Boerne, Pittman returned to Smithson Valley after her husband’s death. 

“God had a plan that he was gonna go home first,” Pittman said. “I came back because the student body, the kids, give me joy. The joy that I get is the peace knowing that the Lord healed my husband, so when I see you kids I like to share that joy.”