Barney McClure, Class of 1970, has been named the inductee into the Cleburne High School Ex-Students Association Wall of Fame in conjunction with homecoming festivities underway this week.
The retired Cleburne High School agriculture teacher recently retired for a second time following eight years as executive director of the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas.
McClure spent a total of 29 years at Cleburne High School, which included faculty advisor of Cleburne FFA. He began his teaching career in 1974 at Gatesville High School. His service record also includes three years at Grandview High School from 1979-82, reflecting a total of 37 years in education.
McClure, who grew up on a small livestock farm east of Cleburne, said he developed an interest in ag in eighth grade after A.D. Wheat came to the junior high campus and “made a pitch” about the high school program to incoming freshman.
“The older kids I rode the bus with said ag with Mr. Wheat was what I needed to do,” McClure said. “Mr. Wheat went on to become my mentor. Pete Hobby was another. He was my high school science teacher and I later taught both his sons. I still miss him.”
McClure has lots of happy memories of his years as a student at CHS. He describes himself as a ‘participant’ in baseball, with two years on the team. While his school activities are numerous according to the 1970 yearbook, it was obvious he was more than a “participant” when it came to Cleburne FFA. McClure’s four years in the Cleburne chapter included the office of president and District president. In addition to all the knowledge and the skills he gained, FFA also provided him with some memorable experiences.
McClure was in the Cleburne delegation that attended the 1968 National FFA Convention in Kansas City, Missouri where Richard Nixon was among the keynote speakers. It was McClure’s first time on an airplane — something he shared with Wheat, and his wife, who also made the trip. As a freshman in FFA, he stayed in a hotel for the first time when he was among Cleburne students attending the Houston Livestock Show.
“I had great teachers in high school,” McClure said. “They were people who had our best interests at heart.”
Fred Sarchet, who is a fellow Wall of Fame honoree from the 1970s, was a year behind McClure. They would meet up again years after graduation when both served on faculty at CHS.
“Barney’s always been a great friend,” Sarchet said. “He was the perfect person to follow Mr. Wheat as an ag teacher when he retired. I also remember Barney as the voice of Cleburne football as the announcer at our home games.
“I think he is an ideal selection for the Wall of Fame. He’s done a lot in bringing honor to CHS and Cleburne as a student, a teacher and through his involvement and advocacy for career and technical education.”
After graduation, McClure enrolled in Tarleton State University where he spent his first two years of study before transferring to Texas A&M University where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. He achieved a Master of Education degree from Texas A&M in 1978.
In 2007, he was honored by his Alma mater in being named the Distinguished Former Student of the Year by the TAMU Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication. The recognition is among many presented to McClure for his service to agriculture and education. He received the Superior Service Award from Texas AgriLife Extension Service in 2004; Range Management Teacher of the Year from the Texas Section, Society for Range Management in 2002 and was twice honored as the Teacher of the Year by the Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District.
McClure was also honored by his colleagues who named him campus Teacher of the Year in 1998. He was named as the outstanding agriculture in north Texas in 2007, receiving the Bayard H. Friedman Foundation’s Hero in the Classroom Award.
“Mr. McClure had a huge influence on me as a young man at CHS,” Rep. DeWayne Burns (District 58) said. “He, along with Tommy Webb, challenged us as students to go above and beyond what we believed was possible. He taught us that work ethic and commitment to follow through on matters relating to academics, the workforce and all aspects of life’s journey.
“He provided us with practical lessons about leadership, public speaking, working as a team and attention to the details, along with the lessons of life, such as making our own luck. Mr. McClure led by example in instilling in students that nothing can replace hard work, nobody is too good to get their hands dirty and the importance of doing what you say you’re going to do. These lessons made a lasting impact on my life and the lives of countless students. I’m thankful that God put Mr. McClure in my life.”
McClure was also impacted by educators who made a lasting impact on his teaching career, starting with the late CISD Superintendent Don Smith and retired Career and Technical Education Director Donald Bennett, whom he describes as “good men.”
“Both of these men were instrumental in my work at Cleburne High School,” he said. “They hired me and were a great source of help to me. I am also grateful for Grandview agriculture teacher Herbert Lubke. He was a veteran of World War II and had been captured by the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge. He was such a positive person.”
McClure also mentions retired Godley ag science teacher Jack Rowland, who he describes as a good man and mentor.
“If I could have taken the best part of Mr. Wheat and these two men and taken on those qualities, it would have been a dream for me,” he said. “They each reflected a picture of the ideal teacher in their work with kids.”
Now that he has closed the book on a second career, McClure is contemplating what comes next. He is not one to sit still for too long.
“I’ve experienced about three weeks of retirement,” he said. “I’ve gotten some things done at home. But I’ve worked since I was 15 and spent 45 years as a teacher. “I like working — I never had a day not liking what I was doing. All the grandkids’ activities are keeping me busy, but I think something will come along that I might do.”
Following two careers involving teaching, McClure has already taken on a new project that relates to teaching. He is involved in a new program sponsored by the Vocational Agriculture Teachers Association of Texas in which he is mentoring two first-year agriculture teachers. He knows well the importance a veteran teacher can have on those beginning their careers.
“As a mentor, I’m helping them get inducted into our profession,” he said. “We have 43 new ag teachers statewide and we are helping them adjust to being in the classroom. I’m prejudiced I know, but serving as an agriculture education teacher is one of the most challenging. We expect them to teach content, maintain classroom management, along with preparing and taking kids to contests and on field trips and activities on top of those traditional classroom duties.
“We want our first-year teachers to be successful and stay in the profession. If we can help these ’kids’ survive that first year and gain the skills to manage all this, we want to do that.”
McClure and his wife, Debbie, a member of the CHS Class of 1971, have been married for 47 years and raised two graduates of CHS. Their daughter, Amy, is an attorney in Houston. Their son, Mark, is the director of Career and Technical Education for CISD. They have grandchildren and are members of Field Street Baptist Church.