From competitor to coach

Speech, debate teacher brings ideas, goals to Canyon

Howard+competed+in+Extemporaneous+Speaking+and+Impromptu+speaking%2C+graduating+from+Canyon+High+in+2012.

Hannah Backus

Howard competed in Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu speaking, graduating from Canyon High in 2012.

Canyon High graduate Brett Howard will coach the CHS speech and debate team this fall, taking the place of his former coach, Stefanie Rodarte-Suto.

In high school, Howard competed in Policy Debate, Extemporaneous Speaking and Impromptu speaking, qualifying for the State Championships in Policy Debate in 2011 and 2012. Before returning to Canyon, Howard taught at Hereford Junior High as a seventh-grade science teacher.

“Being on Stefanie [Rodarte-]Suto’s team was crazy and hectic–in a good way,” Howard said. “She definitely taught me how to be organized and how to research. Most importantly, she taught me how to become a good speaker. Because of her, I had the ability to take those skill into the college setting and use those to graduate.”

In 2019, Howard graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in general studies and an emphasis in education and history.

“I originally wanted to go to law school,” Howard said. “I have an associates degree in legal studies. It wasn’t until I finished my associates and came back to Canyon High School to volunteer I realized I wanted to become a teacher.”

I want to make the students feel that purpose of doing speech isn’t because they are in a class to do it, but because it’s something that is of value to them personally.”

— Brett Howard, speech and debate coach

Before teaching, Howard worked as a paralegal and in law enforcement, later volunteering to help with the Canyon speech and debate team. 

“I was a hostage negotiator for four years,” Howard said. “I loved it, but I determined teaching was where my heart was. Speech and debate has done so much for me. It has taught me how to think outside of the box, and it gave me a place to belong. I want to give that to other students.”

Howard said he had specific goals in mind for the team when he was offered the position. 

“I want to increase the amount of intrinsic motivation the students have,” Howard said. “I want to make the students feel that purpose of doing speech isn’t because they are in a class to do it, but because it’s something that is of value to them personally.”

Howard said he is looking forward to growing the team through numbers and success. 

“Canyon has always had kind of a small team,” Howard said. “I want to change that. We have some amazing, dedicated workers right now. I’ve never experienced kids that put in as much time outside of the school day as the kids at Canyon.”

Howard said he wants to give students the same lessons and memories given to him through speech and debate.

“I think by volunteering, I got a good two years of experience of how the team was run,” Howard said. “I learned how each event is taught and how [Stefanie Rodarte-Suto] shaped each event. I want to give back as much as the events and the program gave to me. I’ll teach a lot of different things, but I will always be the speech and debate coach.”