DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Karon Cogdill said she made a promise to herself years ago.

“I swore, when I was in high school, I would never teach. Everyone in my family taught school,” she recounted while sitting outside of the Dallas high school she has called her work home for more than 40 years.

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Cogdill has been director of the Theater Conservatory for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts since the creation of the magnet school concept for the campus.

Karon Cogdill (CBS 11)

In the effort to desegregate Dallas Public Schools, Booker T., as its affectionately called, became a designated arts focused school.

Students audition for coveted slots in dance, music, theater and visual arts.

Cogdill was recruited from the Dallas Theater Center in the 70s to guide students through the world of stage and screen, including writing, acting, directing and lighting.

“The goal for us is to give access to all of these kids, to find the best part of every kid who comes in. I love teaching. I love the magic of the classroom, and that’s what keeps me here now,” Cogdill explained.

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Karon Cogdill (credit: Dallas ISD)

This year, the Theater Conservatory director has passed the baton to a new leader.

A former student will now take over.

At 68, Cogdill is completing treatment for breast cancer, and recently admitted her concern about exposure to possible COVID-19 infection, in an environment with hundreds of students and faculty members.

After four decades, her teaching reluctance long gone, Cogdill’s service inside Booker T. is part of the magnet school’s history, starting a theater program, and overseeing its growth for students.

“There is something about this age that is magic. Seeing students open up as artists. That’s what keeps me in the classroom. It’s magic.”

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