High school is a time of memories, growth and learning, but most of us, if we had the opportunity, would never return to our former high schools. After graduating, we leave high school in the past and dive head first into the future.
However, several alumni have traded in their backpacks for briefcases to return to their alma maters as faculty. Read about what motivated these former students to reenter the classroom in a very different role.
English teacher and tennis coach
Class of 1975
SCHOOL DAYS: While in high school, Williams was involved in a variety of activities, including football, basketball, baseball, student council, drama club and the drum corps. “I had fun in high school,” he says.
THE JOURNEY BACK: Williams says he never thought he would be a teacher. But after changing majors five times in college, he landed on education.
After graduating, he participated in the Teacher Corps, a post-graduate internship that sends teachers into multicultural situations.
Williams says the program was the “best training grounds for a teacher because you learn quickly how to work in difficult situations.”
In 1982, he began teaching at Westwood Junior High and three years later moved to Lake Highlands Junior High in order to work closer to home.
He began teaching at Lake Highlands High School in 1995. Williams says working at his alma mater was a “natural choice” and “very desirable.”
WHAT’S CHANGED: When Williams attended LHHS in the early 1970s, the honors classes were more “exclusive”, he says. “Only 60 kids were allowed in the classes, so there was no open enrollment for that.”
Now, he says about 200 students, roughly three times as many, participate in Advanced Placement classes.
He says the average number of years faculty members stay at the school has also changed.
“(Before), many of the teachers stayed here for a great deal of time,” he says. “Now, it’s a more transient population.”
TELLING STUDENTS: “I do let them know that I’m a graduate of this school.” Williams says. “I don’t go far with that because I know they don’t really care.”
ENJOYING IT: “I love it here. It is still a very strong and great place to teach,” he says.
“The students are still wonderful. The faculty is great. I can’t imagine a better environment to be in where there’s such a diverse population that has as much harmony as this one does.”
English teacher and head girls’ soccer coach
Class of 1996
SCHOOL DAYS: Benson says it had been her dream to come back to Lake Highlands High, even before she was a student at the school.
“High school was such an awe-inspiring thing that every little girl couldn’t wait to get to,” she says.
She played soccer as a student, both with the school and on club teams.
“High school was filled with the obvious heartbreak between friends and first loves — the rite of passage most of us incur — but it was also filled with a great sense of community and support,” Benson says.
THE JOURNEY BACK: After graduating from high school, Benson attended St. Edward’s University, where she continued her soccer career. She then came back to Dallas, where she taught and coached at W.T. White, then taught and coached at two different schools in Houston for five years.
She was heading to teach at another school when she got a call from Lake Highlands.
“I basically dropped everything I was doing and came down and did my interview, got the job, picked up my life and, in a matter of days, moved my whole life here.”
This is her fourth year teaching and coaching at the school.
“I wanted to come back to coach the girls’ soccer team because it was such a huge part of my life and one of my biggest passions — then and now,” Benson says.
WHAT’S CHANGED: “There are a lot more kids running around here,” Benson says.
New additions to the building, including the freshman center and renovations to the stadium, also have taken place since her graduation.
But “Lake Highlands is still pretty much Lake Highlands,” she says, with “a wonderful sense of tradition” continuing at the school.
RELATING TO TEACHERS: Benson says she works closely with one of the teachers who taught her: senior AP English teacher David Wood, whom Benson describes as “legendary in Lake Highlands”.
“It’s interesting being on the other side of the desk, and it’s fun jabbing him that he’s older since I’m now here,” she says.
SHARING WITH STUDENTS: Benson has pictures and things that relate to her high school days in her office and in her classroom.
“My kids love those pictures of me from high school,” she says.
The students like to watch videos of her high school soccer games as well.
“I think it offers a relatability to them that I’ve been here, but I’m still some old crazy woman to them,” she says.
English teacher, Class of 1983
SCHOOL DAYS: “I went to Lake Highlands Elementary, Lake Highlands Junior High and Lake Highlands High School, and everyone in my family has, too,” Scarbrough says. She says she has watched nieces and nephews go through the Lake Highlands schools as well. As a student, she played soccer and track. “I played my whole life,” Scarbrough says.
THE JOURNEY BACK: After graduating from high school, Scarbrough attended SMU, where she played soccer, but she left and graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Right after college, she wrote for the University of Arizona newspaper, but she had always wanted to teach.
“Everyone said, ‘Don’t teach — you won’t make any money,’ ” she says.
She came back to Dallas, earned her teacher certification, and then began teaching in Dallas schools — Dallas Can Academy, R.L. Turner and Flower Mound Marcus. She heard about an opening at Lake Highlands, and “I kind of wanted to be back with family roots,” she says.
WHAT’S CHANGED: Lake Highlands had a smoking section when Scarbrough was a student. She says she doesn’t smoke, but “you could walk by and you would see teachers and students smoking and talking together.”
Scarbrough also says she wasn’t able to wear shorts to school.
“Now when my sister went here, — she’s 11 and a half years older than I am — [the teachers] would make [female students] get on their knees, and they would take a ruler to see if their skirts were long enough,” she says.
Scarbrough also remembers classes that are no longer offered, such as mythology, a course on all of Shakespeare’s work and a course on automobile tune-up.
LONG TIME COMING: “I found an old diary, my sixth-grade diary, that said that I wanted to come back and teach English and be a coach,” Scarbrough says.
“But I had my years off, obviously. I said when I was 18, I was going to come back. Maybe it was a second-grade diary,” she says, “but I laughed about that.”
OLD CONNECTIONS: “Every once in a while I’ll find a book, a really old book, and I’ll open it up and find somebody — a friend,” she says. “Once I called one of my friends. I said, ‘I found your book from high school in my classroom.’ ” Scarbrough says she has coached the children of former teammates. Usually she doesn’t tell her students that she graduated from Lake Highlands, but sometimes she tells them in passing.
“They’re amazed about some of the changes,” she says.