‘It was like a family’: Forest Meadow teachers gather for reunion

FMJH Teacher Reunion

Trish Jones was 25 when Richardson ISD hired her to teach math in 1988. When the district placed her at Forest Meadow Junior High, she couldn’t believe her luck. She had graduated from the school just 10 years earlier, and when she walked in the door, the first face she saw in the school’s front office was her own former math teacher, Barbara Burns.

“I don’t know if you remember me, Mrs. Burns,” she asked timidly. “I’m Trisha Malanaphy. I’m going to be a math teacher with you.”

“Oh I remember you,” the veteran teacher replied. “At least I’m sure you know your math.”

Sponsored Message

Burns, Jones and 20 other former Forest Meadow teachers hosted an informal reunion Saturday, meeting at the school for a quick photo before stopping for lunch at Enchilada’s to laugh about the good old days. As the mom of four Charger alums, it was my great honor to tag along.

Jay Murter recalled the teacher who would often show up at work in fuzzy pink slippers and a nightgown with her hair in rollers.

“No matter how they would try to convince her that was not proper work attire, that’s how she would come,” Murter remembered. “Then she would scream that she was going to sue somebody if they tried to make her wear proper clothing. She insisted in parking in the fire lane in front of the school, and one day when the police came she whooped up on one of the cops. That was the last I saw of her.”

Murter’s trips with Science Club members were legendary.

“We went to the bat caves in Austin and the diamond and quartz mines in Arkansas and to Oklahoma to look for gypsum crystals. Then gradually, as I got more comfortable taking students on trips, we started going annually to Washington D.C. and to Big Bend National Park. We spent spring break horseback riding and learning the geology and the plant life. It was a great experience.  I was [at FMJH] when we had ninth-graders, so some kids took three or four trips with me.”

I asked what changed when ninth-graders moved to LHFC.

Sponsored Message

“The eighth graders became leaders on campus, they matured quicker, but the bigger change at that time had to do with neighborhood demographics. We also had a big turnover of teachers. We had teachers that had been there for so long, and many left for the freshman center.”

“I loved teaching at Forest Meadow from the day I walked in to the day I left,” continued Murter. “It was the finest school I could imagine. The kids were great, the neighborhood was great, the families were wonderful and supportive – I still miss those days.”

Art teacher Monta Darrough agreed.

“There was a lot of camaraderie amongst the teachers – it was like a family. There were a lot of young people on the staff. We socialized a lot and did things together. [Junior high] was a fun age to teach. The kids were enthusiastic. After Forest Meadow I taught at Berkner, and I was surprised when I asked a question. I was used to 7th graders raising their hand, but the high schoolers didn’t.”

Lynette Hagaman taught English for 20 years during the late Jeff Kane’s heyday as principal at the school.

“It’s the worst thing in the world to be teaching somewhere and have your administrator die. It reaches the parents, the children – just everyone. You want to make sure the kids are okay.

“Mr. Kane liked to be very involved as a liaison between the PTA and his teachers. One of his talents was getting extras for the school. He always asked for ‘wish lists,’ and the PTA would always come through. He loved working alongside the PTAs, knowing them and cultivating the relationship for the betterment of the school. Forest Meadow always had the best PTAs ever.”

And the very best teachers.

Sponsored Message

Attending the reunion were: Lisa Grinsfelder, Debbie Horne, Trish Jones, Julie Horn, Gracelyn Shea, Laura Gershenson, Janie McGinty, Kathryn Laster, Monta Darrough, Susan Gammage, Jay Murter, Rebecca Schucany, Susan Collingsworth, Paula Allen, Babe Watts, Jan Lucio, Cyn Agee, Lynette Hagaman, Carol Howe, Lajuana Buescher, Barbara Burns, Su Goldenberg and Peggy Ward Tucker.

Trish Jones hugs Jan Lucio at the FMJH teacher reunion
Debbie Horne, Lynette Hagaman and Carol Howe
Teachers at the FMJH reunion
Written By
More from Carol Toler

LH’s Chris Jacobie on national music tour

Chris Jacobie has played Boston’s House of Blues, New Orleans’ Mahalia Jackson...
Read More