How long have you worked at Allen High School?
This is my 34th year.
Why have you never left AHS?
Well, I like loyalty. There have been other opportunities in other places, but loyalty is important.
Why did you decide to teach high school?
When I was graduating from high school, I wanted to be an art, photography, architecture, drafting or woodworking teacher. I went to college, and in photography, there were a lot of people and very few cameras. In the next level class, there were a lot of people and still very few cameras, and I didn’t have time to wait for 20 people to use one camera so I dropped photography. I took graphic art, digital type art, and I retained some of that, but I didn’t go that route. I got my inspiration from a class in my junior year that I dropped. I dropped a class and started taking drafting, which turned into architecture, and I loved it. Sandy Richardson was my teacher. That [was] a college class, not a middle school type class.
With all the different pathways you considered, what different skills have you acquired?
Well the skills I have are woodworking, ceramics, plastics, electronics, electricity, printing, photography, metalworking and leatherworking. What I majored in was Industrial Arts Education, and not every school has everything, so you needed a little bit of everything so when you got to the school you could perfect what they had and what you could do at that school.
What’s your favorite memory from all the years you’ve been at AHS?
I like it when I have children of students or grandkids of students come back and say ‘You had my mom or dad or grandparent,’ or kids that really didn’t like the class at the time because of my expectations of them and when they come back and go ‘Guess what I’m doing?’ I know what you’re doing, even though you didn’t like it back then, you’re doing it now.
What’s changed the most, in your classroom and the school, since you started teaching here?
The size. When I first got to Allen, the school, 9th through 12th, was 600 students. Ninth through 12th now, 6000 students. It was still Lowery, and when I came, they expanded Lowery and built my classrooms. The size of the building, the number of students, the number of teachers and the number of offerings have changed. I used to teach a lot of different things for years, and then, they hired staff for me to reduce what I’m teaching, and I can really concentrate on architecture and interior design.
What’s your favorite thing about teaching at AHS?
Seeing it click in the mind. A kid may be struggling with it and [see] it click after trying different ways. Instead of saying, ‘Okay, we’re going to do it A, B, C,’ coming back a different way and going ‘Okay, let’s see C, B, A.’ They’ll say, ‘Well that’s math’ but we’re not going to realize it’s math. We’re going to do it a different way and let you get it that way for them to enjoy it and understand it.
What’s your least favorite thing about teaching at AHS?
The paperwork. Not necessarily the academic stuff, but the other things you have to do. If it was just teaching then great, but there’s paperwork and the headaches of doing that.
Do you ever regret becoming a teacher?
Nope. Not one bit. The kids have changed now. Back then, they feared teachers and they respected teachers. There’s still some of that nowadays but not as much. I don’t regret it though. I still would have become a teacher. People say, ‘Why didn’t you become an architect?’ No. That’s seeing one person and sitting in an office for one time. They say ‘That’s a lot of money,’ but I like seeing my 30 kids at one time, my 30 kids from this period and my 30 kids from next period and on from there.
What’s been the most challenging thing about teaching here?
Staying ahead of the knowledge, the technology and the things that are changing. Staying up with the times. Like I tell kids, if I don’t know, I’ll say I don’t know, but we will find out. I’ll help you find out and we’ll find out together.
What’s the most rewarding thing about teaching here?
Seeing a kid complete what they started, to get through the system and accomplish what they want to accomplish. Now I have kids that will take the intro class and then the next three years, by the time they are a senior, they can take the internship and go out and work for an architect during the school day. They get to go out and work and put the knowledge they’ve learned those first three years into practice.
What do you enjoy most about teaching the subjects that you teach?
Refining what a kid has done. I give them parameters of what they can do and let them come with their idea, refining it and polishing it to be something that would work.
Was there anyone in particular who inspired you to become a teacher?
Lots of people. Sandy Richardson from Bonham and Mrs. Brown. Sandy Richardson was my high school teacher and Mrs. Brown was my elementary school art teacher. Mrs. Frayer (how do you spell that?) was my first grade teacher. There were different ones along the way. Tomma Jane Snead was my yearbook teacher. I didn’t do yearbook but I learned beginning photography from her.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experiences as a teacher at Allen High School?
There’s been ups and downs, but I’ve enjoyed it. There have been headaches, as there will be, but those are challenges you have to work through.