High school alums return to their schools — as faculty

Read about what motivated these former students to reenter the classroom in a very different role.

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.

Paul Wood PHOTO BY Benjamin Hager

Paul Wood

Deacon and director of technology
Bishop Dunne High School, class of 1974

SCHOOL DAYS: Wood’s older brother and sister attended the school before him.

“My parents were very involved, so we were just kind of up here as children,” he says.

He entered Bishop Dunne as a seventh-grader. As a student, he was involved in several sports and extracurricular activities, including football, baseball, basketball and student council.

HELPING KIDS: As a high school student, Wood said he considered working in a setting where he would be able to help kids. “I could see some of the struggles my friends went through during school, and I always thought it would be nice to be in a setting like that — to maybe help their struggle through school be a little smoother, maybe help reduce some of the obstacles.”

THE JOURNEY BACK: Wood attended the University of Dallas, where he played baseball and majored in psychology. He had the opportunity to assist with Bishop Dunne’s baseball program the last semester of his senior year.

After he graduated, the school hired him to teach theology and social studies. He taught at Bishop Dunne for two years, left for one year, and then returned the following year.

Wood interviewed with other Catholic schools in Dallas, but decided to return to his alma mater.

“It was familiar. It was home. It was comfortable. I wanted to make a difference where I grew up,” he says.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT: In fall 1966, when Wood was a Bishop Dunne seventh-grader, the school was split by gender.

“As far as the brothers of the Sacred Heart and the sisters of Saint Mary were concerned, never the two shall meet. Except maybe at lunch or in chapel.”

The school became co-ed his sophomore year. Now, Wood says, girls and boys attending Bishop Dunne have almost an equal number of athletic opportunities available to them.

TECHNOLOGY: As director of technology, Wood works to keep the school up to date.

“Some of the things we do technology-wise, I think we kind of try to push the envelope,” he says.

Ultimately, though, Wood says he and his team use technology to benefit teachers in their teaching and students in their learning.

“I just think it’s fun,” he says. “I’ve been here 35 years, and I’m having a good time. I don’t think I’d trade it for anything.”

Adarely Trejo PHOTO BY Benjamin Hager

Adarely Trejo

Geometry and theology teacher
Bishop Dunne High School, class of 2001

ROAD TO BISHOP DUNNE: Trejo says she was introduced into the Catholic school system “kind of forcefully.”

Her parents emigrated from Mexico, so when she began grade school she didn’t have a Social Security number.

“I had my passport and my visa, but I didn’t have a Social. So the public school system didn’t allow me to attend school.”

Trejo attended St. Cecilia, where she graduated valedictorian and was offered a scholarship to attend Bishop Dunne.

SCHOOL DAYS: As a student, Trejo observed that Bishop Dunne was a “family-oriented atmosphere.” She found a support system to help her achieve goals as a student. Trejo was the first generation college-bound woman in her family.

THE JOURNEY BACK: After graduating from Notre Dame, Trejo participated in the Alliance for Catholic Education program. The two-year service program allows college graduates to work as full-time teachers at under-resourced Catholic schools in the southwest United States.

She was sent to San Antonio, where she taught fourth-graders.

“I really enjoyed it, but for me it was time to come back to Dallas,” she says.

She talked to the Bishop Dunne principal at the time about openings and was able to return to teach.

“Coming back here was like coming back home,” she says.

WHAT’S CHANGED: When Trejo tells her students she attended Bishop Dunne, they’re always interested in her experience as a student. She tells the students about the differences in uniforms and how they have more choices now.

Trejo says alumni returning to work at the school help students feel more support.

“It speaks to the greatness that is Bishop Dunne, that it’s not only said in words but in action,” she says.

RELATING TO TEACHERS: Trejo had kept in touch with several of her high school teachers while in college, which made coming back to the school as a teacher easier.

“I did have family right there next door, whether it be a teacher I had in the past or a teacher that had just come into Bishop Dunne. We were all working together for the better of our students,” she says.

FAMILY CONNECTION: Trejo’s niece attends Bishop Dunne’s early childhood center, and her cousin, who attends the school, is a student in one of her classes. Trejo says she treats him as she does the rest of her students.

“As his teacher, as his cousin, I’m helping him, igniting him to achieve to the very best of his ability in his studies while here in school.”

Adarely Trejo PHOTO BY Benjamin Hager

Janelle Bates

English, journalism and yearbook teacher
Sunset High School, class of 1971

SCHOOL DAYS: When Bates was a student, Sunset had no air conditioning.

“We had large fans, and even the ladies sweat,” she says.

Bates was on the newspaper staff, and the paper was called The Stampede.

“The newspaper was for the thinkers, and the yearbook was where the socialites were,” she laughs. “And now I’ve gotten socialized.”

THE JOURNEY BACK: After graduating, Bates pursued journalism. She worked as a journalist in Rockwall County.

During her second year on the job, she started to think, “I’m just reporting on what’s going on. I’m not helping anybody.”

She decided to earn her alternative certification in teaching and did her observational student teaching in Sunset during summer 1993. Ten years into her teaching career, she returned to Sunset — again.

WHAT’S CHANGED: Bates says the demographic of the school has gone from predominantly white to majority Hispanic.

She also says the student body has grown so large that there’s no longer a teacher’s lounge. There were two lounges when she was a student.

“Sometimes it’s weird to teach where you went to school, and sometimes it just feels normal,” she says.

BISON PRIDE: Scribbled on the board in Bates’ purple classroom are the words: “I was a bison long before you were born.”

Bates says she has probably half a dozen stuffed bison as well as a couple of bison throws.

“I am a bison, and I’ll always be a bison,” Bates says.

She’s even fond of eating bison chili and stew that she makes herself because she says it’s healthy.

“My question is: Is it cannibalistic to eat bison chili?”

WHAT’S THE SAME: Students still try to sleep in class just as Bates did when she was a student. She says they often ask, “Why won’t you let us do so and so?” to which she responds, “Because I did.”

Bates says she has a “tough mother love” for her students.

“I love the kids. They’re my kids, and they know it,” she says.


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