Teacher and student in the past, colleagues today

Once+they+were+teacher+and+student%2C+but+now%2C+they+are+colleagues.+Jeff+Crowe%2C+Brian+Higgins%2C+and+Julie+Blackstock+%28back+row%29%2C+used+to+be+the+teachers+of+the+colleagues+standing+in+front+of+them%3A+Kristen+Mayfield%2C+Haley+Brown%2C+and+Madison+Waggerman.+

Kirthi Gummadi

Once they were teacher and student, but now, they are colleagues. Jeff Crowe, Brian Higgins, and Julie Blackstock (back row), used to be the teachers of the colleagues standing in front of them: Kristen Mayfield, Haley Brown, and Madison Waggerman.

Every year, teachers get a new batch of students. Months go by and then sometime later, the familiar faces are forever gone after graduation. But life can take some interesting turns, as one day a former student becomes your colleague.  

Ditching the teacher-student dynamic years later in exchange for the title of colleague, several staff members are able to revisit the past by walking down the hall.

Talking in the hallway, social studies department chair Jeff Crowe and social studies teacher Kristen Mayfield have been colleagues for several years. However, more than a decade ago, Crowe was Mayfield’s social studies teacher at Clark Middle School. (Kirthi Gummadi)

Jeff Crowe and Kristen Mayfield

History teachers alike, it seems Kristen Mayfield and Jeff Crowe have their own story for the books. 

With plans to return from College Station and Texas A&M to her hometown in Frisco, Mayfield found herself returning to the familiar field of teaching. 

I don’t know if he had remembered me, but he was introducing himself as ‘Jeff Crowe’ when I remember thinking ‘I can’t call you that, it’s Mr. Crowe’ and I think that’s when it kind of clicked for him,”

— social studies teacher Kristen Mayfield

“I used to say when I was younger that I never wanted to be a teacher because my mom and my sisters are teachers, not to mention my grandma is a principal, and I wanted to be something different,” she said. “After working in the corporate world for a year, I realized that I love history and working with kids, and the job that fits that is teaching. I think I take a lot from former teachers and put it into my teaching. There are some teachers that you kind of learn what not to do, and some teachers where you figure out what works and how to get on kids’ levels. That kind of stuff you learn from really impactful teachers like Mr. Crowe.”

Mayfield found time to reconnect with Crowe during her job interview for a teaching position on campus.

Upon first glance Crowe was unable to recognize his former student.

“Mr. Crowe and another principal at the time were the two that interviewed me for the position,” Mayfield said. “I don’t know if he had remembered me, but he was introducing himself as ‘Jeff Crowe’ when I remember thinking ‘I can’t call you that, it’s Mr. Crowe’ and I think that’s when it kind of clicked for him.”

However, for Mayfield the memory of Crowe was not far out of reach.

“I really liked him and he was always so enthusiastic about learning,” Mayfield said. “He would try to make it engaging for us and help us to understand why we were learning something. I had always loved history since my mom was an 8th grade history teacher, but he made learning interesting for everyone.”

Fast forward to present day, Crowe is grateful to have Mayfield as a colleague. 

Even though we’re colleagues, she still refuses to call me by my first name,”

— social studies department chair Jeff Crowe

“It seemed like another lifetime ago, but that’s what happens along the road,” Crowe said. “We’ve now been on a team together teaching AP World History, AP European History, and other classes over the last several years. She’s a really great teacher and her kids love her. It’s kind of neat to pass the torch on.”

Despite it being years later, Crowe and Mayfield are still able to get a laugh out of the shifted dynamic as compared to what once was. 

“Even though we’re colleagues, she still refuses to call me by my first name,” Crowe said. “We give each other a hard time, I mean I don’t see her as a student, but instead I just see her as a co-equal teacher. It’s neat to see how kids can mature into adults and how life continues on.”

For orchestra director Julie Blackstock (left), working with assistant director Madison Waggerman isn’t anything new as Blackstock once taught Waggerman at Creekview High School in Carrollton. (Kirthi Gummadi)

Julie Blackstock and Madison Waggerman

17 years in the making, Creekview High School graduate Madison Waggerman and her former orchestra director Julie Blackstock are reunited once again, working as co-directors of the Redhawk orchestra.  

The decision was 100% on purpose. It makes coming to work a lot more fun,”

— assitant orchestra director Madison Waggerman

Initially enrolled in the Creekview band, Waggerman eventually found her way to a spot in Blackstock’s chamber ensemble group. When it was time for Waggerman to make the decision between which musical route she wanted to take in her teaching career, Blackstock was there with advice.

“She wasn’t exactly an orchestra student because she was in band, but she was also in my ensemble class,” Blackstock said. “We hit it off immediately and she even went on our orchestra trip with all of us. She was always very attentive and a very good bassoonist. Then she went off to college, and then was looking for a job. [Instead of applying as a band director] I told her to take a look at orchestra, and she’s now been teaching orchestra four years.”

Several years after becoming an orchestra teacher, Waggerman realized she may have a shot at working with her former teacher again when the assistant orchestra position on campus opened up

I don’t really think the nature of our friendship has changed too much. I say everyday how glad I am to be able to work with her now,”

— orchestra director Julie Blackstock

“The decision was 100% on purpose,” Waggerman said. “It makes coming to work a lot more fun. We get to laugh every single day, we’re both fairly loud, and we have a great time together every day.”

For Blackstock, the ability to work alongside a longtime friend has been a dream come true. 

“I don’t really think the nature of our friendship has changed too much,” Blackstock said. “We have always been close, [especially during her time in college] we would always go to dinner, get coffee, and hangout. I say everyday how glad I am to be able to work with her now.”

When social studies teacher Haley Brown first met journalism adviser Brian Higgins it was in newsroom at Lovejoy High School. Now a decade later, they work down the hall from each other. (Kirthi Gummadi)

Haley Brown and Brian Higgins 

Previously a high school journalist, current-day U.S. History and Human Geography teacher, Haley Brown first met journalism adviser Brian Higgins in the Red Ledger newsroom at Lovejoy High School

“I was in newspaper sophomore year through senior year, but while it was rigorous and he kept me busy it was never something that was overwhelming,” Brown said. “[Higgins] really puts his student relationship first, and he really cared about me and all of the other students. He tried to let us do stories over stuff that we cared about, rather than a story that was assigned randomly and was less likely to get done.”

I have never once called him by his first name, I’ve kind of dropped the ‘Mr.’ to just ‘Higgins’, but I still don’t think I have ever called him Brian,”

— social studies teacher Haley Brown

Brown believes the emphasis Higgins placed on student-teacher relationships has carried over into her own teaching practices. 

“He knew all of our interests and he liked to joke around, while for some of my other teachers, I felt like they didn’t care about me in that way or weren’t as invested in me,” she said. “I’ve tried to model my teaching off of that because in his class I never felt stressed or sad to be there, but I still always got my work done.”

Now, the Red Ledger’s former adviser works a few doors down from Brown, continuing his path as the current newspaper and broadcast teacher for Wingspan, the student-run news publication on campus. 

“I think it was my second year at Lovejoy when I had Haley in my journalism class. She had written some stuff that I definitely thought was strong and I encouraged her to join the Red Ledger,” Higgins said. “We can definitely relate on a totally different level than we could before, because before she was a high school student, but now she can relate to me because she’s doing the same thing that I’ve been doing for 11 years.”

As Brown continues in her first year on campus, she acknowledges the significant mindset adjustment she has had to make, and continues to struggle with, now that Higgins is a colleague rather than teacher. 

“He was just an authority figure and I was a student so I wanted to be a good student and get everything he needed done for the newspaper,” she said. “Still, I have never once called him by his first name, I’ve kind of dropped the ‘Mr.’ to just ‘Higgins’ kind of like I would talk to coaches, but I still don’t think I have ever called him Brian.”

Likewise, Higgins finds himself in similar circumstances. 

It’s cool to see how your students turn out as adults and what they’re like as people later in life,”

— journalism adviser Brian Higgins

“It’s weird because I know she’s not my student, but every time someone mentions her name I have a bit of a flashback and think of her as my student because that’s who she was when I first met her,” Higgins said. “It’s cool to see how your students turn out as adults and what they’re like as people later in life.”

Above all else, Higgins believes the experience of having a former student on campus is quite rewarding from a teacher’s perspective.

“Even in a subject like I teach, where I sometimes have students for two, three, four years, I never expect a student to keep in touch or give me life updates,” he said. “But with Haley now a teacher, it’s easy to catch up. It’s one of the best feelings as a teacher when a former student reaches out as I’ll realize I may have had an impact on that student. There’s no greater gift as a teacher than that.”