When Lorrie Lewis was a senior at Hillcrest, spandex paired with neon hues was en vogue, and kids were hooked on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

When Betsy Berre attended Hillcrest, the Internet was just starting to boom, and instant messaging was changing the way teens socialized.

And when Drew Davenport was a student at Hillcrest, the nation was bracing for war in , and the controversial lyrics of Eminem were topping the charts.

Today, in age of myspace.com and iPod Nanos, all three still roam the halls of Hillcrest — as teachers.

All say they didn’t plan to return to their alma mater, but life’s twists and turns have brought them back, by very different means.

 

LORRIE LEWIS

Panader Drill Team Instructor

CLASS OF 1994

 

SCHOOL DAYS: “Dancing was life in high school,” Lewis says. “I did other stuff, but being a Panadeer always came first.” 

 

THE JOURNEY BACK: After graduating from UNT with a journalism degree, Lewis began working in public relations. Three years later, she’d had enough of corporate . “I just realized that I wasn’t making a difference in my own life or anyone else’s, and I just wasn’t being fulfilled in that line of work,” she says. “So I quit my job, took a huge pay cut, and started teaching dance at a studio.” Then fate intervened. “It just so happened that Hillcrest was looking for a dance instructor for the Panadeers. I went to apply, and they hired me on the spot.”

 

LIFE BACK AT HILLCREST: “I love being back here at Hillcrest,” Lewis says. “In fact, when I went to my 10-year high school reunion, everybody said I was the one person they thought would always come back to Hillcrest, but I could have never guessed I’d be here.”

 

WHAT’S CHANGED: “It used to be that all the neighborhood kids went to Hillcrest, but now neighborhood kids only make up about 10 percent of the student body. That makes me really sad because I grew up here.”

 

WHAT’S THE SAME: Lewis says the Panadeers have always been a tight-knit bunch, then and now. “It’s neat to see that all these girls are still so close,” she says. “I also get very attached to them as their instructor, and when I have to say goodbye to them, that’s the worst day of my job.”

 

BETSY BERRE

Family and Consumer Sciences Teacher

CLASS OF 1999

 

SCHOOL DAYS: Hillcrest was a part of Berre’s life early on.  “My brother is eight years older than me, so when I was a little girl, he was already a high school kid,” she says. Berre remembers watching her brother play baseball, but it’s the cheerleaders who really stand out in her memory. “They looked so big and grown up back then,” she says. “I really wanted to be just like them.” So it only made sense that the little girl daydreaming in the stands would grow up to be one of the girls on the sideline. “Going to Hillcrest and becoming a cheerleader was almost natural for me because it’s what I’d always pictured myself doing.”


THE JOURNEY BACK: After earning a humanities degree from Texas Tech, Berre was ready for a change of scene — Europe to be exact. “I was chasing this wild, cool dream,” she says. But that dream soon became a nightmare. “I was working as a nanny, and I hated it because the little girl was very challenging, and I missed everyone back home. I realized what matters most is the people you have relationships with, not the place you live.” So she did something she thought she never would. “I left my dream and moved back home to Dallas.” Upon returning, she heard the Hillcrest cheerleaders needed a little extra coaching help. Berre came on board, and when a teaching position opened, she went for it. She started teaching ESL classes, and today teaches classes in family and consumer sciences.

 

LIFE AT HILLCREST: “How many people can say they work at a place where they basically grew up? I love being able to say that.” And while this newlywed says she stays plenty busy juggling her home life and full-time teaching gig, she still finds time to volunteer for Hillcrest’s Young Life group.

 

WHAT’S CHANGED: Berre says things have improved a lot for Hillcrest cheerleaders. “There’s way more fan support for the cheerleaders now, and I can see it when I go to the football games,” she says. “The football team and spirit organizations there have really done a great job of reaching out to all the demographics at the school, which is great.”

 

WHAT’S THE SAME: “The building looks the exact same,” she says. “In fact, it looks so much the same that sometimes, when I’m walking down the hall, I’ll have a flashback of my days there as a student. It’s the weirdest thing.”

 

DREW DAVENPORT

French Teacher

CLASS OF 2002

 

SCHOOL DAYS: “Hillcrest provided a lot of opportunity for extracurricular activities, and I did my best to take advantage of that.” Some would say that’s an understatement — Davenport managed to participate in newspaper, yearbook, academic decathlon, French club, varsity cheerleading, golf team, baseball team, national honor society — oh, and he served as treasurer and vice president of his class.

 

THE JOURNEY BACK: After earning an art history degree from Washington and Lee University, Davenport did what many fresh college grads do: “I came home because I was just trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” he says. After toying with the idea of teaching, he decided to earn his certification as a French teacher. “Then I hit the ground running with cover letters and resumes.” He finally scored an interview at Hillcrest, where the longtime French teacher was retiring. Davenport ended up being the right person at the right time, and now he has been teaching French at Hillcrest for nearly a year.

 

LIFE AT HILLCREST: “It’s been like growing up overnight,” he says. Davenport’s age, 22, is something he’s constantly trying to downplay. “I try to make myself appear as old as possible so that maybe I look like I’m in my 30s. I wear ties and dress up. I like it when the students think I’m older,” he says with a chuckle. But there’s one student he can’t fool: his little sister, who’s a student in one of his classes. “I try not to exploit her; nothing more than maybe extorting an Oreo out of her lunch in exchange for a passing grade. Of course, I’m kidding.”

 

WHAT’S CHANGED: “The technology has definitely been upgraded and things seem to run more efficiently overall now, but maybe that’s just because I’m seeing it from the other side now,” he says. And the halls seem emptier, he says. “I’d say there’s about 600 less than when I went here just a few years ago.”

 

WHAT’S THE SAME: Davenport says how he views his former teachers, now turned colleagues, will never change. “When I run into them in the teacher break room, I just can’t bring myself to call them by their first name, even though they’re my co-workers now. It’s just too hard for me to break that perception of them as my teachers, I guess.” And his perception of the school certainly hasn’t changed either. “This is a wonderful school, and if it hadn’t been, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to come back, which says a lot for the quality of the school. I think it’s always a good sign when alumni want to come back and spend more time here.”

 


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