No one can question whether Chris Bayer knows the Hillcrest High School community. He’s taught almost all levels of English there, in addition to working with the coaching squad for football, baseball and wrestling. So when the position of principal came up this year, he jumped at the chance.
“Anybody who has walked the campus can see how special it is,” Bayer says during a quick break between the hectic first week of classes.
He hopes to bring stability to the school. Former principal Leeann Bartee quietly retired after less than a year of service at Hillcrest, opening the door for Bayer, who seems to want to put down roots.
“I don’t say this half-heartedly, I truly mean this, I feel like I am coming home,” he says. “Hillcrest just feels like where I belong.”
He spent several years at Hillcrest before the option to switch into an administrative role arose in 2010, at which point he left Dallas ISD to assume the position of assistant principal, and later principal, at Ronald Reagan Middle School in the Grand Prairie ISD. But he always remained a resident of DISD, and was eager to get back to the high school level.
“I love the hive energy that a high school has,” he says. “There’s something going on all the time, at almost any hour of the day.”
That’s especially true at Hillcrest, which is in the midst of a few major projects. The school will be getting a $23.5 million facelift, funded through voter-approved bond dollars, which will change the outer facade of the facility, provide a more effective office space, add 29-31 classrooms, expand the courtyard and include a brand new gym and locker rooms.
“The interior is great for learning,” Bayer says. “I’m not sure our building shows that on the exterior.”
In addition, the school is in its third year of candidacy to establish an International Baccalaureate (IB) program, which is being closely coordinated with neighboring Benjamin Franklin Middle School, who are also implementing the popular program. The goal is to have students be able to continue their IB education through the public schools in Preston Hollow.
“The interest in that program is strong,” Bayer says. “It gives our kids one more choice.”
In addition, Bayer is also considering bringing DISD’s collegiate academies program to Hillcrest, which allows students to accumulate college credits while still in high school. It’s just one of about a dozen things Bayer is excited to explore at his new old campus.
“Our immediate goal is to be the best high school in DISD,” he beams.
He has a new, and not yet super active, Twitter presence @PrincipalBayer, in case you want to follow his journey.
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