Featured Alumni

Cathy Aur

Cathy Aur
Plano Senior High Class of 2009

English teacher at Heilongjiang East College in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

Plano Experience
Hughston, Beverly, Rice, Jasper, Plano Senior

University Experience
University of Texas Austin - BS in English and UTeach

Cathy Aur

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
The variety of AP courses offered in Plano ISD really helped me in college because it allowed me to earn the credits I needed to graduate in three years with a degree in English as well as both my 4-8 and 8-12 certifications in English/language arts. I loved being able to take responsibility for my own schedule my junior and senior years – zero hour, off periods, and early release. It gave me the opportunity to practice time management and learn to balance a full schedule of school, work, and my social life when I entered college. Being held at such a high standard in my secondary education years also prepared me to continue the critical thinking and analysis skills that were cultivated while in Plano.

What Plano teacher inspired you?  How?
Ms. Lindley was the first teacher who inspired me to love writing. Before that, English was a class I always struggled with. The way she structured the essay assignments allowed us to be rewarded for not procrastinating – it allowed her to get a head start on grading as well as providing a way for us to earn bonus points. My dual-credit English professor senior year also furthered my love of writing through writing journals to earn lab credits. She gave us the freedom to write about whatever we wished and my love for creative writing was fostered.
Sofia Llambias

Sofia Llambias
Plano East Class of 2013
Student, Vanderbilt University

Plano Experience
Clark, Plano East

University Experience
Vanderbilt University - Neuroscience and Spanish double major


Sofia Llambias

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano ISD was a saving grace in a lot of my experiences adjusting to college. I am hesitant to claim the overall effect it had on my college experience, since I am not even half way through. I can, however, definitively say it has affected me in numerous ways. A student’s freshman year is never easy.  It is an absolutely dizzying flood of new experiences and situations. Everyone struggles to keep up with the increased workload, but for me it was not very different to what I had become accustomed to in the Plano East International Baccalaureate program. I suppose I have the IB teachers to thank for this, but as the stakes got higher and tests started tumbling in at an alarming pace, I was able to remain calm and manage my time. Beyond the mere mechanics of how to handle tough academics and learning, Plano opened my eyes to the importance of interconnected studies and an extensive background in a myriad of subjects. The Vanderbilt College of Arts and Sciences requires a broad spectrum of classes from Classics to Mathematics and everything in between. As a neuroscience major, I understand there is no direct value to my career, yet there is no doubt that a strong, core education is as incredible asset. I’m glad that Plano taught me how to appreciate deep and wide understanding, for it has enabled me to approach various topics of study with anticipation and excitement.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
At the beginning of my junior year, Mrs. Holloway, my IB English III teacher, showed the class a video of the Stanford marshmallow experiment. The purpose of the original study was to observe the development of deferred gratification in children. Young kids were offered a marshmallow with just one (figurative) string attached; if they could hang on to the marshmallow for fifteen minutes without eating it, they would be rewarded with a second one. The class filled with light-hearted laughter as we watched one cunning little girl vacuum the inside of the marshmallow while preserving the outside intact. Jokes aside, I took home an invaluable lesson that day. Mrs. Holloway told us that we, as IB students, were about to embark on a difficult journey that would try our motivation, desire, and willingness to delay instant gratification.

It is hard spending your nights with endless piles of homework long after your peers have finished, or listening to everyone chatter about the amazing new TV show that you’ll never have time to watch. Every time I gave in to my exasperation and determined I would undoubtedly quit IB, Mrs. Holloway’s words and the silly marshmallows would pop into my head. That gentle, accepting voice telling me that it was okay to quit, that not everyone can make it through an academically rigorous environment, that success is not solely defined by academics. I think this is the only reason I have been able to endure the hardships I have faced here at Vanderbilt as a Neuroscience major.  I hear those words when my eyelids feel like sandpaper from staying awake all night to read my Microbiology assignment before lecture. I can see the children helplessly staring at the marshmallows when I spend hours trying to understand one horribly abstract question in my Chemistry problem set of 25. On second thought, maybe that’s why it takes so long…

Mrs. Holloway, as well as all my other wonderful IB instructors, taught me how to find an inner drive when it feels like all energy has been spent. I now understand that it is impossible to simply weave success out of completed homework assignments and aced exams. It is a motivation that burns through your veins, a constant battle between what you want right now and what you want ten years from now. I know that no matter what challenges arise, both inside and outside of the classroom, I have the inner strength to push through.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
College was never really an option for me. My parents both attended college and ended up getting masters degrees, so the question was where I’d go, not if I would. I am very lucky to have been in such a position growing up.
Lora Witcher

Lora Witcher
Plano Senior High Class of 2008

Student, Harding University

Plano Experience
Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Harding University - Social Sciences with Teaching Licensure


Lora Witcher

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Every single teacher I had pushed me towards excellence. My teachers had such a great command of the material and were not only passionate for the subject they were teaching, but for their students as well. AP courses gave me a pretty accurate idea as to what college courses would be like. In terms of the workload, difficulty, and style of teaching, most of the AP classes I took were very similar to some of the college classes I’ve taken. What was expected of me in my college classes did not surprise or overwhelm me at all.

Which Plano teacher inspired you?  How?
My 7th and 8th grade PACE teacher at Wilson, Mrs. Wenger, inspired me to teach. Her approach to teaching was so different from anything I had experienced, and it worked. She always had a really fun and interactive way to teach us that it sparked an interest in history for me. Not only did she make the subject interesting, but she expected a lot out of her students. She always did what was best for her students, even if it wasn’t the easiest thing for them to do. 

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I don’t think it was an option for me, it was a definite plan.

Beth Webb

Beth Webb
Plano High School Class of 1975

President, Plano ISD Education Foundation

Plano Experience
Plano High School

University Experience
Texas State University - BS in Education, (Major-Political Science; Minor- Journalism)
Graduate Level Paralegal Degree


Beth Webb

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I moved to Plano the end of my junior year of high school, so there was the chance of a “disconnect” for me academically as well as with extra-curricular activities.  Plano’s solid academic foundation and embracing staff made the transition seamless.  I quickly learned, Plano ISD expected me to do my best and gave me the necessary tools to excel.  I not only learned academics, I also learned how to set and obtain personal goals. Developing these life skills prepared me well for my post-secondary experience and my life-long love of learning.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
I wasn’t thrilled about transferring to Plano ISD just before my senior year, but there were numerous teachers and counselors in the district that were very helpful and incredibly supportive.  My school counselor, Johnnie Spies, did an outstanding job transitioning me into classes, extra-curricular activities and even helping with college admission.  My English (especially Mrs. Mischen) and civics teachers probably impacted my life the most as they prepared me for the future and influenced my career decisions.  Although I can’t remember many of my teachers’ names, I do recall their high classroom standards and positive attitudes that created a nurturing educational environment.   

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I knew from a young age it wasn’t an option, rather an expectation.

Hunter Herdlicka

Hunter Ryan Herdlicka
Plano West Senior High Class of 2005

Broadway Actor

Plano Experience
Frankford, Shepton, Plano West

University Experience
Carnegie Mellon School of Drama - BFA in Acting/Musical Theatre

Hunter Ryan Herdlicka

What is your current job?
I was hired at my first audition in New York City and will be making my Broadway debut as one of the lead roles in Sir Trevor Nunn’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, also starring Catherine Zeta- Jones and Angela Lansbury.

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
First and foremast, the demands of PISD taught me taught me time management skills.  Since Carnegie Mellon is a conservatory program, with days that last sometimes 12 or 13 hours, I was completely prepared, having been schooled in PISD, to excel (and survive) at this top program.

Also, because Plano schools have such strong fine arts programs, I felt completely prepared to keep up with the demands and competition in such an intense acting program, such as the School of Drama at Carnegie, which is currently ranked as number 1 in the country.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
Almost all of my teachers positively influenced my life as a student, as well as an actor.  I always was closest with my theatre teachers, especially Carmen McElwain and Jeni Helms, both of whom I had at Shepton.  They constantly encouraged, but also pushed me, to be a stronger actor, as well as a person.  Another strong influence was Melissa McKnelly, my English teacher at Shepton, whom I still keep in touch with to this day.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I never questioned whether or not I would attend college, but it certainly wouldn’t have been possible for me to attend Carnegie Mellon had I not received a full scholarship. 

Carrie Weaver

Carrie Weaver
Plano Senior High Class of 1985
PISD Haggard Middle School 6th grade PACE teacher, Heritage Farmstead Association officer

Plano Experience
Shepard, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Texas Christian University - BS in Elementary Education


Carrie Weaver

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How? 
Several teachers, from very different periods in my life, made an unbelievable impact on me and strengthened my resolve to be a teacher.  My second grade teacher, Mrs. Dee Phelps, was never without a smile on her sweet face, never missed a chance to praise us children, and made us feel like we were the smartest, most clever beings alive.  I have very vivid memories of her classroom; I remember exactly how the room was arranged, and some of the lessons and projects we did that year.  My first teaching job was at Thomas Elementary, and as I was being introduced to the rest of the staff at Inservice, a voice called out, “Oh my word!” and Mrs. Phelps zipped across the room to hug my neck.  I loved knowing her as both a teacher and a colleague, although I could never bring myself to call her anything but ‘Mrs. Phelps’.

Three weeks before my senior year began, my father very unexpectedly passed away.  I remember very little about that school year, but one teachers made an enormous impact on me.  Mrs. Jean Appleton, my English teacher never offered one word of condolence or let on that she knew how awful my life was that year, but she was the mature, maternal figure that I needed, and that my own mother just couldn’t be at the time.  I don’t remember one thing I learned in her class, but I will always remember Mrs. Appleton and her silent, unwavering support. 

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you? 
Education was important to my parents, and their expectation was that college followed high school, and they believed that PISD provided an education that would ease the transition to college.  My experiences as a student in Plano established a foundation that made me very well-prepared for the academic demands of college. 

Justin Blalock

Justin Blalock
Plano East Senior High Class of 2002

Professional football player for the Atlanta Falcons

Plano Experience
Hedgecoxe, Thomas, Carpenter, Plano East

University Experience
University of Texas, Austin - BS in Education (Youth and Community Studies), Minor - Business

Justin Blalock

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
The education I received was very good for a public school. I felt better prepared for college than the other students I met when I got to the University of Texas.

What Plano teacher influenced you? How?
Mr. Rich Colodney was the first teacher to broaden my horizon. Being accepted in the PACE program was a good memory. Mrs. Freeman my pre-calculus teacher in 11th grade was one of the teachers who believed in me.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I realized it when I attended the McCallie School for Boys (in Chattanooga, TN) summer program for gifted youth. Plus, attending college was always expected by my family. So I really didn't have much of an option (smile).

Brent Wenger

Brent Wenger
Plano Senior High Class of 2008

Student, Webster University

Plano Experience
Bethany, Rice, Jasper, Plano Senior

University Experience
Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri - BFA in Theatre with an emphasis in literature - 2012


Brent Wenger

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano ISD is a highly competitive work place. From day one you have to strive for excellence. I was always a B+ to an A student but I never received much notice. Rather it was all about excelling past the letter grade to something more important. For me, theater was that something that was more important. I strived for excellence in other ways than being book smart. I worked for excellence on the stage and in the end that’s what really matters: that I aspired to greatness in my own light. I believe that is what Plano ISD is all about. Finding your corner and growing in it.

What Plano teacher inspired you?  How?
Greg Arp has to be the most inspiring teacher I encountered at Plano. He taught me so many things about my art and my passion that really influenced my decision to continue my studies. I can remember every day I spent with him in after school rehearsal was a blessing, because I became closer to myself and my peers each time I stepped onto our stage.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I believe that college was always an option for me. My mother and father pressed the importance of college into my brain from day one. I knew that by the end of my high school career I would continue into the college that best fit me. I believe that is why I am so happy in my decision to go to Webster. After the importance of college was made clear to me, I drove myself into finding my place in the world.

Anything else?
I would like to just thank the staff and the experience that Plano ISD offers. With its great expectations and opportunities, there is no reason anyone can’t discover who they are. From one Plano kid to another…GO PLANO!!!!

Aaron Bumgarner

Aaron Bumgarner
Plano East Senior High Class of 2007
Student - University of Oklahoma, currently studying Communication Sciences and Disorders

Plano Experience
Hedgcoxe, Hendrick, Clark, Plano East

University Experience
University of Oklahoma
Class of 2012

Aaron Bumgarner

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
AP classes were the biggest help.  My AP classes taught me what to expect from classes in college. The tests are similar, and therefore the way to study is similar. I also learned how to write in my AP English classes, which was a big help my freshman year when everyone else was struggling with the writing style. Also, Plano gives students the big school experience. It has its pros and cons, but it certainly prepared me to be lost in a sea of college students.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
Kathy Witcher and Doris Kottwitz were two of my favorite teachers at Plano East. Mrs. Witcher and I got along really well and her love for reading has rubbed off on me quite a bit. Mrs. Kottwitz was just the nicest teacher and we also got along very well. She also demonstrated enormous strength without intending to in her battle against cancer that always made a big impression on me. The fact that she dealt with that and still treated us respectfully like adults was inspiring. Also, my humanities courses at Clark under Mr. Fain and Ms. Boggan were the first experiences I had where learning became valuable to me for learning's sake. I felt truly enriched by the things I learned in that class, and since then I have always found value in art and cinema because of the foundations set by Mr. Fain and Ms. Boggan.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
It was always expected that I would go to college, simply because both my parents went. It was never even a huge deal--just the unspoken expectation.

Anything else?
A bit of advice: in college, travel to foreign countries, and don't be afraid to come back to Plano.  Students get tired of living here, but coming back to Plano after being away gives you a lot of perspective on where you came from.

Lisa Morse

Lisa Morse
Plano Senior High Class of 1989
Algebra teacher, Jasper High School, Plano ISD

Plano Experience
Shepard, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Southern Methodist University - BS in Mathematics
University of Arkansas - MS in Special Education

Lisa Morse

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano ISD prepared me very well for college. I was ready for the demands of college, and it did not overwhelm me. The hard work that kids put into their PISD education will for certainly pay off in college.

What Plano teacher influenced you? How?
Alan Grieder is the entire reason I chose the math route ... and to become a teacher! He was and still is a great person/teacher.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I grew up knowing that college was something that I wanted to do and accomplish.

Megan Rorie

Megan Rorie
Plano Senior High Class of 2001

Master Planner and Architectural Designer

Plano Experience
Weatherford, Shepard, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
University of North Texas
University of Texas at Arlington - BS in Architecture with English minor

Megan Rorie

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
The emphasis on excellence and the constructive competition required to excel in Plano definitely helped me.  Architecture is a very competitive field, academically and professionally, and the focus on hard work and ethics in Plano schools helped me develop the rigor that was required to bring myself distinction academically and professionally.  My experience in the theater and drama classes I took at Wilson and Vines helped me get over some of my shyness and prepared me for the roles I had in student government in college and later during client presentations.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
When at Vines, I took a humanities course.  When I got to college, my art and architecture history professors were amazed at how much I already knew about art and architecture.  Because of the knowledge I already possessed, I stood out from the other students in classes of 150-600 people.  In the Vines humanities course, I had to write an analysis of a painting, and in my last architectural history course in college, I had to write an analysis of a building.  The professor wanted the students to choose two buildings to compare, because he didn’t think we’d be able to write a 15-page paper on one building.  I asked him if I could focus on one building, and he said I could, but was I sure I could write 15 pages on one building?  I laughed and told him, “I wrote 26 pages about a Vermeer painting in 9th grade.  I can definitely write 15 pages about a whole building.”  The background I learned in Humanities, particularly how government and philosophy figured into artistic movements, gave me background that most of the students I went to college with didn’t have.  Several of the courses I took in architecture were broad overviews, and a lot of the students were confused about why these huge leaps in artistic and architectural thought took place.  Thanks to Mrs. Buteyn, Mrs. Pollard, and Mrs. Walkup, I knew the reasons.

Architecture involves so many disciplines, though, and it requires a strong background in math, science, history, art, all the things that I learned throughout my education in Plano.  The art classes I took at Vines and Plano Senior High School prepared me for the rigorous art and architectural design classes I took in college and for the hand drawing required of designers in architecture firms.  My strong English background led to my seeking a minor in English, working as a copyeditor at my college newspaper.

One of the things I appreciate so much about Plano is the unbridled creativity exhibited by both the teachers and the students.  Poetry was not analyzed at PSHS in a dry, boring way.  It was acted out.  Students didn’t learn about Greek City States by reading a book in Vines Humanities, they were the citizens of those City States and they elected their leaders and petitioned the Greek Gods as citizens, and occasionally overthrew their leaders.  We weren’t just vessels into which knowledge was poured, we shared our ideas with our teachers, and they listened.  We were instructed in how to conduct serious research, how to write bibliographies, how to present our ideas rationally and professionally, but still with a spirit of fun.  Our teachers supported us in finding our own voices, even when the ideas presented by those voices were unconventional.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
In my family and in school, college was always a given.  My parents encouraged me, and the teachers I had in Plano were always available for after-school help to make sure I had what I needed in order to graduate.  Due to some health problems, I was taught by a PISD in-home teacher for two semesters during my junior and senior years, and her understanding and support made a huge impact, especially given that a side effect of my treatment was short-term memory loss.  She helped me to figure out how I should study to help overcome the memory loss so I’d be better prepared when I went to college.

Amber Ward

Amber Ward
Plano Senior High Class of 1997

Singer-Actor, New York City

Plano Experience

Weatherford, Wilson, VInes, Plano Senior

University Experience
Baylor University - BA in Music Education, vocal/ choral emphasis


Amber Ward

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano schools motivated me to strive for excellence.  Whether it was through the high academic standard my teachers set for me, the competitions in which I participated, or through various extra-curricular activities, I learned to set a high level of expectation for myself that I carried through college and still maintain now.  I learned to set goals and take the appropriate steps to achieve those goals.  Plano ISD taught me how to give my all and my best in all that I do. 

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
While many experiences and teachers come to mind, I’d have to say, first and foremost, that the Plano ISD choral program had the greatest influence on me.  I moved to Plano at age 10, and it was Mrs. Marshall, my 5th grade music teacher, who gave me my very first solo, “Tomorrow” from the musical, ANNIE.  Granted, I sang it with a navy blue and white polka-dotted bow in my hair, which to this day I regret, but nevertheless, that solo and what I learned in Mrs. Marshall’s class opened the doors to a lifetime (now a career) of singing.  At Wilson it was Mrs. Shuppert, at Vines it was Mrs. King, and at Plano Senior High it was Ms. Henson.  These teachers’ commitment to their students and their love for music inspired me to get my degree in music education.  They showed me how exciting the process of sharing music with others can be.  And they continually placed in front of me opportunities that challenged me as a musician and fulfilled hopes and dreams I held as a performer.  Other teachers that come to mind are Mrs. Bartley (Science, 7th grade) for being not only a fantastic teacher but a good friend (and for introducing me to the insides of a shark), Mrs. Morrow (theater, middle school) for casting me in THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, and Mrs. Stanton (English, 12th grade) for suffering through the best ever Senior Trip to Europe.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I don’t remember the first time I realized I’d go to college.  College was just the thing that I knew would be next. 
Chris Howard

Chris Howard
Plano Senior High Class of 1987

President-elect Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney, VA, as of July 1, 2009

http://www.hsc.edu/newpresident/

Plano Experience
Mendenhall, Saigling, Haggard, Vines Plano Senior

University Experience
US Air Force Academy - BS in Political Science
Harvard Business School - MBA in General Management
Oxford University - Ph.D in Politics

Chris Howard

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
PISD always set the bar high in terms of what it expected of me.  Complacency was not an option in academics, athletics, leadership programs or any other character-building extra-curricular activities.  The relentless pursuit of excellence and continuous self-improvement were the hallmarks of my time at PISD and laid the foundation for my future success.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
The list of exceptional teachers, coaches, counselors and staff who have impacted my life is too long for one page especially if I have to offer specific examples but I will try.  Mrs. Ursula Ekvall, my middle school counselor at Haggard, taught me self-control, respect for others and grace.  My head football, Coach Tommy Kimbrough, at PSHS taught me that “practice doesn’t make perfect….perfect, practice makes perfect!”   I would add he didn’t mind ensuring our practices were perfect even it meant running the same play ten times in row….literally!

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
My mother completed her college degree while my older brother, Reggie, a 1986 PSHS graduate who later graduated from Baylor, and I were in middle and high school.  She worked full-time and took care of both of us (and Dad) while attending school.   Starting in about 6th grade, I couldn’t imagine a better way to honor her legacy than to attend college.

Jeff Henderson

Jeff Henderson
Plano Senior High Class of 2005

Teacher

Plano Experience

Weatherford, Wilson, VInes, Plano Senior

University Experience
Standford University - BA in International Relations; Minor – Middle Eastern Studies


Jeff Henderson

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but Plano ISD provides its students with above average opportunities in just about every way, including the large number of AP classes offered, the quality of its facilities and faculty, and the sheer size of its graduating classes (which I believe provides a healthy dose of competition).  When I talked to people at Stanford, many of them were valedictorians in classes of 40-200 students at schools where there might have been 4 AP classes offered in total.  These overachievers were to some extent restrained by the dearth of opportunities available to them – a tragedy I believe isn’t possible in the PISD. 

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
I was probably most influenced by my AP Physics C and AP English classes.  As a result of the excellent teaching and nearly identical framework these classes had vis-à-vis their collegiate counterparts, the former made it clear that I should stay out of science classes in college and the latter gave me an appreciation for clever writing and argumentation.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I decided in middle school that I would quit messing around and focus in high school so that I would have a shot at college.  This decision was probably the result of not being particularly athletic or popular in middle school, combined with my intolerance of failure.  In high school I chose friends who were academically motivated like me.  As a result, the question wasn’t whether or not I would go to college, but which prestigious college might accept me. 

Anything else?
I plan on attending law school in the fall, and then hope to pursue a simultaneous M.A. in international relations the following year.  I study Farsi and read various foreign affairs/Middle Eastern studies journals in my free time.

Jennifer Penny

Jennifer Penny
Plano East Senior High Class of 1997

Gifted Specialist and 8th grade Humanities teacher at Rice Middle School, Plano ISD

Plano Experience
Dooley, Armstrong, Williams, Plano East

University Experience
Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, AR - BSE in Elementary Education and English
University of North Texas - MSE in Curriculum and Instruction and Gifted and Talented Education


Jennifer Penny

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
All of the teachers I had in Plano inspired me to pursue a college education.  In particular, the Humanities class I took at Williams with George King solidified my liberal arts direction, making me crave philosophical discussions with intellectual peers.  When I entered college, I felt extremely academically prepared.  Not only was I accustomed to the high-level writing and reading that college classes demanded, but I also had learned the organizational and study skills needed to be successful in a college environment while I was in high school.  While other students struggled to deal with a diverse collegiate population, rigorous class work, and time-intensive extra-curricular activities, I found that I was able to balance things very well.  My experience in Plano schools had taught me to balance life, work, and school, while maintaining academic excellence.  By the time I reached college, I felt that I had all of the tools I needed to be successful.  I was also able to enter college with hours earned through AP credit, making my freshman year much more exciting.  I was able to start on classes for my major immediately, bypassing several of the basic courses.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
So many Plano ISD experiences shaped me as a child.  From petting Katy the snake with Jim Dunlap to debating what constitutes art in Humanities at Williams, I learned to fully experience the world.  Marching in the Plano East band at half-time Friday night taught me perseverance and determination.  Writing my senior paper under the watchful eye of Becky Griffith at Plano East taught me more than literary analysis.  She taught me to truly love literature.  Both of my parents were teachers with the district, so I saw every aspect of the dedication Plano teachers shared.  My parents worked constantly; Mom grading papers and Dad charting marching band formations after dinner each night.  I watched them, and all of my teachers at school, and knew that I wanted to be just like them, inspiring young minds to reach higher and explore the world.  The Teaching Major Studies program at Plano East helped further my interest in the educational field, so I entered college feeling confident in my decision to major in education.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
My entire life, I knew I would be attending college.  My parents and teachers never used the word if when referring to college; it was more a matter of when I would attend.  I knew I wanted to be a teacher at a young age, so college was definitely going to be in my future.  Everything from my content classes to my extra-curricular organizations prepared me for the college experience.  I was able to earn a full college academic scholarship, as well as scholarships for band and color guard. 

Anything else?
I couldn’t wait to come back to Plano after I finished my bachelor’s degree to start teaching, and I’ve been at Rice since 2001.  I knew the schools in PISD were the best, the teachers were the best, and the administrators were the best.  I admire and respect the people I work with and truly enjoy coming to work every day.

Jennnifer Sweeney

Jennifer Sweeney
Plano Senior High Class of 1998

Executive Coordinator - Government Affairs for Campbell Soup Company

Plano Experience

Wilson, VInes, Plano Senior

University Experience
Grove City College, Grove City, PA - BA with double major in English and Political Science


Jennifer Sweeney

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Academically, PISD provided a great foundation.  I enrolled in college with almost a year’s worth of credits from AP courses I took at PSHS which allowed me to double major and study for a semester in England.  Beyond great academic preparation, two invaluable skills I learned were teamwork and creativity.  I was challenged to work with a variety of other students from all different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds which provided a great foundation for my future career in politics and government.  Creativity was a skill fostered and encouraged through outstanding classes like Humanities with Mrs. Linda Walkup at Vines.  Humanities is still my all time favorite class.  It was a life shaping experience which opened my mind to the interconnectedness of art, music, literature and politics and was very influential in what I studied in college and my personal career ambitions. 

What Plano experience inspired you?  How?
In eighth grade, I joined an Odyssey of the Mind (OM) team.  That year, our team won 2nd place at the world competition.  OM was an amazing experience – I learned many new skills like how to use power tools and basic engineering principles, and even had my first public speaking opportunity.  After the competition, the school board honored our OM team and asked us to give a brief summary of our experience.  At the last minute, our coach, Danny Dantzler, asked me to give our report.  With no preparation, and wrought with nerves, I was able to deliver a coherent and successful presentation.  As a fairly shy kid, it gave me the confidence to get involved in other activities like Student Congress later in high school.  As an officer of Student Congress, under the leadership of Mrs. Dodie Kasper and Mrs. Marci Roe, my confidence continued to grow as I faced new challenges and experiences.  My extracurricular activities in middle and high school prepared me to serve in several leadership positions in college which ultimately opened the door to my first job working on Capitol Hill.  

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
My parents emphasized the importance of learning how to learn and always encouraged me to never stop learning.  I guess I never really considered not going to college.  However, I was surprised that I chose to go to a small, Christian college in Western Pennsylvania, but it was a wonderful experience, an amazing education, and I even met my husband there!

Suzanne Drotman

Suzanne Drotman
Plano Senior High Class of 1994

Plano ISD Human Resources Coordinator

Plano Experience

Aldridge, Huffman, Shepton, Plano Senior

University Experience
Texas A&M University - BS in Interdisciplinary Studies
University of North Texas - Masters in Educational Administration

Suzanne Drotman

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
My success in my post-secondary was influenced by my teachers providing me with the tools I needed to succeed. In my Plano ISD experience, I was not looked upon as another student on a roster. My teachers found the gifts that I had and built upon those gifts. They coached me to become the best student I could be with my natural talents.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
All of my Plano ISD experiences influenced me. I took unique traits, knowledge, and growth from each one. In fact, I was so inspired that I came back to work for this extraordinary district as quickly as I could.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
Actually, I never knew that it wasn’t an option. It was the natural next step!

Anything else?
As a Plano ISD educator and administrator, I feel very strongly that it is our charge as educators to create and foster an environment that is supportive and appreciative of individuals and diversity. We must support our students to become productive and responsible citizens. In Plano, we know that the choices we make for learners every day will affect their future contributions to society.

Zoey Copeland

Zoey Copeland
Plano East Senior High Class of 2007

Production Manager, Contemporary Theatre of Dallas

Plano Experience
Thomas, Hendrick, Clark, Plano East

University Experience
University of Evansville, BS in Theatre Performance with an associated study in Art History - 2012


Zoey Copeland

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano ISD has one of the most challenging curriculums I've seen.  It's challenging in more than the fact that it's difficult and the district has a high expectation for the students, but it also challenges the students to think differently.  Critical thinking is the key to higher education, and every one of my teachers from very early on in the PACE program demanded the best from all of us.  College seems so easy in comparison to high school, and I think that coming from such a high-quality school district in a very diverse town is the main reason.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
Lisa Hale, the theatre director at Plano East is the reason that I found it within myself to pursue my love of theatre in the real world.  Ever since starting theatre at Hendrick it's been the driving force in my academic life, and by being part of the Theatre Major Studies program I was able to take my acting to a very advanced, sohpisticated level before entering college.

Lisa treats her students not just as pupils to be taught, but also artists to be cultivated.  She provides a support system beyond compare that allows her actors to grow and learn in a safe, unjudgmental environment.  Ms. Hale told us on the first day of class my junior year in TMS that we should keep our notebooks full of theatre history, acting techniques, and monologues forever, because it will be full of useful information that would awe our directors and professors in the future.  It was a fact, and I still use the monologues I worked on with her in my college and professional auditions.

Other really important classes for me were Humanities at Clark High School and my five years of excellent French instruction.  Humanities furthered my critical thinking and analytical skills and instilled me with the very strong opinion that a humanities-based education is much more effective than the comparative religion school that a lot of private universities, including my own, tend to subscribe to.  Studying the art of a culture is what really illustrates the dominant aspects of that society: the political climate, the weather, the religious superstitions, even the fashions of clothing and music.  My enjoyment of these classes is what led me to choose Art History as my associated study.

Receiving instruction in French first from Mme. Ferrara at Vines, then Mme. Timaru at Clark and Mme. Sinnamon at Plano East helped me understand and use English more effectively.  Also, I tested out of six semesters of college French and used my language skills for travel in Belgium, France, and even England and Italy, where I seemed to attract lost French tourists who needed directions or their photos taken.  I spent several days in the Bretagne (Brittany) region of France and a woman I spoke to at the supermarket wouldn't even believe I was American!

Priya Gupta

Priya Gupta
Plano West Senior High Class of 2006

Student, Harvard University

Plano Experience

Jackson, Shepard, Wilson, Renner, Shepton, Plano West

University Experience
Harvard University - BS in Social Anthropology - 2010

Priya Gupta

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano ISD provided me with a well-rounded education that has certainly made my time in college thus far much easier. The background I have has facilitated my transfer into the competitive and challenging atmosphere at Harvard.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
Many of my teachers, throughout my time in Plano schools, inspired me to do more and reach higher. They have always provided me with the support I needed, and continue to be a source of inspiration to me.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I have always considered college to be the next step for me after high school, and I was certainly encouraged in this by my teachers and counselors.

 

 

Octavian Timaru

Octavian Timaru
Plano Senior High Class of 1999

JD/MBA student at Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School (Class of 2010) and Senior Software Consultant, Microsoft Corporation

Plano Experience

Shepton, Jasper, Plano

University Experience
Harvard College - AB in Computer Science, MS in Computer Science


Octavian Timaru

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I always felt very well-prepared for college as a PISD graduate. Many of my Harvard classmates attended some of the top preparatory schools in the nation, but I never felt at a disadvantage coming from Plano, where I was surrounded by smart and hard-working classmates and had more than enough course options to keep me busy. In particular, I was fortunate to be able to enroll in a wide variety of Advanced Placement courses at PSHS. The college credit I gained from these courses enabled me to complete my bachelor’s course work in three years, and I was able to spend my last year of college completing a master’s degree.

What Plano experience inspired you?  How?
I had many great teachers in Plano, so it is very hard to single out a few. Nonetheless, I am particularly grateful to Mrs. Cawthon, my 10th grade Honors English II teacher, who was always very supportive of me throughout my time in Plano, inside and outside of the classroom. Also, I would probably not have ended up majoring in Computer Science and working at Microsoft without Mr. Coe’s great AP Computer Science I & II classes. We learned far more about programming that many students do in their first-year college Computer Science courses. Finally, I spent much of my extracurricular time at PSHS on the Academic Decathlon team run by Ms. Kolb and Mr. Borowicz. It was a fantastic intellectual experience and even today I often find myself referring to something interesting that I learned while studying for the Decathlon competitions.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I think I always knew I wanted to attend college, but there is no doubt that spending time in Plano high schools opened my eyes to the many higher education opportunities that were available and motivated me to set my sights as high as I could.

Debra Nockels

Debra Nockels
Plano East Senior High Class of 1999
English Department Chair at Jasper High School
English II and English II Pre-AP teacher Yearbook teacher

Plano Experience
Memorial, Barron, Bowman, Williams, Plano East

University Experience
Texas State University - B.A. in Journalism
University of North Texas - MA in English
University of North Texas - M Ed in Secondary Education

Debra Nockels

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
The curriculum in Plano was so rigorous that I was really prepared for college-level curriculum. Entering college and balancing class work was not a shock after coming from Plano East.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
I had two really great teachers growing up. The first was Mrs. Kerlin, my 2nd grade teacher at Memorial. I still have the postcard she wrote to me the summer after I left 2nd grade. She was always so kind and patient with us, an unruly group of 7-year-olds. The second was my junior English teacher at Plano East, Ms. Biggs. She made is seem possible to me that I could be myself (not an old, stuffy, stereo-typical English teacher) and still love literature.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
The teachers that I had never even made it seem like an option, to not attend college. The majority of my peers and family attended college, and I felt confident that I could do the same and be successful.

Stuart Tett

Stuart Tett
Plano West Senior High Class of 2001

Effects Animator for DreamWorks Animation

Plano Experience

Brinker, Renner, Shepton, Plano West

University Experience
Iowa State University - BS in Computer Science and Art & Design (double major)
Texas A&M University - MS in Visualization Sciences


Stuart Tett

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano schools prepared me for college and working life by offering challenging classes and teaching me to be a hard worker. It made the transition to college very smooth. By offering advanced art and computer science classes, I already had a strong background in the areas I needed to succeed in this industry.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
As a freshman, I did a class project for geography which involved building a website. Although it is different from what I do now, this was my first experience combining my talents in art and computers. I had to design the page to make it look nice. I also had to write code to build the website. This was a very important experience for me, because that is ultimately what I do today: write computer programs to make beautiful images.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I had always planned on going to college.

Anything else?
I have just finished my first movie, Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. The experience at DreamWorks Animation has been great. I love my job and I'm learning a lot. I am now working on How To Train Your Dragon (coming in 2010).

David Skidmore

David Skidmore
Plano West Senior High Class of 2001

President of Third Coast Percussion, Inc.
Artist-in-Residence - Academy at Carnegie Hall
Solo percussionist - Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble

Plano Experience

Renner, Shepton, Plano West

University Experience
Northwestern University in Evanston, IL - BA in Music Performance
Yale University in New Haven, CT - MA in Music Performance

David Skidmore

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
First and foremost I received a tremendous music education from my band directors James Hannah (Plano West and Shepton), Don Kitchens (Renner), Art Ruangtip (Plano West), and Mark Wessels (Shepton). I was fortunate to have the opportunity to study privately with some excellent percussionists such as Michael Hernandez (currently at Plano Senior High School) and Shawn Schietroma. At a time when support for arts education is woefully inadequate in the United States in comparison to other advanced nations, my musical experience in the Plano school district was truly first rate.

I owe equal gratitude for my aesthetic education to Lynn Gafford and Clark Terry (formerly of the Plano West English dept) Craig McKinney (Shepton Humanities dept) Kelly Callaway (Renner English dept) and a number of others. I feel extremely fortunate to have been adequately prepared academically for the types of school that offered the music programs I was looking for. I remember PISD as very rigorous, which made college entirely manageable.

Given that I now have some first-hand experience teaching in public school settings, in retrospect I am in complete awe of the teachers mentioned above and a number of others who were able to balance the precarious relationship between the government-wide, district-wide, school-wide, and department-wide standardizations ostensibly necessary to assess the value of an educational program with the infinitely greater challenge of providing the individual educational experiences tailored to meet the needs of the hundreds of students they came face-to-face with every single day.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
College was something I aspired to from early in my Plano education. I’m fortunate to have incredibly supportive parents who always encouraged me to look beyond my time in PISD towards college.

Alison Jones

Alison Jones
Plano East Senior High Class of 1997

QA Analyst for ARGO Data Resources, Inc.  Software developer for the top 100 US financial institutions

Plano Experience

Meadows, Armstrong, Williams, Plano East

University Experience
University of Texas (Tyler) and LeTourneau University - BS in Business Administration

Alison Jones

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience? 
Plano ISD gave me the opportunity to achieve success and independence throughout my entire educational career.  While in Plano ISD, I was able to graduate with credit hours toward college and enough preparation to comfortably transition from high school to college.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How? 
I believe that laying a solid foundation during the first years of a child’s education is the key to future success.  Fortunately I was given that opportunity with the wonderful teachers I had in elementary school.  I cannot give all of the credit to one individual when they all deserve recognition.  As a young student, I was presented with ample challenges and rewards to boost self esteem, daily opportunities to increase socialization, and the perfect mix of play and work to maintain my high interest in education.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you? 
Fifth grade is when I fondly remember setting my goal to complete college.

David Pumpelly

David Pumpelly
Plano Senior High Class of 1988

President of Cottage Senior Living, Inc. Management of assisted living communities in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee

Plano Experience

Aldridge, Wilson, Plano Senior

University Experience
Indiana University - BS in Business with a concentration in Computer Information Systems

David Pumpelly

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I went to a big university so the size of Plano schools really helped me adjust to college life.  I also was in the work program my senior year which helped me develop a strong work ethic and job skills early on.  I do not remember much about my studies in high school but I know I had to prepare hard for each class. I definitely felt prepared, knowledge wise, for the college curriculum.  I am convinced that PISD helped me to become a very well rounded individual.

What Plano teacher inspired you?  How?
Ms. White, my Spanish teacher in 7th and 8th grade at Wilson. I loved Spanish class and she was such a terrific teacher.  My grandfather lived in Spain during my childhood and I was very drawn to his experiences and lifestyle overseas.  I was fascinated by his ability to speak Spanish. Ms. White really fostered my interest in the language and helped make learning it fun.  I continued Spanish studies through college (though not quite enough to minor in it!)

After graduating college, I went to work for a large technology consulting company. From 1997 – 2000, I lived in Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil consulting for large South American financial institutions. To this day I speak fluent Spanish and travel frequently to Central and South American Countries. I even ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain!  I owe these experiences, in part, to Ms. White (and my grandfather, of course!).

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I am the black sheep in my family.  It was always a given that I would go to college and my family worked hard to give me that opportunity. But alas, I did not begin college immediately after graduating high school.  I needed an added year to mature and realize that I could not reach my potential without first furthering my education.  I always knew I was smart enough, but lacked the motivation.  It did not take long earning pennies for boring, monotonous work to motivate me.   Looking back, I sure am glad that I got motivated!

Ridge Flick

Ridge Flick
Plano West Senior High Class of 2006

United States Air Force Academy student currently studying aeronatical engineering

Plano Experience
Brinker, Barksdale, Renner, Shepton, Plano West

University Experience
United States Air Force Academy
Class of 2010

Ridge Flick

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
PISD was an extremely good education to prepare me for college, and whatever I may face afterwards.  The difficult subject material has made the transition to college much easier than I anticipated, and I still use many of the concepts and things I learned at Plano West to complete assignments in college.

Thanks to PISD, especially Plano West, for a great education, and a great athletic program.  Both helped me to become a NCAA Division I student athlete in lacrosse.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
Dr. Carroll was a great influence on my education.  He raised questions about physics and life that sparked my interest in the subject to an extremely high level.  I credit my interest in engineering and physics to his teaching.  Without his classes at West, the courses I’ve taken in engineering here at the Academy would be much more difficult.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I always thought I would go to college. My parents had told me from the time I was very young that college was simply the next step after high school.

Shelly Slater

Shelly Slater
Plano Senior High Class of 1998

WFAA weekend nightly news anchor and weekly reporter

Plano Experience
Huffman, Brinker, Renner, Shepton, Plano Senior

University Experience
University of Missouri, Columbia - BS in Broadcast Journalism

Shelly Slater

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I walked into college with a lot of credits from high school AP courses, so I had more flexibility to take courses of interest, or spend more time at the local TV station learning hands on.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
There were too many experiences to pick one. But Senora Zach sticks out from Shepton High School. She was so enthusiastic about Spanish, you couldn't help but get excited too. Then traveling to Spain with her really made realize what she was teaching wasn't just text book Spanish, but the way people really speak. I've never had a teacher with more UMPH! than she did.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
It was always something my parents stressed. The second freshman year started, I knew every grade counted to get into college and to try for scholarships

Brandon Wurtz

Brandon Wurtz
Plano East Senior High Class of 2003

Ph.D. student in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth

Plano Experience
Armstrong, Williams, Plano East

University Experience
Texas A&M University - BS in Biomedical Science; focus on Veterinary Science

Brandon Wurtz

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
PISD has an abundance of tools available to aid in students’ educations that are not available in many school districts.  I am referring more specifically to access to computers, televisions, graphing calculators, projectors, and other forms of educational media available in each classroom.  The availability of career oriented courses, such as clinical rotations, provided an opportunity for students to gain first hand experience in the fields of their interest.  Also, PISD offered a variety of AP and IB courses allowing those students who were ready and willing the opportunity to challenge themselves and gain a stronger understanding of the world they will soon enter.  I felt that as a freshman at Texas A&M I was well prepared for the challenges and adjustments needed to succeed while I frequently saw students from other districts across the state struggling to adjust.  I think that, aside from the solid education, the size of Plano East in terms of number of students helped in getting used to the enormousness of a university campus and not feeling overwhelmed.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
My favorite memory/experience from Plano was my time in the choir under the direction of Mr. Derrick Brookins.  He did a wonderful job of creating a family environment where students were inspired to work diligently, together, but at the same time appreciate the importance of having fun and enjoying what you do. 

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you? 
I do not recall being directly told that I had to go to college but I think it was understood and in my mind it was never really an option not to.  From about age 5, I had wanted to be a veterinarian and even though that has changed now I have always known that I wanted some type of graduate school education.  My goal is to have the greatest impact on as many people as possible in the world, and I think that the majority of the careers that offer this type of influence require higher education.

Alexandra Collumb

Alexandra Collumb
Plano Senior High Class of 1998

Federal Government Contractor, Perot Systems Government Services, Fairfax, VA

Plano Experience
Schimelpfenig , Shepton, Plano Senior

University Experience
Texas Woman’s University - BS in History
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA - Master of Liberal Arts in International Cultures
LaSalle University, Philadelphia, PA - Master of Arts in Russian, Central and Eastern European Studies

 


Alexandra Collumb

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I had wonderful teachers in Plano that really challenged me academically.  The education that I received far surpassed that of most of my friends from other schools.  I remember being in the college bookstore my freshman year and being astounded by the fact most of the books on the shelf were novels that we had read in high school English.  Also, when you are the product of a graduating class of 1,200 you get a real feel for the college atmosphere.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
There are a few teachers that come to mind: Ms. Havins, Mr. Borowicz, Ms. Laitala, and Coach Williams.  I remember that on the first day of my sophomore year, I was dreading Ms. Havin’s American History class.  For some reason I had it in my head that I was terrible at history and was not going to do well.  Ms. Havins changed all of that.  She made history so interesting, which made me succeed.  Mr. Borowicz’s A.P. English class prepared me for college better than any other course.  His course taught us how to balance numerous studies at the same time.  We would study one topic during class, be expected to study another at home and made to understand that failure was not an option.  Ms. Laitala and Coach Williams helped me make it through Chemistry and Algebra II.  Needless to say, I was not mathematically/scientifically inclined!  They worked with me for countless hours after school and were always encouraging.  They helped me to understand that while I was not strong in one area, I could certainly succeed in another.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I always knew that college was an option.  My parents made it known early on that college was in my future and were very encouraging and patient!  Personal motivation was a problem at times though.  I was not much of a student until college.  I was enrolled in a few honors courses in high school, but did not really apply myself as much as my peers until my junior and senior years.  While I was not an outstanding scholar, I knew that I needed to attend college and that I would make it through just fine.  I think it is incredibly important for students to understand that you do not have to be a rocket scientist to succeed.  Once I entered college I thrived academically.  I had an abundance of disciplines to choose from.  I discovered what I loved and then pursued it!  I would have never dreamed that I would pursue graduate studies.  It is important to believe in yourself and know that you can do just about anything you set your mind to.

Denise Bleggi

Denise Bleggi
Plano Senior High Class of 1985

Plano ISD Principal at Bethany Elementary School

Plano Experience

Aldridge, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Stephen F. Austin State University - BS in Education
Kindergarten in Early Childhood Education certification
Texas A&M, Commerce – MEd in Special Education
University of North Texas – Educational Administration certification

Denise Bleggi

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Attending Plano schools awarded me a balanced educational experience so that I graduated seeking continued growth as a student and leader.  Not only did I acquire organizational and study skills, but the rigorous coursework and high expectations my teachers held for me fostered my sense of dedication to learning.  In addition, I developed strong leadership abilities and strengthened interpersonal skills as a result of the extra-curricular activities that nurtured and varied my interests outside of class work.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I grew up supported by a family and teachers who made it clear, I was “college bound”.  College discussions never focused on “if” but rather asked the powerful questions, “when, where and how?”  

What Plano teacher inspired you?
I must admit that it is not the direct influence of one teacher, but that of numerous men and women whose belief in the life-changing power of education touched my life, so that I too, teach.

 

 

Taryn Compton

Taryn Rand Compton
Plano Senior High Class of 1999

Marketing Director at Life Care Center of Plano Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation facility

Plano Experience

Davis, Haggard, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
University of Texas in Austin - BS in Public Relations with a concentration in Spanish

Taryn Rand Compton

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience? 
Plano ISD prepared me for my post-secondary experience in many ways.  Some of these include the values of hard work, academic drive and determination and supportive teachers and peers who place education as a priority.  Additionally, as a student of Plano ISD, I’ve always had the confidence within myself to achieve whatever goals I set forth.  I feel that this is a result of the ongoing support from PISD teachers and employees that students receive within the district.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you? 
Having been a part of the Plano ISD for all of my life prior to college, I never questioned going to college.  I suppose being in such a well-developed and supportive school district, attending college had always been the “norm” for many.  With a competitive edge, Plano ISD offers valuable resources for students to maximize their potential, and attain their goals and dreams. 

Anything else? 
Above all, I am proud and honored to have received my education within Plano ISD.  I feel that my experience has given me confidence in my abilities and a mentality that anything is possible.

Christine & Andrew Smith

Christine and Andrew Smith
Plano Senior High Classes of 1998-99

Christine – Pediatric Resident, University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital
Andrew – Research Scientist (Postdoctoral Fellow), University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy

Plano Experience

Christine – Sigler, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior            
Andrew – Shepard, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Christine – Baylor University - BS in Biology
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine - MD
Andrew – Texas A&M University - BS in Biomedical Sciences
Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine -  PhD in Medical Sciences (Neuroscience)

Christine and Andrew Smith

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano schools provide strong training in the fundamentals of education, making it easy to pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  The Advanced Placement (AP) courses offered through the school district provided outstanding instruction, and were a great way to go into college already ahead of the game.  The school district also offers many extracurricular activities for students to participate in, which help teach many of the intangibles that cannot be learned in a text book, such as work ethic, determination and leadership.  Through classes and activities such as these, we developed a strong academic background, and a desire to learn that plays a role in our professions today.

What Plano experiences influenced you?  How?
We were both heavily influenced by our science teachers throughout middle and high school.  During high school, we decided to pursue careers in the medical sciences.  To that end, Christine is now a second-year pediatric resident and Andrew is a neuroscientist working on the treatment of drug addiction.  We are convinced that our interest in medical science was driven by the wonderful teachers who invested so much time in our classes, and the advanced courses that provided such a wonderful background for us to build upon.  We were both also very active in extracurricular activities, including athletics (football), band and student government, which helped to broaden our perspectives and build friendships with people that still stand today.  

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
We knew that college was not only an option, but a requirement, very early on.  Our parents instilled the importance of getting a degree in us when we were in elementary school, and the teachers of the Plano schools that we attended also encouraged us to attend college.  As a whole, we would describe the Plano school district as being tremendously supportive, and we are very appreciative.

Anything else?
Thank you to everyone who put in the time to help us through the years!

Curt Steinhorst

Curt Steinhorst
Plano Senior High Class of 2001

Lecture Agent, International Speakers Bureau

Plano Experience

Shepard, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Texas A&M University - BA in Speech Communication

Curt Steinhorst

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano’s classes forced me to discipline myself and challenged me to think creatively.   Whereas friends that I met in college often considered high school a joke,  my experience in Plano schools made college a workload reduction (insert Aggie Joke here…although I have friends both from UT and Harvard who will tell you the same thing).

What Plano experience inspired you?  How?
There are endless examples I could use. Here are three top choices:

  • Student Congress at PSHS- here I learned both project management and leadership development that better prepared me for the “real world” than any other experience in school and corporate business training.  I also used these tools in student government at Texas A&M.
  • Odyssey of the Mind-  taught me teamwork, innovation, and creativity.
  • Speech and debate- as someone who majored in Speech Communication at college and whose real world job is to represent business authors and celebrities for speaking engagements, both my middle school teachers (Mrs. Witt and Mr. Arp) and PSHS teacher (Mrs. Potts) were beyond exceptional at teaching public speaking.   There are very few skills more important and it surprises me how lightly people take this class.  What I learned from these teachers, I have basically quoted verbatim to speakers who make over 20k per speech to help them improve their skill set.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
My parents made it clear at about age 3 that I was going to college or would lose my status as a son.

Catherine Regan

Catherine Regan
Plano East Senior High Class of 2008

Cadet Fourth Class, United States Air Force Academy

Plano Experience

Harrington, Carpenter, Clark, Plano East

University Experience
United States Air Force Academy
Class of 2012

Catherine Regan

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
PISD gave me many opportunities to excel and challenge myself academically with AP courses and with extra-curricular activities such as being the mascot.

What Plano experience inspired you?  How?
I’ve had several good teachers whose enthusiasm for the subjects they taught motivated me to become interested in learning about subjects that I otherwise would have had little interest in.  This has helped me to become a more well-rounded individual with interests in many different subject areas.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I’ve always planned on attending college.

 

 

Amy Small

Amy Small
Plano Senior High Class of 2001

Reference/Electronic Services Librarian at the Texas State Law Library in Austin

Plano Experience

Saigling, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Northwestern University - BA in 20th Century English Literature
University of North Texas - Master of Library and Information Science

Amy Small

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
When I was in high school, I didn’t notice anything especially advanced about the work or instruction we were doing in my AP classes.  It’s not that it wasn’t advanced – I’d just never known anything different, so it seemed pretty normal to me.  Once I got to college, it dawned on me how incredibly rigorous the academic preparation I’d received really was.  It was amazing (read: horrifying) to enroll in honors college courses and find that some of my classmates had no idea how to compose an essay, conduct research, manage their courseload, etc.  The preparation I’d had at Plano allowed me to skate through my freshman year of college while many of my peers were struggling to adjust. 

What Plano experience inspired you?  How?
I was fortunate enough to have several outstanding teachers throughout my time in Plano schools (Ms. Brunson, Ms. Bulino, Ms. Bartley, Ms. Wenger, Mr. Murray).  What made these teachers stand out was that they presented learning as fun, exciting and genuinely interesting, rather than boring or tedious.  It wasn’t just a sleight of hand, either (“Surprise! You’re learning!”)… these teachers were really adept at showing us all the weird and interesting things the world has to offer in terms that we could understand.  For a kid like me (#1 nerd), this was the icing on the cake, but it made all the difference for other kids who maybe didn’t initially share my outlook towards school.  These teachers’ ability to make kids look forward to class and learning instead of dreading it had effects that lasted long after our graduation from Plano. 

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
Like many of the responses on this site, I was always encouraged to pursue college.  However, I’d like to add that what really sets Plano schools apart was that a university education was presented as an option for everyone. 

Kathleen Nobbe

Kathleen Nobbe
Plano Senior High Class of 2002

Administrative Assistant, Taurus Training and Doggy Play Day, Austin, TX

Plano Experience

Shepard, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Austin College - Double major in English and Art


Kathleen Nobbe

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Being a part of such a large class encouraged me to find ways to stand out in a crowd and allowed me the freedom to express myself. I learned from my amazing teachers that personal relationships are more important than test scores both on a resume and in life.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
(I have a few…but these aren’t even the half of it.)

Mr. Borowicz (11th grade English @ PSHS) believed in me in a very earnest and caring way; he encouraged my writing and inspired me to study English.

Ms. Holland (PJU summer school, 9th&10th grade Theatre @ Vines) called me out of class one day into her Advanced Theatre class- she stood me in front of the students and said ”You all know Kathleen. She is smart, trustworthy and I know I can trust her to get a job done. That’s why, even though she has never done it and isn’t really even in theatre, I’m asking her to run the light board for our spring musical.” I was totally blown away and flattered and I had the greatest time up in that light booth!

Ms. Bartley(7th grade Science @ Wilson) and Ms. Wenger (7th&8th grade PACE History and Socratic Seminar) provided a lasting impression of the kind of woman I would like to be - smart, sassy, strong and sweet. All girls should have examples like them at that age.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
College was always an option- all of my teachers instilled a love of learning in me and college was just a natural progression.

Anything else?
I had a pretty great experience with PISD, and I feel that a lot of that credit goes to great teachers and programs- especially the PACE and PJU programs. I think that I got a better, lasting education because in these classes, the focus was actual learning, not just test scores.

Jeff Lakey

Jeff Lakey
Plano Senior High Class of 2001

Accounting Specialist for Goodwill Industries of Central Texas

Plano Experience

Weatherford, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
University of North Texas - BS in Sociology

Jeff Lakey

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
In addition to basic computer skills, my experience in Plano schools helped provide me with the critical thinking and problem solving skills necessary for my job.

What Plano teacher inspired you?  How?
I can’t choose only one. In my seventh and eighth grade years at Wilson I was very fortunate to be taught by some of the most influential teachers I would ever meet. As well as being excellent Academic Pentathlon coaches, Mrs. Wenger in Pace History and Reading and Mrs. Bartley in Science were able to communicate with their classes in a way that was intelligent, entertaining and creative. In turn, I believe they passed these qualities along to their students. Those years are often difficult and confusing (at least they were for me), but being in a class where I was respected as a student and ideas, as well as hard work, were encouraged… it was definitely inspirational.

My ninth and tenth grade Humanities teachers, Mrs. Pollard, Mrs. Walkup and Mrs. Buteyn, helped me formulate my taste in art and the world around me. Probably more than any other subject in high school, my life was shaped by what I learned in that classroom (as well as various cities in Western Europe). I took several art history and music classes in college and it was astounding what I could recall learning in Humanities. I got to dress up as an executioner and go on a Medieval-themed march through the streets of Plano! What more can I say?!

At PSHS, my government teacher, Mrs. Morbitt, was very inspirational in her approach to teaching a subject that could definitely be considered by some to be very dry and boring. But rather than just teach facts and figures, she encouraged debate and brought in ideas and concepts from current events and the world around us. I’m sure our class was a handful, especially around the time of mock Congress, but she always helped us maintain a civil discourse and tolerated our (especially my) naive political ramblings. I am definitely a more thoughtful and aware person for my experience in her class.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I always knew that I wanted to go to college, but I don’t think I seriously started thinking about it until the 10th grade or so. This is one of the reasons I am thankful I got to attend Plano schools, as I was able to choose from a very diverse selection of classes with a certain degree of freedom, which I believe prepared me for the college experience.

Anything else?
Just a big thank you to my teachers!

Britton Light

Britton Light
Plano Senior High Class of 1998

Intellectual Property and Litigation Counsel for Georges Marciano / Associate at Bonne Bridges Mueller O’Keefe & Nichols

Plano Experience

Weatherford, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Southern Methodist University - BBA in Marketing, Minor in Psychology


Britton Light

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I took several AP classes, so that I started college with several credits.  The fast pace of Plano Senior High classes taught me to multi-task and not procrastinate.  The heavy workload ensured that I stay on top of my work because falling behind was not an option.  This was key since there were several semesters in college (and law school) when I took more than the usual 12-15 units.  Also, the sheer size of my graduating class at Plano was a good example of what life would be like in college.

Finally, the most important lesson I learned from Plano schools was to get involved with on-campus activities in college.  Unfortunately, I waited until my senior year at Plano to join Student Senate and get active.  I loved being able to give back to the school by helping plan activities such as Homecoming and meet fellow students that I would not have known if not for Student Senate.  My experience in Senate was the reason behind my joining several organizations in college, which definitely contributed to my happiness and success.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
Donna Brown, my accounting teacher during my senior year at Plano, influenced me the most.  Throughout my time in Plano schools, I was fairly shy and intimidated by teachers.  Mrs. Brown taught me that it was possible to form relationships with teachers, which became very important in the college and law school environment.  Being able to respond to and communicate with teachers has also paid off in the real world because those same teachers become your colleagues and co-workers.

Also, I took Humanities at Vines, which was very influential as well.  It created a true appreciation of the arts in me and inspired me to take art history in college.  Eventually, I took several art law classes in law school and hope to transition into an art law career some day.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I knew college was an option for me from elementary school on.  It was just assumed.

Anything else?
I’ve noticed that a lot of the alumni on this website have talked about AP classes, Humanities classes, and prestigious colleges.  It’s important for every Plano student to consider going to college, whether or not they fit this profile.  A college degree is priceless when it comes to your career.  When I was in high school, I never would have imagined that I would end up as an attorney in Los Angeles.  Succeeding in college opened this door for me.

Tom Palesky

Tom Palesky
Plano Senior High Class of 2006
Active Duty Army

Plano Experience
Matthews, Schimelpfenig, Jasper, Plano Senior

University Experience
United States Military Academy at West Point
Class of 2011

Tom Palesky

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
The block schedule and the amount of classes and how you must be prepared prior to class have made me very successful here.

What Plano teacher influenced or inspired you?  How? 
There were so many teachers that have been unbelievable. I don’t think I have ever had a bad teacher not influence me or not inspire me.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I knew I would always go to college, but it wasn’t until I was recognized and recruited for  playing lacrosse that I really began to pick and choose what school would be best for me.

 

Jennifer Bernabo

Jennifer Bernabo
Plano East Senior High Class of 1995
PESH Science Chairperson; AP & IB Chemistry II

Plano Experience
Thomas, Carpenter, Clark, Plano East

University Experience
University of Texas - BA in Science, Biology major

Jennifer Bernabo

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano ISD taught us how to think and to keep high standards.  Many times when I am out in the community, people will expect more from Plano ISD teachers because we give more and our standards are high.  Everytime that I have a project or am working with community leaders, then I make sure that the product meets the high standards.  As a whole, the teachers, administrators, and students keep meeting the standards and pushing the standards even higher for us to achieve more everyday. Plano ISD’s main focus is to ensure that our students are able to be successful after graduation and I am glad to be a part of that process.

What Plano teacher influenced or inspired you?  How?
I had a lot of wonderful teachers who influenced me in my school career.  The first were Mrs. Hare and Mr. Solomen at Thomas Elementary. From there, I had some great teachers in middle school and finally some great teachers in high school (Mrs.Phile, Mrs. Griffin, Mrs. Coe, Mrs.Kottwitz).  My teachers were great in that they kept pushing me and making me stretch my limits so that I learned more than I could imagine.  You never said that you could not because with in minutes you were doing what you said that you could not do.  My teachers believed in their students and we, as students, worked equally as hard to keep the teachers believing in us.  Today I hope that I can do the same for my students. 

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I was raised with the idea that I would be going to UT.  I never ever thought of not going to college.  It was an expectation of my parents that all of their children would go to college and get their degrees in what ever subject they wished.

Mark Williams

Mark Williams
Plano East Senior High School

Legislative Director for Congressman Sam Johnson of the 3rd Congressional District

Plano Experience

Dooley, Armstrong, Williams, Plano East

University Experience
University of Texas Austin - BS in English and Spanish

Mark Williams

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I took many honors and AP classes.  I participated in many extracurricular activities.  My class work in Plano ISD completely prepared me for the university.  I went into Texas with 15 hours of English and 24 hours of Spanish.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
My AP Spanish teacher, Essie Stanford expected only the best from me.  She wouldn’t allow me to slide.  Overall, all my teachers made sure I was doing what I was supposed to do.  My English teachers taught me the art of writing that I am using even today. 

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
College was always expected of me.  I didn’t think any other way.  There was no question that I would attend a university. 

Anything else?
I work on the Hill in Washington, DC, and I oversee the legislative staff that works for Mr. Johnson.  I have worked in Washington for 5 years and have had many unique opportunities as a result of my job. I just returned from a congressional visit to Yemen. 

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith
Plano Senior High Class of 2002

Administrative Associate at McRight-Smith Partners, LLC
SMU Graduate Student

Plano Experience

Shepard, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
University of Texas at Dallas - Criminology Major, Psychology Minor
Southern Methodist University - Graduate Student; MS in Psychology

Sarah Smith

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I would say that Plano schools went above and beyond in preparing me for my post-secondary experience. I received a great amount of experience from writing papers in AP English that enabled me to excel. I benefited from doing science projects in 7th and 8th grade that taught me how to do research on my own, collaborate it, and write a lengthy paper on my findings; this was great preparation for college. I also had the experience of going to a school with a large population where everyone wanted to succeed.  This tested my abilities and prepared for me life in the real world.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
Being in the PAL program in the 8th grade was an experience that influenced me. Not only did I get to know the other students in the program, but I got to do many things that helped others. The times I enjoyed most were working with the first graders at Shepard Elementary school.  We were each assigned a particular student that we were to mentor and it felt great to be someone they could talk to and have fun with.    

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I always knew college would be an option; it was deciding where to go and what to study that was the hard part!

Sheryl Bradley

Sheryl Bradley
Plano East Senior High Class of 1988

Honors English IV and Reading Applications Teacher at Plano Senior High

Plano Experience

Meadows, Armstrong, Williams, Plano East

University Experience
University of North Texas - BS in Interdisciplinary Studies, MEd

Sheryl Bradley

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano's rigorous curriculum afforded me the opportunity to earn enough college credit to start college as a well prepared sophomore.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How? 
My father who was a Plano ISD teacher taught me to never waste any educational opportunity whether in school or out.  I was also greatly influenced by MaryLou Buntyn.  Her compassion for her students mixed with her passion for her subject made her a teacher worth emulating.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
Education was a priority in my family, and it was an expectation from as far back as I can remember that I would attend college.

Jane Capstick

Jane Capstick
Plano Senior High Class of 2002
First Officer for American Eagle Airlines

Plano Experience
Weatherford, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Louisiana Tech University - BS in Professional Aviation


Jane Capstick

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
The 10 years of PISD more than prepared me for the years to follow graduation from high school.  Because of the high expectations of all teachers, time management was essential.  Meeting the college professors’ standards was an easy transition because of the study habits I developed throughout my years in PISD.

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
Many teachers encouraged me and other students by letting us know that we could achieve anything we set our mind to as long as we were willing to work for it.  My Weatherford Elementary teachers had a big impact on establishing my success in PISD.  Each year there seemed to be a teacher who always made the students feel a connection with them over and above just being a student.  Over the years I have stayed in touch with these teachers.

Experiences that inspired me were school trips that enabled us as students to interact with teachers on a more personal level.  These trips also broadened my travelling horizons and helped me realize my career path of being an airline pilot to continue my passion for travel.  These experiences included the Weatherford 5th grade trip to Camp Classen, the Wilson 7th grade Texas History Trip, the Vines Humanities European trip, and the PSHS Student Congress  trip. 

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I always knew that college was the next step after high school.

Matt Truitt

Matt Truitt
Plano Senior High Class of 1995
Professor of Art at Southwestern College, Chula Vista, CA
Member of the San Bernardino Cave Rescue Team

Plano Experience
Thomas, Weatherford, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Texas Christian University - BFA, Major in Studio Art, emphasis in Photography
University of Washington - MFA in Studio Art, emphasis in Photography

Matt Truitt

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
PISD is a competitive environment and encourages competition.  I had done science fairs, history fairs, sports, and art competitions while in school.  Also, I took several A.P. classes including A.P. Art 1, A.P. Art 2, Government, Economics, and English.  The A.P. Art classes were very beneficial because I created the portfolio that I needed to use to apply to scholarships at the colleges I applied to.  Also, Plano Senior High is a large school, which prepared me to dealing with a large college. 

What Plano experience or teacher influenced you?  How?
I don’t remember the names of all my teachers, but I’ll do my best here.  In fifth grade, I had a homeroom teacher, I believe named Mrs. Fry.  She was a fun woman who kept things interesting.  I think teachers have to perform in front of a class similar to a comedian at a nightclub. The comedian has to give the perfect delivery to a joke, and the teacher has to deliver the information to a student in a way that engages the student.  Mrs. Fry was great at the delivery.  In tenth grade, I had a world history teacher who challenged us to research beyond the textbook, look at multiple sides of an issue or even a historical event.  I think this was the first time I became aware of critical thinking and starting making my own opinions on issues.  She really made me aware that textbooks are one reference, and that reference can be truthful, but also favor one side of an issue.  We took into account how people from different countries might view who was at fault or considered the “bad” side during a war.  I think this idea of awareness of the views of others has helped me understand cultures better, especially in a world that is more global today than it was when I was a child.   Also, in tenth grade, I had an art teach who influenced me.  I grew up with an Art teacher, and like most young male children, I rebelled against anything similar to my parents…thus I actually stayed away from art during my teen years.  In tenth grade, my art teacher made me realize that art wasn’t just about pretty pictures.  I realized that art has several of the same problem solving skills and challenges as science.  My interest in art grew at that point.  I explored art in eleventh and twelfth grade as well.  In eleventh grade, I had the unusual situation of having my own mother, Janice Truitt, as my A.P. art teacher.  It’s easy to say my own mother inspired me, but it is actually true.  I’m a college professor now, and I think what I learned from my mother while I watched her teach is that a good teacher is there to open a student’s mind to all sorts of possibilities.  I think in art, my mother showed us the techniques and standards but also encouraged experimentation.  That experimentation lead each student to unique conclusions for an assignment.  I learned a lot from my own mistakes, my own successes, but also the successes and mistakes of the other students as well.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
Honestly, in my family, I don’t think it was much of a choice.  It was assumed from an early age, that I would go to college.  This is good and bad.  It is good because since my family had high expectations, it challenged me, and I think I even pushed myself to meet these high expectations.  It’s also bad, because I wonder if I would be valued the same if I wasn’t able to accomplish the grades, the scholarships, and college.  Having said that, I still think that it is crucial for the family to encourage and support a child to do well in school.  I personally think the family has more of an effect on the success of a student than the school or teachers.  I had a good family life, and very supportive parents.  I think this really helped me to succeed.  I teach at a community college now with students from a variety of backgrounds.  Several of my students come from homes that did not have encouraging parents.  Some of my students even came from homes where the parents told them that they shouldn’t go to college or that they weren’t good enough for college.  I see these students struggle to make their dreams come true.  I think these students will succeed in the end, but they struggle much more with self-confidence in their studies that most people I know that came from very supportive families.  So, I think the home life is crucial. 

Anything else?
I think that classes and grades are only one way to be ready for college.  I think students also need to consider experiences that will enrich their lives and make them more well rounded as a person.  I think my extra-curricular activities were just as important as my classes.  I was a gymnast for 4 or 5 years until seventh grade.  I played football for 3 years until eleventh grade.  I also think it is important to find at least one thing that you can build success at while you are young.  So many people have a hard time believing in themselves and gaining self-confidence.  For me, I found success in art, and also I found that I was good at rock climbing when I was in high school.  I think those two activities gave me the mental state to push forward through challenges, because I knew that if I continued to try hard, I could figured out the problem, and I could solve the problem.  I also believe that social development at a young age prepares you better for the real world.  I would encourage students to become members of a group, a club, a team, anything where you need to work with other, provide leadership, struggle together for a cause, communicate with others, and learn a sense of the benefits of hard work and team work.

Chelsea Goldstein

Chelsea Goldstein
Plano West Senior High Class of 2006
Student, Duke University

Plano Experience
Brinker, Renner, Shepton, Plano West

University Experience
Duke University - class of 2010


Chelsea Goldstein

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Since elementary school PACE, I feel like PISD has given me the right path to success. Especially in high school, I gained more than just facts—I learned how to think for myself. My base in math and science coming in to college was substantially better than most of my friends, and I feel like I was very prepared for college level classes. Activities like the debate team especially augmented my high school experience. 

What Plano teacher inspired you?  How?
Mrs. Shorey, my third grade teacher at Brinker, taught me the joy of reading, something I still hold today. Her class inspired me more than any other class that I have taken. Teachers like Mr. McKinney (Humanities), Mr. Moore (Debate), and Mrs. McCollom (English) also made me think outside of the box and learn new things about myself.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I have always known that I would go to college, but choosing which college was difficult. The great part about Plano schools is that college is not a goal; it is an expectation. Duke is a great choice for me because of the good balance between academics and social life. Luckily, because of my good education, I had a range of choices of where to go to school.

Anything else?
I encourage everyone to take advantage of the extracurricular activities that Plano has to offer. It is a shame that funding is being cut in some of the most formative experiences that I had in school. Personally, I would encourage everyone to try out debate. I learned more from debating than I did in any classroom.

Missy Bender

Missy Bender
Plano East Senior High Charter Class of 1983
Trustee, Plano ISD Board of Trustees

Plano Experience
Forman, Armstrong, Williams, Plano East

University Experience
Southern Methodist University - BBA in Marketing


Missy Bender

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience? 
PISD prepared me with the academic knowledge that I needed to succeed at the college level, a lifetime appreciation of the arts, and real life leadership opportunities that inspired me to make a difference.

What Plano teacher or experience inspired you?
I was inspired by Connie Seelhorst, my office education teacher at PESH, because she encouraged me to challenge myself beyond my comfort zone.  (Mrs. Seelhorst is still teaching at PESH today and I still get to see her and tell her what she meant to me!)

I also remember a special “aha” moment at College Night at PESH. I knew that I wanted to pursue a business degree, but I did not know where to apply.  That night I picked up information about SMU and its business school.  I remember the excitement that I felt when I left the campus that night because I knew that I had found the school that would prepare me for the future that I imagined.     

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
The first year that I attended Plano schools, 5th grade

Anything else? 
My education in PISD transformed my entire family’s life.  Because my parents were very young when I was born, they were unable to attend college.  While I was studying at SMU my father was diagnosed with cancer, so my mother immediately started attending college while working and raising a family.  My mother earned her degree from SMU, and my two brothers earned their degrees as well. 

Because education transformed the life of my family in one generation I believe that it can do that for others too.    This life-changing experience is what led me to seek the opportunity to serve on Plano ISD’s Board of Trustees.  I want every child in our school system to know that a good education opens the door to a brighter future.

John Skidmore

John Skidmore
Plano West Senior High Class of 2004
Student, NYU

Plano Experience
Brinker, Renner, Shepton, Plano West

University Experience
New York University - Spring 2008 graduate with Major in Film & Television Production, Minor in Producing


John Skidmore

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
The preparation I received in the PISD is thanks in most part to the fantastic English department, beginning with Hannah Shorey, the first teacher I had at Brinker after moving to Plano in the 3rd grade.   Mrs. Shorey was the first person to teach me the importance of story telling and narrative.  The quality instruction continued into middle school with the PACE program spearheaded by Kelly Callaway, and on into high school where I was taught by Marti Pennix, Craig McKinney, Lynn Gafford, and Clark Terry.  The strength of this department made me into the writer I am today.  As a writer and producer of films, the story is often overlooked, and it remains important to me to be grounded in the narrative.  I only hope that there are limited typos and grammatical errors in the above paragraph or I might be in big trouble.   

What Plano teacher influenced you? 
If I had to single out one individual teacher it would definitely be Lynn Gafford. I had Ms. Gafford during my junior year at Plano West, and she continued to advise me throughout my senior year. Ms. Gafford not only helped me develop my writing, but she also was instrumental in helping me get into NYU.   She also suffered through two Skidmore children, so she should receive extra merit for that.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
My two older brothers, Greg and David, both went to excellent colleges, so it really put the pressure on me.  When I arrived at Plano West, I still had no idea where I wanted to go to college.  All I ever knew was that film was the only constant interest I maintained through my childhood.  While at West, Carla Ford-Rich and Norv Sykes helped me develop this interest through the technical theater and arts departments.  I have my parents to thank for insisting that I go to a college that not only specializes in film, but also offers the opportunity to obtain a well-rounded education too.  New York University not only has one of the best film programs in the country, but it is also a top university as well.

Anything else?
I consider myself fortunate to have gone through the Plano ISD system.  Though I may have made light of it at the time, the education I received was invaluable when I came to school in New York.  I was surprised to see how little the other new students were prepared for college courses, and how much of a leg-up I had because of both the teachers and the programs offered from my time in the Plano school district. 

Desiree Dizon

Desiree Dizon
Plano Senior High Class of 2003
Teacher at Robinson Middle School

Plano Experience
Weatherford, Wilson,Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
University of North Texas - BS in Interdisciplinary Studies

Desiree Dizon

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
It challenged me to think outside of myself.  I was able to learn about the world around me.

What Plano experience influenced you?
The most influential aspect of my PISD experience was spending time with great teachers.  Susan Bartley, Donna Wenger, and Billie Jean Lee were ALWAYS there to motivate me.  They’ve been looking out for me since I was 12 years old!

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I wanted to go to college ever since middle school.  My family and teachers encouraged me that it would take me far in life.

Anything else?
I am so proud to be from Plano.  It is literally a dream come true to return and contribute to Plano schools.

Cynthia McCutchan

Cynthia McCutchan
Plano Senior High Class of 1989
Director/Teacher of Panther Preschool at Plano East Senior High School

Plano Experience
Weatherford, Haggard, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Baylor University - BS in Education (Interdisciplinary Studies specializing in Early Childhood Education)
Baylor University - MS in Education (Curriculum & Instruction specializing in Early Childhood Education)

               



Cynthia McCutchan

What Plano experience influenced you?  How?
The experience that meant most to me would be my two years in Child Care Management which is now Early Childhood Professions.  In Mrs. Koslan’s class, we not only learned about young children but we taught young children in our fieldsites.  I remember working with a wide range of children from preschool to elementary students.  Now, as the preschool teacher, I have the opportunity to share the joy of teaching with high school students.

I also had a great choir director, Mr. Garms.  I remember feeling so inspired after leaving his class everyday.  He empowered us to do anything we put our minds to do!

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
My dream since I was a little girl was to be a teacher.  I knew early on that I had to go to college to make my dream come true!

Anything else?
My favorite memory is the first child that I taught to read in pre-kindergarten.  His eyes lit up as he put those three letters together and he exclaimed, “I did it . . . I did it . . . I can read!” It still brings tears to my eyes to think about it. 

The greatest joy in teaching is to see students “light up” with knowledge and to know that they will use that information their entire lives.   It is essential for me to convey to my high school students that it is their job as a teacher to make each day a special day in the life of a child.  Experiences that they plan for the children today can make positive difference in the child’s life that day and will make a memory that can last a lifetime.

Where ever the future may lead, I know that I will succeed because of the faith that my former teachers had in me from the very beginning.  As idealistic as it sounds, I am thankful for the incredible opportunity to touch the lives of children.  Each of the students is special and I consider it a genuine honor to have been an influence in their lives.

Stefan Block

Stefan Merrill Block
Plano Senior High Class of 2004
Writer living in New York City.  First novel, The Story of Forgetting, to be released by Random House in April of 2008.

Plano Experience
Brinker, Shepton, Plano Senior High

University Experience
Washington University (St. Louis) - Film and Media Studies and English Literature


Stefan Merrill Block

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
The academic environment of PISD schools is famously rigorous and competitive.  Yet, throughout high school, teachers always warned me that college (not to mention the "real world") would be even more difficult, that if I hoped to succeed I had to learn to prioritize, focus and commit while there was still time, while the work was still relatively easy.  Well, the truth is that my PISD teachers prepared me so well for adult life that their stark forecasts never came true; because of them, I've never again had to work as hard as I did in high school. 

What Plano teacher influenced you? How?
I had many, many wonderful teachers in Plano, but two in particular did more than teach me:  Marsha Cawthon and (2006 Texas State Teacher of the Year) Karen Shepherd did no less than reconfigure my sense of myself and what I could accomplish.   

I am friends with both Mrs. Shepherd and Mrs. Cawthon to this day.  Whenever I visit them, both, like proud mothers, ebulliently list off the accomplishments of their formers students.  Once, interrupting one such pride session, I stopped Mrs. Shepherd to ask if she knew that all of her former students' success was no coincidence, if she understood how much of what we manage to accomplish we owe to her.

"Na," Mrs. Shepherd demurred.  "I'm just blessed with really great students."

It was a nice moment for me, to be able to tell my teacher she was wrong.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I am fortunate enough to have parents who never allowed me to consider, even for a moment, that my education would end with high school.

Mona Sadeghpour

Mona Sadeghpour
Plano Senior High Class of 2002
Medical student at Yale University School of Medicine

Plano Experience
Plano Senior High

University Experience
University of Texas at Dallas - BS in Biology with a minor in Medical and Scientific Humanities


Mona Sadeghpour

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I still believe that some of the greatest education I have received to this days took place at Plano Senior High. During 11th and 12th grade I was enrolled in numerous AP and Honors courses, such as AP English, AP Calculus BC, AP Spanish, and others. These courses along with other classes I took at Plano, not only fully prepared me for the challenges of the academic curriculum at my university, but taught me life-long skills such as proficiently learning the Spanish language. For example, the way that I learned Spanish at Plano Senior High stuck with me and I was even able to use some of the notes and lessons that were given to me by my Plano teacher (Mrs. Bennet) when I traveled to Argentina my senior year of college during a study abroad trip! You can’t beat that kind of education.

What Plano teacher inspired you?  How?
I had many teachers at Plano Senior from whom I learned tremendously. I have already mentioned Mrs. Bennet, my Spanish teacher. But, another individual who had a great impact on my education not only at Plano Senior High, but for years to come was my AP IV English teacher, Mrs. Gatzloff. She was loving and passionate in everything she did, from literature to teaching her students. She made me believe in myself and my writing, and encouraged me to continue writing essays and poetry. She was the main reason why I fell in love with literature and why I continued to take humanities courses at UT Dallas (despite the fact that I was a pre-med student.) Her passion inspired me to incorporate the humanities in my pre-professional training as a pre-med and later as a medical student, and was the founding inspiration in helping me initiate a proposal for the Medical and Scientific Humanities major at UT Dallas.

Matt Palesky

Matt Palesky
Plano Senior High Class of 2003
Active Duty US Air Force F-16 Crew Chief Mechanic

Plano Experience
Mathews, Schimelpfenig, Jasper, Plano Senior

University Experience
Concurrently earning Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronatics, minor in Management and Safety from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

Matt Palesky

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano ISD prepared me for the academic level of the courses I am taking. It also helped me decide what my interests were.

What Plano teacher influenced and inspired you?  How? 
Ms. Lindley was my English teacher at Schimelpfenig, Jasper, and Plano, and I enjoyed her very much. She made class fun, but at the same time she made us work to our true potential.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I knew I wanted to join the Air Force, but I wasn’t sure if I should go to college first. After graduation I started out going to Collin County Community College to begin my education. Within the year, I decided what I really wanted to do was join the Air Force and train for mechanical work.  While on Active Duty, I am concurrently earning my degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, which is where I will receive my degree.

 

 

Mandy Muniz

Mandy Muniz
Plano East Senior High Class of 1993
Head Director of Theatre Department at Earl Warren High School and an actress

Plano Experience
Carpenter, Clark, Plano East

University Experience
Sam Houston State University - BFA in Theatre with an emphasis in acting and directing
Lamar University - Masters of Education in Administration


Mandy Muniz

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
All of my classes taught me the skills I needed to be a competent reader and writer.  I also gained study skills and organizational skills that prepared me for the academic rigors of college.  My communication and time-management skills were also keys to my success in college.  All of these skills were introduced and reinforced by the curriculum, instruction and real-world extension opportunities provided by PISD.  By having access to AP classes, I was able to enter college with several credits and I was able to begin college on the sophomore level.  This readiness allowed me to obtain my degree and a teaching certificate in just 4 years.  Being a part of Theatre Major Studies allowed me to focus in on a career pathway and the intensity of the program gave me a distinct advantage over my classmates in college.  I was academically advanced as a writer and performer.  I had a sense of discipline toward note-taking, tactics for studying class material and a focus in performances and test taking that allowed me to be successful.

What Plano experience or teacher influenced you?  How?
The Plano East Theatre Department exposed me to dramatic literature, not only in class study but in production as well. Lisa Hale, my drama teacher at Plano East Senior High, was my inspiration.  She introduced me to career options that let me pursue my love of theatre.  Ms. Hale introduced us to several guest artists.  By bringing professional artists to work with us in stage combat, theatre dance, acting for the camera and auditioning techniques we were inspired and educated by people in the field who exposed us to the latest techniques. Through Ms. Hale and the theatre program, we had access to theatre professionals from SMU, UT Dallas and Collin County Community College as well as former students who came back to Plano East to offer advice and share their experiences.  Ms. Hale arranged field trips to The Dallas Theater Center, Kitchen Dog Theatre, The Undermain, Theatre Three and many other Dallas area theatres. Ms. Hale’s challenging and creative assignments allowed me to see the many facets of a career in theatre and her productions were practical applications of the skills we learned in class.  She took me to audition for scholarships at the Texas Educational Theatre Association Conference and prepared me well for those important auditions.  Those auditions lead to a theatre scholarship and with the combination of that scholarship and my academic scholarship, my tuition was significantly reduced.  She always instilled confidence in me by teaching me the history of theatre and the modern techniques of the profession.  She taught me professionalism and the skills and knowledge I gained in her class, put me head and shoulders above my classmates when I entered college.  She always challenged me to do my best and even asked me to re-do assignments that she knew I had not put my best effort toward.  That level of dedication and personal connection with me made me see the value of education and ultimately encouraged me to choose a career as a drama instructor where I could incorporate my love of theatre and education.  Each day I know I am reaching out to my students and I hope I am inspiring them with the same spirit and dedication of Lisa Hale.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?

In PISD, college is presented as an option early in the educational process.  I think I always saw college as an option and was encouraged to pursue a degree.  As I was introduced to the arts and found I had an interest in that field of study, my teachers introduced me to many options in pursuing training or furthering my education.  Mrs. Hale encouraged us to attend summer camps at universities in order to further our education but also to introduce us to different campuses as options for post secondary instruction.

Cameron Dunn

Cameron Dunn
Plano Senior High Class of 2003
Investment Banking, UBS

Plano Experience
Sigler, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
University of Texas @ Austin - Bachelors of Business Administration, Masters in Professional Accounting

Cameron Dunn

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience? 
The classes were very competitive and challenging. It helped being surrounded by intelligent people to keep me motivated. The wide variety of available extracurricular activities gave me every opportunity to succeed. Also, the many different types of people allowed me to meet some lifelong friends and helped keep everything in perspective. The teachers are world class, so I was always learning to think about topics from different perspectives.

What Plano teacher influenced inspired you?  How? 
Ever since kindergarten, it seemed like there was a new and different teacher that influenced me greatly each year. The most recent that come to mind are Mr. Borowitz, my Senior High English teacher, and the basketball coaching staff at Plano Senior High. I remember Borowitz always encouraging me to actually think about the material rather than just trying to get a good grade. Coach Parlin and Inman helped the team and me accomplish great things when nobody else gave us a chance.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you? 
I always knew I would attend college.
Douglas Martin

Douglas Martin
Plano East Senior High Class of 2002
Medical Scientist Training Program at the Mayo Clinic; working on PhD in biochemistry and structural biology

Plano Experience
Haggard, Vines, Plano East

University Experience
UT Dallas - BS with a double major in chemistry and biochemistry

Douglas Martin

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience? 
The simple answer is very well, but allow me to elaborate for a moment.  First, Plano ISD prepared me for college and beyond by the breadth of experiences I had while a student.  I was fortunate in that I was able to consider what a career in medicine might be like while I was still in high school through the Clinical Rotations course.  Beyond the vocational courses, I was encouraged to pursue my interests in science through the science fair and the research course at Vines.  I must admit I cringe when I think back on some of the errors I made, but it was an excellent experience.  Second, I think the overall quality and high level of the coursework helped me a great deal in college.  This helped me directly in college when I received credit for a number of the AP courses I took, but it also helped indirectly in that I feel I was challenged in high school.  Knowing that you have been challenged and succeeded is an enormous boost to your confidence, one that helped me work through the tough times in college and get where I am today. 

What Plano experiences influenced you?  How? 
I sometimes feel as though I’ve only recently started to have what you might call success.  You might even say I’m a bit of a late bloomer (or at least I feel like one sometimes).  Potential is a loaded word, but I’ve realized now that I am deeply indebted to a few individuals who pushed me in directions I might not have ventured on my own in order to live up to my ‘potential.’  Mrs. Wolff was my biology teacher in 9th grade and pushed me to do science fair and to stay involved the next year in her research class.  Mrs. Pollard and Mrs. Walkup were Humanities teachers that did a one semester leadership course that helped me immensely (even if it didn’t show outwardly for a few years).  Mrs. Alexander and Mrs. Chesal sponsored the Whiz Quiz teams at Vines and PESH.  I enjoyed those activities immensely, both for the nerdy challenge they presented and the larger lessons they instilled.  Mr. Figura taught me to read Latin, as well as impressing upon me that rules are inherently… flexible.  Mrs. Kottwitz taught me Calculus and that it is okay to be a bit of a dork.  Mrs. Moon taught me AP Chemistry, quite possibly my favorite high school class and one that has had a major influence on my career.  Without going on for too long, these people (and many others) collectively pushed me and helped me push myself to work harder, try new things, and learn some of the essentials for life after high school.  I am extremely happy with where I am in life, and I wouldn’t be here without the lessons they taught me. 

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you? 
In my family, college was assumed long before I had any idea what college was or that college was not an option for some.

Kristi Gleason

Kristi Gleason
Plano Senior High Class of 2002

Animal Trainer-SeaWorld, Orlando, Florida

Plano Experience
Davis, Haggard, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi- BS in Biology with an emphasis in marine science and a minor in psychology


Kristi Gleason

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Plano ISD gave me a strong background in work ethics, critical thinking, and writing.  I had passionate teachers who gave me a solid foundation for learning and opportunities to excel. 

What Plano teacher inspired you?  How?
I think that each one of my teachers prepared me in his or her own special way for where I am today.  A few educators are notable though…Mrs. Loretta Brister is one of the first women who comes to mind (my 1st and 2nd grade teacher…she must have loved us so much that she moved grades with us!)…she stands out all the way back from Davis Elementary as a strong and powerful woman and someone who deeply cares about her students. 

Of course, I can’t go without saying my amazing mother, Mrs. Gleason, who was the best 9th grade Honors English teacher that I could have ever had.  Without her I would be nowhere, and I definitely wouldn’t be very good at English. 

There are so many inspiring teachers and staff from Davis Elementary, Haggard Middle School, Vines High School, and Plano Senior High School that I have known for years, and they are all amazing people.  I would like to thank them all (they know who they are!) for always supporting me from when I was a little girl up until now; it’s nice to know that there are such wonderful people out there believing in and truly caring about me and all the students with whom they interact.    

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I always knew I would graduate high school and then attend college.  There was never another option in my head.  I knew that to get where I wanted to be, I needed to further my education and get a degree. 

Anything else?
I am blessed and lucky to say that I’m living my dream job and doing exactly what I’ve wanted to do since I was a small child.  I am thankful to have an amazing and supportive family and group of friends, and I would never trade my job for anything in the world.  I get to wake up each day and spend my time with the top predator of the ocean and be outside and in the water.  It’s a great feeling to know that I have achieved my dreams.  It has taken hard work, and sometimes I wondered if I was on the right path, but I always had faith that I was doing what I was supposed to, and now here I am. 

Bryan McKown

Bryan McKown
Plano West Senior High Class of 2002
Project Coordinator, Screen Capital International

Plano Experience
Huffman, Renner, Shepton, Plano West

University Experience
Degree - University of Southern California Cinema/Television Production


Bryan McKown

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
My high school experience at Plano West did extremely well in preparing me for the demands of a collegiate environment.  I honestly felt that coming out of Plano ISD, I was prepared for anything that would be thrown at me in college.  I think the biggest challenge did not come from the class material, but rather having the self-motivation to continue to work just as hard in college as you did during high school.

What Plano teacher influenced you?  How?
Looking back at my high school education, I realize that Carla Ford-Rich had a huge influence on my desire to work in the film industry.  My involvement in her theatre department made me really enjoy surrounding myself with creative people, and working in a creative environment.  She helped me to break out of my shell and learn to become more of a leader, a trait that carried with me throughout college.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I had always planned to go to college, but it was the day my family and I went to drop my brother off at the University of Texas for his freshmen year of college that I decided it would be my priority to make sure I did well in class and positioned myself to follow in his footsteps and get into the college of my choice.  I was only a freshman at the time.  My future aspirations changed during those years, but I always knew that if I continued to try my best and succeed in school then I would benefit from all the hard work once it was time to apply for college.

Anything else?
One of the first things I was always asked when I came to California was why didn’t I have a Texan accent.  I would always explain that I’m not from “Texas,” I’m from Plano.  I think one of the best things about the school district is the diversity of the entire student body.  I may have been born and raised in Texas, but I knew kids from across the country.  Being surrounded by people with so many different backgrounds, ideologies and beliefs may have been the best preparation Plano ISD could give anyone for the shrinking world we live in today.

Jason Walker
Plano West Senior High Class of 2007
College student

Plano Experience
Gulledge, Bettye Haun, Robinson, Jasper, Plano West

University Experience
University of Southern California


Jason Walker

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Honestly, I don’t find my college classes much different from my high school classes.  My senior year, I took AP classes for all of my core classes, which really helped.  The format and expectations of all of my courses are almost the same as my high school classes.

Plano West Senior High really lives up to its reputation as a stellar high school.  I don’t feel like I was thrown out to sink or swim in college.  I feel like I was given all the skills that are necessary to be successful in college, and while there is a lot of work to do in college, especially as an engineer, I think that it’s doable.

All in all, the hard work that I put in during high school is really paying off now.  There are tons of concepts being taught that I’m already familiar with.

What Plano teacher inspired you?  How?
Dave Carroll; the man is a genius.  I took his class for honors and AP physics, and it’s really prepared me for what college is all about.  Especially as an engineer, I find that I know more about how to go about solving problems (not always solving them, though) than many of my peers.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
My parents have always expected me to go to college, and I agree wholeheartedly with them.  Basically, once I started thinking about my future career, I realized that college was essential to my success.


James Dawson

Plano West Senior High Class of 2007
College Student

Plano Experience
Rose Mary Haggar, Frankford, Shepton, Plano West

University Experience
Columbia University - student


James Dawson

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Much of what I do in college is predicated on the study habits and base knowledge I picked up in PISD. To be fair, very little of what I learned after 7thish grade was truly “base” knowledge; I often  learned substantially more material from substantially more provoking  teachers in high school than I have in college.

At times, the admissions process feels frustratingly contrived – but  PISD has a special way of ushering you through the process  effectively without making it seem like you are just going through  the motions of some symbolic, bureaucratic machinery. The guidance  department (specifically the demigod Jan Williams of PWSH) tries  harder than a lot of us can even process to make sure we end up where  we belong. But PISD will only help you if you let it help you, and  more people need to do that.

What Plano experience or teacher influenced you?  How?
I must have done something to please the scheduling gods, because I  had quite a few unforgettable and inspiring teachers in high school.  Nancy Lewis and Kevin Moore taught me around 90% of what I know, John  Scott and Teri McIntire are a god and goddess (respectively), and  Doug Darracott knows more about art than any other human being in the  history of the planet. Marti Penix is simply great. Sally Schneider,  Susan Schackman, and Janice Dopman taught me a language that I hope I  never forget. The list goes on.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
Early. Thanks Mom.

Amanda Flack

Amanda Flack Reth
Plano East Senior High Class of 2001

Software Support Specialist for Tyler Technologies in Plano

Plano Experience
Williams, Plano East

University Experience
Texas A&M - BS in Management Information Systems
Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems


Amanda Flack Reth

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I was in the International Baccalaureate Program in high school.  This intense program prepared me for all academic aspects of college; including the intense writing, the many hours studying, and the various class projects, all of which were essential to my survival through college.  In my personal college experience, in many ways high school was much more difficult than college, which was rare to find among my many acquaintances in College Station.  The only thing I wasn’t prepared for was the social adjustment and being an independent person, but that came soon.

What Plano teacher inspired you?
Mrs. Whitman, my humanities and 10th grade English teacher, was one of my more influential teachers.  Humanities was a wonderful, well-rounded (and my favorite) course that served me in many purposes, outside of the arts.  The projects and presentations helped me throughout high school and college, as well as the creative thinking, all made possible by her.  English was not a favorite subject of mine, but she made it enjoyable, and memorable.  I still remember the papers I wrote and the books we read.  She made a writer out of me.  I have a greater appreciation for culture and art due to her teaching strategies and classes.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I always knew I would go to college, especially when I changed school districts to attend Williams and PESH to provide me a better opportunity and chance to go to college.

Ashley Dohmann

Ashley Dohmann
Plano East Senior High Class of 2002
English teacher at Plano East Senior High

Plano Experience
Thomas, Carpenter, Clark, Plano East

University Experience
University of Texas Dallas - BS in Literary Studies and Secondary Education


Ashley Dohmann

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
I was involved with the International Baccalaureate program at Plano East, which, in my opinion, was actually more difficult than college in many ways.  My high school teachers had very high expectations for us, and we were made to do a lot of work, which definitely eased the transition to college.  The amount of papers I had to write in high school was nothing compared to what I had to turn out at UTD, but my experiences at PESH taught me how to structure my time wisely (so that not every major paper was written at 3am the night before).  I also learned and developed excellent strategies for reading, writing, studying, and note taking which were invaluable during my college experience.

What Plano teacher inspired you?
I had many teachers during my thirteen years in the Plano school system that influenced and inspired me.  I am now a bookworm, and have been ever since my second grade year when Mrs. Dee Phelps showed me how wonderful reading could be.  I was inspired to become a teacher myself; I have many Plano teachers to thank for that decision.  Mr. Grant Clayton taught me that a hilarious (but focused) teacher can, in the right circumstances, be more effective.  Ms. Lee Silva, a biology teacher who has since moved on to teach in Allen, showed me that if you are really excited about your subject, your students will be too.  And because my younger siblings also had the pleasure of her company in the years to come, I learned that new teachers often have to adjust their teaching strategies, because sometimes playing “I have the puck” to review for every test is not… entirely… safe.  Of course many English teachers throughout the years come to mind when I think of my favorites, particularly Theresa Biggs and Marte Lilley, who I now work with.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
College wasn’t just an option for me, it was an absolute necessity.  I had always planned to attend college, although until my senior year I had no idea what my major would be or what might lie ahead.  I’ve never shied away from academia, and in a few years I plan to pursue a master’s degree.  A whole new world is available to a college graduate, endless possibilities that would otherwise be out of reach, even for those who don’t have it all figured out just yet.  For me college wasn’t just an educational experience, it was an opportunity for me to discover my skills, talents, and passions.  Without that experience I would’ve never found out how much I love to teach.

Jason Viel

Jason Viel
Plano East Senior High Class of 1990

Senior Sales Consultant for Oracle

Plano Experience
Armstrong, Williams, Plano East

University Experience

Texas Tech University

Jason Viel

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Due to the variety of extra-curricular activities offered at PISD, I had the opportunity to participate in several different activities including athletics and various academic clubs.  Balancing these various activities taught me the importance of personal leadership and time management, skills that I used extensively during my college experience.

What Plano teacher inspired you?
Obviously numerous teachers played important roles in my education experience.  However, instead of focusing on one or two teachers that positively impacted my life I want to focus more on the “PISD Culture”.  Starting very early in my education it was evident that the PISD teachers were intent on getting their students prepared for a college education.   From middle school all the way through high school, college was not presented as a possibility but rather a reality and that we needed to prepare for that eventual outcome.

From my experience in the Plano ISD, I have seen how setting the standard high and constantly working to establish a winning culture can positively impact your life.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
Like I said before I remember college being an expectation versus a possibility at a very early age due to the “PISD culture”.  I can’t remember a specific point where it would be an option but I do remember hearing my teachers saying “When you get to college” versus “If you get to college” starting in middle school all the way through high school.

Amy Patten, RN, MSN, FNP
Plano Senior High Class of 1997
Family Nurse Practitioner
The George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates
Urgent Care Clinic/Dept. of Medicine

Plano Experience
Siglar, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Purdue University - BS in Nursing
UCLA - MS in Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner specialty

Amy Boardman Patten

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
Being involved in athletics, Student Congress and several other extra-curricular activities while taking AP classes taught me the importance of time management which truly helped while adjusting to college life. 

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
I remember my second grade teacher, Mrs. Jurgenson, asking the class one day which college we planned to attend.  Not IF we were going to college…that was never an option.  I started preparing for the SAT that day.  I was always VERY advanced.  Although, I could never tie my own shoes until high school.

What Plano teacher inspired you?
Susan Bartley was the biggest inspiration during my formative years at Wilson.  Since the first time I made her laugh in 7th grade science lab, she nurtured my creative spirit (while other teachers sent me to the Dean’s office) and encouraged me to be myself.  She has continued to be a true mentor and friend, and I owe my dedication to science to her!

James Thomas
Plano High School Class of 1970

Administrative Intern-Guinn Special Programs Center

Plano Experience
Fred Douglas ( elementary, junior high) Transferred to Plano High School after integration (now Williams High School)

University Experience
Howard Payne University - BS in Health Education, English and History minors University of North Texas and TWU - post graduate

James Thomas

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience?
PISD schools provided me with a solid academic background which made the transition to college one of  ease.

What Plano teacher inspired you?
Numerous staff members played important roles in my life.   However, Ms Mischen and Ms Hardinson (both were English teachers at Plano HS ) were wonderful to me.  Thanks to them, I became a teacher and have loved each minute of my profession.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you?
As a football player, my next step was college.   As a graduating high school senior, my parents’ next step was to kick me out of the house so that I could begin my independent life.   Since I had to leave the house, college was a fantastic choice for me.

Terry Traveland

Terry Traveland
Plano Senior High Class of 1986
Attorney at Law and Partner, Traveland & Jiongo

Plano Experience
Aldridge, Wilson, Vines, Plano Senior

University Experience
Southern Methodist University - BBA
Baylor University School of Law - JD


Terry Traveland

How did Plano ISD prepare you for your post-secondary experience? 
I learned study skills that were crucial to being successful in college.  Also, I was in many advanced and AP courses.  So, I saved money in college by testing out of several classes and getting the college credit for them.

Participating in extra-curricular activities during high school was a huge part of my success in being accepted by colleges as well as being successful in college.  It taught me to manage my time and resources efficiently.  I also learned leadership skills that I still use every day.  By participating in these activities, I increased my self-esteem and learned skills and values I wouldn’t have learned in the classroom. 

What Plano teacher inspired you?
Mrs. Best, my 10th grade English teacher.  She was a stickler for good grammar and is the reason I am so successful today.  She gave me a C on my first paper.  I had never gotten a C before on anything.  I asked her why she thought my paper was so bad and she replied it was the best one in the class, but wasn’t the best I could do.  She demanded more from me than any other teacher I’d ever had.  She demanded that I try my best.  When I graduated from law school in the top of my class and got a job at the largest law firm in the world, I wrote her a thank you letter and sent her flowers to let her know how much I appreciated her.

When did you first realize that college might be an option for you? 
It wasn’t optional.  My teachers and parents always encouraged me to go to college.  I never considered not going.  They inspired me to do so.  Also, the $20,000 scholarship I received from Beneficial Management Corporation for the community service I did in high school helped a great deal with affording college.