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Reinventing the teachers’ lounge

Retired school personnel find ideal meeting place at Highland Springs

Created date

July 26th, 2011

As Texas students head back to the classroom this month, schools will once again come to life. But they won t be the only places teeming with people and things to do. Such is the case with the Hillcrest Clubhouse at Highland Spr ings, an Erickson Living community in north Dallas. On any given day, it is abuzz with activity. The clubhouse is our hub, says Debbie Burns, Highland Springs community relations manager. Two restaurants, the wellness center, the pool, the main living room, the classrooms they are all housed in the clubhouse. It truly is the heart of our community. A central gathering spot, the clubhouse is taking on a larger role in the Dallas area, hosting non-resident organizations on campus. Among them are two groups of retired teachers, the Plano Retired Teachers Association and the Richardson Retired School Personnel. JoAnn Brooks, president of the Plano group, says Highland Springs has proven to be the ideal meeting place for her association. One of the things I do as a unit president is visit other units, says Brooks. I attended a meeting of the Richardson retired teachers at Highland Springs last October. The community had everything we were looking for a large meeting room, audiovisual equipment, and a catered lunch at a reasonable price. We felt like it would be a good move for us to begin meeting there too.

Exceptional service

With an average attendance of 60 to 80 members, the Plano retired teachers have enjoyed concierge service at their monthly meetings. The staff is outstanding, says Brooks. They give us the same service they give their residents. One of our favorite perks is having the bus pick us up in the parking lot and drive us to the front door. Highland Springs resident Sue Passmore, a retired high school English teacher, has been a member of the Richardson Retired School Personnel since she retired in 1994. The group was meeting at First Baptist Church, Richardson, when they learned that the fellowship hall and kitchen were going to be renovated, forcing them to relocate. I put our president in touch with Debbie Burns, and that s how we started meeting at Highland Springs, says Sue. Now I don t think we ll go anywhere else. Our attendance has been tremendous since we moved here. Averaging 150 members at the monthly meeting, the Hillcrest Clubhouse is ideally suited to accommodate the large group. We don t have to worry about anything, says Sue. The dining room is always set up, and Roben [Roben Brannon, catering and events coordinator] does a great job of planning the menu.

Taking an active role

Both groups enjoy a time of fellowship as well as a chance to discuss the more serious matters that concern them just like they used to do in the teachers lounge. I recently finished my term as legislative chair for our group, says Sue. Before I retired in the mid-90s, teachers didn t have any reason to worry about their benefits. That s changed now, and it s important for us to educate ourselves about the issues. Highland Springs offers them the venue to do just that. For more information on how your organization can begin meeting at Highland Springs, please call 972-232-8100 or