It’s no secret that Plano ISD is proud of its alumni, but Beth Webb and Marshall Jackson want them to know the feeling is mutual.
The dedicated duo co-chair the Plano ISD Alumni Association, which focuses on reacquainting graduates old and new with the district, spotlighting accomplishments and reconnecting friendships. Although the idea was hatched in 2009 when Webb became president of the Plano ISD Education Foundation, the concept really gained traction over the past two years.
“There are quite a few alums that come back and work with the school district,” said Webb, a 1975 Plano High School grad. “You can really see the numbers and notice it right off. So many of us are graduates of colleges that have done a really good job networking with their alumni, and this school district has such strong alumni – what an amazing network of folks to get [connected with].”
To spread the word, Webb and Jackson started working with the three senior high schools at their homecoming events, where they started tailgating and collecting email addresses of Plano ISD alumni. A quarterly newsletter and Facebook page were established to further support the movement.
“It makes us a stronger community,” said Jackson, who met his wife, Mabrie, in second-grade at Shepard Elementary. “One thing about Plano, if you look at all the alumni that live here, most of them grew up here. There’s a reason why you grow up, go off to college, start your career, get married, start to have kids and gravitate back to Plano – it’s because of our school district and what our community has to offer. It’s about our people and our alumni who want to give back to the community and the district. That’s what makes Plano great – the people.”
From professional athletes to Hollywood actors, chemists and doctors, Plano ISD has alumni living all walks of life.
“We’d like to have a really strong network of folks that we can reach out to whenever there’s a need, and to communicate what’s going on in the area and keep them connected,” Webb said. “There are so many ways to support the school district. … People are coming back here, and there’s more to this than just getting your education and moving on. There is a sense of community.”
While Plano Senior, Plano East and Plano West each have their own, smaller alumni groups, the Plano ISD Alumni Association encompasses everyone.
“We came up with one brand of alumni, so it ties everyone to PISD instead of the individual schools,” Jackson said. “I would like to see Plano have one of the best, strongest alumni associations around – something that other people can look at and say, ‘Wow, look what they did for their district and community.’ Figuring out different ways to engage people and have people engage us back, that’s the challenging part but also the rewarding part.
“As we do things and develop things for our school district, people want to take part because they can identify. People want their kids to have the same experience they had.”
Both longtime Plano residents, Webb and Jackson agree that while the city has changed over the years, the school district’s pursuit of excellence has never wavered.
“There’s always that one teacher who impacts a student’s life where they remember that teacher forever – I call those educators,” Jackson said. “An educator is a person who can identify a struggling kid and decide to help them and figure out a different way to reach that child. What makes Plano so strong is [its educators]. … Our school district is chalk full of them.”