Where are they now?

Former teachers reflect on their time at Mac, life beyond the classroom


Dave Winter

Brandon Grant and senior Miles McCollum reunite after a McCallum football game.

As the new school year began, it was apparent that a large portion of teachers had left the Maculty. Of those, Shelley Pringle, Stephanie Watson and Brandon Grant moved on without much fanfare. Despite all leaving for different reasons, they all shared one feeling as their first school year away from school began: they missed Mac. Despite missing her Knight time, former science teacher Shelley Pringle said moving on from teaching was a difficult step in the right direction. After creating relationships with her previous students and fellow teachers, she found struggle in her departure.

“I think very highly of McCallum, and I will miss the community the most,” Pringle said.

A main source of motivation to leave was found in the salary and workload of her job. Like many educators right now, Pringle felt the pay teachers received was unfair considering their workload and responsibilities.

“If the district is going to have very high requirements for teachers, then they should be compensated equally,” Pringle said. “I’m looking for a job that has different pacing with a new schedule.”
Pringle is now studying to become a data analyst. While leaving her teaching career behind her was difficult, she finds comfort in the excitement of a new challenge.

“I don’t think I would want to have one job for my whole life,” she said, “but it’s hard to bring your career to a different place once you’re a teacher. It’s hard to say goodbye.”

While parting may have been sorrowful, Pringle is enthusiastic about the new opportunities that come with her new career. Instead of working during school hours, she hopes to land a 9-5 job and potentially work remotely.

Watson coaching a soccer game in 2021. (Dave Winter)

“I am looking forward to growing my career and seeing what’s out there for me,” Pringle said. “I’m looking forward to having a regular job where the hours are somewhat flexible so I can travel and work from home.”

Former girls soccer coach and math teacher Stephanie Watson arrived at a similar perspective. Following the birth of her second child, Watson realized her job was taking over her life.

“Too much work, too many hours, too little pay,” Watson said. “No flexibility. Not enough time with my kids and family.”

When soccer season would inevitably roll around, Watson’s stress was amplified, forcing her to work even longer days and spend extra hours running practices and going to games. From November to April for the past five years, her whole life was consumed by soccer.

“It requires 100% of your time and effort to teach and coach at a high school like McCallum,” she said, “If I give 100% at work, I won’t have anything at home for my family and kids.”
Like so many others, putting her teaching career on pause wasn’t part of Watson’s original plan.

“McCallum was the first place I got a job teaching,” she said. “I spent all 10 of my years there and never planned to leave.”

Watson and her daughter in 2022. (Photo courtesy of Watson)

Her days look a bit different now that she isn’t at school.

For now, Watson is a full-time mom, which means slower days spent with her two kids. However, she’s not done teaching yet.

“I plan to teach an SAT class at Mac this fall so that I can stay connected to the com- munity and continue to provide that service to the students I know and love,” Watson said.

Though she’s enjoying her time at home, Watson isn’t ready to give up teaching forever.

“When my kids are in school and I’m not worried about paying for multiple daycares, I would consider coming back,” she said.

Like Watson, former defensive coordinator and head baseball coach Brandon Grant left McCallum at the end of the 2021-2022 school year to prioritize his family. Grant became a father in May and struggled to balance coaching with the demands of parenthood throughout the season, working up to 80 hours a week.

“I was putting my kid to bed on Sunday night and not seeing him again until Saturday morning,” Grant said. “I ended up making the decision to get out of coaching and teaching so I can spend more time with my family.”

Currently, Grant is the project manager at Burnish and Plumb Construction Co. His new career allows him to build a relationship with his son after work.

Grant with alums Cole Davis (Class of 2020) and Noah Cooley (Class of 2019). (Photo courtesy of Grant)

“I realized I was putting all my time into other peoples’ kids, and I didn’t have any time to give to my own,” he said. “Now, I get to pick my kid up from daycare every day, cook him dinner and put him to bed and hang out with him on the weekends.”

One motivation for Grant’s departure was the lack of equal reimbursement for teachers.

“The everyday hoops that teachers have to go through nowadays are too much considering the compensation that they get,” he said. “I’m in a new industry and while there are new stresses, at least I know when I put in extra time I am compensated for it.”

Because of this lack of appreciation, Grant does not plan on returning to McCallum unless circumstances change considerably.

“As of right now, that door is open, but I don’t think I would return to AISD,” he said. “The level of compensation for teachers would have to change pretty drastically for me to change my mind.”

While Grant has enjoyed his time away from McCallum, he reminisced about his impact on his previous students and athletes. He worked three years in college football before teaching high school for 10 years.

“I miss the adrenaline of Friday nights and getting to encourage my kids every day,” he said. “I was a relationship-driven coach, and I miss being able to have a positive impact on their lives.”

Grant continues to regularly keep in touch with his students from previous years to check in with them as they also move on from McCallum.

“I have a genuine passion for sports and sharing that passion with kids was a true joy,” he said. “I enjoyed my time at McCallum, and I loved the community, but it was time to make a decision and put my family first.”

The common thread linking Pringle, Watson and Grant is their love for McCallum and the resolve to do ultimately what is best for their families and and their futures.