For some, being far away from home can be tough, but for three educators living in Garland it was especially hard following the mass shooting at an east El Paso Walmart.
The Garland Independent School District is one of the Dallas-area’s largest school districts.
Mariel Maese graduated from Eastwood in 2001, and currently is a math teacher at South Garland High School.
She says news of the shooting scared her, even when she was hundreds of miles away.
“It was very upsetting for me because I wished I was there, so I could help in some way,” Maese said.
When the Eastwood vs. Plano football game was first canceled, Maese didn’t agree with the decision and now she plans to be at the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco to cheer on her Troopers.
“The game meant more than just football,” Maese said. “It was more of a connection and unity that they needed to show. I’m excited to see them play. I haven’t seen them play in a real long time.”
Armenia Smith is an elementary school teacher for Garland ISD, but her roots run deep over at Eastwood.
Not only is she an Eastwood graduate, she was also the school’s former principal.
“I grew up in the community and people were excited when I came back to principal,” Smith said. “I was the principal who signed that contract, so we would play Plano every other year and so it’s really exciting that it’s going to continue.”
The roots from Eastwood go all the way to the top of the Garland school district as Superintendent Ricardo Lopez graduated from Eastwood in 1989.
Lopez oversees a district that has more than 56,000 students and 72 schools.
He says after Plano ISD canceled the game against Eastwood and the Troopers were left trying to find a replacement, the Dallas community came together to help find a solution, sometimes fighting against themselves.
“So we’re playing a tug of war on who wants to play Eastwood, and you just saw the entire community rally and say ‘hey, this isn’t right,’ Lopez said.
Lopez says his days at Eastwood were pivotal in his success, and he offered a message to all El Pasoans back home.
“Let them know that while a lot of us don’t live in El Paso currently, we never forget where our roots are from, and we hope our actions make El Paso proud,” Lopez said.