Heritage Middle School gains new assistant principal

There’s a new face at Heritage Middle School this year, and it doesn’t belong to a sixth-grader.

Dennis Hearn is a new assistant principal at the school, coming to HMS from a teaching position at Terra Vista Middle School.

Hearn taught sixth- and eighth-grade social studies at TVMS, eventually becoming the department head of social studies there.

Hearn attended Texas Tech for a bit, but ultimately returned to the Dallas area to attend University of Texas at Arlington. He grew up in Midlothian, which he compares to Frenship in that it is a growing district with similarly friendly people.

After graduation, he came back to Lubbock and started working as a long-term substitute for Gina Laughlin. The next year, he stayed on as a social studies teacher.

All of his teaching experience is in Frenship schools.

Hearn said he originally thought he would be a high school teacher, but his experience as a long-term substitute changed his mind.

Middle school students are still young enough to help shape, he added.

“After I got into middle school, I felt like it was my calling,” Hearn said.

He said he does miss some aspects of teaching, but he also enjoys getting to work with teachers.

“I decided I wanted to affect more kids,” Hearn said, and he thought a good way to do that was to work with their teachers.

He continued his education to get a master’s degree through UT-Arlington. He also worked within the Frenship district’s Aspiring Administrator Leadership Academy, or AALA, which he said really helped him to prepare.

As assistant principal, Hearn said he wants to be a servant leader, help others and be a role model.

“I’m really happy at this job right now,” he said.

Gina Laughlin first knew Hearn when he was in charge of her math classes during her maternity leave.

Now Laughlin and Hearn are both assistant principals at HMS.

“He brings a lot of energy,” Laughlin said. “He’s absolutely fantastic.”

Even as a young teacher, Laughlin said he demonstrated a servant leadership mentality.

It’s that attitude that HMS Principal Greg Hernandez said stood out when he was interviewing Hearn.

“He wants to be there for his teachers,” Hernandez said. “He was very persistent about wanting to be a servant leader.”

Hernandez said Hearn is known for being serious about his work and dependable, but he also fits into the fun-loving atmosphere in the HMS office.

Jacqui Daves, the media specialist at TVMS, said she was Hearn’s mentor in his first two years of teaching, and even then he showed leadership skills.

“I think Dennis has always been very driven and very motivated to continue moving forward in his career,” Daves said. “We really miss him at Terra Vista. We wish him the best, but it’s a loss to our campus because he is wonderful.”

Hearn said he loves golf, basketball and hanging out with his family, including his newlywed wife Alaina, who is a teacher in LISD.

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