by A.C. Hall
When the new school year begins, it will be the dawning of a new era for the storied Brewer High School Honeycombs drill team. Long time director Kelli Winn retired at the close of the 2015 – 2016 school year, and in her place the White Settlement Independent School District named Alesha Walpole to take over.
Last week, Walpole shared some thoughts with The Detail about her new approach as Honeycombs Director, her background and experience, and what Mrs. Winn meant to her. First are our questions in italics, followed by her responses.
The Honeycombs are a beloved institution in this community. Can you talk a little about what it means to you to take over as the leader?
Alesha Walpole: As a “Forever Honeycomb” myself, it is an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to this wonderful program as the director. My mom, Chari Hulet Crowdis, was a Honeycomb line member and officer under the first director, Mrs. Redmon. I was a four-year Honeycomb under Mrs. Winn. Now, my daughter, Kayla, will not only be a third generation Brewer Bear, but she is also a third generation Honeycomb. I am extremely invested and proud to be part of this legacy.
Kelli Winn led this team for many years. Can you talk a little about her impact on the Honeycombs and what your approach will be as you now step into the leadership position?
Alesha Walpole: Mrs. Winn had a tremendous impact on my life as my sophomore Honors English teacher and my Honeycomb director for four years. I am very grateful for the leadership and life skills I learned through my many years of being Mrs. Winn’s student, colleague, and friend. My approach to being the director will be much the same in keeping our Honeycombs saturated with not only lessons in dance but in lessons of respect, leadership, and service. Our core traditions will be preserved, and our team will only continue to elevate to heights of success in every arena they step into whether it is dance, academics, and other activities.
Give us some insight into your background and experiences that you believe will help you be an effective leader for the Honeycombs.
Alesha Walpole: Honeycombs are a dance team, but they are not solely defined by their beautiful kicks, leaps, and turns. Honeycombs are also defined by a rich legacy of breeding leaders ready to go into the world and successfully contribute their talents, intelligence, compassion, and service leaving our community, their world, a better place than before.
My background includes a great deal of dance. As stated earlier, I was a Honeycomb for four years. During that time, I was the first-ever, three-year officer earning the status of Lieutenant as 10th grader. I began placing in solo finals each time I competed beginning at my sophomore camp and continuing through my senior round of Nationals. I was the first to be invited, compete, and make finalist in a nationals solo competition both my junior and senior years. Also, during my time, I performed in two college football bowl games and countless White Settlement community events. I entered a DFW talent search and ended up winning, which landed me a performance spot at Casa Manana and scholarships to three prestigious dance studios. After accepting all three scholarships, the studios extended my scholarships due to my hard work lending me an additional two years of training with them. I was recruited to work for Marching Auxiliaries, a drill team camp/competition company, during my senior year of high school. This was exciting as I was the first Honeycomb to earn this honor. I taught back to back weekly summer camps for the two years after I graduated. This experience allowed me to travel and perform all across the United States from Oregon to Florida. I also was a judge for Marching Auxiliaries during their fall/winter competition season. Both aspects allowed me to grow as a performer, instructor, choreographer, and leader.
During that time, I created, instructed, choreographed, and directed a junior elite dance team called, Fancy Feet & Company. Taking this team to compete all over the Metroplex and working with the girls and their parents, all while being a full-time college student, working for MA, and planning my wedding were excellent lessons in leadership at a young age. At the end of my time with my junior elite team, I also was the choreographer for the Aledo drill team for two years including all line, officer, and solo/duet numbers.
When I began my core career training for becoming a teacher in college, I had to step away from the junior elite team and daytime choreographer jobs. My dance career became more studio and private-based choreography. Through the years, I have continued my own personal training through classes and conventions, and I have continued to contribute through being a studio guest teacher and a private-based choreographer as well as guided my own daughter in her taking flight as a competitive dancer.
Though my dance background is full and extremely capable of taking on another dance team in my lifetime, my background as a leader is what I believe makes me the most qualified. You can be really great at math but not a great math teacher. It is imperative to remember that we are teaching and guiding a child … the subject is merely the pathway to reach that child. I have a Bachelors Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Masters in Educational Leadership. My degrees are directly in the art of teaching as that is what I knew I was placed on this earth for at a very young age. I have many endorsements that I have gained along the way including Lifetime Certification for general studies grades Early Childhood through sixth Grade, Principal Grades EC-12, Special Education PK-12, English as a Second Language PK-12, Communication/Speech Grades 8-12, and English Grades 8-12. I am currently pursuing the Physical Education and Dance Endorsements this summer, which will not only allow students to earn two fine arts credits through dance but also two additional PE credits, giving them four solid credits that contribute to their graduation plans.
My extensive leadership contributions throughout my career bring additional layers to being a director of a large team. As an educator in WSISD, I have had the opportunity to work with a very diverse population of students in the classroom and throughout my time as an assistant principal.
I have coordinated performances and events together on very large scales, both school- and district-wide. I have a global perspective from the classroom, from administration, from a dancer’s heart, from a Brewer Bear, from a Forever Honeycomb, and from a mother to bring to the table, and I am ready and excited.
As the drill team embarks on a new era under your leadership, what are some of the things people can expect to see out of them?
Alesha Walpole: Our community can expect to see what they know our beloved Honeycombs to always be: exciting performers, respectful students, and community servants.
You’ve been a part of the WSISD for many years now. Who are some of the people here that have inspired you? Any favorite memories you’d be willing to share about your time here?
I was born at Carswell Air Force Base and raised in White Settlement ISD. I have been blessed to have so many wonderful contributors in my lifetime through teachers and mentors that it would be hard to name them all because I would name every teacher and administrator from kindergarten to graduation. My memories are all precious, and they all shape me. I learned a long time ago that attitude is indeed everything, and I continue to apply it daily.