GLEN ROSE — During her tenure as a culinary arts teacher at Glen Rose High School, Jill Lawson has challenged her students to think outside the box.

In November 2019, when Lawson, president of the Hospitality Educators Association of Texas, brings the HEAT convention to Glen Rose, she’ll be putting her challenge to the test. 

“Four years ago, we knew (the convention) was going to come back to the Dallas-Fort Worth Area, and we always do the same thing; we always do the big city and the big hotels,” she said.

Initially, she was thinking the convention would be in Waco, but the more she thought about it, she presented the idea to the board to hold the event in Somervell County.

“I am very passionate about hospitality and tourism, and I love our community,” she said. 

Lawson said the board voted on Glen Rose two times. The first time it was tabled pending some minor logistical details and because it was something different than what they had ever done before. 

“I had to fight really hard and get people to shift in their thinking,” she said. 

This year, she was slotted as the HEAT first vice president and the 2019 conference planner, but she was named the president. 

“Our president stepped down due to some family things that were going on,” Lawson said. “It moved me up a year, and it has its pros and cons. Being the conference planner is a little overwhelming, but there won’t be any communication gaps because I am both.”

Some 150 teachers, administrations, business and industry professionals, and secondary and post-secondary educators will converge in Glen Rose for the convention that will be held Nov. 2-5. 

“We are the epitome of small-town hospitality,” she said. “That’s what we have, and that’s what we want to do, and that’s what I teach my kids.”