Counselors and partners go green to promote FAFSA launch date

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) launches October 1, 2017 for high school seniors. National and local reports show that students who complete the FAFSA are more likely to attend college, and the sooner they complete the application the better their chances are for receiving all eligible aid.

To help build momentum around the FAFSA launch date, the district’s college access partners and high school counselors will wear green FAFSA T-shirts on Friday, Sept. 29 (see attached pictures). Students and parents can turn to these campus staff members for assistance with financial aid applications for college. There are several myths about financial aid that prevent eligible students from completing the FAFSA, but advisors and counselors are ready to debunk the myths and help more students access money for college.


Three Dallas ISD schools net 2017 National Blue Ribbon awards

The Dallas Environmental Science Academy (DESA), along with both middle schools at Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy and Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, have been named 2017 National Blue Ribbon Schools. The announcement was made Thursday, Sept. 28, by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, who recognized 342 schools across the nation.

The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups. Each school nominated for the 2017 honor was selected as exemplary, high-performing schools as measured by state assessments, and has an economically disadvantaged population of 22 percent or greater.

In November, the three winning Dallas ISD schools will be recognized at the Blue Ribbon Schools awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

“This incredible honor helps to validate our students’ extraordinary work, dedication and commitment to excellence and reaffirms our mission to prepare young women for leadership in a global society,” said Lisa Curry, principal at Rangel.

In 2011, Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School and DESA each received a Blue Ribbon.

“With the various accomplishments at Dallas Environmental Science Academy, this award enhances the vision for the school to continue excelling academically through its rigorous curricular offerings, field experiences in the outer environment, and support of career options spanning throughout the science fields,” said Arnoldo Zuniga, principal at DESA.

Each of the Dallas ISD campuses awarded credit the hard work of their students, teachers, staff and community for helping secure the nomination.

Junior League grants fund innovation in Dallas ISD classrooms

The Junior League of Dallas (JLD), along with presenting sponsor Texas Instruments (TI), awarded 69 Dallas ISD educators with grants of up to $2,000 each through the Grants for Innovative Teaching (GFIT) program.

This JLD Signature Project has awarded more than $1.7 million to Dallas ISD educators and is designed to encourage excellence in education by funding special projects addressing: reading and literacy enrichment; diversity; special education; science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); or arts and culture enrichment across one or more grade levels. This year, $123,307 was distributed to fund deserving educators’ winning projects.

Sponsors include: Texas Instruments (presenting sponsor); MoneyGram Foundation; Agnes Cluthe Oliver Foundation; Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation; Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable and Educational Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee; and W.P. & Bulah Luse Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trusee.

Some of the grants selected include: Invent an Alien; Powerful City; Kids Helping Kids; and The Wall Book Study and Comic Book Project.

Invent an Alien is a project designed by Lynn DeFord at Johnston Elementary School where students will create an alien who could inhabit the planet or other environment that they have chosen. They will create a 3D model, diagram or poster of this alien out of materials they can find at home. Students will consider the atmosphere, composition, atmospheric pressure, gravitational pull and the other characteristics of their planet.

The goal of the Powerful City project by Tamara Thomas at D.A Hulcy STEAM Middle School is to help teach students about all three forms of energy, soil, and scale models in a tangible way. Students will build wind turbines, solar panels, and hydraulic generators to power a small city that they will build based off scale models of actual buildings that the students will design and create using a Makerbot 3D printer. All of these concepts are things that are taught in science and math, and the children will receive an enhanced learning opportunity through this project.

Teacher Terry Stotts’ Kids Helping Kids is a project carried out by special needs students in the Construction Trades Cluster at Multiple Careers Magnet High School. Students will construct wooden toy rocking horses to be donated to kids staying at Ronald McDonald House while they are receiving medical treatment during the Christmas Holidays, as well as students at Maya Angelou High School who are mothers-to-be. By taking part in this innovative project, students are prepared to be productive, responsible citizens with good work habits, attitudes and career skills.

Dallas Environmental Science Academy’s Katie Hairgrove created The Wall Book Study and Comic Strip Project to improve students’ comprehension of the characteristics of free enterprise and communist economic systems by reading and analyzing a graphic novel, The Wall, by Peter Sis. Students will showcase their understanding by creating a comic strip describing their journey into the world of Peter Sis, where they experience communism as he did as a young child.

“Now in its 25th year, this Signature Project encourages excellence in education by providing funding for special projects that otherwise would not be possible within school budgets,” said Eleanor Luna, the 2017-2018 GFIT Chair. “The Grants For Innovative Teaching program is one of the most rewarding projects for The Junior League of Dallas because we get to follow along and see the impact that these projects have on the schools, educators and students.”

Environmental Education Center hosts staff open house Sept. 30

Mark your calendar for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sat., Sept. 30, to discover one of the district’s best tools for exciting students about STEM–the Environmental Education Center, at 1600 Bowers Rd. in Seagoville.

The center is hosting a Sept. 30 open house for employees and their families to tour the center’s museum and grounds, meet the animals housed in the facility’s barn, take a nature walk on one of several trails and enjoy a lunch of fried catfish. For driving directions and to learn more about what the center has to offer, go here or call (972) 749-6900.

Equifax offers security resources in wake of cyberattack

As you may know, the credit rating firm, Equifax, was recently the target of a cybersecurity attack.  Dallas ISD has a contract with Equifax under Equifax Workforce Solutions for assistance with the management of I-9 services. We have been contacted by Equifax and informed they have found no evidence that the recent cybersecurity incident impacted Equifax Workforce Solutions.

The intrusion has been stopped, and Equifax has engaged an independent cybersecurity firm to conduct a comprehensive forensic review to determine the scope of the intrusion.

The following resources are available for U.S. consumers concerned about the security of their personal information:

  • An established dedicated website is available at to help consumers determine if their information has been potentially impacted and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection, which Equifax is offering to all U.S. consumers for one year at no charge.
  • A dedicated call center at 866-447-7559 is available to assist consumers.The call center is open every day (including weekends) from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. eastern time.

Summer is ending and with it goes the summer dress code for staff

As fall approaches, Human Capital Management Chief Karry Chapman reminds all employees that the summer dress code expires Sept. 29. All employees are expected to resume professional business attire October 2. Her memo with references to board policy is available here. Employees with questions about the dress code may direct them via email to HCM or call the department at (972) 925-4200.

Six Dallas ISD math and science teachers honored as TI STEM Fellows

Six Dallas ISD teachers were recognized during a special event on Sept. 20 as 2017 Texas Instruments STEM Fellows, each receiving a $10,000 prize as part of the honor.

This year’s TI STEM Fellows are:

  • Marcelo Migoni, science teacher at Raul Quintanilla Sr. Middle School
  • Luis Araiza, math teacher at Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School
  • Steven Murray, math teacher at W.B. Travis Vanguard and Academy
  • Caitlin Hull, science teacher at Bryan Adams High School
  • Davide McLoda, robotics and science teacher at the School of Science and Engineering
  • Chenay Taylor, math teacher at Skyline High School

This is the 11th year of the TI STEM Fellows program. To date, $1.6 million has been awarded to STEM teachers in six Dallas-area districts. Eighty-four winners who have received a total of $864,000 are from Dallas ISD.

The $10,000 prize includes $5,000 for professional development/technological classroom enhancement, and $5,000 as a personal reward.

“Hopefully that will be a plus to you personally,” said Lewis McMahan, chairman of the Texas Instruments Foundation. “And that it may help motivate you to continue with the great work you have done.”

To qualify for the TI award, a Dallas ISD STEM teacher must be eligible to become a Distinguished teacher, be nominated by their principal, complete an application and be observed by central staff members who are experts in the specific content areas.

A seventh Dallas ISD teacher won the award this year, but has since left the district. Anne Papacostas was a science teacher at James Madison High School.

New learning opportunities for Central Staff in Cornerstone

Central staff employees can take advantage of learning opportunities this fall.  Sessions include:

Instructor Led Training

DiSC for Team Building and Effective Relationships

Effective Business Writing

Process Improvement Basics

Beyond the Basics:  Excel for the Intermediate User

Boundary Spanning Leadership

Meeting Your Deadlines

Talent Conversations

Creating Accountability

Promoting Respect in the Workplace

Crucial Conversations

Feedback that Works

Managing Conflict

Fall Book Studies (Registration opens on October 1):

Leadership 2.0

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Online Learning Opportunities (Registration opens on October 15)

Online learning opportunities will be available to the first 400 central staff employees requesting access.

Click here to browse for training in Cornerstone.

Contact Staceye Randle at  for additional details.

Required compliance training must be completed by Oct. 31

Dallas ISD employees are critical to promoting a safe and healthy environment for students. Compliance training ensures all staff are prepared and knowledgeable of Board policies, federal and state mandates as well as health and safety practices. ALL central staff personnel must complete the following online training at Dallas ISD eLearning site or Region 10.

The following compliance videos can be accessed at

  • FERPA/Copyright Laws
  • Sexual Harassment
  • TX Educators’ Code of Ethics

The following compliance video can be accessed at

  • *Child Abuse: Recognizing and Reporting

*NOTE: Dallas ISD will not use Region 10’s Child Abuse Training for compliance purposes. The Child Abuse Training is being offered through Dallas ISD’s Elearning site. Staff members should login using their EAD credentials (username and password).

After the successful completion of each training module, print out the certificate and retain a copy for your records.

The deadline to complete the Compliance Videos is Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding compliance training, please contact Jennell Johnson at 972-925-3379 or