Score! United Way employee giving campaign sprints past goal

Dallas ISD’s United Way employee giving campaign ended up raising $120,000, which far surpasses the original $80,000 goal!

The campaign supports the many United Way programs that directly benefit district students and families. These programs include: after-school, scouting, early childhood, parent education, college and career readiness, homeless education, summer camps, mentoring, STEM, tutoring and many more programs.


Lights! Camera! Sweaters! Principals have fun with holiday apparel

As part of their holiday luncheon and the Principal of the Year ceremony earlier this month, a few Dallas ISD campus leaders didn’t mind looking a little silly in the spirit of competition – namely an Ugly Sweater contest.

After lunch, it was time for the holiday sweaters to rear their ugly threads.

Eight principals strutted their crazy stuff for their peers, but only three could claim bragging rights (and gift certificates) as having donned the wackiest, tackiest seasonal apparel.

First place: Ben Dickerson, Edward H. Cary Middle School

Second place: Rachel Moon, Rosemont

Third place: Stephanie Amaya, John Ireland Elementary School

New learn anytime options now available to Central Staff

Central Staff employees can now take their learning to the next level with dozens of online and video-based courses. These include titles such as Lead with Compassion, Build a Team, The Seven Habits of Highly Effectively People, Six Sigma, and more. These online learning opportunities are available around the clock, accessible from a computer, tablet or other mobile device–for the first 300 Central Staff employees who sign up. Go here to review a list of training sessions, and register today.

See the approved Dallas ISD calendar for 2018–2019 school year

The 2018–2019 school year will start for students on Aug. 20, include a full week off for Thanksgiving, and end for students on May 29.

Trustees approved the 2018–2019 Dallas ISD calendar during their scheduled meeting on Dec. 14. The calendar incorporates feedback received from employees, parents, students and community members.

Important dates for the Dallas ISD calendar include:

  • 171 student instructional days starting Aug. 20
  • Teachers have 187 contract days, three Professional Development District Mandated Waiver days, seven professional development days, five teacher work days, and will receive one day credit for the two evenings of parent conferences
  • Two fair days for all students: Elementary Fair Day is Friday, Oct. 12, and Secondary Fair Day is Friday, Oct. 19. Elementary Fair Day is a professional development day for secondary teachers, and Secondary Fair Day is a professional development day for elementary teachers, meaning students have off both days
  • One week off for Thanksgiving Break, Nov. 19–23
  • For Winter Break students are out Dec. 20–Jan. 8 and staff are out Dec. 21–Jan. 4
  • Spring break, March 11–15
  • Staff/student holidays on Sept. 3, Jan. 21, Feb. 18 and May 27
  • Inclement weather makeup days on April 19 and 22

Trustees on Dec. 14 also approved the 2019–2020 school year calendar.

Long-ago campus colleagues reunite as 2017 Principals of the Year

A couple of decades ago, when they were teachers, Danielle Petters encouraged and mentored Laura Garza at the campus where they worked. On Wednesday, Dec. 13, the two shared time in the spotlight as Dallas ISD’s 2017 Principals of the Year.

Garza, principal at Annie Webb Blanton Elementary School, said being a finalist with Petters means a lot to her. “Twenty years ago, she took me under her wing,” Garza said. “She’s the reason I’m still in education.”

She also credited her mother, who was in attendance at the luncheon. “She is the reason I can do all this,” Garza said. “She’s helping me raise my children.”

Petters said that being named a finalist for Principal of the Year was initially a shock. “For two full days, I was in a fog,” she said. “I decided the emotion I felt the most was humbleness.”

Petters and her six siblings graduated from Dallas ISD, as did her two children. Further, she earned her alternative certification to begin teaching and her administrative certification to become a principal through the district. She has been a Dallas ISD principal for 16 years.

“It’s been my life,” she said. “There are so many people in this room that I have learned from and learned with.

“I’m very grateful for this.”

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said believing in the district enough to send your own kids to Dallas ISD takes commitment. Likewise, his children attended and graduated from district schools.

“We put our kids in the system,” he said. “In fact, Laura put her own kids in her school that was about to be shut down by the state.”

Of Petters, he said she voluntarily applied to lead H. Grady Spruce High School, which has had a revolving door of principals before her tenure amid many challenges. “When you step up like that, it makes it that more meaningful, to stand up in a tough situation.”

Chief of School Leadership Stephanie Elizalde said being a principal has become an increasingly difficult position.

“The principalship is not a job, it’s a calling,” Elizalde said. “And that calling requires an additional three Cs. You must be confident, even when you stand alone; you must be compassionate, to the needs of all; and you must have courage, every single day to make really tough decisions.”

See the other finalists for Elementary and Secondary Principal of the Year here.

Top Dallas ISD campus leaders vying for 2017 Principal of the Year honors

Two 2017 Dallas ISD Principals of the Year will be named on Wednesday, Dec. 13, from a field of six highly skilled campus leaders.

Hopefuls submitted an application packet that includes their resumé, answers to two essay questions, letters of endorsement from parents, teachers and feeder-pattern executive directors. Two winners will emerge, one from an elementary school and the other from a middle or high school.

Learn about the six finalists below.


Lourdes Garduño has served as principal at Winnetka Elementary School the past 10 years. In her application, she describes what it means to her to be a servant leader.

“The leader doesn’t wear a title as a way to show who’s in charge, doesn’t think she/he’s better than everyone else, and acts in a way to care for others,” Garduño writes. “She/ he may, in fact, pick up the trash after a carnival or help clean up cafeteria tables, help the Robotics team carry boxes to the bus, open the building at 6 a.m. for the team to pick up their materials, mop when there is a spill, help a teacher set up bulletin boards, and even cook the turkey for the staff’s yearly pot luck. Setting an example of service, the servant leader understands that it is not about the leader, but about others.”

Laura Garza has been a principal in Dallas ISD for seven years, the past three at Annie Webb Blanton Elementary School, which is an ACE (Accelerating Campus Excellence) campus.

“Inspiring and empowering teachers to deliver high-quality instruction daily and being agents of change is the focus of our work; it is what drives the transformation of a low-performing campus to become a learning environment that embodies our mantra ‘HARD WORK CONQUERS ALL,’ ” Garza writes. “To inspire is to influence someone to do something. To empower is to make stronger. The only way to make someone stronger is to believe that they can get stronger and to follow a mindset of improvement. For this reason, I have found it extremely important to focus on explaining why we do things and our urgency in getting it done. “

Robert C. Mclaurin has been principal at Walnut Hill Elementary School for the past three years. In his application, he explains how continually challenging teachers can empower and inspire them.

“It is important to develop teacher leaders on your campus who can support change and help make sense of things to all stakeholders,” Mclaurin writes. “All teacher leaders must understand that ongoing change and innovation are necessary to achieve our campus vision and true excellence. As principal, it is important to celebrate the achievement of goals, but never stop motivating the staff to push for higher goals in the pursuit of excellence. Teachers should always feel fully supported and challenged by campus leadership.”


Michele Broughton has been a Dallas ISD principal for four years, all at the School of Business and Management at Townview Center. In her application, she shares that learning and applying new knowledge to her job to improve the lives of students, teachers, families and the community is what makes her a servant leader.

“A servant leader is one who understands his or her ethical responsibility to the greater society and is fully aware of the overall concept of growing people,” Broughton writes. “The most prominent difference between a stereotypical leader and a servant leader is the fact that a leader realizes the need for a common goal and the plan to achieve that goal. A servant leader realizes the same viewpoint but is sensitive to how each facet of the plan is implemented, thinks about whether it is for the good of the order, and ultimately utilizes the gifts of each individual to achieve a positive outcome for all. One of the servant leader’s greatest charges is to skillfully match talent to purpose and then motivate a team of people to become change agents together.”

Jonica Crowder-Lockwood has worked as a principal in Dallas ISD for 12 years, the past three at D.A. Hulcy STEAM Middle School. In her application, she explains how she sets the expectation that teachers deliver high-quality instruction every day.

“In order for that goal to come to fruition I must provide an environment where learning can take place,” Crowder-Lockwood writes. “During the summer I meet with our campus Culture Team, our goal is to develop and review our plan for a creating an environment for positive student culture so learning can thrive. I want to develop not only the academic side of students but also the social and emotional side. At the beginning of each day all students and staff begin their day together in Hulcy Huddle, where a character lesson is taught.”

 Danielle Petters has been a principal in Dallas ISD for 16 years, the past three spent leading H. Grady Spruce High School. As part of her application, she explains why empowering and inspiriing teachers doesn’t happen by accident.

“Creating a school where quality instruction is the norm and teachers see themselves as agents of change does not happen by chance,” Petters writes. “It involves intentionally creating an aspirational and safe school culture, hiring the right people, supporting them, constantly asking for and acting on feedback, and intentionally developing leadership at all levels. Leading up to that moment when a teacher welcomes her first student, to her first class, on the first day of school, a sophisticated series of interlocking gears come together to supercharge and propel that instant forward and set the stage for high-achieving students, teachers, and schools.”

Central Staff Leadership Development Program participants donate to Student Intake Center

Participants in the 2017-2018 Central Staff Leadership Development Program donated books they had collected to the Margaret and Gilbert Herrera Student Intake Center.

Graciela, an 11-year-old Dallas ISD student from Bolivia who is also a champion in BMX bike racing, happened to be on hand and took one of the books home.

Dallas ISD student Graciela took one of the donated books home.

The Central Staff Leadership Development Program is for early to mid-management (coordinator, supervisor, manager, or director) employees who are ready to take their leadership ability to the next level. The program, a 10-month experience held in conjunction with The University of Texas at Dallas Jindal School of Management, is designed to help central staff leaders grow in meaningful ways. To learn more about the program, click here.

United Way employee giving campaign up to $77,000 so far

Dallas ISD’s United Way employee giving campaign has so far raised $77,541, which is close to the goal of $80,000! The campaign just has one more week to go.

The campaign supports the many United Way programs that directly benefit district students and families. These programs include: after-school, scouting, early childhood, parent education, college and career readiness, homeless education, summer camps, mentoring, STEM, tutoring and many more programs.

To learn how you can support the goal, contact your campus or department United Way coordinator, or visit the United Way webpage.

Mavs’ offers seek to honor students and staff and promote scholarship

What do a Black History Month essay contest, rewards for students who excel in STEM/STEAM, a teacher recognition program, a reading program and scholarship competition all have in common? In this instance, they’re all sponsored by the Dallas Mavericks and are all available to Dallas ISD students and staff.

As part of the Mavs’ Black History Month Challenge, eighth through 12th-grade students are invited to submit an essay honoring the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The essay on the topic “Advancing the Dream: Taking the Next Step to Improving My Community,” will win one lucky student a trip to Atlanta to visit the home of Dr. King and the King Center. The deadline to submit essays is Monday, January 15, 2018.

In concert with ExxonMobil, the Mavs are sponsoring the Honorary Co-Captains program to reward students who enjoy and excel at STEM/STEAM programs. Teachers, counselors and administrators can nominate students for the honor. Selected students get two game tickets, a chance to join in a pre-game shoot around and a seat on the team bench during pre-game introductions. Nominations are due Friday, February 28, 2018.

As a boost to teachers, the Mavs are sponsoring Classroom Champions, a program created to recognize educators for their work in the classroom. The organization will select a pair of teachers every month through March as Champion Teachers of the Month for recognition at a home game and online. At season’s end, the public will be invited to vote for the top five, one of which will receive a cash award of $1,000 for themselves and $1,000 for their school.

Avid readers of all ages can get in the game for the Mavs Reading Challenge, a 15-week effort designed to improve reading and literacy and promote a love of reading among kids of all ages. Dallas parents, students and teachers can sign up online or at any of the 29 Dallas Public Library locations, track their reading from December to March, and qualify to win prizes from the Mavs and Whataburger.

Last but certainly not least, is the Dallas Mavericks Scholarship Program offering high school seniors in financial need the opportunity to apply for one of four $5,000 college scholarships funded in corporation with Century 21 Mike Bowman, Inc. Visit the scholarship program website to view the qualifications and requirements. Applications are due Friday, February 23, 2018.

Central staff professional development session on teacher recruitment

Here is the opportunity for central staff to learn about how Dallas ISD places highly qualified teachers in front of students. You will hear about the student teaching process and the recruitment of teachers for high need subject areas. Come find out more about recruitment of new and veteran teachers, international recruiting, and the VISA process.

Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017

Noon to 1 p.m.

Dallas Education Center, Training Room 200

9400 N. Central Expressway, Dallas, TX 75231