All Pro Dad program seeks to engage fathers in district schools

To hear Dallas ISD Partnership and Volunteer Coordinator Thomas Garner tell it, whether they know it or not, fathers have a superpower to make a positive difference in the education and social development of their children and others. So strong is his belief in the idea, Garner is on a mission to recruit as many fathers and father figures as he can to support schools and students as volunteers in the Dallas ISD version of the All Pro Dad program. All Pro Dad is a national male involvement program with 1,000 chapters across 42 states inspiring men to embrace their roles as dads and husbands. All Pro Dad shares guidance, support and practical tips on parenting and family life through training, events and email messages.

Garner is using it as a tool to involve more men in Dallas ISD. He especially wants to recruit Black men. “Of course, this is not a program for just African American men,” he says, “but when you peel back the numbers, realize the number of homes in our community that lack fathers, and read the newspaper and see what’s happening with Black males, it’s important for us to serve.” And what’s in it for the men? Plenty, says Garner. “They get an opportunity to become a better husband, a better man, a better leader in the communities we serve. That’s the most gratifying thing I’ve learned from conversations with other dads in our programs.” To view one father’s testimonial, go here.

Counselor Calvin Grigsby, who works with elementary students at the district’s Barbara Manns alternative school, agrees that male role models can have a positive impact on students. “An involved dad or father figure gives kids a role model, someone they can look up to, someone who is already established,” said Grigsby. “A man who has achieved some goals the student may have in mind for himself can possibly guide the student onto a path to success down the road.” And, he says involved and committed male role models can be as much of a positive influence on girls as boys in terms of helping them set life goals and stay on track to achieve them.

Garner and male representatives of 36 district campuses are preparing for the kickoff of this year’s All Pro Dad program, which will take the form of a Dads Draft. It’s set for 2 p.m., Sat., Oct. 24. Garner says he’s hyped about the event, which, he hopes—even though it’s virtual because of COVID—will display the same excitement as an NFL draft.

“If you visualize or have ever seen an NFL draft with the props onstage, the helmets, the green room for the young men being drafted in the first round, it’s the same hype,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to acknowledge those campuses who want to take the program beyond the draft into their campuses to give men the opportunity to be leaders as fathers and father figures. We can’t get out there and do it in a big way this year because of COVID, but we’re encouraging people to join us in the virtual space for now.”

Garner advises that any campus can create a chapter. There’s a $50 annual fee that covers the cost of training for the campus coach, a link to the All Pro Dad website, daily email affirmations and a supportive network of men on other campuses.

If any campus, father or father figure wants to get in on the 2020 fall draft, there’s still time. To register for the virtual event, see the QR code on the promotional flyer, visit, or contact Garner at (972) 925-5489 or (214) 802-1587.

Program helps Black students see themselves in books

With a grant from the Dallas Education Foundation, a new Dallas ISD initiative called “I Matter, We Matter, Words Matter” will prepare teachers to use culturally authentic texts written by African American authors to help students see themselves mirrored in the books they read. The program aims to increase Black student achievement in reading and expose students to read-aloud instruction.

The professional development is a part of the Teaching and Learning Division’s support for the Racial Equity efforts underway in Dallas ISD, including the district’s training on cultural intelligence and unconscious bias, said Charissa Govan, executive director for Professional and Digital Learning and the program’s leader.

Pre-K through 10th-grade language arts teachers who sign up for the training will be equipped with strategies to teach through books that feature Black characters portraying the Black experience, in alignment with the district’s commitment to Black students.

“We want to make sure that our division is supporting the commitment to Black lives,” Govan said. “We recognize that our African American students are performing at a rate that is not at the same level of their peers in other ethnicities, and so we want to make sure that we are working to close that gap in reading achievement. With this project, we are focusing on the strategies that teachers can implement in the classroom using read-aloud sessions to help address comprehension and vocabulary.”

Virtual training sessions on Oct. 28, Dec. 2 and Jan. 20 will highlight strategies that teachers can use to build vocabulary and comprehension through culturally relevant texts written by African American authors. The training will provide a space for teachers to learn about cultural intelligence and managing unconscious bias—and how to implement those practices when planning lessons and interacting with students. Teachers will be able to build their classroom libraries with the books provided for the program, including works by contemporary writers Nic Stone, Jerry Craft, Derrick Barnes and Michael S. Brandy, among others. 

“We’re using the texts to develop culturally responsive teaching practices and equipping teachers with the tools to have those critical conversations around race and social justice issues that are happening right now,” said Arlena Gaynor, executive director for Language and Literature, which is supporting the project. “It’s not just about Black kids and Black authors but about making sure that our classroom environment will be inclusive of all so that teachers and students can show up authentically and have critical conversations, and we’re using the texts as a vehicle for that.”

“It’s not just students seeing themselves in the texts,” Gaynor said, “but seeing themselves and their experiences represented accurately.”

Gaynor said the team is hoping to culminate this project with the African American Read-in, where some of the authors whose books are selected will be brought in to speak, creating an experience for teachers and students to engage in.

The initiative is a cross-divisional project that also includes the Racial Equity Office, School Leadership, IT and other departments working together to make it happen.

Interested teachers are encouraged to sign up by using this link:


A master opportunity

The Aspiring Leaders Program is looking for teachers and instructional coaches who have strong leadership potential for an opportunity with a unique program offered through Southern Methodist University.

This long-standing, valuable partnership between Dallas ISD and the Aspiring Leaders Program is designed for teachers or instructional coaches who are interested in earning a Master’s in Urban Educational Leadership and are seeking a campus administrator or other leadership role in Dallas ISD.

The LEAD department and SMU will be hosting a virtual information session about this program at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28.  Those who are interested in attending can register at

The program:

  • Is rigorous and competency based. The two-year program includes a second-year residency, including coaching support and culminates in a master’s in urban educational leadership from SMU.
  • Is for ascending Leaders. In Dallas ISD, more than 100 ALP alumni and participants serve in leadership roles, including 25 current principals and 52 assistant principals.
  • Offers tuition reimbursement. The district will potentially provide partial tuition reimbursement for participants in this program.

The Aspiring Leaders Program is designed for individuals who do not currently have their master’s degree.  However, if their degree is in something other than educational leadership and they are seeking an additional one, they are still eligible to apply.  This cohort of participants may potentially be eligible to hire as assistant principals as early as Spring 2022.

Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact or visit


Don’t throw away your shot

The CDC recommends people get their flu shot before the end of October, so don’t forget to get yours at one of the several clinics set up through a partnership between Dallas ISD and CVS Pharmacy to provide convenient drive-thru and walk-up flu clinics for employees at a variety of times and locations.

Seasonal flu mimics many of the same symptoms of COVID-19, which can make it difficult for patients and providers to tell the difference between the two illnesses. Getting a flu shot is an important step we can all take to protect ourselves and our families.

To find the date, time and location most convenient to you, click here. We recommend that staff complete the electronic flu shot form available here before going to get a flu shot. Forms will also be available at the clinic sites.

Staff can also go to any CVS location to get the flu shot, which is free with any TRS-Active Care insurance and Medicare. For questions, email

In addition to the scheduled clinics around the district, CVS is administering flu vaccines at four Dallas drive-thru clinics from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 22 as part of a city-sponsored event. While this event is targeted for ages 55 and older, anyone with insurance that covers the cost of flu vaccinations may attend. There will be no cash exchange or payment for vaccine/administration at the event.

The four locations are:





Choose Dallas ISD

Dallas ISD kicks off a new one-stop online application for more than 100 choice schools in the district with a virtual event. Discover all Dallas ISD has to offer at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7.

Thanks to the new school finder tool and application, it’s now easier for parents to find the best-fit school for their children. And they can learn more about the variety of choice programs available by attending the annual event, which this year will be held virtually. Register for this exciting opportunity to learn more about magnet schools, personalized learning, transformation schools, PTECH programs and much more at The application period for the 2021-2022 school year ends Jan. 31, 2021. Choose Dallas ISD!

Your stories of survival

Dallas ISD is going pink during October to celebrate and recognize survivors of breast cancer and increase awareness about advances in treatments for the disease. As part of the observances for the month, Dallas ISD staff shared inspirational stories of courage, faith and strength.

My name is Cipriana Portillo. I am a breast cancer survivor, and I have been cancer-free for 15 years. My daughter was 1 year old when I was diagnosed with cancer. Adriana is now 16 years old. I thank God for sending my baby, because I feel that she gave me strength to survive.

Cipriana Portillo
Teacher Assistant
Louise Wolff Kahn Elementary School


Power to Fight

On May 29, 2015, Michelle Zada Hall was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and began an aggressive chemotherapy regimen in addition to having a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction, followed by radiation at the start of the New Year. Over the past five years she has had four additional reconstructive surgeries and feels extremely blessed to have an amazing team of talented and compassionate doctors and surgeons and her incredible faith. She loves and is grateful for the incredible faith and an army of wonderfully supportive friends, family, students, parents and co-workers who help encourage positivity and administer prayer. A talented dancer and dance instructor, she has never missed a beat during her treatment, because she was determined not to allow cancer to define her.

Michelle Zada Hall
Assistant Dance Conservatory Director and Director of the World Dance Ensemble
Booker T. Washington High School for the performing and Visual Arts


I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer 13 years ago, and now I can say that I am a breast cancer survivor. I thank God every day for his mercy. I pray every day to God for those people who are suffering from this or another disease to give them strength and faith to move forward. For me, faith in God and the support of my entire family and the doctors that God put in my way were the reasons I victorious and blessed for this difficult process.

Adela Sanchez
Cafeteria Supervisor
Raúl Quintanilla Sr. Middle School


Feb. 20, 1997, is a day I shall never forget because that was the day a message was left on my answering machine regarding my surgery, which was scheduled for February 24, 1997. I asked myself, “What surgery is she talking about?” I thought she had dialed the wrong number. After calling the number that was left, I learned that my mammogram showed that I had breast cancer.

I was devastated. There was no history of breast cancer in my family. I had no symptoms. I could not feel a lump in my breast. It was diagnosed by way of my mammogram. After my surgery, I had to go back four days later to find out if any of my lymph nodes had been involved. Had the cancer spread? Waiting for those results, my family members joined in prayer in the doctor’s office. The test came back negative.

I went through chemotherapy and radiation treatment for eight months. I would drive myself to those treatments and go to work afterwards. I felt ashamed and believed that I had, in some way, caused this diagnosis. I did not want anyone to know what I was going through. I secretly prayed and asked God to please, don’t take my hair out. I did not want to go bald because everyone would know what I was going through. I did not want sympathy, either.  Throughout my treatments, I did not get sick and I never felt weak. As a matter of fact, labs showed that my blood numbers were always “normal.” God answered my prayers.

As I went through this, I wanted to help others. I gave a testimony at my church. I have been speaking to other women who may be going through the same thing. I have made it my business to encourage anyone who is frightened by this diagnosis. I tell them of my struggles and my triumphs. I let them know that having breast cancer is not always a death sentence. It has been 23 years and eight months since that diagnosis. Each subsequent mammogram causes me to have some anxiety, but I have learned to place my complete faith in God.

For anyone reading this, if you have gotten this diagnosis, cry if you must. Get angry, if you must. But one thing that you MUST not do, is give up. Don’t give in. If you are in need of encouragement, support, prayers, or resources, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Patricia A. Washington
Social Worker, Special Education


Audra Scott

Audra Scott, opera and gospel performer and teacher, was diagnosis with HER2+, stage 2 breast cancer when she was 38 after she noticed bloody discharge from her areola. She had a double mastectomy, reconstruction surgery and 12 rounds of chemo. She decided to have the double mastectomy because she has the brca2 gene that put her at high risk for cancer reoccurring, which she had seen happen to family members who did not survive. For her, it was a simple decision, “I didn’t even give them a chance to finish the question. I said, ‘Take them both, I don’t need them!’”

She did not let the diagnoses affect her passion for music, teaching, and family. Instead, she leaned heavily on her faith in God and the support of her family, friends, and students to carry her through as a survivor.

Audra Scott, 
Director of Opera & Gospel, Musical Theater Vocal Coach
Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts



Laticia Miles, middle

My mother, Laticia Miles, is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in July of 2018. It was the most devastating news

my family ever received. At that time, she was living in Bakersfield, Calif., and my sister and I decided that it was best that she move to Dallas so that we could take care of her as well as get her setup with the best possible treatments. In November of 2018, she made the permanent move to Keller where she now resides with my sister. My mother underwent surgery in July of 2019 and had to have her left breast removed. Surgery was a success, and, as of today, she is a walking, breathing, testimony that God is indeed a miracle worker. Through all the tears, pain, sudden loss of hair and frequent doctor visits, she has overcome one of the biggest challenges of her life. My mom is my hero, and I am extremely proud of her. She never gave up hope and continued to fight. She is now living a cancer free life and couldn’t be happier.

Brandee Dean
Teacher Assistant, Specialized Unit
Thomas C. Marsh Middle School


I am a 13- year breast cancer survivor, free from cancer since my chemo treatment. In the summer of 2007, after I told my deaf friend that I felt a lump in my chest, she suggested that I see my family doctor again because she had a friend who passed away from breast cancer. The lump never caused me any pain, but it developed quickly right after my yearly check-up with my doctor. I was diagnosed with almost stage 3 breast cancer in August 2007.

Linda Fenske
Teacher Assistant Deaf Education
Mockingbird Elementary School 


I was hired by Dallas ISD in January 2020, and 20 days later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27. My tumor was 6cm long and stage 3. I started 16 rounds of chemotherapy in March. Soon after finishing chemotherapy, on July 28, I had a bilateral mastectomy. I am now doing radiation and am on the 15th of 33 sessions. It has been an emotional rollercoaster for me and my husband, but we have remained positive and very proactive throughout the treatments. In the middle of a pandemic and a cancer diagnosis, my husband and I have found so much joy in the little things and love feeling all the support and prayers from everyone around us. My hope for everyone is to be proactive about their health and take very seriously their annual checkups. I am that woman who works out every day, eats healthy and has no family history of cancer in her family, and still I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Know your body, and truly, feel it on the first.

First-grade teacher



COVID-19 reporting procedures

An employee who has a suspected or confirmed infectious disease, such as COVID-19, should report the disease to the district. In response to a report of an infectious disease, the district will initiate the public health contact tracing process to maintain a safe work environment and prevent the spread of the infection.

An employee who has received a suspected or confirmed infectious disease diagnosis should notify Health Services within 24 hours by submitting the reporting form. If the employee notifies his or her supervisor, the supervisor must notify Health Services within three hours of receiving the notification from the employee.

The employee’s report of a suspected or confirmed infectious disease diagnosis to the district initiates the contract tracing process, which continues with the Health Services Department contacting the Benefits and the Environmental Services departments.

Contact tracing steps

  1. Health Services contacts the reporting employee within 24 hours of receiving notification from the employee to initiate the contact tracing process.
  2. Health Services will contact a potentially exposed employee within 24 hours. Health Services may direct the employee who may have been in close contact to quarantine/isolate.  (Reports received after hours, weekends and holidays will be reviewed and executed within 48 hours.)
  3. The Benefits Department will contact the employee to review leave of absence and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) accommodation options or place the employee on a quarantine/isolation status.
  4. Operation Services will provide an intensive cleaning with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) industrialized germ spray to exposed areas. Employees may be asked to discontinue use of the exposed workspace and common areas until a clean notice is posted.

Contact tracing is a private process. An employee’s personal information may not be released to the public or shared with individuals who may have come in close contact with an infected employee. Employees are prohibited from disclosing confidential information about employees or students.


Reminder of rules regarding donations

Campus and department staff are reminded to abide by the district’s E-rate policy regarding acceptance of donations of technology. Policy also requires staff to report to Partnership and Volunteer Services all funds and items received on behalf of the district, and to acknowledge and thank donors.

Board Policy CDC (LOCAL) (REGULATION) and (EXHIBIT) require that donations are appropriately approved and recorded in the district’s online database maintained by Partnership and Volunteer Services and that donors receive an acknowledgment of donations and a thank-you letter.

E-Rate procedures require approval in advance for:

  • donations of technology
  • funds for technology
  • any kind of gift from a technology vendor (volunteers, in-kind/materials or funding)

Information regarding all proposed gifts or donations of technology or any gift from a technology vendor should be submitted to the Partnership and Volunteer Services Department and forwarded to the E–Rate Compliance Officer for review before acceptance and should not be accepted or utilized until approved. Partnership Services is available to help campuses and departments execute Form CDC (Local) (Exhibit A) to seek approval from the E–Rate Compliance Officer.

For approved and accepted gifts, policy requires designated staff in schools and departments to report all gifts, donations or contributions of funds, in-kind services or materials to Partnership Services staff. Gifts must be recorded within five working days of receipt of the gift in the Partnership Services online database at

Campus or department staff who accept gifts on behalf of their schools or district departments must offer an appropriate message of thanks to the donors who provided these gifts.

Now Playing: School Lunch!

Dallas ISD schools will celebrate National School Lunch Week—“Now Playing: School Lunch!”—through from Oct. 16 with special treats and a video contest to spotlight the importance of a healthy school lunch.

“A healthy lunch is a great way to ensure students get the best education they can,” said Michael Rosenberger, Executive Director of Dallas ISD’s Food & Child Nutrition Services. “National School Lunch Week helps us educate parents and students about all the healthy, great tasting, and appealing lunch choices we offer.” Planned activities for the week include: 

School lunch week video Contest: The video contest engages students K-12 in learning about the importance of eating a healthy and delicious school lunch. The contest challenges students to use their imagination to illustrate their own “School Lunch video” which coincides with this year’s NSLW theme of “Now Playing: School Lunch”. The winning video will be featured on FCNS social media platforms.  All student(s) must participate with an educator.  We will select a winner per each school level.  Amongst the prizes are movie tickets, Barnes and Nobles Gift cards, electronic tablets and more.  Details about the video contest will be forwarded to all principals, school art and media teachers.

Fruit crisp treat – Oct. 16: Students will enjoy a special and delicious warm fruit crisp treat.

Coloring activity sheets will be available on the page for teachers and students. Student artwork will be shared on the department’s social media page after it’s emailed to

For more information on National School Lunch Week, visit

Longtime principal leads with service

October is National Principal Appreciation Month, and Dallas ISD celebrates the 225 dedicated principals who continue to lead their schools through challenging times to ensure that all students are educated for success. Thank you, principals!

Marlon Brooks’ almost 29-year career as an educator is full of accomplishments, including being one of the longest-serving principals in the district.

But in the eyes of the L.G. Pinkston High School principal, it’s not accolades or promotions that stand as the most remarkable milestones of his long tenure in Dallas ISD.

“Being a principal is one of the most outstanding career opportunities one can have because you can meet people, students, from all walks of life and lead them to develop and grow into adulthood,” he said.

Brooks began his career as an educator with Dallas ISD in 1992 and has been a teacher, an assistant principal and a principal at a variety of schools with diverse student bodies throughout the district. Notably, the Louisiana native has been principal at Skyline High School—Dallas ISD’s largest secondary campus—and at schools where students need a different approach to guide them to academic success—Barbara M. Manns, Maya Angelou and John Leslie Patton.

“Mr. Brooks is an outstanding Principal that consistently works to serve his students, community, and all stakeholders in order  to ensure their success,” said Salem Hussain, executive director for secondary schools in the W.H. Adamson, L.G. Pinkston, Sunset and Moisés E. Molina high school feeder patterns.

In 2011, Brooks was tasked with sunsetting A. Maceo Smith High School and transitioning most of its students to the new Wilmer Hutchins High School. In his second year as principal of Pinkston, he is once again in charge of a major transition as plans are under way to build a state-of-the-art campus for West Dallas in partnership with Toyota and Southern Methodist University.

“Challenges are all a matter of perspective,” Brooks says. “Never, has any day at any of the schools I have been not been enjoyable for me. It’s all about following a system—a mission, vision, goals and expectations—that will help students and their communities grow.”

Brooks attributes his success as principal to the talented teachers and staff he has worked with and to the support of the administration. Gaining the trust of the community he serves and their collaboration also has been a factor.

“The school is often the heart of a community, a place of greatness for the community, and it’s our job as educators to serve that community and to make sure that what we offer is the best for that community,” he said.

He feels privileged to be part of West Dallas as Pinkston principal because he believes that despite the image that some may have of the area, he knows it to be a place of unbridled potential, and Pinkston as the source of those who will lead the way. The campus housing seventh through 12th grades is an asset in his eyes—students get used to the cultural platform and high expectations earlier.

“It is our job to make sure that we are the premier educational institution that [West Dallas] deserves,” Brooks said. “West Dallas is an opportunity goldmine. As economic investment grows in the area, we need to provide educational opportunities that match or exceed that growth and prepare our students to compete in the global market by tapping the cultural diversity we find in West Dallas.”

Through the years, Brooks has amassed a wealth of experience, and his advice to principals who are starting their careers usually includes:

  • Be servant minded
  • Be people oriented
  • Recognize the importance of your role in helping students grow not just academically, but also socially
  • Always seek to learn from everyone and to grow
  • Recognize it’s about the best idea not whose idea it is
  • Be a part of your community

In the initial meeting Brooks had two years ago with the panel of teachers, community members, and parents formed to help choose a new principal for Pinkston, “I told them what I bring to the table, but I asked them to tell me what they needed from me,” he said. “I wanted to engage in a sense of teamwork so we could together reframe the vision for Pinkston and West Dallas to be successful. I’ve had nothing but support.”