Congratulations to the Principals of the Year!

Three principals have been chosen as Principal of the Year representing Elementary Schools, Secondary Schools and Choice/Magnet Schools. Meet the winners:

Elementary School

Reymundo Cervantes Guajardo, Henry B. Gonzalez Personalized Learning Academy

Reymundo Cervantes Guajardo became a school administrator in 2014 after serving in elementary schools since 2006. As principal for Gonzalez Academy, Cervantes Guajardo has facilitated the school’s choice transformation to a personalized learning academy and led the work that earned it an A rating from the Texas Education Agency. The campus has also been recognized as the safest school in Dallas ISD since 2018. Cervantes Guajardo is currently finishing his doctoral studies at Southern Methodist University.

Watch a video about him.

Secondary School

Joseph Sotelo, Hillcrest High School

Joseph Sotelo has been an administrator with Dallas ISD for eight years, all at the secondary level. He began his career in Dallas ISD in 2013 as an assistant principal at Sunset High School where he oversaw both the English and science departments. In 2015, Sotelo was promoted to principal of Benjamin Franklin Middle School. Within 18 months, the school was authorized as an International Baccalaureate campus. Sotelo left Franklin Academy to become principal of Hillcrest High School. As of 2021, Hillcrest is the only high school to offer both a collegiate academy and an IB program. Sotelo also oversaw the addition of 21 new classrooms, two new gyms, a weight room, and renovations to several classrooms.

Watch a video about him.

Choice/Magnet School

Ruby Ramirez, School for the Talented and Gifted at Pleasant Grove

Ruby Ramirez is proud daughter of an immigrant mother and Dallas ISD graduate. Learning and growing in Dallas ISD as a bilingual talented and gifted student, she was able to graduate with honors from Woodrow Wilson High School. She always knew she wanted to one day give back to the district, community, and families where her opportunities started. In 2003, she became a teacher assistant at William Lipscomb Elementary School, the same campus she attended as a child. Ramirez became an assistant principal at Felix G. Botello Elementary School in 2013 and a year later at John H. Reagan Elementary School, both in Oak Cliff. In 2018, she was called to open a unique Two-Way Dual Language Talented & Gifted campus in the heart of Pleasant Grove.

Watch a video about her.

Prevent dry mouth

People have been led to believe that dry mouth is just another fact of growing older, and while more common among seniors, there are many conditions that can cause it at any age.

Dry mouth is the feeling that there is not enough saliva in the mouth, which can be caused by dehydration or certain medications, both factors common among older adults. The condition can make it difficult to chew, swallow, or even talk. Lack of saliva, which in the mouth is used to fight infections, can increase the risk of developing tooth decay or fungal infections.

For people who use dentures, not producing enough saliva can make wearing dentures uncomfortable because the saliva lubricates the dentures and keeps them from rubbing on the gums and causing damage and infections.

One of the main causes of dry mouth among older adults is medications like those taken for high blood pressure, depression, and bladder control problems. Diseases themselves—Diabetes, Sjögren’s Syndrome, and HIV/AIDS—can also contribute to dry mouth. Some radiation and chemotherapy can also affect the salivary glands or make saliva thicker, which causes the moth to feel dry.

People who think they might have dry mouth should, see a dentist or physician. He or she can try to determine what is causing it and offer treatment options such as changing medications or using artificial saliva, sold in most drug stores/pharmacies. Some people benefit from sucking sugarless hard candy or chewing sugarless gum.

Check it out

The Human Capital Management Benefits Department has made updates to the Benefits webpage. Included in this update is an easier way for staff to request an American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter by using an online request form.

All requests will be reviewed by the Benefits Review Committee, so make sure you make the request with enough time to accommodate the review process.

If you are unable to electronically submit this form, you may also return print it, fill it out and return it by fax at 214-932-7520.

Please email the email or call the Benefits Team at 972-925-4300 if you have questions about the ASL Interpreter request process.

Say goodbye

The district’s current leases for black-and-white copiers are due to expire in June 2021. The district is preparing to implement a new lease to purchase contract for all black-and-white copiers, which will replace the current contract and models. Information about the timeline, implementation, roll-out schedule and training for use of new models of copiers will be sent when available.

There are no changes for color copiers as those leases expire in July 2022.

Each supervisor and administrative assistant with current leases will receive an email with detailed delivery schedules. All communications will be emailed and documented on the Graphics website.



Run-off election sites

On Saturday, June 5, 57 district facilities will be used as voting centers for the Joint Run-Off Election. Download the list. Department heads, principals and office managers of the facilities assigned to serve as polling locations are reminded to prepare and staff their facilities accordingly.

The facilities should be opened promptly at 5:30 a.m. to allow the election judges to set up.  Election judges will need access to the buildings until 8 p.m. or until the election staff is finished for the evening.  Please ensure that staff cooperate with the election judges regarding set-up requests and that campuses and polling locations are presentable.

A custodian will be required to work overtime from 5:30 a.m. until close. Two custodians may split the time, but there should be no overlap of time between the custodians. Custodial staff must use the supplemental pay icon on the biometric time clock to sign in and out. The activity code to be used by the custodian(s) working the election is 121023. Please note that at no time should a district facility be left unattended by district personnel.

Thank you for your cooperation. Please direct questions to Orlando Alameda at (972) 925-5142, or

Help yourself and others

People you know may be reacting to some life situations with feelings of anxiety or depression. This is common, especially during times of high stress like COVID-19 pandemic. You can help them get the right help with some guidance from experts.

Mental Health First Aid from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing has tips to help support those around you who might be feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed. With these tips, you can #BeTheDifference for your loved ones and help them through this challenging time.

  1. Assess for risk of suicide or harm. Identify if they’re experiencing a crisis such as a panic attack or suicidal thoughts, and address that first. It’s OK to do the assessment over the phone, text or social media. If the person’s life is in immediate danger, call 911.*
  2. Listen non-judgmentally. If the person isn’t in a crisis, ask how they’re feeling and how long they’ve been feeling that way. Pay attention and show you care.*
  3. Give reassurance and information. Your support can have a huge impact on the person. Reassure them that it is appropriate to experience fear, sadness or anxiety during situations like this. Remind them that help is available, and you’ll be there for them along the way.*
  4. Encourage appropriate professional help. Offer to help them find a professional for support, such as a primary care physician, mental health professional, psychiatrist or certified peer specialist. Behavioral health care providers can provide services by phone and/or secure videoconferencing, so they will be able to maintain physical distancing.*
  5. Encourage self-help and other support strategies. Self-help strategies and reaching out for support from family, friends, faith communities and others who have experienced depression or anxiety (peer supporters) can make a difference.*

Mental Health First Aid also offers resources for self-care strategies that can help manage symptoms of anxiety or depression whether they are your own or you are helping a loved one.


National Council for Mental Well Being


Legal assistance available

Volunteer attorneys will be available to answer legal questions at no cost from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in June through the LegalLine E-Clinic, sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association.

To participate in the legal clinic, complete the online form found at The LegalLine E-Clinics are June 2, June 9, June 16, June 23, and June 30. A volunteer attorney will call the participant to provide up to 15 minutes of free legal advice for the legal issue. Space is limited and registration will close at 5 p.m. on the Tuesday prior to the clinic each week.

Please note that the volunteer attorney will remain anonymous. Participants should watch for a call from an unknown number that should be labeled “No Caller ID” or something similar. No attorney-client relationship will be established. We cannot guarantee that the attorney will speak any language other than English. Individuals may also receive referrals to local, legal, or social service agencies.


Creating your own success

When Salvador Becerra, a construction instructor at Career Institutes East, tells his students that their success is up to them, he is not just sharing platitudes. After more than 34 years as a custodian and maintenance staff at Dallas ISD, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and other companies, Becerra jumped at the opportunity to share his wealth of knowledge and experience as a full-time teacher.

“Teaching is a gift that allows me to do my part to change the community and share everything I’ve learned in the real world,” Becerra said.

Becerra has a degree in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration from Dallas Community College. Over the years, he also has become an expert in other areas like plumbing and electrical technology. His skills gave him the opportunity to earn high wages and successfully raise his family. In his view, this is what Career Institutes is all about.

Dallas ISD’s Career Institutes give students the opportunity to gain hands-on, real world experience that can be used to land high-demand, high-wage jobs in aviation, construction and carpentry, electrical and solar technology, interior design, HVAC, plumbing and pipefitting, cybersecurity or mechatronics.

“Career Institutes is a good program that allows students to learn by doing,” Becerra said. “The textbook is good and necessary, but there is nothing like using your hands to learn and grow.”

Becerra has thoroughly enjoyed teaching and interacting with students. For him, it is a way to give back and help students.

“When you see your students’ progress, it’s amazing,” he said.

For more information about Career Institutes, visit



Protect your assets

A home and vehicle are two of the biggest purchases most people will make in their lifetimes. These important assets deserve to have auto and home insurance that gives peace of mind. With Dallas ISD Benefits, district employees have access to an Auto Insurance Quote Comparison Tool that shows side-by-side quotes that can help them find the right fit. This tool lets users choose from multiple national carriers and access bundling discounts, convenient payroll deduction options, and more. Get a quote to find the best rate on the right coverage.

Access these benefits and more by visiting the HCM Benefits Department website at or by visiting the Benefits Enrollment Portal at and clicking on the Benefits Portal.

Be part of the Digital Palooza

Dallas ISD students in pre-K through second grade have been using technology in their class work since the start of the current school year. Some of their work will be showcased in the department’s upcoming Early Learning Digital Palooza, and submissions of technology creations by students, families, teachers and staff are currently being accepted for the project’s new website, which will “go live” during the virtual event.

All technology users across the district are encouraged to submit personal examples of their technology use to be featured on the website. Please visit the Early Learning Palooza Informational Hub for more information and to submit your technology example and register for the live event. All submissions are due by Friday, May 21.

The Digital Palooza, to take place virtually on Tuesday, June 1, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., will highlight the experience of teachers and students and will serve as the official launch of the Early Learning Digital Palooza website. On the site, teachers will also find more information about the technology programs offered (Digital Ambassadors and IMPACT Vanguard) and can apply to participate for the 2021-2022 school year.

“We are thrilled to see the growth that students and teachers have made with technology this year, and we are excited to celebrate all of their accomplishments. We have been amazed at the things our youngest learners have been able to create, and we look forward to seeing their uses of technology continue to grow,” said Victoria Miller, digital learning coordinator for the Early Learning Department.

With iPads distributed by the district and a partnership with Apple that provides two professional learning specialists, the Early Learning Department has been supporting professional development and training for teachers, families and students to integrate the use of technology into classroom work.

“I would have never thought iPads and technology would be a dream come true in pre-K,” said Cindy Cervantes, a pre-K teacher at Stevens Park Elementary School. “From working in Zoom breakout rooms to manipulating activities on Seesaw (a platform for student engagement), to recording themselves or taking pictures of their work, my four- and five-year-olds just love their iPads! I am so thankful to have been able to incorporate technology in my classroom. There is no bigger reward than seeing my students become avid independent learners at such a young age.”

Veronica Noziglia Wilde, a Pre-K Partnerships teacher, views technology as a way to expose her students to the world.

“I work on a campus where every one of my students is economically disadvantaged,” she said, “so when my kids open up their iPads, they open up possibilities to learn about a new world. I think this merger between technology and learning is what may better prepare them for the future, a future where technology and robotics will be the ABCs of any job. Thanks to this technology, we are able to share stories of learning, dreams, and hopes that help us grow as individuals.”