Need a boost?

Dallas ISD and community partners are offering booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to those who qualify Saturday, Oct. 2.

The COVID-19 Pop Up Clinic will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Townview Magnet Center, 1201 E. 8th St.

It’s important to note that the booster applies only to the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine and only to people 18 and older who meet the eligibility requirements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend booster doses for recipients of the Moderna or J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines at this time. Mixing and matching vaccine brands is not currently authorized by the Food and Drug Administration or recommended by the CDC

Who should get the booster shot?
Here is the list who should get the booster dose at least six months after receiving the second Pfizer shot:

  • Individuals 65 years of age and older
  • Residents of long-term care settings
  • Individuals 50-64 with underlying medical conditions
  • Individuals 18-49 with underlying medical conditions and those 18-64 who live or work somewhere that puts them at high risk of getting COVID if the personal benefits outweigh the personal risks


Core 4 Tip: Embrace flexibility

Who hasn’t been faced with a sudden change in direction for a project or encountered an unexpected obstacle to completing a crucial task? Being flexible—striving for the yes—is key to success and also one of the core tenets of the culture that guides how we approach our work in Dallas ISD.

Flexibility is a basic component of problem solving. Whether it’s finding the best way for a student to understand a lesson, helping a parent find the right resource to address a need or providing support to a campus at a crucial time, focusing on ways to fix issues by both developing solutions and helping alleviate conflict are key to successful interactions with each other, with students and with families.

In Dallas ISD, we will do whatever it takes to meet the needs of our students, families and employees. We eliminate barriers and embrace innovative problem-solving. Through the district’s culture tenets, employees have the flexibility to adapt to “on-the-ground” situations and create an environment that is truly responsive to needs and creates positive experiences.

Flexibility within the district’s culture tenets means:

  • Anticipating the needs of others and pursuing equitable solutions that are thoughtful and considerate of the feelings and perceptions of others
  • Collaborating and/or compromising to arrive at a common solution that is mutually understood
  • Consistently communicating with all involved to generate new solutions
  • Explaining the rationale for change and practicing sensemaking for all parties involved

Following these practices shows a desire to help and to put your knowledge, expertise, and creativity to work to create an exceptional experience for all. While the way an organization functions is framed by rules and laws, it doesn’t have to lead to rigidity in how we approach solving problems and helping others. Every interaction is different. Being able to adapt, pivot, and find a solution within the rules is key to maintaining a culture that is open to innovation, equity and acceptance.

Benefits confirmation available online

Employees can find and download their Confirmation of Benefits Statements for the annual enrollment period that ended Aug. 23 in the Benefits Enrollment Portal. This year, the document will not be mailed to employees’ home addresses. To find and download your confirmation, follow the steps below.


Step 1: Log in to the Benefits Enrollment Portal:


Step 2: From the Employee portal home page, go to Manage Your Forms & Documents and click on View Details. This will take you to the Statements page.


Step 3:  Click on the Annual Enrollment (Sep1, 2021) to view your 2021 Annual Enrollment Confirmation Statement

If you have questions, or need assistance, please call 972-925-4300 or email

Ribbon worthy… again!

Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy and Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College High School at Mountain View have earned National Blue Ribbon School status for the second time in less than a decade.

National Blue Ribbon status is one of the highest U.S. Department of Education recognitions for campuses where students perform at very high levels or where exemplary progress is being made toward closing achievement gaps.

Both campuses are among the first Early College High Schools created by Dallas ISD. Each early college high school partners with a higher education institution to offer students the opportunity to earn credit for both high school and college courses. College tuition fees are waived, allowing students the possibility of earning an associate degree or up to 60 hours of college credit—which can be applied toward a four-year degree—upon high school graduation.

“Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy and Trinidad Garza Early College High School have a history of success for all students no matter the demographics, academic background, or income status,” said Cheryl Nevels, executive director of Dallas ISD’s P-TECH & Early College Programs. “The goal of increasing college attendance for historically underrepresented scholars is being realized through the rigorous coursework, the culture of excellence, and the firm academic foundations these campuses are providing. Preparing scholars to achieve college and career success is second nature for these campuses. They truly believe that every child can achieve if provided the chance to do so each and every day. We are honored that two of our early colleges received national recognition, once again, for being among America’s most successful schools.”

The Gilliam Collegiate Academy partners with Dallas College Cedar Valley Campus to develop students from minority and low-income communities into scholars who excel at college work. The collegiate academy was able to earn National Blue Ribbon status in 2014 and again this year because of their focus on college access and success has remained unchanged since the campus opened in 2008, said Gayle Rodgers, the campus’ inaugural and current principal.

Housed inside the Dallas College Mountain View Campus, Trinidad “Trini” Garza Early College High School offers a supportive academic program that blends high school and college work. Garza ECHS first earned National Blue Ribbon status in 2015 when current principal, Macario Hernandez, was an assistant principal. Hernandez said the school’s biggest strength is a culture of acceptance, inclusion and unity, which hones excellence, motivation and creativity in both his students and staff.

Transforming Tuesdays 

Central Staff leaders, the HCM Central Staff Leadership Development team encourages you to transform your leadership by learning and practicing key skills during October and November with a series of engaging sessions.  All sessions are aligned to one of the four performance evaluation domains in the CMS and CSEI systems. Sign up in Cornerstone for any of our upcoming live facilitated online learning sessions that take place select Tuesday mornings at 10 a.m.

Mindset in the Workplace – Oct. 5 or 12

Providing Actionable Feedback – Oct.19 or 26

Multiple Generations at Work – Nov. 2 or 9

The 5 Languages of Workplace Appreciation – Nov. 16

While the content is tailored to leaders, anyone can participate. Registration for each session closes the day prior to the session, and those registered will receive a link to join the session. You can attend one or all the sessions.


SPED eliminates referral backlog

Thanks to a team collaborating and working together, Dallas ISD has successfully eliminated a backlog of about 2,000 unprocessed referrals for Special Education services.

Nearly 400 Dallas ISD employees have worked since late May to process the backlog.

As part of the district’s ongoing commitment to educate all students, last spring, Dallas ISD discovered the backlog of about 2,000 unprocessed evaluations and referrals for Special Education services. The program is one of the district’s fastest growing areas.

To process the backlog, the Dallas ISD Special Education team reached out by phone, email and in-person to connect with every family with an unprocessed evaluation or referral. Parents then decided whether to consent or decline a student evaluation for Special Education services. The district has up to 45 days to complete the evaluation after the parent consents but is working to complete evaluations much sooner.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, but it’s amazing how a team with a common vision, goal and deadline can race to the finish line together and pick each other up along the way,” said Gena Koster, assistant superintendent of Special Populations.  “We are committed to not only processing the backlog, but also to revising processes, inputs, and expectations that have led to this problem.”

Dallas ISD has partnered with Stetson & Associates, a nationally recognized firm that supports special education departments across the country, to help redefine the district’s processes and procedures.

Koster added that the district will diligently work to ensure such a backlog never happens again.

“We’ve turned the first corner, but we still have room to grow and improve,” Koster said. “But thanks to a team that is dedicated to helping meet every student’s needs, we are confident that we will ensure all of our students CAN!.”

To learn more about the backlog, visit

Embracing the Core 4 spirit

For a year and a half, they have been at the frontline of Dallas ISD’s efforts to keep staff and students safe from the spread of COVID-19, often working shorthanded, on weekends, and late into the night. Through it all, the district’s 948 custodians have exemplified the core tenets of the district’s culture—fast, flexible, focused and friendly. Celebrate National Custodian Day by saying thank you to the custodians at your campus or department.

While this year, the Oct. 2 celebration falls on a Saturday, any day is good to thank the men and women who have embraced the additional duties of constantly disinfecting high-touch areas, spraying at least once a week to kill the virus on surfaces, and stepping in any time additional cleaning is required. And when the city was paralyzed by an unprecedented freeze, some of them even slept at their campuses to prevent damage.

When the pandemic started, they eagerly learned new skills to disinfect their schools and buildings, distributed thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment, and set up clear plastic partitions to help combat the spread of COVID-19 and welcome students back to the classroom. This in addition to their regular duties of sweeping, mopping, cleaning, taking out the trash, troubleshooting repairs, keeping track of work orders and the general running of the buildings to which they are assigned.

“They are doing a lot of the heavy lifting behind the scenes,” said Aaron Stephens, assistant director of Custodial Services. “Everybody is doing what they need to do to meet the needs of keeping students and staff safe.”

A testament to their focus and flexibility is the fact that they have been instrumental in keeping schools running through tornadoes, arctic freezes and pandemics, said David Bates, assistant superintendent of Maintenance and Operations. Bates also boasts of a 4 percent vacancy rate and high morale among custodians despite the challenges presented by the current situation and credits the department’s 12 supervisors for making this happen by keeping the culture tenets in the forefront.

“Custodians have been through the ringer,” he said. “But when we had to get schools ready in the shortest summer ever for 100 percent face-to-face instruction, they did it. We had three school opening dates and not one issue.”



Teachers to be evaluated under full TEI this year

With the return of students to in-person classes this fall, Dallas ISD is poised for a return to using the Teacher Excellence Initiative’s full measures and metrics and the implementation of critical changes to address equity.

Disruptions to teaching and learning caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as early as March 2020 led to a shift to virtual learning and other adjustments that made it difficult to gather the achievement and academic growth data necessary to continue evaluations and ratings. The Texas Education Agency, for example, suspended accountability ratings for districts and schools.

Without sufficient and appropriate data for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years, Dallas ISD paused the use of the full TEI scorecard. This means that over 35% percent of teachers in the district will be evaluated under the full metrics and measures of TEI for the first time in 2021-2022. Changes approved in February 2020 as part of the system’s continuous improvement model were impossible to implement without this data—until now.

TEI relies on student achievement, student academic growth and student experiences to evaluate teachers and place them in effectiveness levels that determine their salary and advancement. The suspension of the full evaluation system has provided a unique opportunity for the district to do a refresh that ensures all teachers receive a fair, accurate, and rigorous evaluation.

The changes will address equity within the system by:

  • Utilizing an updated version of the Student Perception Survey and modifying the point distribution for this Student Experience component
  • Increasing points available for High Priority Campus service from 5 to 10
  • Modifying the targeted distribution process for evaluation ratings to provide two sets of cut points for comprehensive schools and admissions magnets.

While there were no changes in effectiveness levels for teachers in the past two years because of lack of sufficient and appropriate data, Dallas ISD is a fully approved participant in the state’s Teacher Incentive Allotment (TIA) program.  This month, 579 additional highly effective teachers will be submitted to the state for TIA designation. Of these teachers, 43% work in the district’s 80 high priority campuses and will become eligible for additional HPC stipends this year. 

The changes in the system and additional compensation through state funds to sustain TEI salaries and provide targeted stipends will help retain the best teachers throughout schools in Dallas ISD and ensure that highly effective teachers are attracted to campuses with the most need. In fact, teachers cannot reach the highest salary levels in TEI without having worked at high priority campuses, and the district projects the number of teachers at the Master Effectiveness Level to more than double in 2022-2023. 

Since TEI implementation in 2014-2015, increased access to proficient educators at high priority campuses has gone up by 47% through strategic staffing and partnering with Leading and Learning to provide targeted support that develops teachers who are “near-proficient” and “near-distinguished.”  Since  implementation, retention of teachers identified as Distinguished has exceeded 90% annually. The average teacher salary has increased more than $10,000 since 2014-2015, with the average returning teacher salary projected at more than $64,000 this year.   

TEI is one of several key initiatives that has driven a dramatic rise in student achievement since 2014-15. The TEI system is grounded in high expectations and growth-oriented feedback.  This has led to a 90% reduction in the number of failing schools—from 43 to 4—with the percentage of Dallas ISD students enrolled on a campus rated “failing” by the state declining from 19% to 1% in five years.




Teacher night at the Arboretum

Dallas ISD educators are invited to celebrate fall and the beginning of the school year with colleagues from all over DFW at the Dallas Arboretum’s annual Educator Open House. Learn about the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden and the eight acres of interactive, hands-on education programming offerings while networking and exploring one of the most beautiful spaces in Dallas. Educators who attend may even take home fabulous door prizes!

Family Day

Saturday, Oct. 2 from 9 a.m.–12 p.m.
Register and get up to three additional tickets to bring your family to explore the Children’s Adventure Garden. Then head over to the Main Garden to see our famous Pumpkin Village.

Educator Night

Wednesday, Oct. 6 from 4–7 p.m.
Network and collaborate with other educators while exploring the Children’s Adventure Garden. Enjoy food and beverages while learning more about what makes the Dallas Arboretum a great field trip for students. This is an educator-only event. Individual registrations only.



Teacher admission is free at the Dallas Arboretum. Visit the educators page to register for these special events.

Core 4 Tip: Timing is essential

Whether entering grades, responding to a parent concern, providing a service to a campus or delivering information crucial for a project, at Dallas ISD good customer service implies having a sense of urgency for all.

That doesn’t mean that you must constantly drop everything you are doing to immediately take care of requests. It does mean being responsive, accurate and accountable to each other while seeking timely solutions for all. Sometimes, however, situations will require immediate and urgent attention.

In most cases, managing expectations for customers and prioritizing between what is important and what is urgent leads to positive interactions with customers. Be clear in your communication about how long fulfilling a request will take or when you will be available to to work on it. If you tell someone you will have in 30 minutes, knowing that will be impossible, you are creating a false expectation that will lead to a negative customer service impression.

A better approach would be to look at your tasks and prioritize, then provide a more accurate timeline that takes into account your urgent and important tasks and where the new request fits. Customer service that meets the Fast culture tenet of the district involves:

  • Responding accurately to emails and phone calls within 24 hours of receiving them during normal business
  • Accessing data, policy, and all other relevant information sources to provide accurate and timely responses, regardless of requestor
  • Aligning time in relationship to task importance and consistently responding in a timely manner to requests from students, families, employees, and equity groups
  • Consistently adjusting responses to problems and unforeseen circumstances to ensure equitable outcomes