Hispanic Heritage Month: A bicultural Mexican heritage

IT support specialist Fabiola Galeazzi was born and raised in Mexico within a unique community that has given her a different perspective about being Hispanic in the United States. Her parents are descendants of a unique group of immigrants who migrated to Chipilo, México, from a small town in Italy, known as Segusino, in 1882. This makes Chipilo a one-of-a-kind community where Italian culture, food, and dialect have been kept seemingly intact to this day. The dialect, Veneto, is spoken by approximately four generations and 4,000 descendants of the original Italian immigrants.

What parts of your heritage are most important to you?

My Italian heritage has provided me with a unique story and a warm culture that has impacted the way I raised my children. My Mexican heritage has provided me with delicious recipes and a relentless work ethic to be the best we can be. I am very proud and honored to pass both languages and cultures on to my family’s future generations.

How does your background and heritage help make Dallas ISD a more inclusive district for staff, students and the community?

The nature of having a heritage based on two special ethnicities makes me appreciate the blending and nurturing of more than just one culture and one way of life. When I look around Dallas, I see a beautiful blend of unique people that all have different stories to share and most likely more than just one heritage that precedes them. With my background, I choose to see everyone for who they prove themselves to be at their core; and definitely, more than just what I see on the outside. In addition to my unique blended heritage, I am a proud mom of a son who is part of the LGBTQ+ community. Every day of my life, I make an effort to learn who people are and not just judge based on appearances and/or personal preferences. I encourage us all to make an effort to not only embrace diversity, but also nurture belonging and inclusivity for all through small acts of kindness, when and where possible!

How do you personally contribute to the success of students and the district, keeping in mind the skills and knowledge your background gives you?

When I get home, I am excited to share with my family the ways I was able to help DISD colleagues that day or how one or more helped me, either personally or professionally. I begin every day with a positive and professional attitude to brighten people’s day. The work I do for the DISD is important and I value my position for the work I do, but what I most value are the connections I make to the dedicated educators and professionals that I get the chance to help on a daily basis. The most wonderful experiences I have are when I get positive feedback and encouraging messages from those I directly help. These messages reinforce that I am not only ensuring our district’s technology is working effectively, but also impacting and facilitating the work of many others across various departments who utilize technology every hour of the day, and especially as our world becomes increasingly dependent on technology.

If you are bilingual, how do you relate to people in either language and is language one of the things that helps you connect to your heritage?

I see my Spanish-speaking skills as a superpower and one that I am extremely proud to yield. Speaking a minority language in our widely diverse America is absolutely one of the most effective and impactful ways to create connections with others around us. I absolutely feel like it also connects me to my heritage and provides more opportunities to create a sense of comfort and confidence with those that share similar backgrounds. Our bilingual powers will forever be valued, not only for professional purposes, but also for the feeling of mutual encouragement it creates in any set of circumstances!

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, what is the most important thing people should know about our culture?

I believe the most important lesson, that continues to be reinforced in my life, is that just because we are Hispanic/LatinX does not mean we are all the same. Even our Hispanic heritages can be blended and unique to that person’s background. All Hispanics are not all just Mexican, or Venezuelan, or Honduran. We are all unique and have special backgrounds that can bring us together to welcome and share even more diversity within our own minority group!


Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.

The theme invites us to celebrate Hispanic heritage and to reflect on how great our tomorrow can be if we hold onto our resilience and hope. It encourages us to reflect on all of the contributions Hispanics have made in the past, and will continue to make in the future. It is also a reminder that we are stronger together.

Art award for Dallas ISD

Dallas ISD is among the 40 winners of the 2021 District of Distinction Award announced recently by the Texas Art Education Association. The districts received the honor for providing a well-rounded education that advocates and integrates a visual arts curriculum to inspire creativity and build social emotional learning that connect learners to their community and beyond.

TAEA is the leading advocate for the visual arts in the state. The organization has previously honored outstanding TAEA members for work in their classrooms and districts. This is the third year that TAEA is honoring districts that meet rigorous criteria as evidenced from data.

“This is a tremendous recognition of the talented student and teacher artists throughout Dallas ISD,” said Tim Linley, executive director of Academic Enrichment.  “Designation as a TAEA District of Distinction places Dallas ISD’s Visual Arts program in the top four percent of school districts in the state. Dallas ISD is the largest school district by far to have earned this recognition. Here in Dallas, we’ve always known that our student and teacher artists are simply the best. Now the rest of the state knows it too!”


For the 2021 award, over 1,100 districts were eligible to apply. Each district submitted documentation they met from the 14-point rubric over the 2020-2021 school year. Only 40 districts met the high standard and will receive the outstanding honor indicating they are in the top 4 percent in art education of districts in the state.

“Dallas ISD has set a high standard for visual arts advocacy, integrated visual arts curriculum, encouraged creativity, community participation and student growth,” said Stacia Gower, Chair of the Administration and Supervision Division of TAEA. “The past school year, educators faced a great many challenges associated with constantly changing guidelines and instruction procedures as well as participation in contest and visual art events. It is a true testament to our visual art educators’ skill, dedication, and flexibility that the quality of their programs continued strong and comprehensive.”

The winning districts will be honored at the TAEA Administration & Supervision Division meeting and during the TAEA Fall Conference General Assembly on Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.


Top educators are Dallas ISD Darlings

Before they became two of the top educators in Dallas ISD who inspire students to reach their full potential, Elisa and Peter Morrissey were just two undergrads falling in love in San Marcos at Texas State University.

A chance meeting in the school’s cafeteria led to some dates, a wedding, and two kids who now attend Dallas ISD schools. The Morrisseys are also possibly the first Dallas ISD married couple where each spouse has been named a top educator in the district: Elisa was named the 2018 Dallas ISD Teacher of the Year, and Peter was a finalist for 2021 Dallas ISD Teacher of the Year, both at Alex Sanger Preparatory.

“Working with students and serving in education is something we are both passionate about,” said Elisa, who now works as an assistant principal at George W. Truett Elementary School. “Dallas ISD really is home for us.”

Elisa graduated Texas State with a degree in Sports Medicine. She worked community health fairs and went into schools to help connect parents without insurance with healthcare. Through these health outreach efforts, Elisa felt called to become a teacher through the district’s alternative certification program.  Later, she received a Masters degree in Bilingual Education at Southern Methodist University.

“I realized I could make a greater impact by working in a school and helping students break the cycle of poverty,” Elisa said. “I see myself in these students and come from a similar background as many of them. This is more than a job: it’s a passion.”

After he graduated college, Peter went to work in the mortgage industry. A highlight of his job was volunteering at J.W. Ray Learning Center, where he used his design skills to illustrate stories written by students at the school.

Peter soon found himself spending almost every lunch break at J.W. Ray. He felt a passion he missed in his day job. Peter quit his mortgage job, became a substitute for a year, and then a full time Dallas ISD teacher

“Being able to connect with students and make a difference, there really is no other feeling like that,” Peter said.

Peter and Elisa help each other in their jobs and are able to offer advice and support. But when their kids sit down at the table for dinner, they turn off their educator hat and become mom and dad again.

And while they are appreciative of the Teacher of the Year recognition, they both say that nothing beats getting to help students achieve beyond what they thought possible.

“Being educators and parents is who we are,” Elisa said. “And I’m so glad we ended up meeting each other back in the Texas State cafeteria so many years ago. It’s been an amazing journey.”

Enroll in free credit monitoring

Dallas ISD recently shared information about a data security incident involving sensitive electronic records that may have affected district employees. The district is offering free credit monitoring services through Kroll, a leading identity protection technology company.

Dallas ISD takes the security of sensitive employee and student data seriously and has invested significant resources to protect it. Despite these efforts, the district is one of a growing number of public and private organizations that have experienced a cyberattack. Dallas ISD has addressed the vulnerability that led to this event and is investing additional resources to enhance cybersecurity protections.

Kroll’s services include 12 months of credit monitoring and fully managed ID theft recovery services for those with compromised data. The process to enroll is quick and easy. To sign up for monitoring services, please register at dallasisd.kroll.com. Once you access the website, click “Adult Activate Now” at the top of the page to begin setup. If you do not have access to a computer or would prefer to receive monitoring alerts by mail, you may choose to activate monitoring services by calling the Kroll hotline at (855) 651-2605.

If you have any problems signing up, call Kroll to get help with the process.


SchoolMessenger Tip: Setting up classroom lists

Following new guidance on notification of positive COVID-19 cases from the Texas Education Agency, schools are having to notify the entire classroom of a test-confirmed positive case. The SchoolMessenger callout system is the most efficient means of providing this communication to parents/guardians by creating and saving classroom lists.

Because the data that is shared with SchoolMessenger does not include classroom assignments, SchoolMessenger coordinators at each campus can create their own lists and saved them in the system to make communicating with parents and guardians easier. To set up a list:

  1. Access the classroom roster in PowerSchool and download a list of student IDs in the classroom.
  2. Make sure the student IDs are in the first column of the Excel document that you have downloaded (or copy them into the first column of an Excel worksheet).
  3. Save the document as a .csv or comma separated values list.
  4. Within SchoolMessenger, go to the Broadcasts tab. It will open on Lists. If it does not, click on Lists.
  5. Click Create New List.
  6. Choose Upload List from the Additional List Tools menu and follow the steps.
    1. Make sure that you name the List for the classroom for which you have the student information.
    2. Make sure that you choose ID# Lookup before you upload the list
  7. Follow the instructions and save the list.
  8. You will have to follow this process for each classroom.

Once you have the lists, you can choose the one you want to use from the Saved Recipients List menu when setting up a New Broadcast. The same process can be used in creating lists for extra-curricular and after-school programs.

For additional information about creating lists, download this guide. If you have additional questions, email schoolmessenger@dallasisd.org.



Cafeteria food changes

Due to the ongoing and severe disruptions in the food and non-food supply chains, Dallas ISD is implementing a program to reduce the use of flatware and related items in schools.

Effective Monday, Sept. 13:

  • Breakfasts served on Tuesdays and Thursdays at all school levels–except the “hot” breakfast at select high schools–will all be finger foods. No flatware will be offered to students, except for students with certain conditions and/or whose IEP/504 requires foods that require flatware to be consumed. As an example, schools will not serve cereal (which requires a spoon) on Tuesdays or Thursdays.
  • Lunches served on Tuesdays will all be finger foods, so not flatware will be available. For example, chicken tenders and baked fries do not require flatware to be eaten.
  • At all other times, students will be limited to a single set of flatware per meal.

If required due to supply chain issues, breakfasts may be served in “to go” bags in place of trays or plates. Lunches may be served on non-traditional plates or trays, as the supply situation dictates.

Dallas ISD is tirelessly working to explore every possible option to find and purchase paper goods and associated items. School districts across the nations are facing similar issues due to the supply chain issues.

Vaccinated students can get $50

With the safety and well-being of staff and students in mind, Dallas ISD is offering a one-time $50 vaccination incentive to students ages 12 and older who have received the required doses of the vaccine against COVID-19. The incentive will be distributed in the form of a card that can be used as cash. To get the card, parents/guardians or students who are at least 18 should fill out the proof of vaccination form and submit a copy of the student’s COVID vaccination card, IMMTrac2 print out or written confirmation from a medical provider by Nov. 15.

The announcement of the student vaccination incentive comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Dallas County Health officials have raised the COVID-19 alert to level red and reported that hospitalizations are rising at the fastest rate since the pandemic began, among all age groups, including children.

Participation in the student vaccination incentive is entirely voluntary and based on the personal preferences of students and their families. The information provided will help the district determine how many students who are eligible have been fully vaccinated and facilitate the contact tracing and quarantine processes, which are different depending on vaccination status.

For more information about the student vaccination incentive, visit https://www.dallasisd.org/studentvaxincentive.

Looking for aspiring principals

Dallas ISD and the LEAD department are announcing the launch of the Future Principals Institute, a one-year professional development program designed to prepare high-performing leaders to be principal-ready in the next two years. FPI’s curriculum is grounded in the essential work of a school leader: leading instruction, leading people, and leading systems.

Join us for an information session on Monday, Sept. 20, to ask any questions, or visit our program page for more information and resources. If you want to see and hear how leaders across Dallas ISD are reacting to this incredible opportunity, watch a special video about the institute: https://youtu.be/DTutNbwJYB8.

The ideal candidate for this program is someone who:

  • Is committed to personal and professional growth
  • Is eager to collaborate and share feedback with peers
  • Has a passion for the people and future of our district
  • Is interested in enhancing their leadership capabilities necessary for leadership
  • Is ready and committed to pursue a principal position in the next two years

Applications opened Sept. 7 and will close at 11:59 p.m. on Sept.  26. The application may be accessed by visiting the program page at bit.ly/futureprincipalsinstitute.

To inquire about this program, please contact LEAD at LEAD@dallasisd.org or (972) 794-2518.

Photo: Principal Reymundo Cervantes-Guajardo, Henry B. Gonzalez Personalized Learning Academy

Dual credit teachers

The Post-Secondary Partnerships and Programs Department maintains and manages a list of high school teachers who are credentialed by Dallas College to teach dual credit courses. A high school dual credit credentialed teacher is someone who has completed the Dallas College application/credentialing process and has received official approval and notification from Dallas College.

If you are a high school teacher who is credentialed by Dallas College to teach dual credit courses, please fill out this short survey letting us know your credentialing status. The deadline to submit the survey is end of day Oct. 1.

Ifyou have questions or need assistance, please contact Elizabeth Woodall, Quality Assurance Coordinator at (972) 925-5476.

Innovation pays off for teachers

The Junior League of Dallas and presenting sponsor Texas Instruments awarded 41 Dallas ISD teachers grants totaling more than $86,000 through the annual Grants for Innovative Teaching program. In its history, this JLD Signature Project has had an impact on nearly 7,000 students and awarded more than $2 million in grants to Dallas ISD educators.

The grants program is designed to encourage excellence in education by funding special projects that address 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, Dallas ISD grant recipients received up to $2,500 each to fund their projects during a hybrid ceremony held Sept. 1 at Junior League of Dallas headquarters and streamed online.

Some of the projects selected include: Voices of Vickery, Building a Better Future, Conversations from the Library Podcast and Building Global Competencies. The projects awarded GFIT grants will provide students with diverse experiences and highlight the innovation of the Dallas ISD educators.

Download the list to see the projects and teachers who received this year’s grants.