Celebrate your school lunch heroes

Dallas ISD is celebrating School Lunch Hero Day by asking you to show your appreciation to a school nutrition employee with a simple thank you for what they do. 

“Between preparing healthy meals for Dallas ISD students, adhering to strict nutrition standards, navigating student food allergies and offering service with a smile, Dallas ISD food service professionals are truly heroes to our school community and deserve to be recognized,” said Michael Rosenberger, executive director of Food and Child Nutrition Services. “On Friday, May 6, 2022, we will celebrate the Eighth Annual School Lunch Hero Day! We want to invite you to help us celebrate these true heroes.”   

How can you show your favorite school nutrition heroes that you value them?

Vote for your favorite school cafeteria staff from May 2 to May 6 at www.dallasisd.org/lunchhero so they can be in the running for a prize. Students can also create thank-you notes or drawings and drop them off at the cafeteria. 

ESSER Update: PPE keeps students and staff safe

Learning acceleration and recovery is impossible when students cannot make it to class, which is why Dallas ISD committed so much time and effort to providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at every campus and office. As soon as the COVID-19 pandemic began, the district started purchasing materials required to keep students and staff safe and healthy, including air purifiers, plexiglass, hand sanitizer, wipes and backpack sprayers. 

The cost of the district’s pandemic response in those first years was substantial, but Assistant Superintendent of Maintenance and Facility Services David Bates said Dallas ISD was in a “great position financially” at the time and was able to support the initial costs. Even better, $23 million out of $26 million have since been reimbursed thanks to funds from FEMA. Funding from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund is helping cover some of the costs. 

“Between FEMA and ESSER, we really didn’t pay anything for PPE, which has been phenomenal,” Bates said. “We’re in a position now where we’re ready. And thanks to ESSER, moving forward our district will not have to pay out of pocket, look to FEMA for reimbursement   or tap into our fund balance. We have ESSER dollars at our disposal if we need them.”

Over the next two years, Dallas ISD has allocated up to $6 million a year in ESSER funds to cover PPE and cleaning costs, but Bates does not anticipate using the entire budget unless a new variant appears or some other pandemic setback occurs. For now, Bates’ team is working to restock campus supplies so PPE can be accessed as needed.

Ultimately, the goal is to not use ESSER funds for PPE and cleaning, because that will mean these safety measures are no longer needed, Bates said. Until then, the district is taking steps to be prepared no matter what the future may hold. 

“There’s so much to be done for our kids holistically,” Bates said. “ESSER can touch every part of the kid’s life. It is not just the teacher who stands in front of them, but also the air that’s coming through the vent. We have to keep kids in school, and ESSER is going to allow us to do that. And these kids need it more than ever.” 

To learn more about Dallas ISD’s federally-funded pandemic recovery efforts, visit https://www.dallasisd.org/esser.

You have more time to apply for $20,000

The Credit Union of Texas has extended its deadline to apply for the $20,000 William H. Cotton Scholarship. The new deadline to apply is June 1.

The Cotton Scholarship was established by Credit Union of Texas to honor the legacy of Cotton’s 46 years of dedication and service to Dallas ISD and CUTX. Cotton was a long-time principal and administrator who was also the first African-American president of the Dallas School Administrators Association. He retired in 2000 as an associate superintendent.

The scholarship is awarded to one district educator or administrator seeking to pursue continuing post-baccalaureate education, including certifications, to further their career in the field of education for the benefit of the Dallas ISD community and its students.

The completed scholarship application should be emailed or postmarked no later than June 1, 2022.

Who is eligible?

  1. Applicant must be a CUTX member with a checking account or a loan product prior to submitting an application. Eligibility requirements must be met annually for renewal.
  2. Checking account, and all other accounts at CUTX, must be in good standing. Eligibility requirements must be met annually for renewal.
  3. Must be a full-time or part-time Dallas ISD faculty or administrator. Eligibility requirements must be met annually for renewal.
  4. Must be intended to further your career in education and serve the Dallas ISD community during the course of the scholarship term. Eligibility requirements must be met annually for renewal.
  5. Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident.
  6. All required attachments must be submitted with your application (see below).
  7. CUTX employees and family members of CUTX employees are NOT eligible for this scholarship.

What you should attach.

  1. The completed application
  2. A professional resume.
  3. Proof of current Dallas ISD employment (contract or pay stub).
  4. Two professional/scholastic letters of recommendation. Each letter should be dated and include the name, address, and phone number of the referrer. The letter must state what capacity the referrer knows the applicant.
  5. A typed essay. All applications must include a typed essay between 500-600 words about the top three challenges Dallas ISD faces in the next five years. You should also describe your goals and vision to overcome each of these challenges.

The rules

Incomplete applications or those missing any required attachments will not be considered.

Applications postmarked after the deadline will not be considered.

Scholarship funds will be paid directly to the educational institution. Continued disbursement of scholarship funds requires a grade of C or better in a graded course and passing in a pass/fail course.

The scholarship value will be awarded in increments of $5,000 per semester over a period of four semesters.

Email the completed scholarship and attachments to cottonscholarship@cutx.org. Email is preferred, but you can mail to William H. Cotton Scholarship Committee, Credit Union of Texas, P.O. Box 7000, Allen, Texas 75013-1305



Central staff opportunities

Are you bilingual and seeking to shift your focus to supporting and engaging with families? Are you interested in helping students explore career opportunities? Central administration is hiring! Read on to learn about impactful opportunities at the district.

To explore other openings, visit dallasisd.org/careers

If you are a hiring manager and interested in highlighting your open vacancies and/or department, contact Central Recruitment at careers@dallasisd.org.


Leadership changes

Tamika Alford-Stephens joins Dallas ISD as the new chief financial officer, reporting to Deputy Superintendent Dwayne Thompson. Prior to coming to Dallas, Alford-Stephens had been chief business and operations officer for Aldine Independent School District, where she oversaw district resources to drive improvements in processes and practices that promoted organizational efficiency and optimized student-learning experiences and saved the district $5 million through operational efficiencies. She began her 21-year career in education as a third-grade teacher at Aldine ISD. At Aldine ISD, she oversaw federal programs, grant accounting, and finances before being named chief financial officer in 2017 followed by becoming chief business and operations officer. She has a bachelor’s degree from Dillard University, a master’s degree in education administration from Prairie View A&M University, a master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas and a doctorate in educational leadership from Sam Houston State University.


Deputy Chief of IT Laurie Vondersaar has been appointed as acting chief of Technology to replace Jack Kelanic, who has been hired as the chief technology officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Vondersaar has been with the district since June. Prior to coming to Dallas, she was assistant superintendent of Strategic Initiative and Communication for Lovejoy ISD. In her 21 years of experience, she has also held the position of chief technology officer at various districts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and a master’s degree in computer education and cognitive systems from the University of North Texas and a doctorate in educational administration from Concordia University.



Spread the word: Maintenance and Facility Services is a great place to work

Playgrounds Specialist Ralph Watts has been making memorable moments in the district as part of the Maintenance and Facility Services team for 21 years. 

“I love working with the kids,” he said. “I install playground equipment, and when the kids come out to see, their faces just light up.” 

Lead custodian Yesenia Horn has only been with the district for about six months, but she is passionate about “creating a clean environment for our students and staff.” She is equally dedicated to expanding her horizons each and every day, something she loves about maintenance services culture. 

“You can never say, ‘I’ve learned it all.’ Every day, you’re learning something different,” she said. “You also get to see and learn about different backgrounds and people, which makes it better when you come together as a team.” 

Maintenance and Facility Services is hosting an in-person spring hiring event on May 5, and Watts and Horn encourage others to spread the word about the opportunities they have experienced that the district offers in the custodial, grounds and maintenance teams. 

The Spring Hiring Event will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, at Emmett J. Conrad High School. Participants will have the opportunity to meet and interview with maintenance services hiring managers for a variety of positions in custodial services, grounds and athletic fields and mechanical, electrical and plumbing. Human Capital Management will also be on hand to help applicants with online applications. Open positions include: 

For a full list of current vacancies, visit www.dallasisd.org/careers

If you know of someone who would be interested in these and other positions, share the Eventbrite link so they can pre-register or get them to participate in the hiring event. 

For those who want to work and make a difference for Dallas students, Dallas ISD offers competitive pay as well as opportunities for training and advancement.  

“If applicants come in with a positive attitude, the sky’s the limit for them,” said Ronnie Elms, a multi-skills specialist who has been with Dallas ISD for more than five years. “They can move to supervisor, to manager. They can open up any door they want.” 

If you have any questions, email opsmaintenancehc@dallasisd.org



Teachers go the extra mile for their students


Shari Harrington
School of Health Professions at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center
Teaching in Dallas ISD: 27 years

 Grace Barber
School of Health Professions at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center
Teaching in Dallas ISD: Nine years

When it comes to transforming student lives, Shari Harrington and Grace Barber, teachers at the School of Health Professions at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center, are the embodiment of Core 4.

When last September one of their colleagues had to go on extended medical leave, they both stepped in to teach her classes—medical microbiology, medical lab and medical terminology—so those students could get the same experiences in the important foundational courses as other students.

“We decided we needed to make sure these kids have something going for them so they can keep up,” Harrington said.

In these classes, students learn terms and skills that are essential for success in their junior and senior years, and substitutes often don’t have the skill set to teach them, said Harrington, who took over the practical and lab classes. Both Barber and Harrington have experience working in the medical field in addition to teaching.

“It was not fair to them that their teacher was out, plus the past two years have been so hard for them already,” said Barber, who is a graduate of Bryan Adams High School. “Some of these students hadn’t been in school since eighth grade!” 

Harrington agreed that not being able to learn by practicing would have been an added burden the students didn’t need on top of readjusting to the expectations of being in school.

While coming back from a year of mostly virtual instruction actually helped them cover the extra classes because both had recorded lessons the students in combination with teaching during some of their planning periods.

“Every day, I would go down and make sure I posted a lecture in Google classroom,” Barber said. “I got models, charts and diagrams from the storage, and once a month, when we were reviewing systems before an exam, I set up activities to have them come up here to my classroom.”

Thanks to their perseverance and the substitutes, the students had learned what they needed by the time their teacher returned earlier this spring. Both teachers are confident the students are well prepared for next year’s challenges.

“It’s been a very trying year for teachers and students, but we needed to make sure our kids were learning what they needed to be successful,” Harrington said.

May 2-6 is National Teacher Appreciation Week. Do you know #Core4Teacher who has gone above and beyond this year? Share their story on social media using #Core4Teacher and tagging @TeamDallasISD or send us their story through a Core 4 Champion Shoutout.


Central learning opportunities

Training for central staff leaders is back in person and open to any central employee. The trainings are offered by Human Capital Management Leadership Development and target specific areas in the four domains in the performance rubric.

Registration for each session closes the day before, and once participants are registered, they will receive information about the location of the session, which will take place in person in the administration building. All sessions take place from 9:30-11 a.m. Click on the session title below to register on Cornerstone for your preferred date.

Mindset in the Workplace 

  • Monday, April 25 at 9400 NCX, 3rd Floor, Room 300

Keys to Influencing Others 

  • Wednesday, May 4 at 9400 NCX, 2nd Floor, Room 205
  • Wednesday, May 11 at 9400 NCX, 2nd Floor, Room 205

The 5 Languages of Workplace Appreciation 

  • Tuesday, May 17 at 9400 NCX, 3rd Floor, Room 300
  • Tuesday, May 24 at 9400 NCX, 2nd Floor, Room 207




Innovative partnership transforms Dallas ISD’s definition of leadership 

Thanks to a five-year, $8-million strategic partnership with the Holdsworth Center, Dallas ISD has begun the process of transforming the district’s culture of leadership.

This innovative program at The Holdsworth Center—a nonprofit organization founded by H-E-B Chairman Charles Butt—is just getting started with monthly sessions at the center in Lake Austin. While there, the district’s leadership team are working on developing skills to empower others and contemplate the definition of leadership, the vision of an effective classroom and the portrait of a successful graduate.

District leadership will receive focused training for two years, and a cohort of campus leaders will join them on year two. A second campus cohort will join in year three, followed by a third and fourth cohort in year four. Ultimately, 50 schools will participate in The Holdsworth Center’s two-year training program, examining specific school-based problems of practice to cultivate a culture of success. 

The Holdsworth Center has helped top Dallas ISD administrators hone in on three core outcomes: building personal leadership to initiate change, creating a sustainable pool of ready leaders who reflect student diversity and forging an engaged culture that enables all community members to see themselves as leaders. The goal, according to Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova, who is participating in the leadership training, is to produce “excellent and equitable student outcomes.”

“It’s truly about developing sustainable systems to make sure that we have the ability to identify and develop future leaders, that we are deeply engaging with staff members,” Cordova said. “We know that research shows when team members are more engaged, they produce higher results.”

The leadership team is in the process of finalizing Dallas ISD’s leadership definition, the vision of a classroom and the portrait of a graduate. The Holdsworth Center has conducted several surveys and focus groups to ensure that those key definitions are based on open, honest feedback and diverse community perspectives from campus leaders and teachers across the district. Once the definitions are finalized, those three documents will become the “foundational place for all professional development” and provide the district with a framework to talk about leadership and student support. 

Next year, 12 schools will enter the first cohort. In the first half of the two-year training, The Holdsworth Center will focus on principals plus a partner from the school; in the second half, the training will include the principal as well as a small campus team. These groups will work on their personal development and collectively design new solutions to specific problems of practice to hit their student achievement goals.

Cordova believes The Holdsworth Center’s partnership will provide deeper insights into how the district can identify strong candidates and create a pipeline of future leaders to mitigate the staffing vacancies that may appear each year. The training program is based on the ideas that a strong leadership team is essential to the entire community’s success and that personal and professional leadership are “two sides of the same coin.” As Dallas ISD dives deeper into the five-year partnership, leadership teams across the district will emerge with higher levels of honesty, an eagerness to collaborate and a renewed commitment to goals. 

“I’ve had the good fortune to participate in many different national learning cohorts, and I will tell you that the work that we’ve engaged in since August of this school year—this is by far some of the best and most intensive leadership development that I’ve experienced,” Cordova said. 

The Holdsworth Center is working with several public school districts in Texas, including Cedar Hill and Garland, which entered the five-year partnership at the same time as Dallas ISD. By 2028, the nonprofit is projected to reach 4,500 district leaders with an overarching goal to help teachers thrive and students excel. Learn more about their statewide leadership programs by visiting https://holdsworthcenter.org/


May is Mental Health Month at Dallas ISD: Learn about free resources

The mental health and well-being of Dallas ISD employees is our top priority, and the Employee Assistance Program—free to all employees—is available to provide assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a variety of channels. The Benefits Department is offering a series of webinars for employees that will highlight the free resources offered through the EAP and answer questions.

The EAP provides much more than mental health resources. It also offers counseling services to district employees and their families for numerous situations, including but not limited to stress, anxiety, trauma, grief, family counseling, adoption assistance, will preparation, addiction counseling, and other confidential matters. The program also includes other perks like a discount program.

During May—Dallas ISD’s Mental Health Month—the Benefits Department will offer resources to assist employees with their mental and emotional well-being and weekly mental health and wellness live webinars that will feature a panel of mental health experts such as LifeWorks EAP representatives, HCM Benefits, and Mental Health Services to discuss the benefits of counseling services and how to leverage resources offered through the EAP.  The webinar will also provide employees with techniques and strategies they can use to decrease stress and anxiety on a daily basis.

Register for any of the weekly webinars by clicking on the date and time and they are offered.

For additional questions, employees may contact the Human Capital Management Benefits Department at benefits@dallasisd.org or call 972-925-4300.