Introducing the 2022-2023 campus teachers of the year

Schools across Dallas ISD are honoring teaching excellence by introducing their extraordinary campus teachers of the year. 

These teachers represent a wide variety of diversity and years of experience in the district, and campuses are coming together to celebrate their passion and dedication to accelerating student success and achievement.

These teachers have 11.6793 years of experience on average and a collective total of 2,768 years of experience. Additionally, eight of the teachers have over 30 years of experience, while two of them have over 40 years.

Each honoree will have the opportunity to apply to be considered for the district teacher of the year award. Based on the teachers’ applications, Dallas ISD’s selection committee will name nine finalists from three categories by campus type and school level. 

One winner will be selected to represent the elementary, secondary and choice/magnet campuses, and the finalists and winners will be honored at a special event next spring.

See the campus teachers of the year by downloading the list: teachers of the year 22-23.pdf.

Update W-2 delivery preferences

As the end of the year approaches, so does the issuance of W-2s. Dallas ISD recommends that employees set up their W-2 form to be retrieved online.

This is faster and more secure than receiving a paper form, especially considering recent delays in mail delivery service. The guidelines to update your delivery for the form can be found on the Payroll Services website under Resources.

If you are already set up for online delivery, there is no need to do anything. You will be notified via email as soon as the forms are ready for access.

If you need help in updating your Oracle preferences, please send an email to and make sure you include the request in the subject box. Also include your contact information so you can receive the assistance you need.

Get free legal advice

As a free resource to the community, volunteer attorneys will answer legal questions at no cost from 4 and 8 p.m. on Wednesdays in December, via a LegalLine E-Clinic, sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association.

To participate, you must complete the online form found here for the upcoming LegalLine. This month’s LegalLine E-Clinics are Dec. 7 and Dec. 14, between 4 and 8 p.m. The way it works is a volunteer attorney will call the participant to provide up to 15 minutes of free legal advice.  Space is limited and registration will close at 12 p.m. on the Tuesday prior. Due to the holidays, there will be no LegalLine services on Dec. 21 or 28.

It is important to know 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. It is not a guarantee that the attorney will speak any language other than English. Individuals seeking consultation may also receive referrals to local, legal, or social service agencies. 

For legal assistance at any time, contact the DBA’s Lawyer Referral Service at

Dealey teacher brings passion for service to the forefront

Service has always been one of math teacher Jill Emery’s core beliefs, one that she works hard to instill in her students at George B. Dealey Montessori Academy. So when she earned a 2022 “Service Above Self” Dallas Rotary Club Award, she said it was the “most meaningful award” she has ever received. 

“As a person, I’ve always felt like it is important to help others,” she said. “Just knowing that this award is not just honoring what I have done, but is honoring who I am—that is really important to me. In everything that I do, I am always striving to give more and to help others be better and do good.” 

For Emery, service has looked like stepping up amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in several ways. She joined a team of teachers to develop a free video series of math lessons for public radio station KERA and Dallas ISD that were aired over the summer in 2021 and 2022 to bridge the learning gap for students.

Those videos evolved into a library that she now uses in her flipped classroom, in which her students can learn at their own pace by accessing the majority of her lessons from home. The system empowers her advanced students to participate in bonus lessons and feel challenged, while anyone who is struggling can revisit the information and get the support they need. 

“In my classroom, everything is about mastery; it’s not just about checking boxes,” Emery said. “I was just working with a student on a topic that he had struggled with all of last year, and by the end, he was saying, ‘Wow, is it really this easy?’ He came in feeling defeated and left with a big smile on his face. I had never seen him so excited to be in a math class, as math was always his scary class.” 

Emery also took on additional responsibilities to help Dealey’s leadership team during a period of turnover, assisting with testing coordination, family communication, student discipline, master scheduling, teacher collaboration and academic support. 

One of the programs she developed was designed to foster the “love of giving and serving” in students in higher grade levels by having them help students in lower grade levels, and the students have benefited from giving each other that encouragement. 

“I am always looking for opportunities for my students to give beyond themselves,” Emery said. “I feel like this particular award helped me demonstrate to them that service really is important, and that people don’t do service to be recognized, but people do recognize leaders who serve.” 

Emery is currently working through a one-year master’s program in educational leadership at SMU with a goal of becoming a better leader. She said she hopes her students will continue to see her passion and dedication for helping others and develop that same core foundation of service in their own lives. 

Build a relaxation practice

Stress can leave us feeling tense and irritable and interfere with our work and personal lives, which is why finding ways to relax is so important. Not only does relaxation help us calm down and recover from difficult days, but it also lowers blood pressure, increases our ability to concentrate, improves sleep, decreases muscle tension and more. 

The good news is that we can learn how to intentionally practice relaxation through deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, exercise and progressive muscle relaxation.

Deep breathing can ease anxiety and soothe tension. Practice directing your breath by inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. You can learn specific practices like abdominal breathing, count your breaths and make your exhale a few seconds longer than your inhale. 

Meditation takes many different forms and offers people ways to find inner peace. Try focusing on sounds or images, or simply take a few minutes in a quiet place to close your eyes and breathe while imagining a place or object that comforts you. 

Mindfulness helps people slow down and remain in the present moment instead of worrying about the future or past anxieties. While you can take a class or read a book about mindfulness, you can also practice mindfulness at home or at work by enjoying each bite of a meal or slowing down and paying attention to the sights and sounds around you. 

Exercise is beneficial for many reasons, and it does not have to be intense to be effective. Something as simple as a walk around your neighborhood can relieve tension. Once you find an activity you enjoy, try to build up to 30 minutes of activity most or all days of the week. 

Progressive muscle relaxation is a great way to get your entire body to relax in just a few minutes. Find somewhere quiet and comfortable to lie down and stretch out. Then inhale as you concentrate on contracting your muscle groups for three to five seconds, and exhale as you release the tension. Work your way up from your toes to your forehead or vice versa. 

Known as the father of mindfulness, poet and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says: “We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and recenter ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.”

If you need additional support, help is available through Dallas ISD’s Employee Assistance Program by LifeWorks. The confidential, secure platform has countless resources available online for free. From 24/7 on-call counselors to practical tips on subjects like managing grief, processing anger and maintaining work-life balance, employees can find what they need, when they need it. 

Reach out to LifeWorks at (972) 925-4000, or visit and click on Benefits Resources to access online EAP information. 

Source: LifeWorks

Bridging the culture gap

Dallas ISD Arabic language interpreter and tutor Michael Woodruff wears many hats. Although his job includes tutoring and interpreting for students from Arabic speaking countries, Woodruff often goes above and beyond his duties for students. In the five years he’s worked for the district, he’s often the initial point of contact for Arabic-speaking families and students, who almost become like extended family members. 

“When things happen outside school and after the bell has rung for the day, and we all go home, I am still the first person that comes to mind for a lot of these families,” said Woodruff. 

Woodruff often finds himself bridging the communication gap between families and school staff and agencies outside of the district. 

He is always willing to take a call or show up for his students outside of his work hours, because he understands the challenges that come from not knowing the language or culture. 

Through his work as a tutor, Woodruff helps students and their families get acclimated to the district. 

“The aim is to get the students up to a proficient level in English that enables them to receive a world class education,” he said. “This is done with a few visits a week that usually last about 45 minutes per session. Kids are like sponges. They usually get here after resettling in the Dallas area and are ready and eager to absorb everything, from the new schools to the new language and culture they experience.”

One of the advantages of being a tutor is having the opportunity to work with the students individually or in small groups, which allows Woodruff  to get to know them not only on an academic basis, but as individuals. 

“As an interpreter, I help school staff understand where a student is coming from,” he said. “You get to know the family quite well. You see the struggles they face, and the uncertainty of parents who wonder if they made the right decisions for their children.” 

Through his work, Woodruff is able to witness the impact he has not only on the lives of his students, but also their families. 

“You see the parents over the course of a few meetings begin to realize that everyone  that is involved with their children’s education here in Dallas ISD wants nothing but for them to succeed and to offer the support they need to do so,” he said. 

Woodruff regularly encourages his students to join extracurricular activities, such as soccer games, music recitals or competing in the Special Olympics. But he doesn’t stop at making suggestions. No matter the activity, you can catch Woodruff cheering the students on.  

“I myself have been the person that needed that help at one time, in a new country with a new language and culture to learn,”he said. “It feels amazing being able to be that person now for children and parents.”

100-year-old Rosemont School is a Cornerstone of Kessler community

Rosemont Upper, the building hosting Rosemont’s older student body, has become a cornerstone of the Kessler neighborhood throughout its 100-year history. 

This kindergarten through eighth-grade neighborhood school has housed one of the most active parent committees across Dallas ISD and is known to attract area professionals into serving their community as teachers. 

Rosemont, now a dual language campus, was established in 1922. The school now consists of two buildings: the Chris V. Semos Primary Campus, which opened in 2005 and houses students in prekindergarten through third grade, and the original building, which hosts students in fourth through eighth grades. 

Rosemont’s dual language program helps children learn and be able to communicate in a second language within an enrichment model. In 2018, Rosemont was the first school to offer a foreign language in elementary school. The program offers Spanish to all general education students through 135 minutes per week of conversational Spanish connected to the curriculum.

“There’s a sense of pride and family orientation, and what makes Rosemont special,” Principal Marco Barker said. “People flock to this area because of the diversity, the community, the warmth and the unity that is exemplified in its residents. So, when you come to Rosemount, you find that sense of community that transcends color and socio-economic status. When you walk into the doors of Rosemont, you get to see the diversity of the city.”

Before her three children reached grade-school age, Kessler resident Amy Tawil knew they were going to be Rosemont Bisons. She’s been part of the school’s site-based decision-making committee for the last 23 years, served as Rosemont’s PTA President for six years, and joined the campus faculty as a kindergarten teacher 13 years ago.

“Any time the school needs the parents and the community, they’re right there to pitch in,” she said. “We have generations of families here. A lot of our parents went to school here and have their kids here, so there is just a lot of investment. We just have a lot of people, still in this neighborhood and this boundary that care about the school.”

An effort to preserve

As part of the 2015 Bond, Rosemont Upper is undergoing a renovation project that consists of updating the existing 53,400 square-foot upper building and 44,200 square feet of additions.

Preserving the original building was a priority for the Rosemont community, which fought to stop initial recommendations to tear down the building. 

The first renovation plan included tearing the building down. But before the decision was finalized, teachers and parents met with Preservation Dallas, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of local historic buildings, neighborhoods and places.

“They convinced a group of community members, parents and teachers that our building was in better shape than some of the newer buildings and that it didn’t need to be torn down,” Tawil said. “It took people from our community attending board meetings and emailing trustees, and a lot of conversations with the district and the project manager. In the end, Dallas ISD agreed to save the building.”

The project scope includes a building addition for art, choir, orchestra and dance, a 400-seat auditorium, a Black Box Theater, a gymnasium and tornado shelter, and a new main entrance. As for the existing space, there will be classroom renovations, mechanical system upgrades, an expansion of the cafeteria and dining area, and ceilings, lighting and window replacements among others. For a full list of Rosemont’s 2015 bond updates and renovations, visit

A pillar of the community

Tawil is not the only parent-turned-teacher in Rosemont’s recent history. Kellie Lawson, who teaches art to every fourth- and fifth-grade student at Rosemont Lower, and every middle school student at Rosemont Upper who chooses to learn visual arts, has served Rosemont for over 25 years.

“I have students whose parents were in my art club, way back when I first started,” Lawson said in an interview last year. “But, by far, the most impactful moment was when a third-grade teacher who started with us last year came to visit me in my classroom when he was interviewing. I have some pictures of him when he was acting goofy, wearing a box on his head, and having fun in my art club. His students think it’s so funny that, like them, he was a kid at Rosemont!” 

In 1997, she was working part-time out of her home and was also volunteering as PTA president at Rosemont, where her two children went to school.

The Rosemont art instructor who was teaching at the time had to move to another state, and the principal asked Lawson if she could sub. She decided to volunteer, and after falling in love with the job, she earned her teaching certificate and has been teaching at Rosemont ever since.

“I live in the neighborhood,” Lawson said. “I live five minutes away from Rosemont. It’s my community. I’ve been in North Oak Cliff since 1985, and now I’m seeing this new wave of kids of my former students. It’s great!”

Trabajar desde una “oficina sobre ruedas”

La chofer de un autobús escolar, Edith Rodarte, ha estado transformando las vidas de los estudiantes a lo largo de sus rutas durante los últimos 40 años. Le encanta trabajar desde su “oficina sobre ruedas”, especialmente cuando puede ver crecer a los estudiantes.

“Tenía una estudiante de preparatoria que me hablaba sobre la universidad, qué iba a hacer y dónde había sido aceptada”, dijo Rodarte. “Fue algo increíble ser parte de eso. Estos niños se encariñan con los choferes y los hacen parte de sus viajes por la vida”.

Trabajar para los servicios de transporte estudiantil de Dallas ISD no es tarea fácil. Rodarte suele estar en su autobús a las 5 a.m. para prepararse para el día. El resto de su turno se pasa organizando rutas, llevando a los estudiantes de manera segura del punto A al punto B, y coordinando con el lote por cualquier necesidad que pudiera surgir. A veces no termina su ruta hasta las 6 o 7 p.m., pero para Rodarte, cada minuto vale la pena.

“Es un ambiente familiar muy grande”, dijo. “Nos preocupamos unos por otros y nos cuidamos unos a otros, y eso es con todos los choferes, monitores y personal”.

A Rodarte le apasiona ayudar a Dallas ISD a educar a todos los estudiantes para el éxito. No solo es una orgullosa graduada de Dallas ISD, sino que también creció soñando con trabajar para un distrito escolar.

Cuando se dio cuenta de que la enseñanza no era para ella, en 1982, dirigió su atención a conducir autobuses para las escuelas del condado de Dallas, donde trabajó hasta que Dallas ISD se hizo cargo del transporte estudiantil en 2017.

Proporcionar transporte oportuno, seguro y eficiente a los estudiantes de todo el distrito requiere enfoque y flexibilidad, que el departamento de servicios de transporte estudiantil tiene en abundancia. Rodarte ha navegado por autobuses averiados, mal clima y demás, todo mientras se siente segura de que el distrito la apoyará pase lo que pase.

“Dallas ISD me ha cuidado de todas las maneras que he necesitado que me cuiden, incluso a través de enfermedades y cirugías”, dijo Rodarte. “Me encanta. Me encanta”.

Si conoce a alguien que esté interesado en unirse a la familia de servicios de transporte estudiantil y transformar las vidas de los estudiantes sobre la marcha, el departamento tiene varios puestos disponibles, incluidos CDL Driver, CDL Trainee y MPV Driver. Visite para obtener más información.

Servicio excepcional ‘Core 4’ con una sonrisa

Carolyn Jones, especialista del centro de llamadas, entiende lo que significa poner en práctica la iniciativa ‘Core 4’ en todo lo que hace.

Contesta entre 80 y 220 llamadas al día, dependiendo de la temporada, y ayuda a resolver problemas con los sueldos, preguntas de los padres, emergencias y mucho más. Aunque algunas de estas llamadas pueden resolverse rápidamente, todas requieren paciencia y la técnica favorita de Jones.

“Cuando te dedicas al servicio al cliente, tienes que ser comprensivo”, dijo. “Aprendí hace mucho tiempo que cuando sonríes por teléfono, la persona que llama se tranquiliza. Aunque no puedan verte, tu voz dicta cómo será la interacción. Así que, ya sea por teléfono o en persona en el centro de bienvenida, ser amable hace una gran diferencia”.

Su recuerdo favorito del centro de llamadas viene de lo que podría haberse convertido en un desastre. Una madre llamó sin saber dónde estaba su hija, y estaba “desesperada”, dijo Jones. Después de conseguir toda la información posible, Jones mantuvo la calma y empezó a hacer llamadas, se quedó después del horario de trabajo para seguir los pasos de la estudiante hasta que ella y la madre se dieron cuenta de que la estudiante se había bajado del autobús y había ido a casa de una amiga en lugar de a la suya. La madre estaba tan agradecida por el apoyo de Jones que envió un correo electrónico al jefe de Jones para expresarle su gratitud.

“Es parte de mi trabajo”, dijo Jones. ” Hay que ir más allá cuando sientes que es necesario, especialmente cuando alguien está molesto. Porque, ¿qué querría yo? Si yo estuviera pasando por eso, ¿qué querría que alguien hiciera por mí? Tómate el tiempo de decir: ‘Déjame ver qué puedo hacer’. Y eso es lo que hice por esa madre”.

Esa no fue la primera vez que Jones ha sido reconocida por su servicio al cliente ejemplar y ciertamente no será la última. Llegó por primera vez a Dallas ISD como empleada temporal en el 2013 y trabajó en una variedad de departamentos hasta llegar a su puesto actual, y dijo que todos le encantaban.

Jones no se esperaba trabajar en el centro de llamadas. En realidad, dice que “siempre pensó que no estaba hecha para el trabajo en el servicio al cliente”, pero le apasiona ayudar a la gente desde que era una niña, así que cuando surgió la oportunidad hace unos años, se la jugó. Hoy en día, dice, “me alegra haberlo hecho, ya que, si no lo hubiera hecho, no sabría que estoy hecha para esto”.

Para ser enfocado, rápido, flexible y amigable se requiere compromiso y pasión, y Jones tiene las dos cualidades necesarias. Dice que cree en la importancia de su trabajo y en la misión del Dallas ISD de educar a todos los estudiantes para que tengan éxito.

“Toda comunicación es vida para una persona”, dijo Jones. ” Siempre crecí queriendo ayudar a la gente, y aquí estoy. No necesito ningún reconocimiento. Sólo quiero hacer mi trabajo todos los días. Todo comentario positivo me hace ser humilde, y simplemente soy yo”.

Creando momentos memorables todos los días

El salón de ciencias y matemáticas de quinto grado del maestro César Reyes en Rufus C. Burleson Elementary School está lleno de vida, literalmente. El maestro siempre busca nuevas maneras de hacer que sus estudiantes se entusiasmen con el aprendizaje, pero como hay menos excursiones disponibles debido al COVID-19, acudió al Centro de Materiales Vivos de Dallas ISD y llenó su salón con mariposas, renacuajos, grillos y más. El año pasado durante las pruebas de matemáticas de 11 huevos de gallina que tenia en incubasion se quebraron los cascarones y los pollitos crearon un coro de cantos que animaron a todos.

Formar conexiones con los estudiantes ha sido la base de todo lo que Reyes ha hecho desde que comenzó como maestro en Dallas ISD hace 14 años. Su inspiración por ser educador se debe a que vio a sus tíos y tías transformar vidas en varios salones de clase en Panamá, donde comenzó a dar clases de nivel universitario antes de mudarse a los Estados Unidos. Cuando llegó a Dallas, la Ignacio Zaragoza Elementary School tenía un puesto vacante para maestro de matemáticas y ciencias de quinto grado.

“Lo recuerdo claramente”, dijo Reyes. “Ese fue mi primer trabajo en una primaria, y fue muy difícil ese primer año, pero el director vio algo en mí. Era bueno haciéndolo”.

En efecto, su desempeño fue tan bueno que, en el 2015, ayudó a solicitar un subsidio para iniciar el aprendizaje personalizado en Dallas ISD. Después de que Zaragoza ganara el subsidio, Reyes se encargó de pilotear el programa con los estudiantes por dos años y se convirtió en un entrenador educativo para ayudar a los nuevos maestros a incorporar el aprendizaje personalizado en sus salones de clase.

En el transcurso de los años, ha seguido siendo un mentor y un modelo a seguir tanto para los maestros nuevos como para los estudiantes de educación, ya sea en Zaragoza o en Burleson, cuando decidió hacer la transición a una escuela ACE hace dos años.

“El Sr. Reyes es un maestro increíble con un corazón de oro”, dijo Lonnie Russell, el director de Burleson. “Sus estudiantes obtienen buenos resultados en todas las pruebas de matemáticas y ciencias, y visitar su clase es siempre una experiencia encantadora y divertida. Es amigo de todos y ha sido mentor de algunos de nuestros maestros. Burleson tiene la suerte de contar con un educador tan increíble, quien además es muy buena persona”.

Reyes patrocinó un club de fútbol semanal en Burleson el año pasado. Tiene tres hijos, y después de ver lo mucho que disfrutaban del deporte y escuchar el interés de sus estudiantes, se empeñó en poner en marcha el club. El primer viernes se presentaron 30 estudiantes, y se las arreglaron con unos cuantos balones de fútbol y conos para las porterías. Reyes acudió a Russell en busca de orientación para conseguir más material, y trabajaron juntos con el Departamento de Salud y Educación Física de Dallas ISD para conseguir todo lo que necesitaban.

Como era de esperar, a los estudiantes les encantó.

“Los estudiantes venían de todos los grados, desde segundo grado hasta quinto grado”, dijo Reyes. “Los lunes teníamos reuniones en la mañana, y todas las conversaciones eran sobre fútbol. Las niñas y los niños hablaban de fútbol.

Se divirtieron mucho y nos ayudó a establecer relaciones con los estudiantes. Pudieron ver que la escuela no es sólo para aprender matemáticas o ciencias, sino también para divertirse”.

Los últimos años han sido especialmente difíciles debido a la pandemia de COVID-19, pero Reyes nunca ha dejado de creer en el potencial de sus estudiantes. Espera crear momentos memorables y transformar aún más la vida de los estudiantes este año.