Biggest STEM Expo celebrates 10 years

Dallas ISD is home to the largest STEM Expo in Texas and this year, it’s celebrating its 10th anniversary. The STEM Expo is more than simply a science fair, it also allows students to investigate, design, and create real-world science, technology, engineering and math activities and projects and brings together numerous district departments and campuses, as well as industry and academic partners. 

Crystal Alexander has been the woman behind the scene since planning started for the first STEM Expo, which took place in the spring of 2014. Alexander, who has worked for the district for 23 years, graduated from what is now the Marvin E. Robinson School of Business and Management at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center. 

She has worked as the STEM manager, STEM EXPO coordinator, and currently leads the math department. As a math manager, she helps develop and oversee the district’s Tier 1 K-12 mathematics curriculum, instructional framework, and assessment plan, as well as professional development for teachers and leaders. 

This year, Dallas ISD anticipates 5,000 to attend the STEM Expo, which began with 500 participants the first year. 

“Our participants often get enthusiastic when they see new exhibitions or get in touch early to volunteer or participate,” Alexander said. “The most positive comment is witnessing families come back year after year with more members.”

This is not only a student-focused event; educators, parents, community members, and other stakeholders can engage in more than 100 exciting activities and network with local academic partners in the area. Also, the Expo provides a showcase for the incredible programs that Dallas ISD offers, including our STEM and STEAM-focused programs, Career Institutes, Collegiate Academies, and Career and Technical Education Pathways, she said. 

Alexander anticipates that this year’s participants will be captivated and interested in STEM-related experiments and activities. 

For the past 10 years, this has been an amazing opportunity and the greatest accomplishment of my career, being able to coordinate such an amazing event for the DFW community,” Alexander said. “It gives me great pleasure to continue the work and connect with campuses and leaders within the district, industry and academic partners, and DFW community members in providing an academic experience where our participants can create, build, and design while making connections to STEM-focused career fields and/or areas of study.” 

This year’s 2024 Expo will take place in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3. For additional information visit  2024 STEM EXPO 

Teacher shines at National Association of Black School Educators Conference

Making sure that gifted and talented students not only have access to the program, but also have access to cutting-edge technology is something that Nahsechay Dipo, a Gifted and Talented program teacher at Julian T. Saldivar Elementary School, feels passionate about. She says that GT students need to be in an environment that not only challenges them, but maximizes their talents. 

She plays several roles in her campus, including being a DTR Ambassador, Student Choice advisor, student activities coach for chess and Destination Imagination, GT teacher mentor for two campuses, and a TEI Exemplary teacher.

Dipo has taken her work and research in the GT field to a national level. She was selected to present at the National Association of Black School Educators (NABSE) in New Orleans, which took place on Nov. 29 through Dec. 3 this past year. Her workshop was on the topic of “Rethinking Gifted Education: Cutting-Edge Technology for Enhanced Learning Acceleration.  

Dipo said she created a portal on the provision of services for gifted students and the inclusion of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality in the development and delivery of a curriculum that is futuristic and prepares students for the workplace–ensuring that gifted programs are implemented with fidelity to properly prepare students for the workforce. 

In fact, she is currently writing her doctoral dissertation on the use of cutting-edge technologies in the classroom to help to show growth with students.

Now in her 12th year of teaching for the district, Dipo believes that the things that students can create are endless. One of the benefits of a gifted and talented program is that it  provides that platform for you to be diverse in the projects with the children, according to Dipo. 

“I like them to discover who they are,” she said. 

For example, in her first year teaching GT, students built functional wind turbines. 

“I pushed them for that because that’s an industry that later they will be able to get work in,” Dipo said. “These were fifth-grade students who were struggling with their core classes, but they were given an opportunity to really show who they were and build the turbines.” 

Her students have also built bridges, studied genetically modified organisms (GMO) before they were commonplace in the market, have designed and built websites with avatars, and other projects. She currently has approximately 103 students in her GT program.

Dipo says presenting at the NABSE conference has been a blessing, as she has received numerous responses and positive feedback from attendees, many of whom were superintendents and principals. They shared about how beneficial her workshop was. She also received an out-of-state request to come and observe her classroom. 

One of the things that Dipo addressed in her presentation was about how disproportionate the provision of services are for children of color, throughout the country. Dipo says she thinks that’s part of why the government has instituted the Representation Index (RI), which is  a survey that measures how children of color are being served. She says it’s a significant situation that needs to be addressed within the United States. 

While Dipo says there’s still work to be done as far as equity in serving students of color,  it’s a good thing the conversation is taking place nationwide.

Dipo has some words of advice for parents and educators to help push the needle forward. She says it’s important for parents to be made aware of their rights when their child has been identified–to understand that once their child is identified that they are entitled to services. With regard to schools, Dipo says that GT needs to be a priority and that everyone understands that these services are not optional, and shouldn’t be skipped or overlooked.

She says because her background is Special Education and GT, she has worked at both ends of the spectrum. 

“Sometimes we see the disability but not the other ability of the child,” Dipo said. “And I think it’s the same thing with GT that we see a child who maybe has a  behavior problem in the class. It’s not that the child is a behavioral problem, it’s that he’s not being challenged in a way that’s got him engaged with what’s going on in the classroom.”

“Because there is an interest in what they’re doing and the skills that are innate within them, it is allowed to be manifested in a project based environment,” Dipo said. To learn more about Dipo’s research, click here for a video or to visit her classroom website, click here.

Dallas ISD is hosting inaugural pre-K conference 

Hundreds of Dallas ISD pre-K teachers will be attending the district’s inaugural conference—“It’s a Pre-K World.” 

The day-long conference—”In the wonderful world of pre-K, anything is possible”—will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 24, at Thomas Jefferson High School. The conference is designed to develop, celebrate and appreciate the hard work and dedication of the district’s pre-K teachers. 

The conference will offer high quality professional development sessions and recognize and honor the invaluable contributions of pre-K teachers.

“The conference aims to inspire our pre-K teachers and remind them that we set the foundation for inquiry, fostering curiosity and a love of learning in all students,” said Jessica Adam, pre-K instructional strategy coordinator of Early Learning. “Not only do we improve student achievement outcomes, we inspire the next generation of leaders to become who they were destined to be.” 

Professional development sessions at the conference include:

  • Understanding Basic Brain Functions and Social Emotional Connection
  • Estrategias para pasar del control a la conexión en el aula de clases
  • Utilizing Fine Motor Activities to Build the “Write” Foundation
  • Reimagining the Classroom: Transforming Waste into Educational Wonder with Upcycling

In addition to the opportunity to connect with fellow pre-K teachers and gain new knowledge and tools, attendees will have an opportunity to earn five hours of professional development credit for attending the full day. Ali Oliver, an early childhood education and conscious discipline expert, will be the keynote speaker.

Spots are limited. More information is located in Curriculum Central on the pre-K conference page. To register, visit Cornerstone at

Master Teachers: A Series

Camille Muñoz, a P-TECH teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School, has been working in education since 2004, with the past 13 years in Dallas ISD. 

She is from Dallas, and spent the first six years of her teaching career working for the Catholic  Diocese of Dallas at two private schools. She said she quickly realized that she wanted to impact more students and decided to make the move to Dallas ISD and public education. 

Muñoz was recently recognized as one of Dallas ISD’s Master Teachers. Get to know more about her background and passion for student success. 

What drew you to education? 

I was drawn to education after coaching a girls’ eighth-grade basketball team when I was in high school. I did not realize until later the impact of that experience. It took a college roommate, who was an education major, to point out the ability I had to work with young people. It had never dawned on me that coaching was teaching! After college I decided to try substitute teaching in the College Station School District. I then wanted to see what I could do if I had the opportunity to have my own classroom. Finally, when I made it back to Dallas, I taught seventh-grade history and English, then quickly made the switch to a local private high school. I truly feel I have prepared to be in education my whole life without always realizing it. Education has always been a calling in my life, a vocation. 

How are you creating opportunities for students?

I create opportunities for students by helping them find their voice through writing and supporting their understanding of complex texts. Aiding students in the ability to express themselves allows them to create a future they may have not always known existed. The future will require our kids to understand various documents that apply to their everyday lives and comprehending them starts now. If they are hindered by their understanding, it allows others to control their lives, and this is something I help them realize while they are in my room—the importance of knowing for yourself!

What is your best teaching tip? 

My best teaching tip is to model what you expect from your students in every possible aspect, from writing, to talking, to working with others. Hearing a student quote you is a rewarding feeling. 

What would your students be surprised to find out about you?

My kids would be surprised to find out that I originally wanted to “grow up” to be a marine biologist and study whales! I also considered joining the U.S. Navy to become a lawyer in the JAG Corps!

What inspires you the most about being an educator?  

I am sincerely inspired by empowering students to know that education is the key that allows them to be able to determine and own their own future.

Learn more about retirement

Even if you are not planning to retire this year, it’s always a good idea to know what to expect and how to prepare so your retirement years can be all that you hoped for. Dallas ISD is here to help with a series of in-person and virtual meetings hosted by the Benefits Department.

The webinars will include updates, information on steps to take to prepare, resources, and tips on topics like medical insurance. 

You can register for the in-person seminars by clicking on your preferred date on the Districtwide Datebook. You will need to be signed in through the Portal to register. The in-person seminars will be held at 5 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

  • March 5, Thomas Jefferson High School
  • March 26, L.G. Pinkston High School

To register for the virtual webinars, click on the time and date you prefer. Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email with the link to join.

Mentors make a difference

Dallas ISD team members support students in the classroom and, often, outside the classroom as mentors. National Mentoring Month recognizes their efforts to help students succeed.

Many of them mentor students through the Racial Equity Office’s mentorship programs for African American and emergent bilingual students in an effort to eliminate disparities. The African American Student Mentor and Emergent Bilingual (EB) Mentor programs provide intentional support to a cohort of students on every campus in Dallas ISD. 

During the fall of 2023, over 270 mentors engaged approximately 2,700 students. 

Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in the lives of young people by providing them with positive interactions that help them make good choices, improve school attendance, and engage in learning while avoiding negative behaviors. Students who have a mentor are more likely to finish school and attend college, more likely to participate regularly in sports and extracurricular activities, and to participate in community activities. 

If you are a mentor or were mentored as a student, join REO’s social media and website to celebrate the programs’ accomplishments during January at  Facebook @DALLASISDREO, X (Formally Twitter) @DISDREO, and  Instagram @DISDREO.

Setting goals for healthier and fitter lives

Dallas ISD team members are starting 2024 with some health and fitness goals and plenty of tips to stick to them. Some joined gyms and others took up yoga, many have started drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables, and all are doing it to get healthier for themselves and their families. Here are some of the things team members said.

Edward Titche Elementary’s Conservation and Health Club is planning to exercise more in 2024. Its members weigh themselves every morning and breathe more easily. They are committed to drinking green smoothies and more water, and eating more fresh fruit and vegetables.

“I will be lowering my carb and sugar intake. My motivation is my daughter. She is an athlete and getting healthier every day. She inspires me.

“I am walking during the evenings. I think I am eating healthy, drinking more water and fewer sugary drinks.”

“I have set up an alarm on my phone when to start walking. I am diabetic, and I have an insulin pump on, so I have been watching and recording my carb intake. I remind myself of what I’m eating so that I can have this pump removed.”

“I go to the gym no less than four times a week. I work on various areas of my body and seeing the change and getting stronger is my motivation. I have lost over 50 pounds, so I am motivated to be a healthier 52-year-old. Yes, I have cut out pork, chicken and beef from my diet. I have increased my intake of fruits and vegetables. I have also decreased my intake of carbohydrates. Instead of meeting people for lunch or dinner, I meet with them at the track or at the gym.”

“I have been planning to get in shape for a while! When I realized my 10-year-old middle child has a little too much energy during the school days, I asked him if he’d like to start working out together before school to help get a little more focused. We have been working out each morning before we start getting ready for school, and, so far, it’s been a success! We plan to keep it up as long as we can. Even 15 minutes each morning is better than nothing. This is my second year doing Veganuary (eating vegan all January long). It is a huge challenge (I miss cheese), but it forces me to find different ways to make my vegetables taste so much better and to have them be the focus of each of my meals. I made a taco bowl for the whole family a couple of days ago and the kids didn’t even realize there was no meat! When I’m making my family healthy, it keeps me motivated to do the same. Improvement! Improvement keeps me motivated. When I look in the mirror and my belly isn’t sticking out as far, I know I’m doing the right thing. When my three kids want to get involved in ensuring our healthier lifestyle persists, their faces keep me motivated.”

“I am planning on actively implementing my strategy to support my daughter in her physical and emotional recovery following a major injury (ACL rupture). As she is an avid and successful athlete, our family has enrolled at a nearby gym. I am making it a priority to return home early every day, preparing to head to the gym. This new activity is seamlessly integrated into my routine, ensuring that I don’t overlook cooking a healthy dinner and taking the dogs for a walk. I mentioned earlier that I am focused on maintaining a healthy diet. Given the history of autoimmune diseases and high/low blood pressure in my family, I have chosen to exclusively consume whole foods while avoiding gluten and dairy. Occasionally, I might indulge in a tequeño, but that remains an exception rather than the norm. I used to share the perspective that New Year resolutions were not for me, but the alternative of being unhealthy is too daunting. One strategy I employ for any difficult or challenging endeavor is to tackle it alongside family or friends. ¡Salud!”

“I’m training for the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon, and I joined the Dallas Running Club’s Training Program. My son, a junior at Emmett J. Conrad High School, is training for the Marathon distance of the same race. My younger son, a freshman, is running the marathon relay with some friends. To stay on track with my healthy eating, I’m tracking my intake on LifeSum, as well as planning my meals ahead of time. When you’re training for a race, it’s easy to get extra hungry and derail your healthy eating attempts. My family is training with me.”

“I’ve had gym memberships and found that it was so hard to motivate myself to go, so I’ve decided to clear a space in my garage and in my home where I will do at least 15 to 30 minutes of some sort of exercise. I do at least 100 crunches every day. The number one goal is to be in a better mental space for 2024. Being an empty nester, I have more time to read, meditate and do me. Being a single mom and balancing work life with home life takes intentional planning. I find when I am in a better head space I can think clearer, be better and actually enjoy the things I do. With being an empty nester, I can cook less and have such an awesome role model in my eldest daughter, in learning how to meal prep. I am not restricted to cooking every day, with it just being me at home. As long as the four-legged babies are good, I think my eating habits will get better, and I can return to my ovo-pescatarian diet. I found I had more energy and felt better all around. Now, don’t ask me to give up my coffee, that is not happening…lol. I’ve created a vision board with the things I want to accomplish for this year, and this is my little accountability measure for myself. Since this is 2024, I have come up with 24 things, and of course, a healthier me is important. My goal is not to lose any kind of weight or reach some summer body, but to be healthier and avoid any costly medication that I would have to take to keep me alive.”

“I will do yoga five times a week and fast walk during my 15 minute break around the garden. I will look at my picture to remind myself how I feel when I look at myself and talk to people and watch videos to have a healthier lifestyle. I plan to change for the long run, so I am gradually changing what I eat. I first changed ground beef to ground turkey. I am eating more protein to keep me full. This is just for right now as I get in a routine of this, I will add two more. I also only eat one plate. I try cooking new healthy foods to share with my family. If they like it, too, then it stays on the menu.”

“After two surgeries on my hand within four months of each other, I finally got cleared by my physical therapist to go back to the gym. So, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday are my gym days. I stay on track by keeping a schedule and sticking to it. Bariatric surgery and a high protein diet have helped me lose over 100 pounds in the past two years. I am just 20 pounds from my goal weight. Being able to get back in the gym and making sure to stick to my protein goals will help me get those last few pounds off.”

To help team members with their health and fitness goals, Human Capital Management’s Benefits Department offers several discounts in this area through the Employee Discount Program. Visit to access the Employee Discount Program or click on this link to view the health and fitness discounts.



Core 4 knowledge trainings offered

Dallas ISD departments and schools wanting to expand their knowledge on the Core 4 culture tenets—focused, fast, flexible, and friendly—have the opportunity to request a Core 4 training. 

You may have team members who are new to the district, or perhaps your team needs a refresher on Core 4 to keep the momentum going. There are a variety of Core 4 trainings offered, which vary in length. They are:

  • a one-hour overview of Core 4
  • a deep-dive into Core 4 (2-hour workshop)
  • a series of four 30-minute Core 4 training sessions
  • a mini Core 4 overview  (30-minute session)

In preparation for the training, the facilitator will coordinate a meeting with the person requesting the training to ensure the training fits your department’s needs and expectations. Trainings are offered in-person, virtually, or a hybrid of both. We’re here for you to support your Core 4 goals. 

Core 4 trainings are taking place right now. Don’t forget to reserve yours. To request training for your department or campus, fill out this form. For more resources and more detailed information about Core 4, visit the main website at

Get reading with the Dallas MAVS challenge

Building a culture of reading includes reading at home–so why not earn prizes while doing so? In the Mavs Reading Challenge, students in grades kinder through 12th who read for 20 minutes a day for 40 days can win prizes. The contest runs through March 8. 

Students have until then to log 20 minutes a day of reading for at least 40 days to complete the challenge. Upon completion, students will be awarded a Whataburger completion certificate, a free meal coupon from participating Whataburger locations, and a Mavs swag bag. The top 20 students will receive two tickets to a Mavs game, and the student who reads the most minutes will receive a Mavs Mascot visit to their classroom. 

Team members needing help finding reading lists for their students, can contact their school librarian. You can also visit the Dallas ISD Library and Media Services website for e-books, reading lists, and other resources by visiting:

Participants can enter as an individual student or with their class or group. To register as an individual student, click here. To register as a class or group, click here

You can also visit for more information.

Central Core 4 Champions

Dallas ISD team members are guided by a culture rooted in four tenets—friendly, fast, focused, flexible. These culture tenets ensure that all team members work collaboratively with each other and with all other stakeholders for the success of students. While all team members embrace this culture on different levels, some are champions of the Core 4. This quarter, four of these champions in central administration will be recognized for their exemplary work in one of each of the four tenets. The champions were chosen by a committee from a list of candidates submitted by schools and departments. The recognition includes a gift bag with Core 4 memorabilia and use of the Core 4 Champion parking spot at the Linus D. Wright Dallas ISD Administration Building. Meet the winners.



Stephanie Espinoza

Accounts Payable

Stephanie is so kind and helpful. She provided information and resources from her department that I’ve never before received in the way she shared it. It was all in one place, well organized, clear and concise. The effort to be of service was evident in her approach and communication. Not only that, she also opted not to delay our request by rejecting an item missing information. Rather, she gave very clear notes on what was missing, instructions to access it and allowed me to send her the information directly. This allowed me to submit the missing item, which she had access to attach, without having to start all the way over on approvals. To receive this kind of service is not only appreciated, it’s made me strive to provide the exact same service to those I work with. It’s inspiring and refreshing.



Brandon Harper

Career and Technical Education

In the Dallas ISD, the embodiment of our commitment to responsiveness, accuracy, and accountability is personified in individuals such as Brandon Harper. Regardless of the urgency of requests, Brandon consistently delivers exceptional work. In his capacity as the coordinator for special projects, he supports 12 coordinators, two managers, and a director, undertaking responsibilities that include creating social media content, marketing collaterals, event promotions, and data reports, oftentimes at the last hour. Brandon executes these tasks with unwavering fidelity and urgency, delving deep into data, policies, and relevant information sources to ensure the precision of his work.

Brandon’s notable synchronization of time with task importance is evident in his prompt responses to requests from all stakeholders. His proactive problem-solving approach and adaptability to unforeseen circumstances highlight a commitment to fostering equitable outcomes.

In every interaction, Brandon not only demonstrates intentionality and urgency but also underscores his dedication to the values of responsiveness, accuracy, and accountability within the Dallas ISD. His proactive stance in seeking solutions and anticipating potential issues reflects a commitment to excellence that permeates every facet of his role.



Tabatha Sustaita-Robb

Library & Media Services

Tabatha is the library services coordinator. She is strategically-minded, intentional, and focused on supporting the district’s goals through the services the department offers. Tabatha has supported the updates in the district-library evaluation, planned and led effective professional development for librarians, and even supported students directly last year when she served as a substitute teacher at H. Grady Spruce High School. She is a team player who moved her way up from a librarian at Thomas Edison Middle School and Dallas Environmental Science Academy to library coordinator. She has supported the Alternative Certification Program by conducting training sessions for their evening cohort. She runs the department Twitter account (now known as X) with almost 4,000 followers and ensures the department always finds ways to collaborate with other groups for maximum impact. 



Lacey Kalina

Devan Trussell

Academic Services Curriculum Videographers 

The videographers demonstrate flexibility in their approach, acknowledging the challenges of attending all requested shoots due to the high volume of demands. However, they also provide alternatives such as creating final products from footage shared by the requester, revisiting existing footage to meet specific needs, and offering guidance on capturing footage or using video editing software to empower others in the process.