Staff from ACE campuses prepare for new school year with intense training

Last week, staff members from Dallas ISD’s ACE schools convened to prepare for the coming school year.

ACE stands for Accelerating Campus Excellence and is a strategic staffing initiative that hires proven educators at perpetually struggling schools to boost student achievement and college readiness.

The core plan focuses on instructional excellence from teachers and high expectations for students. Other aspects of the plan include additional resources for students and designated time for staff development. ACE focuses on leadership through the use of teams comprising campus staff. A laser-focus on goals focuses on specific academic benchmarks, but the plan also aims for a much-improved culture at each school.

The initiative began in 2015 with six elementary schools and one middle school, where the ACE plan helped students make incredible academic gains. The second group of ACE schools were designated in 2017, and added five additional elementary schools and one middle school.

For the 2018-2019 school year, four ACE schools remain from 2017 (C.F. Carr, J.M. Ervin, Eward Titche and Thomas J. Rusk) and one remains from 2015 (Elisha M. Pease). Newly added to the ACE roster are César Chávez, Paul L. Dunbar, L.L. Hotchkiss, Martin Luther King Jr., Maple Lawn and J.J. Rhoads.

During the recent kickoff event, Damien Stovall, principal at Titche Elementary School, shared his philosophy for boosting student success.

That success begins in forming a positive relationship between teachers and students, which leads to confident children.

“Before you try to teach them anything, they don’t care what you know, until you know that you care,” Stovall said. “Once you boost their self-confidence, the sky’s the limit, I don’t care where they started or where they’re at.”

He recited a pledge students sign at the beginning of the school year. It says, in part, “I am somebody. I was somebody before I came here, and I’ll be a better somebody when I leave. … I deserve the education that I get here. I have things to do, places to go and people to impress. I will go to college and prove people wrong. I will follow my dreams and persevere.”

Learn more about Dallas ISD’s ACE plan here.

Required compliance training for campus staff available online

Campus-based employees are reminded that required compliance training on a variety of health and safety topics is available online this school year. The sessions range from bloodborne pathogens, bullying and child abuse to suicide prevention, sexual harassment and type II diabetes. All campus employees are required to complete the compliance training by Sept. 30, 2018. A list of the online sessions and instructions to register are available here. Completed courses will appear on employees’ transcripts. Staff should direct questions to Jennell Johnson-Polk at (972) 925-3379. Similar training planned for central staff will be communicated at a later date.

Districtwide program aims to boost consistency in teaching curriculum

About 1,500 Dallas ISD school employees convened on July 25 at Wilmer-Hutchins High School to officially kick off a districtwide program to foster best classroom practices by emphasizing teamwork.

Campus Instructional Leadership Teams (CILT) are made up of five people, including the principal and teachers, and will help guide a more effective and consistent implementation of curriculum across the district. The CILT program had previously existed, but had been shelved the past few years.

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and members of his Executive Leadership Team touted the benefits of working together to help ensure the best results for students. After hearing from district officials, CILT members broke into smaller sessions based on grade level and subject to focus on specifics.

The kickoff will be followed by five additional CILT group meetings before each six-week grading period begins to pinpoint what aspects of the curriculum will be the focus.

Staff emerge as rising leaders

Dallas ISD’s Leadership Development Program took nearly 30 district staff and turned them into the next leaders to watch.

For 10 months, participants took part in leadership lessons that were held at UT Dallas Jindal School of Management and at 9400 NCX. Lessons included:

  • DiSC Profile, Self-Awareness, and Teamwork
  • Dallas ISD Governance, Structure, and Operations
  • Culture
  • Talent
  • Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace and Boundary Spanning Leadership
  • Impact
  • Stakeholders

The participants were required to increase their understanding of high-level issues that affect Dallas ISD, including: managerial, legal, educational, and community issues. They also had to become knowledgeable in governance processes, serve on key leadership committees, and complete coursework.

Not only did participants build leadership capacity, but they were required to work cross-functionally as they increased their leadership skills.

Educators invited to free online workshop promoting success of immigrant students

A free interactive, online workshop is open to Dallas ISD educators and administrators to promote the success of immigrant and refugee students.

Teachers, administrators, librarians and volunteers can go here to register for free. The workshop—Immigrant Student Success: Strategies and Tools for K-12 and Adult Educators—will be held July 10–11 from 11 a.m.–2 p.m.

The workshop will explore how to:

  • Integrate immigration into the curriculum;
  • Build relationships with immigrant students, families and communities in perilous times;
  • Use storytelling to educate all students on immigration;
  • Empower both teachers and students;
  • Create more welcoming classrooms, and more.

District’s new Multicultural Studies and History Advisory Council will ensure variety of cultures are celebrated

Dallas ISD Racial Equity Office established the Multicultural Studies and History Advisory Council.

This group will serve as an advocacy council for creating multicultural studies, experiences and opportunities for student and adult voices to be heard, engaged and expressed in education. This council will support the Racial Equity Office in its efforts to engage various sources from literature to oral history in an effort  to educate and celebrate a variety of cultures.

“This council marks a powerful moment in the history of Dallas ISD. We are excited to engage people from many different ethnic groups and cultures to empower all children,” said Leslie Williams, Deputy Chief of Racial Equity Office

Participates in this advisory council were from different educational entities from across the city of Dallas which included non-profits, local universities, Dallas County Community Colleges, arts community, film makers, artist,  faith-based organizations and more. Dallas ISD Racial Equity Office is creating a number of specific collective impact models that will serve as collaborative opportunities to engage Dallas ISD from a variety of different entry points.

“History comes from a variety of societal and cultural viewpoints. Therefore, it is critical to understand the historical context that has shaped the lived experiences of people of color,” said Jamila Thomas, Director of Racial Equity Office. “Equally important, is the opportunity to celebrate a variety of cultures that represent the beauty of diversity. If we can exemplify how students should value their individuality while celebrating those who may look, sound and experience life different, we can create a beautiful mosaic of educational spaces.”

Dallas ISD student dreams fly high in Philadelphia

Each student at Anson Jones Elementary School has a dream, and now people across the world know it, too.

The campus participated for the second time in two years in the Dreamline Project that saw the school’s 620 students each write down their dreams on individual flags. Whether the student dreamed of being a doctor, President of the United States, or running their own business, art teacher Candice Lindsay said the students greatly benefited from thinking about their future goals.

Four staff members from Jones Elementary traveled to Philadelphia on May 5 to show off the students’ creations, as well as dream flags from Arcadia Park Elementary School.

“Some of these students had never really thought about the future before this project,” Lindsay said. “The fact that these students sat down and thought about their dreams and were then able to visualize them, that could change the world.”

“Seeing students express their aspirations through poetry and art was very powerful and reinforced the impact we as educators have on our students,” added Anson Jones Elementary Principal Alberto Herrera. “We can easily extinguish or ignite these dreams by our actions and words. It is also a testament to the teamwork exhibited by Anson Jones staff as they kindled our student’s imaginations to voice their ambitions in a relevant, heartfelt manner.”

Jeff Harlan, founder of the Dreamline Project, called Anson Jones Elementary a model to all 120,000 students across 35 countries and 42 states who have declared and shared their dream on a flag.

“The presence of Anson Jones flags and leaders in Philadelphia made our event so much more powerful and potent. Everyone was touched by it,” Harlan said. “We look forward to more collaboration with Anson Jones and to supporting a surge of dreaming and doing across Dallas in the months ahead.”

Any Dallas ISD campus that wants to participate in the Dreamline Project can contact Mrs. Candice Lindsay at or call Anson Jones Elementary School at 972-794-4700.

Special-education teacher at Hernandez is first to win award

Mia Witt didn’t know why she got summoned to the principal’s office earlier this month, but some of her students thought it was funny.

Witt, a special education inclusion teacher at Onesimo Hernandez Elementary School, is the first recipient of a quarterly $250 recognition provided by Carter Financial Management. The effort will spotlight and thank dedicated teachers by providing funds for them to spend in their classrooms. The award is coordinated by the district’s Partnership Services and Special Education departments.

Parents, community and staff were encouraged to identify nominees that demonstrate qualities of a distinguished special education teacher, setting high standards and demonstrating commitment for improving outcomes for students who receive special education services in Dallas ISD.

Witt graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School and studied Elementary Education at UNT.

“Ms. Witt goes above and beyond what is expected of a teacher,” said teacher Danielle Wegman. “She seeks out challenging students and goes the extra mile to engage them in their learning and help them conquer challenges outside of school as well. She sought out the challenge of joining an ACE school because of her love for transforming the lives of disadvantaged students. During her time at Hernandez ACE she has worked well outside the prescribed hours of tutoring to even ride the bus with her students to prevent fights.”

Teacher Dora Griffin said Witt helps her students from the minute they walk into Hernandez until the minute they leave to go home.

“She knows every student on campus by name, even the gen ed students,” Griffin said. “She helps motivates and encourage every student to be and do his or her best.”

Dallas ISD needs bus drivers for 2018-2019 school year

Following the dissolution of Dallas County Schools, Dallas ISD Student Transportation Services is taking on the responsibility for student transportation for the 2018-2019 school year.

Employees who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL), or who are willing to obtain the necessary credentials to drive a bus, are asked to complete a brief survey to express their interest in serving as a driver. The assignment requires a commercial driver’s license and participation in mandatory training in addition to normal job responsibilities. Compensation will be provided for the additional work. Please respond to the survey by close of business Monday, May 21.

Student Transportation Employee Survey

Based on survey responses, Student Transportation Services will follow up with employees who are willing to serve as drivers to provide information about credentials, hours of service, compensation and other related details.

Dallas ISD announces senior staff changes amid HCM chief’s retirement

Dallas ISD Chief of Human Capital Management Karry Chapman has announced her retirement effective June 30. Chapman began serving Dallas ISD as interim chief of HCM in February 2015 and was subsequently selected to permanently fill the position, bringing her extensive years of leadership in human resources to the district.

Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said, “Karry has been a great supporter and an important member of the leadership team.” We’re grateful for her dedication and service to the students and staff of this district and wish her well on her retirement.”

Houston ISD Chief of Staff Cynthia Wilson, who formerly served as Dallas ISD chief of staff, has agreed to return to Dallas ISD as chief of Human Capital Management.

“We are excited to welcome Dr. Wilson back and look forward to having her with us in this capacity,” Hinojosa said. “She is a dynamic leader, and I know she will do well.”

Wilson served as Dallas ISD chief of staff from 2015 to 2017 before joining Houston ISD. She will rejoin the district in her new leadership post July 1.

In addition, John Vega, executive director of the L.G. Pinkston feeder pattern, has been promoted to deputy chief of HCM effective June 1.

Effective today, Angie Gaylord has been appointed deputy chief of the Office of Transformation and Innovation. Gaylord, who was hired as executive director of Professional Development in 2016, has served as acting deputy chief of OTI since January.

“Angie has done an outstanding job in this position, and I’m confident she will continue to effectively lead the Office of Transformation and Innovation,” said Hinojosa.

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