Staff pets bring joy

Whether exotic or more traditional, pets bring joy and brightness into the lives of Dallas ISD staff, who are sharing their love for dogs, cats and even spiders.


Boss is the biggest jerk I know. He is gassy, a picky eater, and persnickety about the people he hangs around with. On occasion, he will get a crazed look in his eye and attempt to bite well-meaning people for simply petting him. Maybe he sees something in them that I don’t. Regardless, he is deliberately funny and likes to do things to make me laugh. He likes to help me clean house by picking up his toys. He likes to lay on my cold feet to help keep them warm. Though he doesn’t like to cuddle, he has been by my side through thick and thin and that is one of the many reasons I adore him. I love Boss more than most people, and he is truly my best friend.
Toni D. Brannon-Ward, Lincoln HS


Monkey and Jon Snow are both rescues who were found feral and sick as kittens. As a result of his rough start in life Monkey, now 2 years old, is blind, but he doesn’t let that slow him down! Jon Snow is now a healthy 4-year-old cat and my best friend. I still volunteer with rescue organizations and occasionally take care of foster kittens, so if anyone is looking for a fur-ever friend reach out and let me know!
Catherine Cates, Bilingual/ESL Department

Freak is my 8-month-old kitten. He was found alone in a construction site as a tiny baby with no mother around. One of the workers brought him home, and when they reached out for rescue, I offered to bottle feed him. He is now the sweetest, most loving and playful boy you’ll ever meet. We recently found out he has an enlarged heart that may affect him down the road, but for now, we are working with our vet and making sure he has the best life ever. He is a very special kitty who loves everyone he meets. I feel so lucky to be his mom!
Madison Arriaga, E.D. Walker MS 


Trix was adopted from an animal shelter by the Falcon Family. She is our only pet and rules the house. She loves to cuddle and always wants to be with her human “pets.” We believe she is part dog because she stands on her hind legs and claps her front paws when she really wants something.
Lisa Falcon, Urban Park ES

My daughter got Jojo, the cat, to be her companion in College Station. He is such a talkative cat.

My son got Chanel last June in the middle of the pandemic. We got her when she was only 5 weeks old. Now, she’s turning 9 months old and she turns out to be a big dog that brings so much joy to everyone who sees her. We are first timers in having pets, and we are all delighted having them as the youngest members of our family.
Ma. Teresa Malana, J.L. Long MS

This is my adorable cat, Luna. I’ve had her since she was a teeny, tiny 5-week-old kitten. She’s three now, and her favorite things are salmon, rattles, and Christmas lights.
Itzel Rodriguez, Francisco “Pancho” Medrano MS


Whoever said money can’t buy happiness never paid an adoption fee. We rescued our sweet Charlie boy from Paws in the City, an all-volunteer, no-kill organization with the commitment to ending the overpopulation, abuse, and neglect of Dallas-Ft. Worth area dogs. Charlie is a Catahoula Leopard mix who loves being outdoors chasing rabbits or squirrels. He is an excellent snuggler and enjoys going for car rides.
Natalie Janssen, Arthur Kramer Elementary an IB World School

Both Shredder and Vader were adopted.  My daughter found Shredder when people were trying to find his owners.  His owner couldn’t be found so my daughter took him in.  He’s a great dog.  He’s loving and my daughter’s protector.  Vader has been with us since he was a kitten.  He’s very independent.  He likes to cuddle on his own time.  Shredder and Vader love each other.  They are a perfect match for brothers.  They’ve made our family complete.
Maria Benitez, Larry G. Smith ES

Chauncey makes me happy because he always reminds me how to live carefree and in the moment. His kisses when I’m not myself and the cuddles while we watch TV are the best. Each day I cannot wait to come home to see him.
Ciara Beasley, Wilmer Hutchins ES

Callie was a shelter cat that we were so fortunate to come across. She brings so much light and love to our lives. Callie is a sweetheart most days, but do not let that cute face fool you. If she is feeling hangry, you will see a sassy side of her. We adore her so much.
Rebecca Ajuluchukwu, Nathaniel Hawthorne ES

Ramen is our tarantula. He may not be everyone’s idea of cute, but he was a great learn-at-home companion in early spring of last year. We love it when he comes out of his den to say hi, and he is a great listener, it would have been lonely working without him.
Isabela Espinosa, Kleberg ES

Summer is our 5-year-old German Shepard and Husky mix. We often refer to her as “Summer Lovin” from the 1978 movie “Grease.” Her name fits her well because she’s a huge fur ball of energy and happiness every time. She brightens the room and gives our children wonderful childhood memories. Her Mommy is my sister’s dog, “Daisy.” My sister now calls Summer her “grand-puppy”.
Michelle Orona, Graphics Department

I adopted Zelly from a rescue over winter break. She is the sweetest dog and brightens my day. She doesn’t just wag her tail she wags her entire body.
Janet Wilson, K.B. Polk ES

I am an animal lover! I have two bunnies, a chameleon and a Syrian hamster. Animals give me peace and during this COVID-19 situation, just getting home and having a moment with them is such a blessing. The hamster’s name is Nico and the bunnies are Nano and Shakira.
Luis Julio Díaz-Chéverez, Leila P. Cowart ES

Zoey is the Queen of our home. Everything revolves around her whims and attitude. She is a great traveling companion, and her destination choice is Colorado. Her favorite activities include eating, napping and lying in the sun.
Kerry Glittenberg, Urban Park ES

Milo treats me like I am his dad. When I come home, he is very excited to see me and immediately falls asleep on my lap whenever I sit down. He is the most affectionate cat I have ever known. When I go to bed, he is laying on me and when I wake up, he is still there. Throughout the day he will follow me all over the apartment.
Eric Latimer, W.W. Samuell HS

Oscar and Pepper light up my life. Oscar, the smaller one who is sleeping, is always down for snuggles and is pretty sure that you can’t be upset when he is yelling at you to play with him. Pepper, the big one, is always on the hunt for her next meal. Here she is pictured patiently waiting for anything to fall from the giant charcuterie board we put together. They both care and love so deeply and make life so easy. They are the best reason to get out of bed.
Morgan Merriman, Woodrow Wilson HS

Sandy Anderson, my 12-year-old Yorkie, is most dear to my heart because she is a sweet and loving part of the family. Sandy makes me feel a sense of comfort when around her because she loves to get and give affection. Sandy is extremely friendly with everyone and loves to play fetch the monster.
Anya Anderson, Arthur Kramer Elementary IB World School


Connect with the weight for fitness

Thinking of starting a fitness program? One of the best ways to start is to evaluate yourself physically and mentally, then decide what kind of workouts you want to have. One of the things you should consider is mixing some weight exercises along with any cardio you might do.

Coach Demetrius Glenn, a recognized fitness expert, provides some information about different weight exercises so you can see which one seems more appealing to your capabilities and preferences.

What are free weights and weight machines?

Free weights and weight machines work to help you increase strength and power. Free weights are barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells you can pick up while weight machines are stationary and can be easier to use for those who have not done weight training in the past. Which one is best for you?

Pros of free weights and weight machines:

  • Free weights are safe as long as you’re using proper form and technique and they are something you can easily have in a home gym.
  • Weight machines are more commonly found in fitness clubs and exercise studios
  • Free weights can help to simulate real life lifting scenarios, so this directly helps with improving total body stabilization.
  • Both options offer many physical benefits, such as increased bone density, improved body composition and easier weight maintenance (or faster weight loss).

Something to keep in mind:

  • Even free weights require space.
  • Using weight machines, you’re not able to complete natural body movements as you can with free weights.
  • To get a full workout with both, you typically will need multiple machines or lots of different equipment.
  • Weight machines can be expensive if you decide to buy one for your home.


What is a body weight workout?

Body weight workouts are strength training exercises, where you use your own body weight as resistance. It helps you enhance strength, power, endurance, speed and flexibility, as well as improve coordination and balance. You can do simple exercises, such as pushups, pull-ups and planks just to get the body moving. Movements like, pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, twisting and balance are all exercises that use body weight as resistance instead of actual weights.

Pros of body weight workouts:

  • No equipment required—you can do it anywhere even in small places.
  • You can do it on the go—traveling for work, on holidays or whenever you’re away from home.
  • Body weight exercises are ideal if one is older or has physical issues that might make using weights difficult.
  • Since these exercises typically mimic actions that we do daily, it’s easier to see results faster than the typical weight machines.
  • Using your body weight is easier, free and there’s plenty of body weight workout videos and resources out there, so you won’t get bored.

Cons of body weight workouts:

  • Some exercises can be anatomically difficult, especially by those who are just starting, because they require a lot of upper body strength.
  • Some exercises might be challenging at first, but they are ideal for those who are not already used to machines and free weights.
  • Since the exercises use your own body weight, you might not see the same results in muscle development as you would using weights.

When deciding which type of weight exercise is best for you, keep in mind what you want to accomplish. Either method you choose, the ideal is that you do weight exercises at least twice a week to really see some results. As always, it’s good to contact your physician before starting a new exercise routine.














W2s are coming

The W2 form will be available for viewing Jan. 20, 2021 for all the employees who have set up to receive them online.

To access the form:

  1. Inside the district network, go to Oracle Self-Service, choose Payroll Information and Employee W2
  2. From the district’s main web page, click on Staff from the district’s main page and choose Oracle Login. Once logged in, go to Employee Self-Service, choose Payroll Information and Employee W2.
  3. Outside the district’s network, go to, go to Apps Logon Links into Oracle, go to Employee Self-Service, Payroll Information and Employee W2.

If you have any problems, please send an email to and include your employee ID number, name and the issue or question you might have to receive prompt assistance.

For employees who are not setup to receive their W2 online, the forms will be mailed to the employee’s address as it appears in Oracle. W2s should be received by Jan. 31, 2021.

Dallas ISD staff can register for Phase 1B of COVID-19 vaccinations

The safety and well-being of all Dallas ISD employees is a top priority, which is why the district is working with Dallas County Health and Human Services, Parkland Hospital and other organizations in the community to secure vaccines for staff. To prepare, the district has created a form for employees to register their interest in receiving vaccines through Dallas ISD as they become available. The state has begun phase 1B of vaccinations, which, according to the state and county, is focused on people 65+ and those with specific underlying conditions.

The district is working to secure vaccines for staff who meet the conditions of the 1B phase of the state’s vaccination schedule. Employees who meet the conditions should register so the district can send them information on how to obtain the vaccine when doses are available; however, the vaccine can also be obtained through Dallas County Health and Human Services and private physicians.

If you meet the Phase 1B conditions, please, complete and submit the form to let us know you are interested in receiving the vaccine from Dallas ISD, and you will be contacted as it becomes available.

If you have any questions, please contact us by sending an email to

COVID-19 vaccine registration form


Empleados de Dallas ISD se pueden registrar para la fase 1B para recibir las vacunas para COVID-19 

La seguridad y bienestar de los empleados de Dallas ISD es una gran prioridad, por lo que el distrito ha estado trabajando con Dallas County Health and Human Services, Parkland Hospital y otras organizaciones en la comunidad para obtener vacunas para los empleados. Para prepararnos, el distrito ha creado una forma para que los empleados registren su interés en recibir la vacuna a través de Dallas ISD conforme estas estén disponibles. El estado ha comenzado la fase 1B de vacunación, la cual según el estado y el condado, se enfoca en las personas de por lo menos 65 años de edad y aquellos que tengan ciertas condiciones médicas crónica serias.

El distrito continúa trabajando para obtener vacunas para el personal que tiene las condiciones de la fase 1B del plan de vacunación del estado. Los empleados que llenen los requisitos deben registrarse para que el distrito les proporcione información cuando las dosis estén disponibles; sin embargo, la vacuna también se puede obtener a través del Dallas County Health and Human Services y médicos privados.

Si llena los requisitos de la fase 1B, por favor, complete y entregue la forma para indicar que está interesado en recibir la vacuna y el distrito lo contactará cuando esté disponible.

Si tiene alguna pregunta, por favor contáctenos mandando un correo electrónico

Forma de registro para la vacuna del COVID-19

Feeling stressed?

The past few months have been challenging for many, and yesterday’s events at the Capitol may have caused additional stress. Dallas ISD has resources to guide staff who feel they need assistance to handle stress, anxiety and feelings of depression.

Recognizing that you are stressed is the first step. Stress can escalate until your neck is sore, your heart is racing, and you feel overwhelmed. On an average day, more than half of the workforce leaves work with painful symptoms. Many take the stress home, vent with family or friends, and then have trouble sleeping. To stop the stress cycle, try these 10 tips from LifeWorks.

Another resource is the Employee Assistance Program, a confidential service provided by the district that offers help with personal and work-related issues. Professionally trained advisors are available to help with family problems, marital concerns, financial and legal matters, stress, depression, and other issues affecting your personal or work life.

The EAP is free and confidential. Advisors are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. For more information on how to access the EAP, download this  brochure.




Staff pets make themselves at home

Whether it’s love at first-sight or it takes a few tries, rescues and pets adopted from shelters and community organizations have proven to be blessings for many in Dallas ISD. Some pets have come from more unusual places like Dallas ISD’s Environmental Education Center.


Lola is a 5-year-old shepherd-pit bull mix we adopted from Operation Kindness in 2016 after her first two strikes. A year later came Ella Fitzgerald (“Ellie”), a 5-year-old Treeing Walker Coonhound, also from Operation Kindness and also with two strikes, because whatever Lola wants, Lola gets, and Lola wanted a puppy. While they have proved many times why it took three tries to get it right, we are so glad they waited for our family to take them home. They make us laugh, keep us fit, and protect us—mostly from squirrels and rabbits, but probably from other things, if needed. Here they are supervising Mom while she works.
Karla Genter, Evaluation and Assessment

Geoffrey is a Westie mix who was abandoned over five years ago on a school playground.  He was rescued after being left outside in the pouring rain by my husband Forrest Oliver (Dallas ISD retired teacher).  He has been such a joy and is loved and adored by all.  Geoffrey is very affectionate but fiercely independent.  He enjoys his daily walks and meeting new people as well as our neighbors.  The neighborhood children love petting him and giving him treats, which he frequently buries to be enjoyed at a later time.
Ronald Mart, Dallas ISD substitute.  

Emerald is a female iguana I have had for a year. I also have Brownie, a rabbit I have had for a few months and that came from the Environmental Education Center, and Shadow, a chicken that is a few weeks old.
Brittany Toomer, CityLab HS


Layla and Ava came into my life in 2018, a few months after my sweet dog passed away. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to open my heart for two more dogs, but they really made it hard not to! They are so sweet, and I love the bond they have with each other. Everyone in my family loves these two, even my stubborn dad.
Lisette Ceniceros, School for the Talented and Gifted in Pleasant Grove

We adopted three cats over the summer.  First, we got the sweetest little sisters, Rosemary and Vera, and a few days later, we adopted our big, handsome boy, Dasche.
Carey Bain, Ignacio Zaragoza ES

Here is my very sweet dog, Rai (pronounced “rye”) snuggling on me while I try to work. When I’m on my laptop is her favorite time to seek attention and put her head on my keyboard!
Poonam Dubal, Mental Health Services

The majestic feline you see above is Princess Snowbelle. As a former dog person, I never imagined I’d fall in love with a cat, but here we are. She loves expensive, grain-free treats and being brushed, particularly under her chin. As her appearance would indicate, she’s a bit of a diva and loves to act as my own personal alarm clock on weekdays and weekends alike. She isn’t a lap cat but deigns to sit near me instead. She was adopted from Operation Kindness two years ago and celebrated her 11th birthday in August.
Jordan Hillis, Moisés E. Molina HS

These are Angel and George, they both turned 6 years old this past summer.  We rescued them from DAS and are now a bonded pair. They love to go to the park and chase tennis balls on the weekends and ride along during errands in the car.  They also have helped foster many of the bottle baby kittens we have had over the past few years by being stand-in parents and showing the ropes to the babies. We are so thankful for these snuggle bugs.
Kristen Trueblood, W.T. White HS


Incentives for substitutes

The board approved daily incentive for substitutes went into effect Jan. 4. The additional $20 daily incentive is designed to increase fill rates and provide support to campuses during the spring semester and address lower substitute fill rates that are a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The $20-per-day incentive will be paid on top of any other incentives for substitutes. Substitutes will continue to receive the additional incentive of $5 for working on Mondays and $10 for working on Fridays. Substitutes working a full day of service at an ACE campus will also continue to receive the ACE $10-per-day incentive.

The cost of the daily incentive will be funded from existing substitute cost savings that resulted from the time the district was conducting all virtual classes and the decrease in fill rates up to Dec. 17.  This incentive will become effective Jan. 4, 2021, and remain in place until the end of the 2020-2021 school year.  The substitute compensation rates remain the same and the $20-per-day incentive will be paid on top of that rate.

Everyone can benefit from more physical activity

Physical activity can make daily life better, so get moving. An increase in daily activity can boost your mood, sharpen your focus, reduce your stress, improve your sleep and have many other benefits.

It is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health. And no matter who you are, you can find safe, fun ways to get a little more active.

Just getting started? Build up to 150 minutes per week over time. Even five minutes of physical activity has health benefits—and it all adds up. It’s important that if you are going to start a new fitness routine you consult with your doctor to discuss any limitations.

Pregnant or postpartum? It’s safe and healthy to be active during and after pregnancy and getting active can make it less likely that you’ll develop health problems. Listen to your body and your doctor and do activities that feel right for you.

Have a disability or ongoing health problem? You can adapt activities to fit your abilities, and you may find that physical activity makes everyday life easier. If you have an ongoing health problem, it may even improve your symptoms.

Not feeling steady on your feet? Mix in activities to improve your balance and lower your risk of falls like tai chi or swimming.

Already get 150 minutes a week? Push yourself harder to get even more health benefits. Go for at least 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity). The more you move, the better!

Don’t forget to work your muscles! At least two days a week, do activities that build muscle strength, like lifting weights or using resistance bands.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Staff can now receive free COVID-19 testing

All staff who want to receive COVID-19 tests now have access to free tests with results available in 15 minutes. Most campus nurses are equipped to conduct tests on campus. Central staff (and employees on campuses still working to secure supplies) can now schedule an appointment to be tested at the new district testing site located in a portable adjacent to the William Cotton Service Center at 3701 S. Lamar. The test location officially opens Monday, Jan. 11; hours of operation are 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., and appointments are required. The portable is only accessible from Lamar St., and the entrance will be identified by signage. To request a test appointment, fill out the form that can be found at


Prueba gratis del Covid-19 disponible para empleados

Empleados del distrito que deseen realizarse la prueba del COVID-19 pueden tener acceso a pruebas gratis con resultados disponibles en 15 minutos. La mayoría de las enfermeras escolares están preparadas para realizar la prueba a personal de las escuelas.  Ahora, empleados de las oficinas administrativas (y empleados de escuelas que aún no han recibido suministros) pueden programar citas para realizarse la prueba en un nuevo lugar en el distrito localizado en un salón portátil al lado del William Cotton Service Center en 3701 S. Lamar St. El sitio abrirá oficialmente el lunes, 11 de enero, en un horario de 7:30 a.m. a 11:30 a.m. y se requiere pedir cita. El salón portátil se puede acceder solo por Lamar St. y habrá señalización para identificar la entrada. Para solicitar una cita, llene la forma que se puede encontrar en



You are not alone

While the district may be closed, if you need assistance with your benefits, a number of resources are available.

District schools and administrative offices will be closed for Winter break from Monday, Dec. 21, through Friday, Jan. 1, 2021, but the benefits call center will be open regular hours during that time to provide assistance, with the following exceptions:

  • Christmas Eve, Dec. 24 – Closed Half Day
  • Christmas Day, Dec. 25 – Closed
  • Day After Christmas, Dec. 28 – Closed
  • New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31 – Closed Half Day
  • New Year’s Day, Jan. 1 – Closed

For those non-emergency health concerns such as cold and flu, TRS ActiveCare participants can utilize Teladoc at a reduced cost.  Call 1-855-Teladoc (835-2362) or visit their main page.

If you have questions regarding your FSA, you can contact Connect Your Care at 877-528-9876 or visit  Connect Your Care is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You may reach the benefits call center at 972-925-4000 or email  For questions regarding leaves of absence, email  During the periods in which the district is closed, the email boxes will be monitored periodically to ensure any critical issues are resolved in a timely manner.