Keeping an eye on safety

On Monday, April 8—a regular work day for Dallas ISD schools and offices—a total solar eclipse will sweep across Texas and be observed in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In an effort to provide students with a safe opportunity to view the eclipse, The Perot Museum of Nature and Science has provided all Dallas ISD students and campus team members with a free pair of solar viewing glasses. 

The solar eclipse glasses were distributed thanks to the efforts of Katie Gagne of the Perot Museum and STEM Environmental Education Center Director Mark Broughton, who also worked together to coordinate astronomers from the Carnegie Institute of Science to visit 40 campuses to teach students about the eclipse and the science behind it. The glasses are critical to prevent retinal harm while viewing the eclipse. The total solar eclipse start and end times will be as follows:

Total Solar Eclipse Start & End Times                         

Start of Partial Eclipse 12:24 p.m.
Start of Total Solar Eclipse 1:41 p.m.
End of Total Solar Eclipse 1:44 p.m.
End of Partial Eclipse 3:02 p.m.

Here are some required safety guidelines to follow during a total solar eclipse:

  • View the sun through eclipse glasses or a handheld solar viewer during the partial eclipse phases before and after totality.
  • Younger students may require a practice round of how to properly wear the glasses before the actual eclipse occurs. It will be important to show them how to observe the eclipse safely, and remind them of the importance of wearing the glasses before and throughout the eclipse. The glasses may be folded to fit smaller faces.
  • Keeping your skin safe is also important. Even during a partial or annular eclipse, or during the partial phases of a total eclipse, the Sun will still be very bright. If you are watching an entire eclipse, you may be in direct sunlight for hours. Remember to wear sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing to prevent skin damage.


Don’t let stress get to you

The spring semester can get busy for school district employees, and with many responsibilities comes stress. But while stress affects almost everyone, it doesn’t have to affect your life. And sometimes, it can be a good thing because it can give us the energy we need to meet challenges. How can you tell if the stress in your life is becoming a problem?

The common symptoms of stress include difficulty sleeping, headaches, neck and back aches, stomach pain, irritability, depression, and mood swings. Some people also may begin to abuse alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs during periods of extreme stress. You need to get the opinion of a medical professional or counselor if any of these symptoms feel familiar. If you have recently experienced these, you could be under stress.

There are things you can do to help alleviate some of the common causes and symptoms of stress in your daily life. Here are five tips that can help.

Tip number one:

Try to identify the source of your stress and find a practical way to resolve it. If you’re worried that your manager is concerned about your performance, ask them if they have any feedback for you and if there is anything you can do to improve your work. If your to-do list is out of control, you can review it and then block out time to tackle it. Often addressing the source of your stress will minimize the impact it has on your life.


Tip number two:

Accept that some problems and challenges can’t be solved directly. Instead, you may need time to come to terms with them. Some sources of stress—such as caring for an older relative—require us to make an attitude change rather than fix an external problem. Reaching out to a mental health professional will help you gain perspective.


Tip number three:

Stop overscheduling. Feeling constantly stretched is a major stressor. Make a plan for a calm morning and make sleep a priority in the evening. By slowing down, you can tune in to what your body needs and build resilience for the challenges you have to face.


Tip number four:

Take care of yourself. Eating a healthy diet will help you find the energy you need to cope with stress. Exercising regularly can also help keep it under control. This is because exercising for as little as 20 minutes a day can rev up your endorphins, which are natural feel-good chemicals in the brain that help to reduce stress. Practicing mindfulness and relaxation techniques might help you ease the tension in your life. You can find resources on both by searching the Support and Resources section of the assistance programme website.

Tip number five:
Make time for family and friends. Research shows that having strong ties to others has a positive effect on a person’s ability to cope with stress.

These five tips are drawn from the knowledge and first-hand experience of our well-being experts who are helping clients round the clock every day.

If you need additional support, Dallas ISD team members can take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program by LifeWorks. The confidential, secure platform has countless resources available online for free, including on-call counselors who are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Reach out to LifeWorks at (972) 925-4000, or visit and click on Benefits Resources to access online EAP information. 


Source: LifeWorks

Dallas ISD alumni teach film to high school students

Dallas ISD students who don’t have film programs at their schools are getting the opportunity to become filmmakers through a partnership with their school and a program through Pegasus Media Project, a nonprofit arts organization. 

The program, Youth Portable Film Program, is led by local filmmaker Christopher Sonny Martinez, a Dallas ISD alum. The program currently serves students at H. Grady Spruce High School, Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center, and the Victory Meadows Youth Center, which serves students in the Emmett J. Conrad High School feeder pattern. Martinez has been working with the students since last semester in teaching them film language, film history, and how to create their own stories using film. 

PMP was founded in 2012 by artist-educator Niloo Jalilvand, who was a teacher at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, for 21 years. In 2015, she launched the student-led Pegasus Film Festival to inspire and empower young people to pursue their passion for filmmaking.

The Youth Portable Film Program is funded through grants such as the Texas Commission for the Arts and is free to the schools. At Spruce, Martinez has been working with the students in collaboration with Miriam Sharp, their graphic design teacher. 

“Working with Pegasus has been a fun journey because the students love taking part behind and in-front of the camera,” Sharp said. “It has taught them about themselves and their peers in an atmosphere where they can be themselves,” she said. 

Approximately 12 tenth grade students participate in the program at Spruce. 

Tamitha Curiel, from PMP, who is also a filmmaker and a Booker T. Washington alum, says the goal is to give students ideas for the way stories can be told in the visual medium, as they are already manipulating color and their own designs in their graphic design class. 

“In any job you could go into, you have the skill to tell the story with the visual,” Curiel said. “They are building on those skills and just taking that to the next level—to a moving image –and giving them tools, because those skills can be utilized in many different areas.”  

She says that even if students don’t become professional filmmakers, those skills will be useful, as there are people such as dentists, lawyers, and other professions who are making films and TikTok videos to promote their businesses. 

Curiel says that so far, students have interviewed each other, edited their own interviews, as well as filmed b-roll, which is footage that supplements main video footage. 

“In the beginning, I don’t think the students really had a good understanding of what the work entailed, but I think they were kind of excited about getting their hands on the equipment,” she said. “One of the students said something about feeling powerful during the editing process.”

The work the students have done to carve out their own stories has also led them to collaborate with other students outside of their class. They recently filmed the Spruce dance team, which performed a piece titled “My Mind.”

Curiel says that future plans include the students working on their own film—but for now they are creating their student profiles through film, highlighting some of the things they like at their school.

All of the classes take place during school hours and Curiel says that PMP wants to continue this collaboration with schools to empower students to tell their stories. 

For more information about the Youth Portable Film Program, visit


Students teach younger students about solar eclipse 

When Heather Houston, an eighth-grade science and astronomy teacher at Jesús Moroles Expressive Arts Vanguard, found out the solar eclipse was going to happen on a Monday, she suggested to her principal that it become a schoolwide event. 

One of the things that motivated Houston was remembering how she watched partial eclipses when she was a Dallas ISD student and thought it would be an exciting experience for the students. Houston attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts and graduated from Sunset High School. 

“I’ve been sitting back watching the kids just take charge,” Houston said. “I’ve seen some kids that were really shy step up, and it’s been really neat to watch them turn into little teachers,” she said.

As Houston was looking for materials for her students, she remembered that one of her students wanted to be a writer, so she asked him if he was up for the challenge. Cash C., her student, wrote a book about how to safely watch the solar eclipse. It included simple facts and illustrations, and students created lesson plans around the book and models that they had created.

Houston’s students took their work outside of their classroom and taught the younger grade levels, pre-K through fifth grade, about how to watch the solar eclipse in a safe way. 

At Moroles, all grade levels will watch the solar eclipse together, with the exception of the ones whose parents signed the opt-out letters that were sent home with the students. 

Going into this, students weren’t sure exactly what to expect and wondered if they would be able to answer all the younger students’ questions or if they would behave– but they did–and the “student” teachers did an excellent job, according to Houston. 

“When students are passionate about science, I love it,” Houston said “And if I have a student that changes their mind about science throughout the year and turns out to like it, that makes my year,” she said.  

You may have already caught Houston and her students on the local news, as they have recently been featured doing this important work. 

Here’s some links to their story that ran in local news stations:

Celebrating school librarians

School Librarian Appreciation Day is on April 9, and Dallas ISD is celebrating the highly trained professionals who cultivate a schoolwide culture of literacy, inquiry, and innovation that empowers students to become lifelong learners. 

To commemorate the day, Dallas ISD’s Library Media Services Department is highlighting some of the great work librarians are doing in supporting learning in their schools. 

Vernetta Lockridge, librarian at John W. Runyon Elementary School

Vernetta Lockridge is known for her collaborative approach to literacy instruction. When a second grade-teacher sought a lesson on Greek mythology, Lockridge accepted the challenge with a smile. Her can-do spirit and dedication have earned her the trust of her teachers, leading to invitations for hour-long “library on the go” lessons in their classroom. From exploring character traits to reinforcing the parts of a story, delving into math graphs, and discovering Greek mythology,  Lockridge seamlessly integrates literacy into engaging lessons that support her teachers’ Amplify curriculum.

Nicole Williams, librarian at T. G. Terry Elementary School

Nicole Williams creates an environment that is conducive to active and participatory learning. To support real-world experiences and science content,  Williams has a small aquarium with tadpoles which teachers and students visit regularly. The students use the district-purchased online resources to take their learning about amphibians a step further. Williams also provides engaging opportunities for students to use technology in the learning process. She leads the students in producing the virtual announcements for her school once a week.

Carrie Bruce, librarian at E.B. Comstock Middle School

At E.B. Comstock Middle School, students are combining literacy with innovative tech tools for more engaged learning. Carrie Bruce organized a lesson centered around fairy tales and used Strawbees—a STEAM technique that uses connectors and building straws that are placed together to build unique creations– to build representation of the stories. This approach enhances the students’ literacy skills, creativity, critical thinking, and the practice of using technological tools for learning. Puss in Boots built a chair and footstool for the King, Little Red Riding Hood built a closet for the wolf to hide in, and Cinderella built a pumpkin, her pink dress, and a magic wand. Kudos for innovative teaching taking place in the Comstock library.

LaShonda Roberson, librarian at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center

To support her Marvin E. Robinson School of Business and Management at Townview students, LaShonda Roberson participates in the student run entrepreneur space. The “library booth” is an opportunity for the library to circulate books, Social Emotional Learning activities, has a creative writing station, promotes the Dallas Public Library, and helps students build their personal home library with free books. The library booth is updated monthly.

For information about school libraries and happenings in the Library & Media Services Department, follow Dallas ISD Library and Media Services on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @DISD_Libraries or visit their website at

Teaching with impact and innovation

For 16 years, Armina Wrice has been an important member of Dallas ISD, influencing future generations since relocating from the Philippines in 2008 to pursue her passion in education by becoming a teacher. 

In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Wrice participates in other activities and clubs within the district. As a coach of the TMSCA since 2016, she has led Henry W. Longfellow Career Exploration Academy students to consistent success, qualifying in state championships under her guidance. 

“I really like to impart knowledge about math and real life,” Wrice said. 

Wrice lives by the mantra “The only permanent thing in this world is change,” a philosophy that drives her to constantly seek new ways to engage and inspire her students. Recently, Wrice was honored with the Dallas Retired Teachers Association Award, a recognition that came as a surprise. 

“The first time I ever heard of this award was very recently when my principal announced it,” she said. “I saw it as an opportunity to grant my students a new experience.”

Wrice’s inspiration stemmed from a desire to introduce her students to pen tablets, revolutionizing the way they interact with math assignments.

 “I wanted them to experience the ease of use and creative possibilities,” she said.

Thanks to the award funds, Wrice was able to purchase a class set of 30 pen tablets, which has increased innovation and creativity in her classroom. 

“It’s a dream come true, personally,” she said. “And professionally, it reaffirmed my belief that if there’s anything else I want to pursue for the benefit of the children, there will always be support out there.”

Wrice is thankful for the support of her principal, Michael Tatum, whose encouragement and guidance were essential in her journey to receiving the award. Wrice is so pleased with what she has been able to do with the award, she encourages her fellow educators to apply for grants. 

“Anyone else who would like to make some of their dreams come true should consider applying for awards like this,” she said. “The delight in the eyes of a child when they see how we make things more interesting and equitable for them is priceless.”

Thank your assistant principal

Assistant Principals are campus leaders who support their principals, teachers, community and other team members to make sure the day-to-day operations are carried out successfully and efficiently.   

Dallas ISD will celebrate National Assistant Principals Week April 8-12 by bringing awareness and celebrating these unsung heroes in our schools. 

As the second in command, assistant principals play a crucial role in the success of our schools,” said Nancy A. Bernadino, Associate Superintendent. “In Dallas ISD, our assistant principals work closely with students, teachers, and families to improve academic outcomes, strengthen social-emotional learning, and create a positive climate and culture for all. We are grateful to have leaders committed to excellence and equity for all children.” 

Here are a few tips from the National Association of Secondary Principals to thank and celebrate your AP:

  • Students, team members, and community members can write a thank you note with specific examples on how their AP made an impact.
  • Read testimonies from students, parents, and teachers during school announcements.
  • Send them an e-card to let them know they are appreciated.
  • Art, music, and theater classes (specials) can do a small group project to honor your AP. 
  • Share the activities your school is doing to celebrate your assistant principal via social media.

Prevent smishing 

Dallas ISD team members must be cautious and take steps to protect sensitive data against smishing messages, a mix of “SMS” and “phishing”, which fool consumers into disclosing sensitive information or compromising security. Smishing attacks can be avoided by following these simple tips:

  • Be cautious of messages promising prizes, rewards, or offers that seem too good to be true. These could be bait to lure recipients into revealing sensitive information.
  • Be suspicious of abrupt requests for immediate action from coworkers/supervisors you rarely communicate with (i.e. principal asking you to buy gift cards).
  • Watch out for messages containing shortened URLs or links that appear unusual or lead to unfamiliar websites. These links may redirect to phishing sites designed to steal credentials or deliver malware.
  • Don’t trust urgent SMS messages regarding your credit card, bank account, or package delivery.
  • Disregard unexpected texts asking you to reset your password due to your account being compromised. Only rely on Dallas ISD technology team members to assist you with password resets and troubleshooting.

Dallas ISD receives incentive for energy efficiency efforts

This week representatives from Reliant Energy presented Dallas ISD’s Energy and Sustainability Department with a $64,000 check to support the district’s ongoing efforts of energy efficiency. 

Reliant started a program in 2023 called Responsive Economic Dispatch, or RED, and when the ERCOT grid is peaking high, it’s an incentive to reduce energy during peak periods.

“The RED program compensates the district for turning down during peak times, which are the most polluting times,” said Annette Van Brunt, energy consultant to the district. “Not only does it help reduce the strain on the grid, the district is getting an incentive and also reducing carbon emissions in the state of Texas.” 

“The check that was presented today was part of the 2023 RED program and was due to the fact that Dallas ISD reduced in some of our peak periods and they’re one of our largest ISD participants,” said Reliant energy representative Jeff Bettison. When the district is able to reduce, they reduce 20 megawatts, he added. 

“Both Reliant and the district continue to work on different ways to improve these efforts and look forward to working together in the future”, said Bryant Shaw, manager of the Energy and Sustainability Department.

Schools recognize MWBE

The M/WBE Department recently recognized the top three elementary, middle and high schools that ranked the highest in supporting minority- and women-owned businesses among the district’s vendors. Schools who want to know where they rank can download this document. The top schools by grade level are:

Elementary Schools

First Place | Leslie A. Stemmons 

Second Place | Stephen C. Foster

Third Place | T.G. Terry


Middle Schools

First Place | Dr. Frederick Douglass Todd, Sr.

Second Place | Piedmont Global Academy and Barbara Mann

Third Place | Robert T. Hill 


High Schools

First Place | Kathleen Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy

Second Place | David W. Carter

Third Place | H. Grady Spruce