International Translation Day

Language professionals play an important role worldwide in connecting nations, fostering peace and understanding, and encouraging growth and development. The team of almost 30 translators and interpreters in Dallas ISD who help connect families, students and schools is no different.  

Their efforts toward engagement and understanding and those of interpreters and translators worldwide are celebrated and recognized on Sept. 30 during International Translation Day. The day was established in 2017 through a resolution from the United Nations General Assembly.

“The theme for this year’s International Translation Day is ‘translation unveils the many faces of humanity,’ and that’s exactly what our district interpreters aim to do,” said Adriana Saucedo, director of Translation Services. “We are shining a light on the incredible diversity in our district by being the voice of the district’s students and families who speak different languages,” she said.

The newest member of the district’s Translations team creating opportunities for students and families is Shokria Afshari, a Pashto interpreter. Afshari, who was previously a community interpreter and volunteer helping the Afghan community, recently joined the district as an interpreter and as a tutor, providing academic support to Pashto-speaking students. 

Before her district role, she was already helping community members living in Dallas with the language barrier by assisting with things such as opening a bank account or making a doctor’s appointment. 

Afshari, who moved to Dallas from Afghanistan two years ago, admits that she is still making the transition to adjusting to her new country, and is able to relate to the community she serves. 

Beyond language, Afshari also helps the families and students she serves understand the cultural differences. For example, she says that something simple like smiling at someone could be construed as something negative in her country, but here in the United States, it is a positive thing. 

Afshari, who also speaks Dari and Farsi, learned English in her native country, and was a teacher who taught English and Pashto languages to children. Currently, she is providing academic support for two high school students in the district. 

“I’m very happy because I get to help a lot of Afghan families,” Afshari said. “Many times they tell me that they have challenges finding someone that can translate to English, so they are happy that I’m in this role too.” 

In addition to Pashto, Translation Services provides interpretation and translation services for Spanish, Arabic, Burmese, Chin, Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, and Swahili. Dallas ISD is one of the districts in the state leading the way in bridging the gap of  communication.

Services offered include document translation, meeting interpretation, and the interpreter hotline that schools can access for immediate interpretation needs. Translation Services also offers academic support for students in Arabic, Burmese, Chin, Kirundi, Swahili, and Pashto.

“With the addition of Pashto we are able to serve members of the Afghan community who have resettled in Dallas in the last two years,” Saucedo said. “We saw the need in the district to expand our services and are happy to serve this community.” 

To learn more about the different services offered through Translation Services, visit

Flu Clinics start soon

While seasonal influenza, or flu, viruses are detected year-round, flu viruses typically circulate the most during the fall and winter, a time that has come to be known as the flu season. 

The exact timing and duration of flu seasons varies, but flu activity often begins to increase in October and peaks between December and February. Since the start of the COVID pandemic, the timing and duration of flu activity has been less predictable. One of the ways to protect against the flu is to get the annual vaccination.

Dallas ISD Benefits Department is coordinating districtwide flu clinics for employees who want to get the flu shot as well as other vaccines available—high dose flu vaccine ( 65 +), COVID vaccine / booster, pneumonia, shingles. Flu clinics start Oct. 3 and registration is required. Visit the Districtwide Datebook at to find the date and location of your choice. To register for a particular date and location, click on the event and then click on register. You may have to sign in using the Dallas ISD Portal to register, and you should receive a confirmation email. 

All levels of BCBS TRS plans are accepted for all vaccines. Scott & WhiteTRS* plans can be accepted for flu and COVID vaccines only. Other Insurance that will be accepted include Aetna Choice, Blue Cross Blue ShieldPPO, Cigna PPO, Humana PPO, Medicare Part B and United HealthCareChoice plans based on plan coverage. 

Employees should bring their insurance card and a photo ID to their appointment. 

Empowering students through participation

For Esmeralda Martinez, a Spanish and leadership teacher at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, paving the way for student success and contributing to a legacy of leadership are her priorities and her passion.

She moved to the United States when she was 5 years old and recalls translating for her mother from Mexico and her father from Colombia as she grew up learning English as a second language. Combined with her positive experiences with teachers in her Dallas ISD schools and her involvement in Skyline High School’s League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) council, Martinez realized she wanted to become an educator and a LULAC sponsor to pour into others the same way people poured into her.

“At Skyline, LULAC was one of our most active clubs,” Martinez said. “I’ve always loved giving back to the community and volunteering, and I found a home away from home. They were willing to invest in me and showed me the ropes in regards to how to obtain a college education, how to go about paying for it, and also seeing other Latinos that look like me in different professional realms.” 

When she joined Irma Rangel’s inaugural team, she knew she was going to help found the school’s LULAC council. Now, she said they have a council with over 160 active students. The students are required to do a minimum of 40 community service or civic engagement hours, and Martinez said she is proud of the work they do together.

Not only has Martinez helped students network, study abroad, and participate in prestigious national programs, but she has also seen graduates go on to start their own LULAC councils at The University of Texas at San Antonio, Southern Methodist University, The University of Texas at Dallas, and more.

“It continues to build that sense that we’re all in it together to better our community and to better each other through education,” Martinez said. “We are fighting for a better society—for Latinos and for the whole. Our students have all been great, because we see that our work has tripled and affects different communities even beyond Dallas.”

Irma Rangel’s LULAC council has also developed an annual tradition of leading their community’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. Starting over the summer, they met to plan how they would highlight the month and decided to focus on media representation this year.

Martinez and the LULAC students reached out to Univision and found a speaker to visit their campus in October. Students will also have the opportunity to visit Univision and go behind the scenes to see production and what it takes to put on the news every day.

“Part of creating academic environments where kids feel seen and nourished has to do with us showing appreciation for all the identities they bring,” Martinez said. “I would love to encourage schools that do not currently have LULAC councils and other organizations to create spaces for students to connect with community members who look like them and walk the same paths. There is so much power in walking toward something together. What better way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month than by creating spaces for our students to thrive?”

Creating opportunities for students who are deaf or hard of hearing

Dallas ISD’s Regional Day School Program for the Deaf is built on a foundation of connections and opportunities. The students and graduates the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services team has supported are in every field and industry, thriving as carpenters, culinary artists, cheerleaders, soccer players, nurses, construction workers, and more. September is Deaf Awareness Month.

“We want our students to know they can become anything they want to be,” said Tina Vaguine, manager for the RDSPD. “We want them to believe in themselves, and we want them and their families to know that they can do anything.” 

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services provides instructional services for students from birth up to 22 years old. The team is made up of about 80 members, including teachers, care professionals, sign language interpreters, communication facilitators, and licensed professional counselors. 

The team members do home visits to help families navigate diagnoses and early childhood care, provide instruction in the student’s mode of communication like cluster sites Mockingbird, where students who use sign language attend, and K.B. Polk, where students who use listening and spoken language attend. While some of their students require full-time specially designed instruction, Vaguine said they work to place students in the least restrictive environment possible. 

About half of their almost 600 students are in itinerant programs and may use hearing aids or only have hearing loss on one side. Those students are at their home campuses, and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services teams support them as needed, ranging from a few times a year to every week. 

“When we hire, we look for role models for our students,” Vaguine said. “We have several teachers who are deaf and hard of hearing themselves, and they are showing our students that they can go to college and get a career, while communicating with them and understanding their motives. We recently hired a new professional counselor who is also deaf and hard of hearing, so she can relate with the kids. It’s really good.”

Vaguine and her team are hard at work spreading awareness about these incredible students and team members throughout the district. September is Deaf Awareness Month, and Vaguine said they have been proud to shine a spotlight on their “exceptional program, talented students, and dedicated staff.”

Dallas ISD has been serving students through the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf for decades, and Vaguine said she hopes the community and district employees will join her team in gaining a deeper understanding of deaf culture and abilities, and come together to celebrate the outstanding achievements of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

“Do not be afraid to approach these students and talk to them,” said Carol Harris, a member of Vaguine’s team. “They know they’re deaf, but they don’t act like they’re deaf. They act like children, and they talk to everyone. Whether you sign or not, they know they can utilize an interpreter or other resources to communicate and be successful.” 

Nearing the next stop on Destination Cloud

Destination Cloud, the 30-month transformation effort at Dallas ISD, is well underway and involves moving all Oracle functions from on-site servers and software to the Cloud to increase efficiency across day-to-day work and provide a new portal for all employees to access important tasks more easily—all aimed towards simplifying how the district drives student success!  

The Destination Cloud project team has been hard at work confirming system requirements, refining configurations, documenting additional change impacts to business processes, and other critical activities that contribute to creating the first glimpse of the Oracle Cloud system design. These activities, part of the Process Playback 1 (PP1) stage of the system build, are nearing completion as the team is now preparing for Process Playback 2 (PP2). 

In PP2, the Destination Cloud team will conduct virtual walkthroughs of business processes, hold discussions of cross-functional touchpoints and integrations, and demonstrate these processes in the Oracle Cloud system. By the end of PP2 sessions the team will have created the second prototype of Dallas ISD’s system design. 

Alongside closing out PP1, the Oracle Change Management team is finalizing the PP1 change impact summary and reviewing the training strategy with Dallas ISD project leadership. This work is being done with the goal of preparing the end users of the Oracle Cloud system for the changes ahead. 

Stay tuned for further announcements regarding key project updates, training opportunities, and other need-to-know details around Destination Cloud. 

Celebrating contributions of custodians

When people walk into lead custodian Frank Craig’s office at Jesús Moroles Expressive Arts Vanguard, they are greeted by a whiteboard full of notes from students with messages similar to, “Thank you for keeping our building clean.”  

Dallas ISD is joining those students in honoring and celebrating the district’s custodians on National Custodian Day on Oct. 2 because of their commitment to Core 4 customer service and their passion for creating safe, clean environments for students and team members alike. 

Craig, a proud member of the Custodial Services team, has three decades of experience in the field, and said the “positive impact” he makes on students as well as their interactions have kept him passionate about his job each and every day.

“Some people don’t get excited about work, but when I back out of my garage every morning, I have a smile on my face,” Craig said. “These kids are wonderful. I wouldn’t trade the atmosphere here for the world. I mean, I love it here. They treat me as if there is nothing I cannot do in this building.”

Each morning starts around 6 a.m. as Craig ensures Principal Marissa Tavallaee’s office is ready, turns the lights on, double checks the air conditioning, and walks the building to take care of any necessary work orders as quickly as possible. Then he proceeds to collaborate with his small team to guarantee their campus is “clean from top to bottom.” 

Together, they work to ensure their principal is satisfied with the state of the school, because, in Craig’s words, “As long as our principal is happy, that means I’m happy and everybody else is happy.”

Being focused, fast, flexible, and friendly comes naturally to Craig, who made a point to thank the incredible leaders and team members in Dallas ISD who have helped him progress in his career and treated him with the utmost respect over the years. But ultimately, he said it is the students who make every day worthwhile. 

“I love putting a smile on their faces,” Craig said. “You never know what these kids are going through. It’s more about the students than it is about anything, and sometimes we are the only people that they can talk to. That’s what makes me come to work every morning.”

Reminder: Set your goals

Every employee evaluated through the Career management System should submit two or three job-specific SMART goals by Thursday, Oct. 5.

Goal setting takes place in the Career Management System in Cornerstone.  To help team members and their appraisers with the goal setting process and goal accomplishment, the district has updated the CMS individual goals rubric that can be found here. Other resources available to team members include the Goals Setting Process guide and Goal Setting webinar

The deadline for appraisers to have had a conference with each direct report and approve the goals in Cornerstone is Thursday, Oct. 19. Appraisers can reopen the employee step If needed.  You may send the goal-setting task back to the employee to make edits by selecting ‘Reopen Step‘ at the bottom of the page.  You may also edit the goals directly.  For steps click here.

The Performance Management team is here to assist with any questions or concerns.  Please contact us at or (972) 749-5712.

Living the art dream at City Hall

Fine arts teacher Lindsay Dear kicked off 2023 with a New Year’s resolution to get out of her comfort zone. Since then, she has not only gotten to present at a national conference, but her art was also selected to be displayed in the Dallas Mayor’s Suite in City Hall. 

“As art teachers, we ask our students to push themselves, and I think it’s easy to be single minded in pushing them without pushing ourselves,” Dear said. “I wanted to show my students how to take chances.” 

So last school year, Dear, a teacher at William B. Travis Academy/Vanguard for the Academically Talented and Gifted, entered her “Seasons of Dallas” painting when Innovation Lab applications opened up and soon found out that her piece had been selected for the Mayor’s Suite.

“I’m a Dallas native,” Dear said. “My family is from Pleasant Grove, so it feels very specific to Dallas, and it means a lot.”

Dear has served the district as an educator since 2004, and said her favorite part of teaching is seeing students embrace and hone their talents in and out of the classroom. 

She also loves the opportunities her campus provides, such as a partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art called the Travis Takeover, where students in every grade level have an opportunity to collaborate with the museum and display their art.

“This year I’m focusing a lot on helping them get their art out and getting outside their comfort zone,” Dear said. “Sometimes, artwork can be really personal to you, and so you don’t want to share that with a lot of people, but there are opportunities out there that might spark your interest in something new. So I am encouraging them—and myself—to take risks.”

Dear’s “Seasons of Dallas” will be on display in City Hall through January 2024, and Dallas ISD team members are invited to check it out. 

Virtual sessions will help educators enhance iPad learning, creativity for early learners

The Early Learning Department has launched an iPad 4 Early Learning Educator series to help educators in prekindergarten through second grade enhance learning and spark creativity among young learners. 

The twice-monthly virtual sessions will cover topics that will help teachers explore literacy, enhance learning, and spark creativity among their students. It will also help them better access multimedia tools with apps, such as Keynote, to enrich literacy. Teachers can earn Apple Teacher badges along the way, culminating in Apple Teacher Recognition. Sessions will also cover designing digital journals with the iPad, as well as making movies and creating podcasts. 

Browse the session descriptions and register for individual sessions at: or by scanning the QR code on the flyer.

Hispanic Heritage Spotlight: Breaking stereotypes and helping students find their voice

When Daniel Negrete was a student at Woodrow Wilson High School, one of his friends asked him to join the ballet folklorico ensemble. He eventually joined, and his performance of “El Jarabe Tapatio” in front of the whole student body during a pep rally changed his life. 

Performing in front of a live audience sparked something in Negrete, making him think “Wouldn’t it be great if I could do this forever?” 

In a full circle for him, Negrete returned to Woodrow as a teacher and is now the head director for the iconic Sweethearts drill team, assists Marissa Marez with the Woodrow dance company, co-directs Montes Ballet Folklorico with Marez, and both teach dance arts. He previously taught dance at Emmett J. Conrad High School. Returning to the school where his passion for dance was ignited feels surreal to Negrete, a six-year veteran of the profession.

“I’m teaching my high school dance director’s daughter, talk about full circle, and I’m teaching the community that gave me the tools that helped me find my pathway in life,” said the East Dallas native. 

A few years ago, Negrete was contacted by a colleague about writing the curriculum for Mexican American Folkloric Dance Studies, which did not exist as a dance course. Negrete and Quan Powers, along with a team of dance educators, created the Dance Appreciation: African American and Mexican Folkloric Studies course, which was approved by the Texas Education Agency. It was first implemented during the 2020-2021 school year as a statewide course.

Negrete wrote the Mexican Folklorico Dance course, while Quan Powers took the lead in the African American Dance Studies course. 

Negrete and his team had the challenge of creating a curriculum that represented what he calls “the face of Mexico.” They looked at important rituals, celebrations, and events that formulate Mexican folklore. One of the challenges they faced was that some traditions are passed down through storytelling.

Negrete has observed that students in his course are surprised about how diverse Mexico is.

“People don’t know about Afro-Mexican cultures and how much it has influenced Mexican dance,” said Negrete. 

Through his work, Negrete hopes he is breaking stereotypes, inspiring his students to embrace who they are, and finding an appreciation for their community like he did as a student. 

While cultural dance is celebrated in his family, he felt that it was initially seen more like a hobby, rather than a livelihood. Negrete admits to having received some pushback from his family in the beginning, but he was able to shift their mindset once he began studying dance at Texas Woman’s University and became a dance educator. He is a first-generation college graduate, and it was his mother who taught him the phrase “echale ganas y ponte las pilas,” which encouraged him to “give it his all.”

“I was brought up thinking that men usually work outside or have labor intensive jobs,” Negrete said. “Dance is also very laborious, but in a different way.” 

Finding the connection with his Mexican roots was a bit of a journey for Negrete, who was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, before his family moved to the United States. He credits dance and his teachers for helping him reconnect with his heritage and find an appreciation for other cultures.

“As a teen, I didn’t like being Mexican, and I was very reluctant to accept my culture for a while,” said Negrete. “Through dance, I learned to embrace my culture and explore who I really was.” 

Negrete credits his dance teachers during his formative years for instilling a passion for advocacy for Latino and African American students. 

As an advocate for cultural dance, he co-founded the North Texas Ballet Folklorico Competition, along with fellow dance educators Leah Longoria-Huggins and Karla Hardaway. The dance competition, which attracts ballet folklorico teams from Dallas ISD and the state, is entering its third year. For more information about the North Texas Ballet Folklorico Competition, click here 

Negrete is also the first male Latino on the executive board of the Texas Dance Education Association, and is only the second male in the history of the board. He has facilitated presentations and discussions on inclusion and diversity in the dance classroom and has shared his knowledge of ballet folklorico through movement classes with other dance educators in the state of Texas. 

As a male dancer and dance educator, he knows he is opening doors for other male dancers, especially Latinos and men of color. 

“Visibility is important for the students and community, sometimes we’re so unaware that the arts can take you to a plethora of careers,” he said. “You can change lives with the arts.”

In addition to teaching, Negrete also dances with two companies—Flamenco Black, which focuses on the exploration of Afro-Andalusian flamenco dance, and Ballet Folklorico Mayahuel, which focuses on Mexican traditional dances.

Negrete credits his cultural strength and his resilience with being able to realize his vision and dreams. 

“It’s in my DNA and in my ancestry,” said Negrete. “Being a brown man in dance, and as challenging as it could be, the most rewarding thing is instilling culture, values and history in our youth.”