Toastmasters club helps staff grow leadership and communication skills

Do you want to sharpen your professional skills, develop your leadership ability, and become a more confident communicator?

At Dallas ISD Talk it Up! Toastmasters, you can accomplish these goals in a self-paced supportive environment alongside others pursuing the same goals. Toastmasters learn by doing, by following a proven program of speeches and leadership activities. Want to learn firsthand how Toastmasters can help you give voice to your potential?  Register through Cornerstone to attend Dallas ISD Talk It Up! Toastmasters Open House on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m. at the Linus D. Wright Administration Building, 9400 N. Central Expressway, Room 300.

Dallas ISD Talk It Up! meets Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Meetings are held at the H.B. Bell School Support Services Building on the first, third and fifth Wednesdays of the month and at the Linus D. Wright Dallas ISD School Administration Building on the second and fourth Wednesdays.


Credit Union of Texas accepting applications for $20K scholarship

Educators looking to continue their education and service to Dallas ISD students can apply for the annual $20,000 scholarship offered by Credit Union of Texas in honor of former Dallas ISD administrator William H. Cotton Scholarship. The scholarship offers $20,000 in financial assistance to a Dallas ISD educator seeking to pursue post-baccalaureate education to further their career in the field of education at Dallas ISD. The deadline to submit the application is March 29, 2019. Go here to download the application. Finalists for the award will be contacted by April 30, 2019, and the winner will be named by May 30, 2019.

Principal of Jose “Joe” May Elementary, Israel Rivera, received the 2018 scholarship.


Teachers sought for dual credential program

To support the district’s early college high school initiative, Texas A&M University has created a program to recruit and develop teachers who are certified to teach high school and college credit courses (dual credentialed teachers) in the following areas at the high school level: English, speech, government and psychology. The dual credentialing program is seeking teachers with a master’s degree in any area and at least a minimum of three years of high school teaching experience.

Those interested in the program should complete an interest form and attend one of the interest meetings to apply and interview for the program. The program is scheduled to begin Jan. 22, 2019.

  • 5-7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 17, in the first floor conference room at the H.B. Bell Building, 2909 N Buckner Blvd
  • 5-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 9, in Lab 62, Suite 1100, in the Linus D. Wright Dallas ISD Administration Building, 9400 N. Central Expressway.

For questions or additional information, contact Tiffany Gilmore at or (972) 925-8915.

Seven teachers receive 2018 Texas Instruments Foundation awards

Seven Dallas ISD teachers were recognized on Wednesday, Nov. 28, for being selected for 2018 Texas Instruments Innovations in STEM Teaching Awards. Each receives $10,000 to divide equally between their classrooms and themselves.

STEM is shorthand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The 2018 Dallas ISD recipients are:

  • Grant Ashmore, Bryan Adams High School
  • Donielle Edwards-Tyeskie, Trinidad Garza Early College High School
  • Arelthia Phillips, Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship Academy
  • Sara Ramirez, STEM Environmental Education Center
  • Andrew Sobinvosky, Dallas Environmental Science Academy
  • Ashley Steele, Henry Longfellow Career Exploration Academy
  • Brent Voorhees, Skyline High School

Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said there are two Dallas ISD programs that the district leads nationally, but does not always get due recognition for. One is dual-language and the other is STEM. Both are programs he said he brags about when giving speeches throughout the country.

“I think we are best-in-class, especially for a big urban district,” he said. “And the fact that we’re honoring you, the best of the best, in the best-in-class program in the country, is really meaningful.”

Terri West, chairwoman of the TI Foundation board, said that since the awards program began 12 years ago, nearly $2 million has been awarded to teachers in six Dallas-area school districts. There have been 74 Dallas ISD teachers, including the 2018 winners, who have received a total of $865,000 in awards.

West said education is the top priority of the TI Foundation’s philanthropy, specifically STEM education.

“Certainly part of it is for selfish reasons because science, technology, engineering and math are really important to TI,” West said. “But also we understand at the foundation what a STEM background – a STEM education – can do for a student. It truly can change a student’s life.”

West said a basis in STEM can boost a student’s earning potential but also give them the chance to spend their careers working on rewarding and exciting projects.

“We are so delighted to support a strong STEM program in our own back yard,” she said. “Congratulations to the winners, and more importantly, thank you for what you do. It makes a great deal to your students.”

Oswaldo Alvarenga, Executive Director of Dallas ISD’s STEM Department, listed the requirements to be considered for the TI award.

Candidates have to teach a STEM-related subject at the secondary level, be eligible for Distinguished Teacher Review in the previous school year, be nominated by their school’s principal, fill out an application and be subjected to a classroom visit.

“So it was a very rigorous process,” Alvarenga said. “After all the numbers were added up, this is how we came down to our seven.”

Preston Hollow special-ed teacher nets prize for going above and beyond

Leanne Woods is the second recipient of a quarterly $250 recognition provided to outstanding special education teachers by Carter Financial Management. Recipients can use the funds to spend on items for their classrooms.

Parents, community and staff are 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.

Woods is a specialized programs teacher at Preston Hollow Elementary.  She was nominated by an administrator, parent and colleague. Below are some of the comments that were made during the nomination.

• “She is one of the first people at school. She is always smiling and open to help every single person who reaches out for her, no matter what.”

• “She encourages inclusion throughout the entire school and creates opportunities for the special education students to interact with all students within the school. They have reading partners with other classes and even pen pals with other classes.”

Dallas ISD teachers take part of ‘Touchdown for Teachers’ event

New teachers were invited to Touchdown for Teachers on Saturday, Oct. 27, at the SMU football game. The first 500 teachers who registered claimed two complimentary tickets to the game

During the halftime program, Dallas ISD teachers Matthew Abernathy and Melisa Simon were recognized as “Rising Stars.”

Abernathy is an Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus teacher at Justin F. Kimball High School. Simon is a fifth-grade science teacher at Annie Webb Blanton Elementary School who we featured previously on The Hub because after graduating from W.W. Samuell Early College High School, she was able to complete her bachelor’s degree and begin her teaching career at age 20.

The event also officially launched the Best in Class Coalition, a group of 50 organizations across DFW that are working to ensure all students have access to excellent teachers.

Hill Middle teacher is October’s NBC5/SMU Excellent Educator

Shelly Thibodaux, a P.E. teacher and coach at Dallas ISD’s Robert T. Hill Middle School, is October’s “Excellent Educator.”

The award included a $1,000 check for the school, presented by SMU President Dr. R. Gerald Turner.

The Excellent Educator program is coordinated by NBC 5 and SMU to honor educators in the region who go above and beyond. Learn more about how Thibodaux makes a positive difference for students at Hill Middle School here.

Oct. 5 campaign kicks off Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This year, an estimated 250,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed. The good news is that prevention and early detection are saving lives. Dallas ISD staff have the opportunity to donate toward breast cancer research by participating in the districtwide “Pink Out” day on Friday, Oct. 5.

Staff are encouraged to wear pink shirts, sweaters, cardigans, or other appropriate tops. Those who choose to donate toward breast cancer research can take advantage of the “Denim Day” also on Oct. 5 and wear work-appropriate jeans.

For instructions to donate via Oracle Employee Self-Service, click here. For any questions or additional information, contact the Benefits Department at or (972) 925-4300.

Vaccination clinics for staff start Sept. 27

The Benefits Department is hosting flu shot clinics this fall at district buildings and campuses from Sept. 27 through Nov. 2. To view the locations and times of the clinics, visit

Passport Health accepts the following PPO insurance plans:

  • TRS-Aetna ActiveCare 1-HD and 2 Plans – covered at 100%
    • TRS SELECT plans cannot be accepted. *
    • Scott & White Plans cannot be accepted. *
  • Aetna*
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield*
  • Cigna*
  • Humana
  • United Health Care
  • Medicare Part B (Flu shots only-please provide a copy of any supplement plans also)

For employees who do not have an accepted insurance plan, the cost is $20 for the Quadrivalent flu vaccine, payable by cash or check, made out to Staying Healthy Medical Services.

To take advantage of the clinic, sign up online or with the campus organizer. Locations with low sign up counts may be cancelled prior to the clinic date. For additional information, contact the Benefits Department at or (972) 925-4300.

*TRS Aetna ActiveCare Select plans and Scott & White plans cannot be accepted. Employees on these plans must see a Baylor Scott & White physician for all services, including vaccinations for the plan to cover the services. We are unable to accept HMO plans, Aetna & BCBS Bronze, Silver and Gold plans and Cigna Local Plus. Please see consent form for other known exceptions.

Toastmasters offer weekly speaking and leadership development

Dallas ISD Talk It Up! Toastmasters invite you to join us to grow your public speaking and leadership skills and improve your self-confidence. We offer two opportunities per week to learn from Toastmasters’ time-tested, proven curriculum. Feel free to try us out at either of our one-hour meetings: Mondays at 11:30 a.m. at the Linus Wright Dallas ISD Administration Building, 9400 NCX, or Wednesdays at 5:45 p.m. at the H.B. Bell School Support Services Building, 2909 N. Buckner Blvd. Both sessions feature opportunities to deliver speeches, practice leadership roles and learn to think on your feet. Attend a meeting soon to find out what Toastmasters can offer you. Got questions? Call 214-779-2311.