Nutrition Month: Reading the label 

One of the basics of eating healthier is having a handle on what you are eating, and the best way to do it is learning how to read nutrition labels. The following is a quick guide to reading the Nutrition Facts label.

Step 1: Start with the serving size

Servings per container and serving size information appear in large, bold font. The serving size is not a recommendation of how much to eat.

  • Look here for both the serving size (the amount people typically eat at one time) and the number of servings in the package. 
  • Compare your portion size (the amount you actually eat) to the serving size listed on the panel. The Nutrition Facts apply to the serving size, so if the serving size is one cup, and you eat two cups, you need to double the calories, fat and other nutrients. 
  • Learn more about serving sizes on the Nutrition Facts label.

Step 2: Compare the total calories to your individual needs

  • Calories are in large and bold font to make the information easier to find and use.
  • Find out how many calories are in a single serving and compare it to your total calorie allowance for the day—2,000 calories per day is used for general nutrition advice, but your individual needs may be higher or lower.
  • Learn more about calories on the Nutrition Facts label.

Step 3: Let the percent daily values be a guide

  • Use the percent daily values (DV) to help evaluate how a particular food fits into your daily meal plan because these apply to the entire day, not just one meal or snack.
  • Daily values are average levels of nutrients based on a person who eats 2,000 calories a day. A food item with a 5% DV of fat provides 5% of the total fat that a person who needs 2,000 calories a day should eat. 
  • You may need more or fewer than 2,000 calories per day, which means you may need to adjust the percentage listed on the package for some nutrients. 
  • Low is 5% or less. Aim low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • High is 20% or more. Aim high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. 

Step 4: Check Out the Nutrition Terms

  • Low calorie: 40 calories or less per serving. 
  • Low cholesterol: 20 milligrams or less of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving. 
  • Reduced: At least 25% less of the specified nutrient or calories than the usual product. 
  • Good source of: Provides at least 10% to 19% of the daily value of a particular vitamin or nutrient per serving.
  • Excellent source of: Provides at least 20% of the daily value of a particular vitamin or nutrient per serving. 
  • Calorie-free: Less than five calories per serving. 
  • Fat-free/sugar-free: Less than ½ gram of fat or sugar per serving. 
  • Low sodium: 140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving. 
  • High in: Provides 20% or more of the daily value of a specific nutrient per serving. 

Step 5: Choose low in saturated fat, added sugars and sodium

  • Eating less saturated fat, added sugars and sodium may help reduce your risk for chronic disease. 
  • Saturated fat and trans fat are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. 
  • Eating too much added sugar increases your calorie count and makes it difficult to meet nutrient needs within calorie coals. 
  • High levels of sodium can add up to high blood pressure. 
  • Remember to aim for low percentages of daily values of these. 

Step 6: Get Enough vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber

  • Choose more foods containing dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin D, calcium and iron to maintain good health and help reduce your risk of certain health problems such as osteoporosis and anemia. 
  • Choose more fruits and vegetables to get more of these nutrients. 
  • Remember to aim high for the percentage daily values of these nutrients on other foods. 

Step 7: Consider the additional nutrients

You know about calories, but it is also important to know about the additional nutrients on the Nutrition Facts label.

  • Protein: A percentage daily value for protein is not required on the label. Eat moderate portions of lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese, plus beans and peas, nuts, seeds and soy products. 
  • Carbohydrates: There are three types of carbohydrates: sugars, starches and fiber. Eat whole-grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta plus fruits and vegetables. 
  • Sugars: Simple carbohydrates, or sugars, occur naturally in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose) or come from refined sources such as table sugar (sucrose) or corn syrup. Added sugars are included on the updated Nutrition Facts label. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that foods and beverages with added sugars be avoided by children under the age of 2 and that individuals older than 2 years of age consume no more than 10% of daily calories from added sugars.

Foods with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. Those in the largest amounts are listed first. This information is particularly helpful for people with food sensitivities or allergies, those who need to avoid certain ingredients due to religious reasons, or people who prefer a vegetarian eating style.

Learn more about the Nutrition Facts Label by visiting the FDA website.



Women’s History Month profile: Christine Martinez

In the almost 25 years that Christine Martinez has been with Dallas ISD, she has become known for being a resourceful leader who is always willing to help others by leading with kindness. In her latest role as an administrative assistant with Custodial Services, she has become an advocate for the inclusion of custodians’ voices and contributions, making sure that they are honored as vital parts of the Dallas ISD team.

Martinez began her journey in the district as a registrar at Edward H. Cary Middle School, which closed in 2019 after a devastating tornado caused extensive damage to the school. The kindness for which she is known was in evidence at the time as the event turned her school community upside down. Not only did Martinez work at Cary, but she was also a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, another school severely damaged by the tornado. 

After the tornado, and working on different campuses—Pancho Medrano Junior High, Ben Franklin International Exploratory Academy, and Thomas Jefferson High School—following the school’s closure, the 2020 pandemic struck. That’s when she saw the opportunity to make a bigger impact in Custodial Services. 

Since she started working there, Martinez has lived by what is this year’s theme for Women’s History Month: “Women who advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

“Our custodial staff is very important to student success,” she said. “They play multiple roles, they help the teachers move their equipment, they clean the floors, they make sure we have access to essential items like paper towels.” 

“They keep students and team members healthy by making sure the buildings are clean and disinfected,” she added. “Especially when we had the pandemic, everyone else got to stay home and they were there at the buildings disinfecting them.” 

On Oct. 2, during National Custodian Day, Martinez makes sure that her fellow team members feel honored and appreciated. For the past three years, she has helped organize the different ways that custodians have been honored, such as ordering t-shirts for every custodian on campus, and giving them other swag items. Martinez has helped with the coordination as well as the creative aspect, such as helping design the t-shirts. 

Although Martinez is no longer working on a campus, she still considers her co-workers from Cary a part of her extended family and stays in contact with them. She said they get together every so often in person and stay in touch through social media for events like weddings, birth announcements, and so on.  

“Cary Middle School was my home. I spent more time there than I actually did where I’m paying my mortgage,” Martinez said. 

Despite the challenges of the school closing because of the tornado, which Martinez described as crushing, she was able to find the silver lining, as it led her to her current position at Custodial Services, which she absolutely loves. In addition to her role at Custodial Services, Martinez works at Alfred J. Loos Sports Complex. After she finishes her regular work day, she works as the acting manager at Loos, where she coordinates everything from games to special events. 

She makes sure that they are staffed for the games, including the ticket sellers and referees, having microphones, etc. She does the paperwork to make sure the referees are paid, and she’s there for the duration of an event, just in case something happens, says Martinez. 

“I meet a lot of different people, not just within the district, but our parents. They come out every week for their events and they get to see you and you run into them at the grocery store and in the community,” Martinez said. 

Like her times at Cary, Martinez continues to build connections with students, families, and community members. Martinez builds those connections everywhere she goes and is often encouraging others to work for the district, where she has met lifelong friends.

“I’m always always encouraging people to get in with the district. I tell them ‘find your home, find your place,’” Martinez said. “Of course, not everybody’s going to find the right match the first time. They can work at a school or in a central office, or anywhere. My advice is to keep trying.” 

“I have just been one of the lucky ones.” she said. “I had found my home at Cary, but I also found my home when I started working here at Custodial Services.”


Social workers empower others 

Social workers play a vital role in our schools advocating for students, families and communities. During March—Social Work Month—Dallas ISD celebrates the work these professionals do to meet the needs of students and families.

“A lot of times you have to meet students and families where they are. You can’t go to them with a pious or superior attitude,” said Patricia Washington, a social worker in the district’s Child Find Department. “Sometimes they can’t help the circumstances they’re in and you have to work with them and treat them as you would want someone to treat one of your family members.” 

The theme for this year is “Empowering Social Workers,” as a way to bring awareness to better support social workers. According to the National Association of Social Workers website, it is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that nearly 800,000 people will work as social workers in the United States by 2032, an increase of 7 percent over the decade.

Washington, of two social workers in her department, said that Social Work Month brings awareness to a field that can often be thankless by highlighting all the good things social workers do. 

“Most of us are in this business because we want to help those in need, and we truly care about the needs of others,” Washington said. “I’ve helped connect people to different resources, such as housing, mental health services, food, and so on.” 

Washington, who’s been working for the district since 2015, has been a social worker for over 40 years. Before coming to the district, she worked for the Dallas Police Department in the crisis intervention area. In fact, she started working for the district on the day she retired from the police department. Prior to that, she had worked for Child Protective Services, as well as a federally funded program that helped young mothers and pregnant teens. 

Washington, who graduated from Franklin D. Roosevelt High School, took the opportunity to work in the district as a way of giving back to the community that raised her.  

While Washington says she isn’t someone who expects anything in return, she does recall moments when she felt extremely gratified for doing the work she does. She remembers a time when she helped a mother and daughter mend their relationship after the daughter had suffered some trauma that the mother wasn’t aware of. Washington intervened and helped connect them to services as well as help their relationship. 

“The mom wrote a three-page letter to my supervisor after she found out who my boss was, and let him know how grateful she was and what a difference I had made, and to this day, it is one of my memorable moments, as it was an unexpected surprise,” Washington said. 

Washington said she was made for this kind of work, and she even practices kindness and empathy outside of work. For example, she will sometimes go up to a parent with their child at a grocery store, and say “I’m proud of you.” She had also been a “Big Sister” in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program for several years, where she mentored a child who is now 21 years old. She recalls the child’s mom being thankful to her for bringing different opportunities to her daughter that she otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to due to the mother’s disabilities. 

Washington said she inherited her mom’s caring heart to do this kind of work and describes her mom as someone who was always positive and gave others the benefit of the doubt. It’s that same kindness and dependability that Washington is known by her colleagues and the district’s families that she serves, and said that she truly loves the work that she does.

If you would like more information on the work that social workers do, and how you can help bring awareness, visit the National Association of Social Workers website at

New Dallas ISD police chief brings a heart of service

Education has always played an important role in Dallas ISD Police Chief Albert Martinez’s life. Now, in his new role as the top police officer for the district, he is combining his support for education with his passion for serving others. 

While growing up, education was strongly emphasized by his mother, who was born and raised in Mexico and who didn’t have the same educational opportunities available to him, so it was always something she pushed, he said.  

Martinez, a 31-year police veteran, took over as the new chief of police for the district last month. He was previously the second in command at the Dallas Police Department, a role he and another chief shared, and worked directly with Dallas Chief Eddie Garcia. While Martinez didn’t grow up in Dallas—he grew up in Pecos, Texas—he has spent most of his adult life here, having arrived in Dallas in the fall of 1993. He immediately began his career in law enforcement as a student in the police academy and has been here ever since. 

He said his biggest priority at Dallas ISD is to follow the district’s and state’s safety and security mandates for all schools.  Next, he said he wants his leadership to be centered around his team members so they can better understand the value of their contributions to the Dallas ISD Police Department and the district as a whole.

“Like our teachers, our principals, and other employees, everyone’s doing this work from their heart,” Martinez said. “My job here as a leader is to tap into my people’s hearts of service. I want them to grow, not only professionally and personally. I want to foster that type of growth environment.” 

He also believes that getting a quality education is something that can make a big difference in a student’s life, as well as having it as a foundation from which to build a life. The district has a number of opportunities, and the more opportunities that students are exposed to will help them stay motivated and be less likely to make decisions that could negatively affect their future, he said. 

Martinez credits his third-grade teacher, along with his mother, for motivating him as a child, so he knows the value of students seeing role models and mentors in the schools. Martinez, who was an honors student, was told by his teacher that she was proud of him. In turn, he wanted to continue to make her proud by getting good grades. Besides excelling in school, Martinez also played trumpet in the school band, and says he’s still able to read music. 

“Our teachers, even some of the smallest acts that they do, will have a big impact, but they may not see it for years,” Martinez said. “It  may be something they said or something they did. You can see their heart of service– that they care.”

Martinez said he understands that students have challenges, which can include things happening at home, and hopes to work with the schools and community partners so students can find peace and tranquility in their school. 

“Some of our students are in survival mode, but there’s relief here, there’s food, there’s care, there’s mentorship,” Martinez said. “Even with the challenges that they may face in school, it can also be where they feel a sense of belonging.”

Building community is also one of Martinez’s priorities—working with parents, guardians and other stakeholders from within and outside the school district. This includes listening to their concerns and working together, he said. 

“The community really wants to help. You have individuals and organizations, and private corporations who have the means to help and who want  to help,” Martinez said. “We have to be part of that conduit to bring resources.” 

He said that he is looking forward to continuing to build and strengthen the relationships that his predecessor, Chief John Lawton, has created with the district and community. 

“Relationships are very critical, and so one of my foremost and  biggest tasks is to form and solidify those relationships,” Martinez said. 


Call for Core 4 central nominations

Dallas ISD team members deserve to be praised for their Core 4 spirit as they demonstrate what being focused, flexible, fast and friendly means in their everyday interactions. If your central administration department has been doing regular recognitions, please nominate those you celebrated for a central-wide recognition by completing this form

A committee will look at the nominations and choose a central administration champion for the quarter for each of the four tenets. We’ll be asking for nominations again in a few months. Those who are recognized will receive a bag with Core 4 items and the opportunity to park in the Core 4 Champions spot at the Linus D. Wright Dallas ISD Administration Building. 

Recognizing team members in your department is part of the Core 4 experience.

Women’s History Month by the book

Celebrate Women’s History Month with Dallas ISD’s extensive library resources. Dive into a diverse collection of e-books, access invaluable online platforms like Gale for comprehensive research, and explore enriching print books. These are available to any student and team member in the district.

“Our resources have information that inspires and educates students about the remarkable contributions of women throughout history,” said Patricia Alvarado, director of Library Media Services. 

Below are some of the resources:

Picture book biography link to access information on Teaching Books resources from the district: 

Site about women’s history from one of the district’s premium resources,

Elementary Gale in Context: Voting Rights for Women 

A short video about women’s history from Britannica High School: sembly/view/253414

All of these resources and more can be found at

Helping parents navigate curriculum

Academic Services has launched a site to help parents navigate the district’s curriculum resources through the new Parent Curriculum Support Website. As partners in your child’s education, Dallas ISD understands the importance of providing resources and activities to help parents support their students’ learning journey at home.

The curriculum strategy focuses on delivering grade-level content, aligned with state standards, while offering additional support for students who may need it. The district believes that strong collaboration between schools and families is essential for students’ success.

On the website, parents will find resources and activities designed to support children’s learning in reading language arts and mathematics. Whether it’s reinforcing concepts covered in class or exploring new topics together, these resources are available to enhance the educational experience.

This is Home: Working for Dallas ISD is a Molina family tradition 

In the Molina family there is an inside joke about Dallas ISD: “It’s a family business.” According to Mario Molina, who recently retired, nine out of the 11 siblings have worked for the district. To the family members, who also attended schools in the district, Dallas ISD has definitely been home over the years. 

Molina retired this past December after having worked 37 years in the district’s Evaluation and Assessment Department, where he was assigned to the warehouse service center—shipping and receiving state and local tests, among other duties. 

Molina says he is a proud product of Dallas ISD, as he and all of his siblings attended Dallas ISD schools, from elementary to high school. All but three graduated from Sunset High School. His three older siblings graduated from Crozier Tech High School, which has since closed and is a historical landmark

Besides his siblings, Molina’s spouse, Anita Espinosa, has worked for the district for approximately five years, and is the office manager at the School for the Talented and Gifted at the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center. Molina even has nieces and nephews who work for the district as teachers or work in the school office. Espinosa, who grew up in Plano, knew that it was only a matter of time before she, too, would end up working for the district. And she was right. 

So how did this family tradition start? Molina says one of the older sisters was the first to take a job with the district, and soon other siblings followed. He said one of the things that has attracted him and family members to the district was the opportunity to work and grow in the numerous departments. 

“There’s something for everybody here in the district,” Molina said. 

Since several family members have the same holidays and vacation dates—one of the perks of working for the district—they get together for breakfast or make it a point to see each other, Molina said. While he’s enjoying his retirement, Molina said he enjoyed working with his district team and saw them more like family. 

“They become your family because you never know when they might need your help or you may need their help, without expecting anything in return—that’s what family does, related or not,” he said.

For Molina, it’s family—both biological and work family—that motivated him to get up to go to work every morning  for the district for almost four decades. But said it was the students who motivated him the most.

“Just knowing that the students were getting the supplies they needed and how I was helping counselors, teachers, and schools, was gratifying,” Molina said. While he admits that he might not have always seen the direct impact his work had on students, he knew that the role that he and his colleagues did was important. 

Espinosa began her career in the district first as an attendance clerk and then as a financial clerk, to her current job of office manager. She says she is able to see the direct impact her work has on students and team members at her school, and that it’s the little things that motivate her.  She often receives thank you notes from students after assisting them with materials they need for student activities. 

During the trajectory of Molina’s career with the district, he says he has experienced many memorable moments, but some of his favorites involve bringing sunshine to someone’s day. He recalls a moment when a campus counselor was having a challenging day and was in tears. He started telling her that everything was going to be okay and how everything would work out. 

“Seeing her demeanor change, made me feel good inside and made me want to strive to do more of that,” said Molina. “I was able to make her day a little better.”

Meeting different counselors, test coordinators, and team members from throughout the district who always had a story to tell or share about the good things happening on their campuses, was when he got glimpses of the impact that his work had on supporting the district’s students. 

For Espinosa, one of her favorite things about her role at Townview TAG is helping the parents and students. Although she’s only been on that campus since last February, she says she’s already established a rapport with students, parents and team members. 

While Molina says he misses the interaction with his colleagues, Espinosa says they both stay busy with their daughter’s athletic activities. She is a senior, so they both spend a lot of time at volleyball and softball games. In their spare time, they enjoy going out dancing to Tejano and country music and are also big Rangers fans.

“If I had to do it all over again, I would still work for the district,” Molina said. “You actually don’t know how many lives you’re touching or how many lives you’re affecting even though you’re not on campus, but your job is helping students get a step closer to where they want to go, and that makes me happy.” 

Women’s History Month Profile: Miriam Gaytan 

Starting as a teacher and leader in both high school and middle school in Dallas ISD, Miriam Gaytan has worked to make a positive impact on students’ lives. Now, in her role in Maintenance and Facility Services, she continues to bring her dedication and focus on pursuing the highest standards of excellence for the benefit of students and team members.

Gaytan, currently director of operations, is a Thomas Jefferson High School graduate and an example of commitment and dedication to the community. She oversees the budget and management of the 10 organizations in Maintenance and Facility Services, she said. With an outstanding 22 years of service with Dallas ISD, Gaytan has demonstrated a commitment to education and a drive for success.

“After graduating high school, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Those 13 weeks of boot camp changed me forever, and I will never forget the pride I felt earning the title of Marine,” she said. “The Corps taught me to be a better steward of my community and to be grateful for the men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom.”

Gaytan’s journey in education was inspired by her own experiences as a student in Dallas ISD. 

“As a product of Dallas ISD, I wanted to give back to the district that helped raise me,” she said. “I admired my teachers from an early age and wondered if I could be like them someday.”

She returned to Thomas Jefferson High School as a teacher and was not disappointed when she was welcomed back as a colleague by her former teachers, something that was “incredibly special. They mentored me and helped me become the teacher I always dreamt of being,” she said. 

In her current role, Gaytan is committed to promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion for women in her department. 

“As a woman in a department with majority men, I understand the importance of advocating for and creating awareness regarding the inclusion and acknowledgment of all perspectives and ideas,” she said. 

Words of wisdom Gaytan often shares: “Be proud of where you come from and give back every chance you get. Cherish those that love, grow, and believe in you. Always leave things better than you found them.”

In moments of adversity, Miriam draws strength from her parents, who emigrated from Mexico in pursuit of a better life.

“I think of my parents who raised three girls in a completely different country, and through their struggles, I saw their persistence and tenacity to always provide for our family,” she said.

Miriam’s leadership extends beyond her professional responsibilities; she makes time to interact with students and inspire the next generation. During Read Across America Day, she visited Sam Tasby Middle School to read a story to students and share her own story of motivation.

Miriam hopes her legacy of leadership, resilience, and dedication will continue to inspire generations to come. 

Health club champions positive change

Guardians of the Green Conservation and Health Club, the newest club at Edward Titche Elementary School, is teaching students, families, and team members about hygiene, waste reduction, fitness, and nutrition.

The club is the brainchild of Kamron Barton, and it demonstrates her commitment to the well-being of students and the environment. 

“Establishing and sponsoring the group this year has been rewarding,” she said. 

The Guardians of the Green are impacting their school community by promoting food safety throughout the holidays, healthy eclipse viewing, and recycling. 

“In support of Earth Day’s 2024 theme we want to reduce plastic use by at least 60 percent” she said. 

As school counselor, Barton is passionate about education and is devoted to her students. With more than a decade of experience in education, she said she has dedicated her life to educating young minds and creating a culture of conservation and health awareness. Promoting positive exchange is reflected in all aspects of her work, including the health club. 

Despite the challenges of managing the club in addition to her other duties as counselor, she remains dedicated to her students and the goals of helping them improve their lives and the lives of their families.  

“Every staff member sponsors a club that meets at the same time, and all students are expected to participate in one,” she said. “Therefore, consistent meeting attendance can be a challenge, but seeing the enthusiasm and dedication of our members makes the obstacle worthwhile.” 

Barton hadn’t always envisioned herself as an educator, but the tech bust years ago drove engineers into the classroom, where she found her calling. Her experiences in the classroom and as an instructional coach reinforced her passion for counseling. She advises anyone working with children that exposure to new things is key. 

“Providing students with opportunities to experience something new and to learn its value can shape their careers and personal lives in profound ways,” she said.

Barton has also led school diversity and inclusion initiatives and has organized and implemented initiatives for Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Most of all, she is proud of helping students succeed.

“Professionally, I am proud of helping two immigrant Sheltered English students who’d lost their father pass TAKS for the first time,” she said. “I enjoyed learning that these engineers graduated from UT and Texas A&M on full Gates scholarships.”

“This year, I counseled a grieving newcomer despite language barriers,” she said. “I also prioritize guiding fourth-graders to connect learning to future careers. Coming from a low-SES high school without access to such resources, I aim to provide a different experience for my students. At Titche, fourth-graders regularly discuss connections between subjects and their career goals. It’s about showing children, parents, and staff that they are seen, heard, loved, and believed in.”