Teachers are coming to Dallas ISD

More teachers have applied to come work at Dallas ISD every month since January than in the same period the past five years. The district received more than 6,000 teacher applications in May alone, considerably more than last May.

“Human Capital Management is committed to ensuring that our campuses have a highly effective teacher in every classroom,” said Chief of HCM Robert Abel. “There is still a shortage of teachers throughout the country, but with our competitive salaries, strategic compensation system, robust alternative certification program, and incentives in several areas, we have made our district attractive to teachers.”

The district’s recruitment team strategically developed a robust marketing plan to promote the teacher application to build a viable candidate pipeline utilizing Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund, Title and general operating funding sources. In addition, the district enhanced its Alternative Certification program with initiatives like free tuition for program expenses.

“These teacher applications allow principals to screen, identify, and hire the best-fit candidates for their schools,” Abel said.

Providing outstanding Core 4 customer service

Claiborne Allen has been providing outstanding Core 4 customer service in the Information Technology department for the past 15 years. His customers have taken note, and the business systems analyst said being focused, fast, flexible, and friendly has always come naturally to him. 

“I base my behavior, my support, and my service on the moral of treating people how I want to be treated,” Allen said. “I never let a bad day get me down, and I never bring my bad day onto other people or my customers. The Core 4 just falls in line with that.” 

Allen primarily assists the Payroll and Human Capital Management departments with any issues that arise with Oracle and ensures that any help tickets he receives are resolved in a timely manner to help keep daily operations across the district running smoothly. 

Samantha Castillo, Olivia Pintor, and Krystal Castillo all work in School Leadership and praised Allen for always stepping up to meet their department’s needs.

“Mr. Allen exemplifies the Core 4 as he is always responsive, willing to help, and a great communicator,” Pintor said. “He goes above and beyond with a positive attitude to provide exceptional customer service.” 

For Allen, it’s all in a day’s work. He grew up watching his mother dedicate three decades of service to Dallas ISD, so when he was ready to join the workforce, he said the district was a clear choice. His first role was at a service desk, and as he gained experience over the years, he worked his way up into his current position. 

Allen said he appreciates everything about his job, as it allows him to do meaningful work that contributes to Dallas ISD’s mission of educating all students for success.

“I take pride in helping people every day,” Allen said. “I’ve always been a great supporter of others, and that’s what makes my days go by—making people happy by resolving their issues. I really do enjoy what I do now and want to continue doing it until I retire.”

Pre-K teacher brings “field trips” into her classroom

Hailey Rangel, a prekindergarten teacher at Jill Stone Elementary School, is on a mission to bring “field trips” to her students, which includes interactive activities to not only engage them, but also make learning more meaningful. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, field trips were restricted and schools had limited visitors. The expense of busing students to field trip locations even without the pandemic restrictions was also an obstacle.

So putting two and two together, Rangel decided to bring the learning opportunities of field trips to her school, instead. At the beginning of last school year, she did research for free on-campus activities students could participate in. 

“I built a list and invited different groups to visit the school, to give the students different opportunities to expand their learning,” said Rangel. 

Josefina Rodriguez, assistant principal at Jill Stone, describes Rangel as a vital asset to the school who has gone above and beyond to bring her students different experiences that broaden their possibilities to learn. 

The activities that Rangel has brought to the school range in areas from science to the arts. For example, Rangel is responsible for starting the school garden and bringing a mobile dairy farm to the school. 

Invited guests have included representatives of the Dallas Museum of Art and City of Dallas staff members who talked to the students about the importance of water conservation. 

This past school year, students also had the opportunity to study ladybugs, butterflies, and worms that Rangel received from the district’s Living Materials Center. 

One of Rangel’s motivations is remembering her family making it a priority to expose her to enrichment activities when she was a kid. She remembers how meaningful it was to her in her development and love of learning. 

Rangel has fond memories of her mom taking her and neighborhood kids to museums and places like Chuck E. Cheese due to good grades in report cards.

“I just want to give those same opportunities to my students, who otherwise might not have them,” Rangel said. “All students deserve to enjoy learning.” 

One of the things that Rangel loves about being a pre-K teacher is knowing her students are eager to learn. 

“They love to learn different things. Someone just has to show them,” Rangel said. She says that even seeing a little stem sprout from a tomato plant in the school’s garden is exciting to the kids, who soak everything in, according to Rangel.

The seeds to become an educator were planted in Rangel’s mind from the time she was a kid, as she comes from a family of educators– her mother, aunt and sister are all educators.

It was after graduating from college that Rangel found her calling. She was part of the National Civilian Community Corps from the AmeriCorps program, and one of her team’s projects was working in a summer literacy program at an elementary school in Maryland. She was a teacher’s assistant and was in charge of the garden. 

“I realized then that by being a teacher I could make a difference,” said Rangel.  “I felt I could open up the students’ minds and help to close learning gaps.”

After Rangel returned from her assignment with AmeriCorps, she began working other jobs, which included being a substitute teacher. That’s when she went through the district’s alternative certification program to become a teacher. 

“Teaching is probably the first job I’ve had where I don’t wake up in the morning and think ‘oh my gosh, I don’t want to go to work today,’” Rangel said. In fact, she loves teaching so much that she sees this as her career choice for the foreseeable future. 

Rangel’s hopes for her students include them having the freedom to choose their own pathways in life. 

“If they want to be an astronaut or a farmer or anything they want to be, there’s a pathway to that, and they can do it,” Rangel said. “I’m just bringing them different opportunities. They just have to do a little bit of research, but the sky’s the limit. They just have to keep trying until they reach their goals.”  

Recognize the Core 4

Through the Core 4—the district’s culture tenets—student success is at the core of everything we do. That’s why it’s important to model and recognize when team members exemplify the district’s four culture tenets by being:

  • Focused on transforming student lives
  • Fast by working with urgency for all 
  • Flexible when striving for the yes
  • Friendly to make memorable moments

Department recognitions

Central departments are encouraged to hold monthly recognitions to highlight outstanding examples of those embracing the culture tenets. These employees will then be recognized districtwide every quarter. Campus recognitions will launch later in the 2023-2024 school year. 

Departments can hold local recognitions as frequently as every month by asking team members, parents and the community (when appropriate) to share instances where someone has exemplified one of the tenets in an outstanding way. The example should be specific and mention the tenet and how the person being recognized exceeded expectations during their interaction. We recommend that examples be submitted in writing or by creating a Google form using these instructions. We recommend designating a Core 4 coordinator or ambassador for each department to gather these nominations, to coordinate who is chosen each month for recognition, and to share them with the department and, later, the districtwide recognition committee.

Once team members who embrace the Core 4 have been chosen by departments, we encourage you to share their names with the rest of the team by:

  • Setting up a Core 4 Board in the employee lounge
  • Announcing them in meetings
  • Adding a Core 4 card to their door or workstation

 Districtwide recognitions

In a few weeks, departments will receive a packet with items to recognize individuals in each of the four tenets throughout the year. Electronic copies of some of the materials will also be available.  

For additional recognition, a central recognition will be held periodically based on names of individual department winners that are submitted by the department’s Core 4 coordinator or ambassador. Sharing can take place at the end of each department’s recognition however often they take place. 

What should districtwide nominations look like?

Recognitions should be evidence-based, so the examples of team members who are chosen for embracing and practicing the Core 4 tenets in an outstanding way need to be specific. These submissions will be reviewed by a Core 4 Committee to choose four employees to be recognized at the district level—one for each of the tenets.

Once the Core 4 Committee chooses team members to recognize from all those whose names were submitted:

  • A story with their names and photos will appear in an issue of The Beat
  • An invitation to do Coffee with the Chief will be sent
  • Their information will be added to the Core 4 and Team Dallas ISD pages
  • Those housed in the Linus D. Wright Administration Building will be able to park (based on a predetermined schedule) in the special Core 4 parking spot

If you have  outstanding team members who you think especially embody one or more of the Core 4 culture tenets and you have recognized them in your department already, use this form to submit their names for districtwide recognition: https://forms.gle/B9d22srykzu5nLb38. Be specific! We are looking for evidence-based examples using the behaviors suggested by the Core 4 rubric for each tenet as a guide. 

Make sure to include a horizontal photo of each nominee.

Summer break benefits hours

Dallas ISD schools and administrative offices will be closed Monday, July 3, through Friday, July 7, for summer break. However, team members can still get assistance with benefits.

The benefits call center will be open Monday, July 3, from 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m. It will close on July 4, and will resume regular business hours for the remainder of the week.

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 HSA/ FSA, contact Optum at 877-528-9876 or visit www.optum.com. Optum is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You may reach the benefits call center at 972-925-4000 or email benefits@dallasisd.org. For questions regarding leaves of absence, email benefitsleaves@dallasisd.org. 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.

Keep an eye out for Annual Enrollment 2023-2024, which will run from July 10–Aug. 17, 2023.

Please visit www.dallasisd.org/benefits for more information.

Multiple Career Magnet Center students to transition to Career Institutes

Starting in the 2023-2024 school year, the Multiple Careers Magnet Center and the Career and Technical Education clusters will merge with the Career Institutes to provide state-of-the-art facilities and an inclusive experience to students receiving special education services.

This merger is a result of the need to align with the Texas Education Agency’s move to a more inclusive environment for students who receive special education services through Career and Technical Education for the Disabled. While this means that the district will no longer offer CTED courses in a setting exclusively for students who receive special education services, the transition will provide CTE in the Least Restrictive Environment at the state-of-the-art Career Institutes.

Students who attended MCMC will attend the Career Institute North or the Career Institute South. The district will closely match the career clusters provided at MCMC with the career clusters provided at the Career Institutes. Because CTE will be provided at locations that may be closer to the students’ home school, they may have a different teacher. The Career Institutes already serve students with disabilities, which means many of the teachers have experience in this area, and the district is ensuring additional staff is available at the Career Institutes to support students with special needs.   

Dallas ISD will continue to provide CTE programming for all district high schools, continue to provide special education support at the Career Institutes, and ensure students with special needs are receiving instruction in the least restrictive environment. The Career Institutes will also offer Adaptive CTE courses. These are inclusive classes with a smaller population and additional support to meet the needs of our students.

“Merging with the Career Institutes is a wonderful opportunity for us to build on our current successes while making changes to serve more students with special needs in CTE,” said Elizabeth Casas, deputy chief Special Populations. 

Meet Teacher of the Year finalist Bobby Bailey

Bobby Bailey, instructional lead teacher and sixth-grade math teacher at Billy Earl Dade Middle School, joined Dallas ISD in 2011. A “proud product of Dallas ISD,” he was born and raised in Dallas and attended Dallas ISD schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, graduating from David W. Carter High School. Bailey earned his bachelor of arts degree from Huston-Tillotson University in Austin.

As a 12-year veteran teacher, he has served at four elementary and middle schools in various leadership roles. He holds the responsibilities of sixth-grade math lead, instructional lead teacher, mentor teacher, sixth-grade representative on the Discipline Committee, head football coach, head basketball coach, and TEI campus expert. 

His goal is to foster productive citizens and allow God to guide his steps. He is grateful to give back to the students, schools, and district. Above all, his greatest return is to invest in Dallas ISD, the district that cultivated who he is today!

What is some advice you wish you had received when you were starting out as a teacher?  

The advice I wish someone would have told me is to measure a successful school year not based on test scores but the growth of my students’ character and academics.

What is your best tip for classroom management?  

The best tip I have for classroom management is to establish class rules, expectations, and allow for student leadership in your class. Once students feel a sense of responsibility they also help manage the class.

How do you build strong connections with students?  

I build strong connections with students by speaking to them every day, hosting circle time with my class where we share stories about things outside of school, and attending students’ extracurricular activities outside of school hours. I always try to make myself relatable to my students. I take myself back to their age so I can see things from their point of view.

What are your hopes for your students in the future?  

My hope is that my students in the future are able to live a productive life with a healthy balance based on the education they received. My hope is that they are able to show good character and make a difference in this world. I want my students to be culturally diverse. 

If you were not a teacher, what would you be doing instead?  

If I was not a teacher, I would be working for the Dallas Mavericks as a front office executive. 

What do you consider to be your superpower as a teacher? 

My superpower as a teacher would be having the ability to prick the hearts and minds of the toughest students to teach and giving them the confidence to work hard each day in class.

Annual Benefits Enrollment coming soon

Annual Benefits Enrollment for 2023-2024 starts July 10 and runs through Aug. 17 and the Benefits Overview Guide with details on the benefits you’ll be able to choose from is now available. 

To find the guide, click here, and to get additional information about benefits, visit dallasisd.org/benefits. Look for more information coming soon.

In addition to these tools, the Benefits Department will hold virtual meetings to go over the 2023-2024 benefits and answer questions. Register for one or more of these sessions by using this form. A meeting link will be sent to you prior to the meeting. 

If you need some help or have any questions about your benefits please book an appointment with the Benefits Department by clicking here.

Questions or need help? If you have questions or need assistance, call the Benefits Call Center at (972) 925-4000. English- and Spanish-speaking representatives can assist you on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

This Is Home: Celebrating 53 years in the district

Thousands of team members have called Dallas ISD home for years, even decades, and the district is recognizing their commitment to the community through the Service Recognition Award program. Skyline High School’s Diane Johnson is among the recipients, proudly celebrating her 53rd year of service with Dallas ISD. 

Johnson started her teaching career in 1968 with a third-grade class at James A. Garfield Elementary School in Washington, D.C. After her husband completed his military duty, he returned to Bishop College in Dallas to finish his college career, and she moved with him. While working at Bishop College in accounts payable, she was encouraged by a professor at the college to apply for a teaching position in Dallas ISD.

In 1969, she began teaching at Boude Storey Middle School and was later transferred to W.W. Samuell High School. In 1971, she was required to resign because she was pregnant, but she returned to teaching at Dr. L.G. Pinkston Sr. High School in August 1972 as a teacher, coach, and sponsor of many other activities for 33 years. 

How have you seen the district change from when you started until now?  

I witnessed the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy and all the historical events of D.C. during this period. I personally met Robert Kennedy and some of his children. The events of this period shaped my passion for teaching, and to this day, I try to give my students the best that I have.

What has inspired you to continue calling Dallas ISD home? 

I start each year with this message, “If you want to make a difference, start with the man in the mirror,” and end the year with, “Each one, teach one!” They are old cliches, but they work for me.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time in the district? 

While I was teaching at L.G. Pinkston, I met a student who was in my homeroom for four years. After the student graduated in 1976, the student started sending me a Mother’s Day card until 2004, when the student started sending a bouquet of flowers and has kept sending flowers to this day. 

I never knew why or what I did or said that was worthy of these accolades. But it reminds me, as a teacher, I must always be careful about what I say or do in the presence of students. As a teacher, you can never know what may touch the life of a student.

Meet Teacher of the Year finalist Laura Trevino 

Laura Trevino teaches eighth-grade English language arts at W.E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy. She is an educator by accident and a writer by trade. Through an education posting in Kazakhstan with the Peace Corps, Trevino learned what teaching was all about and fell in love with the transformative power of education. 

After her tour in the Peace Corps, Trevino worked with AmeriCorps to train Texas teaching fellows to impact their students with the nonprofit Citizen Schools. Trevino knew she belonged in the classroom and became a certified Texas teacher. 

Eight years later, she has no plans to leave teaching behind but extends her reach beyond the classroom, including educator assessment writing with the Texas Education Agency and Pearson. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Madonna University and a master of curriculum and instruction from The University of Texas at Arlington.

What is some advice you wish you had received when you were starting out as a teacher?  

This isn’t a job where perfection is possible. Doing this work well requires flexibility, reflection, and the ability to refine what you are doing. Let go of the idea of perfection and embrace the idea of being a lifelong learner.

What is your best tip for classroom management?  

Get them out of their seats! Remember, their brains aren’t fully developed until well after their formal public education ends. It’s hard for adults to sit in seats all day—so we should plan intentionally to have rigorous work and high expectations, all while ensuring students have opportunities to talk to one another and engage with materials in ways that require movement.

How do you build strong connections with students?  

It’s all about striking a balance between humor and humility. Laugh with your students, including at your own imperfections. By modeling mistakes and adjustments in real-time, you empower them to do the same. Additionally, let your students be their authentic selves, use nicknames, show interest in their hobbies, and attend their concerts occasionally. Teenagers thrive when they feel seen and truly known.

What are your hopes for your students in the future?  

My incredible students are unique individuals, and I don’t want to burden them with specific expectations. Instead, I hope they remain curious about the world and continue pursuing their passions. In my opinion, the true key to success lies in perpetual learning and growth in the direction that inspires them. I am genuinely excited to witness their future accomplishments!

If you were not a teacher, what would you be doing instead?  

If I weren’t teaching, I can’t imagine a career that wouldn’t involve working with students in some capacity. They are the reason I adore this profession, and any other path I might have chosen would have to allow me to make a positive impact on our youth.

What do you consider to be your superpower as a teacher? 

If I had to choose a superpower, I would say that I have the ability to distill complex concepts and provide powerful rationales that resonate with my students. Whether it’s explaining why Frederick Douglass’ legacy still matters today or why the bell schedule had to be extended on C days, I excel at giving my students meaningful insights and sparking their curiosity about the world around them.