AC interns can get money back

Alternative Certification interns could be eligible for reimbursement of their program fees if currently enrolled in an Educator Preparation Program.

The Alternative Certification reimbursement incentive was designed to support teachers during the 2022-2023 school year. Those who are eligible could be reimbursed up to $4,000 contingent on Human Capital Management approval and the availability of funds. This does not apply to Dallas ISD Alternative Certification program interns, whose tuition and fees have been waived. 

To be eligible for the reimbursement:

  • You must be a teacher during the 2022-2023 school year.
  • Your intern or probationary certificate must be posted on the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website no earlier than January 2022.
  • You must submit an official statement from your Alternative Certification program reflecting fees incurred and paid during the 2022-2023 school year.

Please click here for instructions on how to submit your official statement. 

Please click here to sign-up for an Alternative Certification Reimbursement information session.

Contact the certification department for any additional questions or concerns at (972) 925-4260 or

Introducing a new digital portal

Dallas ISD is launching a new portal that will make it easier to access district resources and will eventually create a single place to access all applications and reset user passwords.

While some team members will be able to claim their new portal access in May as part of the system’s pilot, the full portal will be available in late summer in preparation for the start of the 2023-2024 school year. The first phase of implementation will include the most popular applications in the district, and the Information Technology team will continue to add new ones during the school year.

All staff are encouraged to “claim” their account before the start of next school year. Information on how team members can claim accounts will be shared in the upcoming weeks before the end of the school year.

“We are excited about how this new portal will simplify how we access all the resources we need to do our work in the district,” said Jonathan Hurley, assistant superintendent of technology. “The ultimate goal is to simplify the digital learning experience, which will support student success.”

The Dallas ISD Portal will make users’ school network login the only one they need without sacrificing security, Hurley said. In fact, the new portal will strengthen the protections of sensitive information and access to digital systems while enhancing ease of use.

The Dallas ISD Portal will provide multiple types of user authentication methods—password, QR code, pictograph, etc.

If you want to check out the new Dallas ISD Portal, visit The portal will be operational in May. 

Budget meetings continue districtwide

District and community leaders, parents, and other stakeholders have come together for interactive and informative budget meetings—focused on the 2023-2024 budget planning and assumptions—being held in different locations throughout the district. 

Chief Financial Officer Tamika Alford-Stephens has been leading these community meetings with activities to help attendees better understand the budget planning process. Two meetings remain:

  • Tuesday, April 25, at Hillcrest High School
  • Thursday, April 27, at Seagoville High School 

Both sessions begin at 6 p.m.and interpretation services are provided. 

“We are currently having community meetings throughout the month of April and are carefully monitoring the legislative session,”  Alford-Stephens said. “In May we will begin making adjustments to our assumptions and will still continue to monitor the legislative session.” The board is expected to adopt the budget before June 30. 

The budget planning process consists of:

  • determining projected enrollment to calculate campus staffing
  • hosting principal meetings to identify individual campus needs
  • calculating projected revenue
  • determining and communicating budget assumptions
  • developing a proposed budget
  • hosting community budget meetings
  • incorporating legislative updates as applicable

Those who have attended the meetings have had the opportunity to do a hands-on activity in a small group called “show me the money,” which gives them a visual of a dollar bill representing a $1.8 billion dollar budget. The dollar bill has different labels such as salaries, contracted services, debt services, etc., and attendees are instructed to put the dollar together like a puzzle. They then align the percentage pieces with the dollar bill. 

“Salaries are a big chunk of the dollar, more than three quarters,” said one of the attendees at the meeting that took place at W.H. Adamson High School earlier in the month.

Part of the assumptions in the budget that is currently in development includes raising the minimum teacher salary to $61,000. For more information on the district’s budget meetings, visit


Fentanyl forum offers help combating drug use

When Tracey Brown and other members of the district’s Mental Health Services team work with students who are using drugs or other illicit substances, they always go beyond the addiction to see what has caused that child to turn to drugs.

And it is what they want parents and other adults to take away from this Saturday’s “Dallas Fights Fentanyl” Parent Education Forum at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center. The event, hosted by Dallas ISD, the City of Dallas, and several partner community agencies, starts at 8 a.m. and will offer a variety of resources and expert advice from mental health, parent services, medical, and law enforcement representatives.

“We want parents to understand how to connect with their child and let them know they are listening. This is one of the most effective ways to reach students who are using drugs or thinking of using drugs,” said Brown, Executive Director of Mental Health Services. “Our students need to feel a sense of connectedness and belonging to their families and school communities. That connection creates a sense of trust and openness to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences around drug use and the decisions about whether or not to use drugs. That’s what this whole forum is about. We want our parents to know that they are not alone in this fight. Parents, we are with you, we are here to support you and, not just Dallas ISD, all of these agencies who will be joining us on Saturday.”

For Deborah Purge, who manages the Seagoville Youth and Family Center, information is key to help parents connect with their children and keep them from drugs like Fentanyl, a prescription drug that has been turning up more and more in illicit drugs in concentrations high enough to be deadly.

“Kids are hurting and facing situations that are difficult for them, and they turn to drugs as a way to cope,” Purge said. “In Dallas ISD, we focus on the whole child. We work with families to recognize what issues are impacting the children’s ability to learn and address them with their families.”

Dallas ISD has one of the largest comprehensive mental health services programs in the country with the goal of eliminating the disparity gap in access to services that many communities of color encounter, Purge said. This weekend’s forum is one more avenue to help families find resources to help their children establish positive and constructive ways to cope with what they are facing.

“It’s important for us to help kids understand they have the power to make decisions that will help them feel good about themselves and their choices in life. We want to help them identify healthy coping strategies to deal with the many stressors and pressures they experience in life,” Brown said. “Children don’t realize they are in the decision-making process all the time. We want them and their parents to know we are here to help them walk through the journey of life and they are not alone.”

The parent forum will focus specifically on informing parents about fentanyl and ways to  prevent overdoses through education (prevention), to intervene by offering mental and physical health services (intervention), and to get back on track if drugs become an issue of concern (interdiction). 

“Many times parents are at a loss and don’t know how to talk with their child about these kinds of serious issues,” Brown said. “We want to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and resources to connect with their child and prevent substance use and unintended overdoses from this deadly drug.”

Celebrating volunteerism in Dallas ISD 

Partnership and Volunteer Services was recently awarded the Tammy Richards Impact Award from VolunteerNow, one of the largest volunteer centers in the country. With over 1.3 million volunteer service hours on record with VolunteerNow since the partnership began in 2017, the department was recognized for its dedication to Dallas ISD’s mission of educating all students for success.

Candace Sledge, director of PVS, said her team has seen “a huge surge in volunteers coming back, being engaged and being involved on campus” following recent years’ COVID-19 restrictions. 

Last year volunteers logged about 30,000 hours, the equivalent of about $920,000, while this year the department already has more than doubled that number with about 65,000 volunteer hours logged so far, with a value of about $1.9 million.

Those volunteers have included parents, guardians, alumni, businesses and nonprofits that have had opportunities to make an impact on various school communities through a prom dress giveaway, coffee with the principal events, All Pro Dads, the district’s first African American Parent Involvement Day, the MLK Oratory Competition and more. 

“Parents and guardians are always our first priority,” Sledge said. “When students see them on campus serving in a volunteer capacity and being engaged where the students spend most of their days, it really helps them shift gears. Then outside of that, the business community and the nonprofit community learn more about our district and our schools and see what opportunities they have to make an impact and help turn some things around, be it student achievement or day-to-day operations.”

The Partnership and Volunteer Services team received the award during VolunteerNow’s annual Hearts of Texas Luncheon on Thursday, April 20, alongside other fellow award recipients Lynn McBee and Dallas CASA. 

Learn more about the award by visiting, or visit to find out how you can get involved with Partnership and Volunteer Services.

Thank your administrative professionals

They support office environments, manage clerical work, communicate with clients, make sure everyone gets paid, and more to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly. And on April 26—National Administrative Professionals Day—their contributions are celebrated and appreciated everywhere. 

Dallas ISD is home to a variety of administrative teams across campuses and departments, and their Core 4-driven work is critical to the district’s mission of educating all students for success. 

Financial clerk Vanessa Gutierrez wears many hats to support her team at K.B. Polk Center for Academically Talented and Gifted, and she said she loves what she does. Each day, she comes to work with a smile in place, ready to provide fast, flexible customer service to anyone who needs it.

“I’m super friendly,” Gutierrez said. “That’s just how I grew up. My mom and my brother work for Dallas ISD as well, and everybody knows us as always smiling. I do my best to always be positive and have a good attitude, and I feel like the students and the team see that, and it makes them feel more comfortable.”

Gutierrez, who first came to Polk as a teaching assistant in 2018, can often be found helping with arrival and dismissal, creating the school’s newsletter, communicating with parents and the community, scheduling tutoring sessions or field trips and getting the word out about the fine arts magnet’s upcoming shows and events. 

While her weeks often get busy, Gutierrez said it is worth the effort to help keep Polk on track and contribute to the front office’s positive environment. Her hard work has not gone unnoticed, according to Berta Alvarado, Polk’s office manager.

“Ms. Gutierrez works in the front office applying the Core 4 every day when communicating with parents and campus team members,” Alvarado said. “She deserves to be recognized for her commitment to creating a welcoming atmosphere for all visitors and volunteers, as well as for her dedication to our team and willingness to go above and beyond to complete a task.”

But for Gutierrez, it is all in a day’s work as an administrative professional. 

“Our office team does a lot behind the scenes that isn’t always known, but it is noticed,” Gutierrez said. “We make sure each day runs smoothly, whether a teacher needs coverage, copies or help with a student. They know they can give us a call or send a student down, and we will make sure they have everything they need. We’re here for them.”

Meet Master Principal Tangela Carter

Education has always been a priority for Master Principal Tangela Carter. She said she was born and raised in Dallas and attended schools in both South Dallas and Pleasant Grove, including H.S. Thompson Elementary School, Annie Webb Blanton Elementary School and W.W. Samuell High School. 

She graduated as the first African-American salutatorian from Samuell in 1991, while her sister graduated as the first African-American valedictorian from Samuell in 1992. Carter began learning Spanish at home from her father, who was a construction superintendent for the City of Dallas. 

Carter has since spent 20 years working in education as a bilingual teacher, assistant principal, elementary principal, director of ESL and Newcomer Programs and currently as principal at Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School. Previously, she worked as a parole officer and a probation officer in Dallas. She is also a 30-year member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and is a charter member of the Nu Iota Chapter at the University of Texas at Arlington. 

Thanks to her determination, passion and expertise, Carter is among the more than 20 Dallas ISD principals to be awarded the Master Principal designation for the 2022-2023 school year. 

These designations are awarded annually to the top 10 percent of Dallas ISD principals in three categories: neighborhood elementary schools, neighborhood secondary schools, and choice schools, and Carter said she is proud to be leading her “legendary” campus community. 

What drew you to education? 

As a parole officer and a probation officer, growth with clients was limited. Many of the people I served/monitored had high school diplomas but could not read or write. I switched to education to catch children on the front end of their lives. Education is a game changer for all. 

What qualities make a great principal? 

The qualities that make a great principal are integrity and knowing that everyone has value. 

What is your educational philosophy or a motto by which you work? 

The motto by which I work is, “Effort is good, but results are better!”  

What inspires you about your position? 

The potential that our students, campus team and community have inspires me daily. Day by day, we get to see and participate in the growth of our future leaders.  

Building a network of innovation through robotics

As they prepared for their participation in a robotics world championship, the members of Emmett J. Conrad High School’s RoboChargers—newly minted as state champions in UIL Robotics—were encouraged by their coach to be proud of themselves and stay focused.

“Be proud of what you’ve accomplished,” said Rex Lees, engineering teacher and robotics coach. “Be proud of what you’ve done as a team. Feel good about what’s been happening.” 

His words were meant to remind the team of how far they have come this year—months of preparation, working with a team of mentors who work in STEM careers—to win the state championship and to make it to the FIRST Robotics Championship in Houston, where they have a chance at a world title. 

The championship taking place through Sunday is a culminating international event for the youth robotics competition season and is an annual celebration of science, technology, engineering and math.

Lees, who teaches four sections of robotics, had 120 students sign up for robotics classes this school year. 

“For the first time, we had all four robotics classes build a robot and compete, to various degrees of success,” he said. 

Of all the students learning about the growing field of robotics, 26 competed at the state level and are currently at the world competition. 

“There are 600 teams from everywhere,” he said of the challengers his students will face. “There are teams from Turkey, Israel, India, Mexico, Brazil and several Canadian teams. All of the students are 18 and under.”

While he is excited about the growth of robotics at Conrad, Lees would like it to become even bigger throughout the district. 

“One of our goals is robotics for all. STEM education for all,” he said. “We want to make sure that everyone feels safe and welcome and that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been able to do many of the things we’re doing.”

Lees first discovered his love of teaching when he was in graduate school. He had already been working as a chemical engineer, making polymers and resins for a paint company, when he decided to go back to school. His undergraduate degree is in biology with focuses on biochemistry and genetics.

Lees said he kind of always knew he would be an educator, as his mom and his four grandparents were all teachers. 

“I was raised by educators and both of my grandmothers and my mother’s father were math teachers. My other grandfather taught shop and drafting,” he said. 

“I had taught biology, chemistry and anatomy for many years and have had a penchant for leadership to an extent,” he said. “I was told [in my previous district] that they would like to put me in an engineering role.” 

That’s when his journey into robotics began and brought him to the district. Lees joined Dallas ISD last school year at Conrad High School. He quickly noticed the level of support the mentors provided to students. 

“In the beginning of last year, we had 10 to 12 mentors and now we have 16,” he said. “It’s amazing to have these professionals come together to make this happen and share their knowledge with the students.” 

“We work together and go to competitions. I see that we’re not the only team that does this. And there’s all these teams in the state that are our team friends.” In fact, Lees says these competitions are often called “coopertitions.” 

One of the things that he likes most of what he does is bringing opportunities to his students that will open doors for them in the future. 

“Every bit of this is engineers showing the design process in real time, in a timed situation, in a deadline situation, where we don’t always know the answer and figure it out,” he said. “Walking students through the process, they’re seeing how design happens. Some of them are learning how to use tools for the first time—little to complex things, like how to program an app.”

Lees believes that the competitions and these experiences are setting his students up for success, and will help them have access to resources, such as internships and future jobs.

“They’re building this giant network, so all these kids get the opportunity to meet all these STEM professionals,” he said. “During the competition, we tell them to meet the other people and ask them questions and network. Not only are they getting this knowledge and inspiration from our mentors, they’re getting it from other mentors. I want this to spread to education at large.”

Transforming student lives through state task force

When Josué Tamárez Torres, a master teacher at César Chávez Learning Center, was appointed by the governor to serve as the chair of the Texas Education Agency’s Teacher Vacancy Task Force, he said he was driven because the TVTF’s mission to develop recommendations that will improve the teaching experience in Texas felt “personal.”

Tamárez Torres grew up in the Dominican Republic in a low income family and said his parents always emphasized education as their children’s “way out of poverty.” They later immigrated to the United States, where Tamárez Torres discovered his passion for teaching while tutoring students from similar backgrounds as his own, joined Teach For America and found a new home in Dallas. 

“I became a teacher to show my students what is possible,” Tamárez Torres said. “It’s possible to come from a low income family and still be successful, it’s possible to overcome poverty and it’s possible to succeed in life. When a teacher leaves the classroom, the students in low income communities are usually the students who suffer the most. That’s why I said yes. I want to be part of the solution.”

The TVTF met every other month for a year starting in 2022 to conduct research, consult with experts and define high-priority, actionable recommendations that would have an immediate impact on teacher retention and, by extension, student achievement across the state. 

The task force identified three overarching areas for state legislators and decision makers to target: compensation, training and support, and working conditions. Tamárez Torres said each category and their branching recommendations are meant to be implemented together with a “holistic approach.”

For example, Tamárez Torres said if decision makers increase teacher salaries without creating a supportive environment for teachers, or if they develop support systems without incentivizing teachers to put in the necessary work to be successful, the vacancy rates would continue because the change would only fix a piece of the problem. 

Now that the TVTF has completed its final report, Tamárez Torres and the other members are working hard to spread the word. They have been sending letters to legislators, meeting with teacher unions and educator preparation programs and testifying before Congress in addition to supporting their own students and campuses. 

Tamárez Torres is encouraging families and team members across Dallas ISD and beyond to get involved by contacting their state representative or senator through an email or phone call to ask them to fully fund Texas public schools, which would include a pay raise for teachers and all team members. 

“This is not just about teachers in Dallas ISD,” Tamárez Torres said. “This is about all teachers in Texas because we care about every single student in Texas. Behind each teacher, there are 27, 25, 17 little faces who deserve and need all the help they can get, especially after the pandemic.”

To find out who your legislator is, visit To read the full TVTF report, visit

No more Zoom after May 23

Dallas ISD will discontinue the use of Zoom for virtual meetings and other video conferencing starting May 23 as a savings to the district and a measure to enhance cybersecurity. 

Team members will be able to access Microsoft Teams, which is already in use, and Google Meet for their video conferencing needs. Both tools are available at no extra cost to the district and offer comparable features. The transition to these tools will also increase efficiency and standardize support.

Features available in Teams and Meet are comparable to those in Zoom and include the ability to:

  • Schedule a meeting
  • Invite participants 
  • Chat
  • Screen Share

Microsoft Teams is available as an app in all district devices and is the default when scheduling meetings using Outlook Calendar. Google Meet can be accessed using the Google waffle.

Team members who have recurring meetings scheduled with Zoom or have published Zoom links that will be used after May 23 are encouraged to recreate those meetings and links using Microsoft Teams or Google Meet. Any Zoom recordings or reports will need to be downloaded to OneDrive or Google Drive because they will be unavailable after May 23.

Dallas ISD team members will be able to join Zoom meetings that have been created by external contractors, vendors and partners.

Departments and campuses can request to purchase Zoom licenses and will need pre approval from their chief in order to start the procurement process.

For support in navigating the video conferencing platforms after May 23, download this helpful guide or contact Professional and Digital Learning at