ESSER update: Fostering college and career readiness

Dallas ISD’s College and Career Advising Program (CCAP) is setting high school students up for success starting in ninth grade thanks to an $11 million annual investment from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief fund. 

Cheryl Nevels, assistant superintendent of college readiness, said typical college advising programs focus on financial aid and college entry application, but with the ESSER investment, Dallas ISD has expanded the program to include career preparation. The program provides students with college and career advisers as soon as they enter high school to effectively support students to and through their postsecondary transition. 

“It’s about giving students a voice in the choices available,” Nevels said. “We are equipping them with the skills they need to increase their postsecondary options. Advisors work in tandem with counselors to support students with college and career readiness plans, college applications, financial aid, scholarships, entrance exams, etc. so they are empowered to matriculate from high school to college. They are also exposing students to career opportunities so they can plan for college and career success.”

David Laneave, a P-TECH instructional specialist in the postsecondary department, said Dallas ISD’s CCAP student data is “leaps and bounds” above neighboring districts. 

Over 90 percent of Dallas ISD seniors have college applications on file, well above most neighboring districts, which range from 56 to 77 percent of seniors. Additionally, 81 percent of Dallas ISD seniors have applied for financial aid in comparison to 53 and 65 percent in some neighboring districts.

Across the board, Dallas ISD’s student data is tracking at about 9 percent above other metroplex districts on average. 

“Of the 87 percent of our seniors who have submitted a college application, that’s 87 percent of our students who have a say in their future,” Laneave said. “That’s one of the biggest components of this program.”

The ESSER funds provide college and career access vendors to district campuses to guide students through the application processes and help them develop four-year plans. The vendors also conduct parent outreach to get families involved in the college and career process.

“The CCAP program helps establish, maintain and support a college and career identity in high school,” Laneave said. “By collaborating with high school students and team members starting from ninth grade all the way through high school, we are effectively targeting postsecondary success for our students.”

HPC stipends expand

The open transfer period allows eligible team members to accept a position at another campus for the following school year, and Dallas ISD’s 81 high priority campuses (HPCs) are looking for outstanding teachers. If you are passionate about your profession and your heart lies with helping students succeed no matter what, the open transfer window may be for you.

To assist with the recruitment and retention of the best teachers at the HPCs, the district recently approved higher stipends for HPC campuses. The expanded HPC teacher stipend structure for 2023-2024 is increasing existing stipend amounts and expanding eligibility effectiveness levels.   

Highly effective teachers may now earn up to $9,000 in stipends annually for service at an HPC campus.  

With this expansion, teachers holding a Proficient I Effectiveness Level will now earn a $4,000 stipend for service at an HPC. Amounts for TEI Distinguished teachers have also been increased up to an additional $2,000 for 2023-2024. 

2023-2024 Proposed HPC Teacher Stipends  

TEI Effectiveness Level

TIA Designation

Proposed 2023-2024 HPC Stipend 

TEI Proficient I NEW


TEI Proficient II or TIA Recognized


TEI Proficient III or TIA Exemplary


TEI Exemplary I/II & Master or TIA Master 


If you are interested in serving at an HPC, sign up for the April 22, 2023, job fair here, or connect with a Human Capital Management recruiter by email at Interested teachers may also download the roster of 2023-2024 HPCs ahead of the job fair. 

Dallas ISD AC program recognized by the state

Dallas ISD’s Alternative Certification Program was recently recognized by the State Board of Education for its success in preparing and supporting teachers who identify as African American. 

The Dallas ISD Alternative Certification Program (ACP) received a 2021-2022 Educator Preparation Program Commendation in Category 2, Preparing the Educators Texas Needs. This category identifies these programs for preparing and supporting teachers who identify as teachers of color or are employed in rural areas. 

In partnership with the Dallas ISD Teacher Residency Program, the ACP’s strategic recruitment efforts have increased the number of Black and Latino male educators in the district. Through this collaborative effort, African-American and Hispanic students have access to effective and diverse teachers who match their ethnic background, creating an education system that is equitable across our classrooms. 

The Dallas ISD ACP enhances the alternative teaching route by providing intentional content test preparation and a standards driven training program where future educators can engage with others, explore, and practice the newest and innovative approaches to teaching, and develop a deeper understanding of their impact on student achievement in Dallas ISD.

There are currently over 150 teacher interns for the 2022-2023 school year. This is in large part due to the program’s redesign, which includes free tuition for candidates seeking certification in critical shortage areas—such as  elementary bilingual, elementary ESL, secondary math, secondary science, secondary english language arts and reading, and all level special education. 

If you know of someone who is considering a career in teaching, application for the next cohort in the district’s recognized program is open through July 10. Applications are accepted via the Dallas ISD website at

This Is Home: The Willis Family

For the Willis family, Dallas ISD is home, as a total of five of their immediate family members work for the district and all share a long history with the district.

Carla and Christopher Willis Sr. met in 1977 when they were both students at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Carla was a freshman and Christopher Sr. was a sophomore. Christopher was a fulltime student, studying music, and Carla was in the dance cluster, while also attending South Oak Cliff High School. 

They have been married 38 years. 

Their daughter, ChrisSharrah Yancy, is an investigator in the Professional Standards Office; their son, Christopher Willis II, is a coordinator in the Reset Center at H.W. Lang Middle School; and Darryl Yancy, ChrisSharrah’s husband, is a supervisor in Custodial Services in the Operation Services Division. 

While all work in the district in different positions, departments and schools, there’s one common thread that unites their work—they all have a commitment to serving others. They are also all passionate about serving in their local communities and church.

“One thing that’s unique about our story is that my parents also met while they were students at Booker T. Washington, before it was a performing arts high school. Who would think I would meet my wife Carla at Booker T. Washington as well?” said Christopher Sr.

Carla, who has been working for the district for 24 years, is a coordinator in the Reset Center at David W. Carter High School. Prior to that position, she worked as an office manager in the Office of Family and Community Engagement, Construction Services and a Redirection Special Education teacher.

Christopher Sr., who has been working for the district for 38 years, wears many hats at Thomas L. Marsalis Elementary STEAM Academy, where he is the music teacher, safety coordinator, bus coordinator and textbook coordinator. 

“I enjoy teaching and sharing music,” he said. “It’s not really a job per se. My career is part of my life. I love music and I get to share that.”

 For ChrisSharrah, seeing her parents work in education and the roles they play in their community motivated her to also join public education. 

“My parents have always worked in education and as leaders in ministry. Having that discipline and structure has always been there with my dad being a pastor,” she said. “I didn’t see myself in education initially because I originally wanted to do law, but when I saw I could use my areas of expertise at Dallas ISD, that allowed me to see there’s a place for me here in the district as well.” 

“For the Willis family, faith, family, education and giving back to others serve as a foundation to build on for this generation and others to come. This is Home for the Willis family,” said Carla. 

What do you like most about working in the district?

Carla: It’s a great opportunity to invest and pour into the lives of our young people. It’s imperative for me to be a part of helping our students find their purpose and passion in life. Some of our students come from hard lifestyles.In my role, I want to show them love and compassion through my work while building great and meaningful relationships, teaching them to accept responsibility for their actions, and finding the right outcome. 

My role can be very challenging at times. Dealing with the anger, childhood adversities, and the complicated households of our students causes me to keep my WHY at the forefront. My WHY is our students need that someone one and WHY not me! To stay effective, I must continue to have a heart for the students.

Christopher Sr.: I’ve always been able to help students tap into their creative sides, whether they are the A Honor Roll students or the students that are struggling academically. Not all the time, but many times, students who are struggling academically excel creatively in other areas like music. 

It’s always given me the opportunity to help students who might not be doing as well in the classroom. Many times, once you get a music instrument in their hand, you can see how things begin to change for them, for those who have an interest. I love being able to do that. I’ve even had the unique opportunity to teach three generations from a family– a grandparent, the mother and the grandchild.

What impact have you seen your role play in the lives of your students?

Carla: Since I’ve worked in the district schools, teachers would say the students that have a hard time behaving are the ones that gravitate to me for help. This has always been an opportunity for me to help redirect their challenging behaviors.  I sometimes can have a positive talk or lead them through some type of social emotional program or do a mindfulness activity that helps to apply them to those behaviors. But the most impactful thing is seeing the student walk away better than they came.   

Christopher Sr.: I taught high school for a year and a half, but I’ve been working in elementary for most of my career as an educator. There’s something unique when they’re young and so impressionable that you can make an impact on them at such a young age. 

No matter what background they come from, many are just accustomed to just one style of music. We introduce them to many styles and music genres. I’ve seen students go from all Ds and Fs, and they tap into their creative music side, and it opened them up like a rose to blossom in so many other areas. To understand and write the music, you must learn how to spell the words, and music is math. You can’t have music without math. Music impacts all areas of life. 

Meet Master Principal Lonnie Russell

For Master Principal Lonnie Russell, the decision to pursue a career in education was a clear one. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he said he was inspired by his cousin, Eboni Russell, who is still “an amazing teacher,” to enter the profession to make a positive impact on students’ lives.

Now, 16 years later, Russell said he is proud to call Rufus C. Burleson Elementary School home and to be among the more than 20 Dallas ISD principals who have been 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. The awards are part of the Theory of Action, which governs how Dallas ISD makes decisions that ultimately impact student achievement, and Russell is sharing his thoughts on leading a campus to excellence. 

What drew you to education? 

I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students and in the communities I serve. I am thankful for my cousin, Eboni Russell, who encouraged me to get started on this transformational journey. 

What qualities make a great principal? 

I really care about people. Leading Burleson Nation has been an amazing experience and has given me countless opportunities to hone my leadership strengths and mindset. I am proud of my team’s service and commitment to the Burleson Nation students and community!

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

Ensuring the success of every student, every team member, every day. Burleson Nation went from an “F” to a “B” and from no distinctions to four distinctions. Our goal is to have an “A”mazing year with all six distinctions.

What inspires you about your position? 

I get to build relationships with the best students and team members in Dallas ISD and beyond. The present and future of our Burleson Nation students are very bright.

FCNS is 17th largest in nation

With 229 school sites, Dallas ISD serves an average of 36 million meals per year, making it the 17th largest school district in the country.

“We are incredibly proud of the hard work every member of the Food and Child Nutrition Services team has put into the program to make it the success it is,” said Michael Rosenberger, executive director of FCNS. 

“It is our greatest honor working to serve our community so that every single one of our students has access to safe, delicious, and nutritious meals while under our care. We will continue working on different initiatives for the upcoming school years to keep our students engaged and receiving high-quality meals that are up to date with the most current scientific data.” 

In the fall of 2022, the district implemented many innovative initiatives to keep students engaged. These efforts included funding a “grab n go” program that provides meals to students during district holidays to implementing a fresh-cooked meal service to students in the Early College High School programs.

FCNS is a self-operated entity that works to provide children free nutritious meals that are in accordance with federal regulations. 

For the full feature article, visit The 2023 K-12 Power Players | Food Management (

Spring Xerox updates

The new season is bringing everyone warmer weather, fresh air and an opportunity for spring cleaning. Dallas ISD’s Graphics Department shared the best tips on how to care for your Xerox devices, so be sure to check in with your campus or department’s copy machines this week. 

Declutter your device

Please allow 12 inches of space around your machine, especially in paper output areas. These trays lower and lift as they catch paper, and obstructions near these trays will prevent the finishers from lowering properly and will result in jamming and damages.

Move/relocation requests

Dallas ISD is prohibited from relocating any Xerox device. A machine relocation is to be requested by completing the Xerox Move Request Form and emailing it to or

24/7 power on

All Xerox devices should remain powered ON 24/7 and connected to the Dallas ISD network. For technical support, meter reads and auto-replenishment to function most efficiently, these devices must always remain powered on.


The auto-replenishment feature on the Xerox devices is temporarily set to replenish your device at 50 percent toner levels. If you are expecting a large print, heavy ink coverage or lots of print traffic, please place a manual order with Xerox Supplies by emailing your toner request and serial number to If there is an emergency or your are unable to print, email Drew Combs, print fleet coordinator, at

Copier team updates

The Dallas ISD Graphics Department welcomes Drew Combs as the new print fleet coordinator. Combs brings with him several years of print fleet management experience, extensive knowledge of cyber security and cyber threats, as well as some MFP technical experience. 

Central team members in classrooms

Many central team members have participated in classroom support assignments throughout the school year. 

If you’ve never had the experience of working in a classroom, this would have been an eye-opening, challenging and/or life changing experience for you. One thing is for sure, many have expressed their heightened appreciation of the work teachers and campus team members do every day after spending time as substitutes. 

Dallas ISD is grateful to those who have stepped up to support our schools. If you’d like to share your experience with us, please answer a few questions by clicking here.

Arab American Heritage Month: Nourddine Boufekrane

A passion for communicating with others in different languages set Nourddine Boufekrane, a teacher of French language and culture at Bryan Adams High School Leadership Academy, on a journey that led him to dedicate his life to teaching. 

Arabic, one of Boufefrane’s native languages, is among the top five languages in the district, with over 300 students who come from homes where the first language is Arabic. Other languages that he speaks include Berber, French, Hebrew, Spanish, English, and Swahili. He can also communicate in Urdu and Hindi, among other languages.  

Boufekrane believes that months, such as Arab American Heritage Month, which commemorate heritage and culture are important in order to celebrate each other. 

“To me, it is a way  to accept and understand one another, but it is important for everyone to not be ashamed of their culture,” he said. “They need to show it and be proud of who they are.” 

Prior to moving to the United States in 2008, Boufekrane, a native of Morocco in West Africa, had lived, traveled and worked all over the world. His knowledge of multiple languages opened opportunities for him.

“Because I worked with many associations for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), in direct coordination with UNICEF and UNESCO in Africa, I can understand Swahili, Wolof and many dialects,” he said. “I worked in many countries in Europe for many years, especially in France, where I served in many organizations as a translator.”

Boufekrane also worked as a translator in different areas in Asia, Syria and the United Arab Emirates.

His work throughout the world eventually brought him to Dallas. He worked as a warehouse specialist for 12 years, when he decided he wanted to use his language skills and knowledge of world cultures to impact young minds. He went back to school to get certified as a teacher, and obtained his bachelor’s degree in Arabic and French Linguistics Philosophy and Culture from Pennsylvania Western University. He recently completed his master’s degree in this same subject, and was accepted into the doctoral program at the International University Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

As a French teacher, Boufekrane often has the opportunity to use his other languages to bridge the gap of communication with his students that speak different languages.

“Because I have students who speak multiple languages, another topic for my students who are from Africa and the Middle East, and other countries, is to help them integrate into American society. I talk to them about the country, about American food and culture and so on,” he said. 

“Sometimes I talk to one of my students in Swahili so he can understand me. I also have students who speak Arabic,” he said. “I want them to fully understand what I’m doing in my French class and the other class that I teach called diversity and culture.”

Boufekrane considers himself to be a lifelong learner and has passion to continue to learn about other languages and cultures. 

“I tell my students that ‘if you keep your culture, you are free,” he said. 

One of the topics that he covers in his class is about celebration and culture, and believes that learning about the cultures of his students is part of the teaching process.

“I ask my students to share some of the customs from Honduras, Mexico or wherever their cultural heritage is from,” Boufekrane said. “In my class, students show you where they are from and share their ideas. I am learning too. It is an exchange of knowledge, because we are not alone in the world. We are almost 8 billion people on the planet, and we need to know about other people in order to help each other.” 

Defining success at Solar Prep for Girls

 Christine Hernandez, a fifth-grade math teacher at Solar Preparatory School for Girls at James B. Bonham, defines student success as being rooted “not only in academic success but also in becoming a confident individual, however that may look.”

One of her students started the school year with learning gaps that left her feeling like she could not speak up in class, so Hernandez worked with her family and other teachers to help the student honor her strengths and change her mindset to, “How much can we grow this year?” rather than being on grade level. 

“When we started framing it that way, she just hustled,” Hernandez said. “I have not seen a student work as hard as her. Every day, she comes into class, and she is on it. She is advocating for herself when she’s not understanding something, and she is holding people accountable at her table, making sure they’re all on task. She has completely transformed into this amazing leader, who now walks into the classroom and feels really confident.”

As Solar Prep for Girl’s 2022-2023 Campus Teacher of the Year, Hernandez incorporates that definition of success into everything she does in and out of the classroom.

“The learning will come, and it will come much more naturally when your students feel safe and welcomed and heard, and when they feel a sense of belonging in your room,” she said. 

Hernandez said she is proud to work alongside a team of incredible educators. They all have pushed her to grow and reach new heights as a teacher, inspiring her to take on leadership roles such as orchestrating the school’s daily Sisterhood Circles—morning pep rallies that set the tone for the day and highlight exceptional women in the community. 

“Christine not only is an amazing teacher, but she is also a teacher leader,” fellow teacher Alicia Pompa said. “She supports her team and others by overtaking Sisterhood Circle, one of the biggest culture building projects at the school. She listens when you have problems and maintains a positive energy even on rainy days.”

But for Hernandez, it all comes back to leaders supporting leaders. 

“My biggest takeaway in my journey so far is that there are some amazing people around me, especially at this campus,” Hernandez said. “Everything that I have become is deeply, deeply because of them. Their teaching and character inspire me. It’s hard to be in a building like this and not level up yourself, because you see a lot of greatness around you every day when you walk in.”

Hernandez said she is grateful for the opportunities she has had to accelerate learning and transform student lives alongside her team members and her husband, Angel Hernandez, a fifth-grade teacher at Solar Preparatory School for Boys at John F. Kennedy Learning Center, who also earned the distinction of Campus Teacher of the Year.

“I really do love my school, and I love the way my students think,” Hernandez said. “They’re so creative. The sky is the limit for them, and they’re the coolest people to work with every day. You can’t not be excited about learning when you’re around them.”