Procurement learning opportunity

Procurement Services is inviting Dallas ISD team members to participate in its monthly lunch and learn events. These learning sessions are especially relevant to office managers, coordinators, administrative assistants, financial clerks, and specialists. Check out the list of events and dates to determine which sessions are best suited for you by visiting

During the sessions, topics on procurement and vendor information will be discussed including:

  •       Awarded or registered vendors
  •       The procurement webpage
  •       M/WBE vendor information
  •       Vendor registrations
  •       General Q&A

The sessions will be held one Wednesday a month via Microsoft Teams. The final calendar of events and the meeting link are available on the Dallas ISD website under Procurement Services on the “Dallas ISD Staff Forms” tab. 

For more information, contact

Building community through volunteers 

The opportunities to volunteer on Dallas ISD campuses are endless, and the volunteers who show up every day to take advantage of them are an invaluable part of the district’s team focused on student success. 

“Our most important partners and volunteers are our parents, as student success is heavily impacted by parent participation and engagement,” said Candace Sledge, director of the Partnerships and Volunteer Engagement department. 

In recognition of volunteers in Dallas ISD and everywhere, Dec. 5 has been designated as International Volunteer Day. This year’s theme is “The power of collective action: if everyone did.” 

Established by the United Nations General Assembly, this day is a unique chance for volunteers and organizations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to promote their work among their communities, organizations. For more information, visit

“Volunteering is a good opportunity for business leaders and community members to experience the culture of schools, learn more about the needs in education, and collaborate with teachers, parents and administrators to meet those needs that our families deserve,” Sledge said.

Volunteers, especially parents and community members, can be recruited by team members at schools by encouraging them to fill out the volunteer application form at or by downloading the Voly app on Google Play or iTunes. 

One of the tips that Sledge shares is reaching out to community leaders who participated in Principal for a Day to continue to build relationships, invite them to get involved. 

Another tip for schools to recruit volunteers is to take advantage of events or celebrations to engage with families and partners, keeping in mind the different cultures of the students, families, and team members on campus. 

“Volunteers get a ‘boots on the ground’ perspective from the students and the school and are able to draw from it,” said Sandra Martinez, coordinator in the Partnership and Volunteer Engagement department. “Sometimes parents don’t feel that they have talents that they have to offer in order to volunteer, but the most valuable gift is time. Dedicating your time to help your school and community goes a long way.”

For more information on how to create volunteer opportunities on your campus or department, visit the Partnerships and Volunteer Engagement department website.

Soccer coach brothers open international doors for students 

Two brothers who are teachers in schools in the W.W. Samuell High School community are combining their talents to make their students’ dreams of becoming international soccer players come true. Gabriel Valles—a world history, AP world history, and Mexican American studies teacher at Samuell High School—and Miguel Valles—a sixth-grade world cultures teacher at Piedmont Global Academy—are taking five of their soccer team students to Argentina next summer.

The Valles brothers, who are both soccer coaches, are preparing their students to participate as part of a Dallas ISD team that will be representing  the district in tournaments in the summer of 2024 in Argentina.

In their youth, Gabriel and Miguel had experience playing around the country and in Argentina, so when their students were offered spots on the Dallas ISD team, it was a no-brainer for them. 

This is the first time that this brother duo will take their students to Argentina. They will be there from June 26 through July 4. The ultimate goal is to take a Samuell team to Europe the following summer. They credit Marisela Lopez, assistant director of the Dallas ISD Department of Athletics with the initial idea of taking their students to Argentina.

Gabriel and Miguel had been working together for several years at Piedmont running the soccer program for boys and girls before the opportunity to play internationally came up for their students. When Gabriel began teaching at Samuell, not only did the collaboration continue, the efforts were expanded to include the soccer team at the high school.

Growing up in the Dallas area, they played for the same club team and have a lot of similar styles in terms of how they coach and collaborate, so it was a very natural fit, Miguel said. In the areas where they don’t share similarities, they complement each other, making it easy for them to work together, the brothers agree.

Miguel first went to Argentina at the age of 14 with another teammate and participated in trials with various teams in the country, and then both brothers went when Miguel was 17 and Gabriel was 14. When Gabriel joined Miguel the second time, the whole soccer team went. 

“It taught me a lot about who I am and who I wanted to be,” said Miguel. “I know the value of that kind of experience, especially for a young person, and then coupled with high level competition, it really molds character. So it was a big deal for me, and it certainly sent me on a trajectory for the years to come.”

Because Miguel and Gabriel know the value of this opportunity for their students, they are working on making this available for more of them. 

“When you’ve never done something like this before, and you start to do it, you realize it’s not just on TV, and it’s not just something someone else does. We can do it,” Gabriel said. 

Gabriel says that it challenges their students to look beyond their own neighborhoods, and when they go to places like Mexico to visit family, it’s still something that’s familiar to them. 

When you go to someplace as different as Argentina, even though they speak Spanish, it’s a different kind of Spanish than what many of the students are used to, and when it’s summer in Dallas, it’s winter in Argentina.

“It teaches students to look beyond their schools and neighborhoods,” Gabriel said. “And not only do they become better players, but it expands their worldview. When you’re halfway across the world, you might realize you’re not as good as you thought you were or you might realize you’re as good as you thought, or you’re better than you thought you were.” 

Gabriel and Miguel echo the same sentiment that there is no doubt in their minds that their students will come out better people after this experience. 

It was their coaches that mentored both brothers in their youth, and they hope to do the same for their students. One coach in particular—José María “Josema” Bazán, a former professional soccer player, who played on the Argentina national team and started a soccer club for youth in Dallas—supported them. 

As far as funding for the trip to Argentina, a community partner is helping fund approximately $500 per student, and the students are paying for the rest. If anyone is interested in learning more about the soccer program, contact or

Give to wear sneakers 

The Dallas Education Foundation is excited to announce that Human Capital Management has given the green light for a new initiative as part of the annual Employee Giving Campaign: Suits and Sneakers Mondays.

To participate, donate via credit card by Friday, Nov. 30, and show your support by rocking your snazziest suit paired with your freshest kicks in December. Not only will you make a fashion statement, but you’ll be supporting DEF.

Here’s how it works:

  • To participate in “Suits and Sneakers Mondays,” a suggested $10.00 donation must be made via credit card by Thursday, Nov. 30.
  • On Monday, Dec. 4, and Monday, Dec. 11,, you have the opportunity to wear sneakers with your professional attire.
  • This initiative complements our existing Jean Fridays, which employees can still take advantage of throughout the campaign.

As an additional incentive, the elementary and secondary campus with the highest percentage of participation in the Employee Giving Campaign by Dec. 1 will win a staff breakfast sponsored by Whataburger. Giving is a win-win! Donate today at

Mental Health Matters: Dealing with stress during the holidays

For most, the end-of-year holiday season bring with it good food, celebrations, family gatherings and joy. For others, the season can also bring conflict as siblings, in-laws, parents, cousins, and other extended family come together with love and diverse opinions.

Even the expectation of conflict can cause stress and ruin what could be a special time with loved ones. Stress produces cortisol, a hormone made by adrenal glands that acts as a warning system for your body but that can also have serious effects in your body, such as:

  • Disrupted sleep
  • Pain
  • Irritability
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Stomach upsets


By taking proactive steps you can help alleviate stress and make the holidays a special time for all.

Listen to your body—When you start to feel those stress feelings and noticing physical effects, focus on where you experience symptoms in your body and try to reframe the physical sensations by identifying what made you start feeling that way. Talking about physical reactions can sometimes be easier than talking about emotions.

Adjust your expectations— Throughout the holidays, and always, be gentle with yourself. Holidays bring heightened expectations—everything should be perfect, meaningful, and beautiful. But remember that it’s a season of gratitude. Think about what you’re grateful for and put it in writing. Focusing on the good can help you relax and cope with the not-so-good.

Strategize—It’s helpful if everyone in the household, especially partners and spouses, are on the same page about how to deal with in-laws and extended family. Discuss exactly how much time you wish to spend with family members and what conversations might be off-limits. Stay attuned to each other’s signals: a hand gesture, a wink, or even a touch on the shoulder will work.

Press pause on some conversations—Family members and friends come chock full of opinions, many of which you or others might not share. Differing political or religious views, for example, have impacted or even ended family relationships. When tensions run deep, some people feel a sense of loss after realizing they no longer recognize or relate to certain family members.

If you find yourself in the middle of a difficult conversation about education, careers, parenting, politics, or any number of subjects, try saying: “I love you/respect you. Can we put this conversation on pause for now and talk about something else?” Just knowing you have a pause button could relieve some of your stress.

Protect yourself—You know what your triggers are, and so does your family. The anticipation of conflict is sometimes the worst part. Practice how you will handle stressful conversations or behave toward particular individuals. And try not to push your family members’ buttons, either.

While stress is a normal emotion that helps you navigate difficult situations, it can also have negative effects. This holiday season, focus on being proactive, setting boundaries, and reducing your stress. Your body will thank you. And in the process, you might experience the best holiday you have ever had.

If you need additional support, take advantage of Dallas ISD’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) by LifeWorks, which is free for employees, 100 percent confidential, and available to all employees and their dependents. 

Sessions through the EAP are available by phone, virtual, and in person. Employees can also find tips, articles, self-assessments, and topical features focusing on specific EAP resources available through the EAP smart App.

To start on your wellness journey please visit or reach out to the EAP by calling 972-925-4000 and selecting option 3 for EAP. 

Source: Sarah Woods, Ph.D., director Behavioral Health, Family and Community Medicine at UT Southwestern



New software will block phishing attempts

Dallas ISD is implementing a new phishing prevention tool called PhishID to enhance the cyber safety and security of students and team members. 

More than 90% of cybersecurity incidents start with phishing—a type of cyber scams that trick people into revealing sensitive information or installing malware—making phishing prevention essential. Education about phishing and how to prevent it is the first line of defense against account takeovers and ransomware attacks. PhishID leverages an AI-powered browser plug-in to stop phishing at the point-of-click.  

The software will be installed on student and team member devices, and users should not experience any disruption from everyday activities. Once the software is installed on the devices, the security team will monitor the functionality and work to address noted/submitted issues associated with the product.   

What device and browser type will receive this product?  

PhishID will be present on the following devices and browsers:  

  • Windows: Edge and Chrome  
  • MacOS: Chrome and Firefox  
  • Chromebook: Chrome 

What should team members expect?   

Users should continue with their day-to-day browsing activities. PhishID will be running in the background to protect from malicious links and URLs that attempt to steal credentials. When inadvertently navigating to an unsafe website, PhishID will present a block page.

If PhishID encounters a page it has not scanned before, you may see the page load while it is being scanned. If it is found to be malicious, PhishID will take action and notify you that it is unsafe, and it will point out items that are used to deceive. 

What should team members do if they receive a block page?  

If you receive a block page, that means PhishID is protecting you from an unsafe website. You can click the “Go Back” button to return to the previous page and be assured that your credentials are kept safe.  

For questions or issues, please contact the Help Desk at 972-925-5630

You are not alone

While the district may be closed next week, team members can still get assistance with benefits. District schools and administrative offices will be closed Monday, Nov. 20, through Friday,

Nov. 24, 2023; however, the benefits call center at 972-925-4300 (option 2) will be available. 

  • Open Monday, Nov. 20-Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023, 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
  • Closed on Thursday, Nov. 23, and Friday, Nov. 24, 2023.

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 Optum is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Because the holidays can be a difficult time for employees and families, if you need some assistance making it through this time, please reach out to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) by:

  • Calling 972-925-4300 Option 3 EAP. They are available 24 hours/seven days a week.
  • Visit the website Telus Health
  • Download the App: Telus: Health One

For questions regarding leaves of absence, email 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.

Master Teachers: A series

The Beat has interviewed Master Teachers across the district to share their stories and introspections about their careers, including tips for teaching. Meet Master Teacher Flor Mendez Gonzalez.

Flor Mendez Gonzalez, a master teacher at Annie Webb Blanton Elementary School, has been a teacher for 20 years, 11 of them at Dallas ISD. Before coming to the district, she was in Monterrey, Mexico, teaching at a private school when one of her colleagues told her about the Dallas ISD Visa Program, which offers the options of the H-1B visa and the J-1 Exchange Visitor Teacher Program.

She sent an email inquiring about the teaching opportunity, and the next day, she received a link to the application. Thus began the first step in her journey to become a teacher at Dallas ISD.

What drew you to education? 

I was drawn to education because it has always been part of my family’s legacy. My mother was a teacher, and I witnessed firsthand the positive impact she had  on her students’ lives. Her passion for teaching and the stories she shared about her classroom experiences inspired me to follow in her footsteps. Additionally I’ve always had a deep love for learning and sharing knowledge.

How are you creating opportunities for students?

I recognize that creating opportunities for students as a teacher at the elementary level goes beyond the classroom. It involves nurturing their personal and academic growth to prepare them for a successful future, so I’m always looking for ways to innovate and adapt my teaching methods to best serve their needs. I think one of the best ways I create opportunities for my students is through differentiated instruction. This ensures that all students have opportunities to succeed, regardless of their individual strengths and weaknesses. I also like to promote lifelong learning skills for my students by modeling my own love for learning, showing enthusiasm for reading new books and sharing my own learning experiences while I encourage my students to pursue knowledge beyond the classroom. 

What is your best teaching tip? 

Teachers have a lot of responsibilities. After all these years in the profession, my advice would be to prioritize building strong relationships with your students. Establishing a positive and supportive classroom environment can significantly enhance their learning experience. Take time to learn about your students’ interests, backgrounds and learning styles. Your students would know that you really care about them and motivate them to do their best.

What would your students be surprised to find out about you?

I share a lot of personal experiences with my students, but I think they would be surprised to know that I did my student teacher internship at the University Language Center, and I got to be the English teacher of adults that were more than 20 years older than me. Some of them were professors at the University. It was overwhelming at first but I learned a lot, and I loved it!

What inspires you the most about being an educator? 

The profound impact I can have on my students’ lives is what inspires me the most. Witnessing the transformation from the moment they enter my classroom to their graduation is incredibly rewarding. Seeing a student overcome challenges, grasp complex concepts, or find their voice is a constant reminder of the power of education. Being at the same school for over seven years gives me the opportunity to see some former students at family events. When they approach me to tell me that they’re still using in middle school a strategy I taught them in third grade or that they still remember when we read Matilda as a reading project, it makes me feel that I’m at the right place.

Celebrating Native American heritage with books

November is Native American and Alaska Native Heritage Month, and libraries across the district at elementary and middle schools will be getting books with Native American themes.

Working with Library Media services, the Social Studies Department is deploying more than 300 books and some Native American memorabilia to libraries, so students have access to books that celebrate the culture and contributions of Native Americans, not just during November but throughout the year, said Shalon Bond, director of Social Studies.

“We want to heighten the knowledge of Native American culture through identity and voice in our libraries, and we are doing this throughout the year,” she said. “Our libraries are coming back [as part of Project R.E.A.D.], and we can amplify these voices and cultures by reading about them.”

The books that will be shared in libraries—mostly in elementary schools—include biographies of baseball and track pioneers like Jim Thorpe, Native American traditional stories, fiction, and stories based on traditions from the different nations. 

“These books will also give our Native American students multiple opportunities to see themselves reflected in books in our libraries,” Bond said.

In addition to copies of books being available soon in school libraries, Library Media Services is also celebrating the month by curating a book list on the Sora library app,, so students and team members can dive into the rich stories and knowledge of Native American cultures.

District support helps extracurricular coaches stay the course

It takes time and effort to provide high-quality extracurricular programs to students, and Dallas ISD academic coaches understand that. They are committed to guide students through a variety of competitions and enrichment opportunities that have a positive impact on academic outcomes, attendance, and social-emotional growth.

More than 1,800 coaches have signed up to sponsor a Student Activities extracurricular program at their school for the 2023-2024 school year. The recruitment of qualified teachers is crucial to the department’s ability to offer a variety of activities for students to choose from, and these teachers have stepped up to the challenge.

To encourage teachers to become sponsors, the department works to remove all barriers to running a strong extracurricular program, said Sharla Hudspeth, executive director of Extracurricular and Extended Learning.

“We place a great focus on our coaches, and we want Dallas ISD students to have access to superior extracurricular programs without any barriers like cost, availability, or transportation,” she said. “Removing the barriers to involvement and supporting coaches is key to high-quality extracurricular programs.”

Providing coaches with stipends and training, means creating opportunities for students that can help them increase academic performance, make lasting friendships, and grow socially and emotionally.

Teachers receive study materials, supplies, and direct support from the Student Activities team to help them build and prepare their students for competitions, workshops, and tournaments.

Not all coaches come to the table with experience, but they do come with a passion to engage students in after-school programs, said Michelle Read, Student Activities coordinator.

“All coaches must receive support to help them feel confident in their role,” she said. “This is especially true of new coaches because we want to make sure they have a positive experience.”

The new Law Magnet debate coach, Vanessa Lee, felt ready to lead her team following a series of workshops sponsored by the department earlier this fall.

“I have felt nothing but supported as a new coach,” Lee said. “I feel like I have a newfound level of comfortability teaching the context, and the collaboration with other coaches has been invaluable.”

Veteran debate coach Matt Summers of Thomas Jefferson High School has always found support through the department and its partner for the district’s debate program, the Dallas Urban Debate Alliance (DUDA).

“I have always found that DUDA and Student Activities bend over backwards to provide coaches support and resources, even where we did not anticipate a need,” he said.

The Student Activities Department often partners with outside sources to lead professional development for coaches. DUDA is one such partner. Cheer Express is another partner that provides training and development for Dallas ISD cheer coaches.

At the recent elementary cheer coach workshop, Cheer Express led coaches through an interactive evening of cheers and chants in the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy gymnasium.

During a break, Crystan Barnes, Sam Houston Elementary School cheer coach, discussed how she previously had to get financial support for the cheer program from parents, families, faculty, and fundraisers.  Expenses were such an issue that they were only able to do a few performances at their campus and were unable to travel to outside events.

“Now, with expenses not being an issue, every child gets a uniform, every child can attend the cheer camps and compete in competitions throughout the year,” she said. “The students are so excited about being part of this team. It has had a significant impact on their behavior, academics, work ethic, and emotional health.”