Staff Appreciation Spotlight: Maribel Zamora, Jan Burnett, and Nancy Cheyne

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This week, The Hub is recognizing district staff who are instrumental in supporting the educational experiences of Dallas ISD students.

Like their counterparts across the nation, Dallas ISD staff play an essential role in student success. During Staff Appreciation Week, we invite the community to join us in recognizing the dedicated employees who wholeheartedly commit themselves to providing an exceptional educational experience for all children.

Each day this week, we will recognize three of the hundreds of exemplary Dallas ISD staff across the district. As we highlight their experiences, we salute the role every staff member plays in making our schools, communities and country better places to live and work.

Each employee answered the same three questions: What has been your favorite moment as an employee, what is the best thing about being an employee in Dallas ISD, and what is one way in which you hope to impact students in Dallas ISD?

Jan Jordan Burnett, Secondary Library Media Specialist at L.G. Pinkston High School

My most memorable moment was when one of my students was working on her college application in the library, and she called me over to help her proofread her essay. As we worked together, she began to tell me that I was the one who gave her the confidence to strive for a college education and enter into the legal profession by telling her every day that I believe in her, that she must believe in herself and she must never give up. By teaching her the skills to break down her tasks and providing her with research strategies, I empowered her to manage her course load and feel successful on a daily basis. Being a librarian is not just my profession—it is my life.

The best thing about working in Dallas ISD is being within a community of diverse professionals who truly care about the future of our students. The saying “it takes a village” certainly rings true in my West Dallas neighborhood high school. Every day that I spend in my library I learn something new from each interaction, not only from our faculty and staff, but from each individual student, all of whom bring something exceptional with them to the table.

My goal is to build and maintain a diverse fiction and nonfiction collection which will appeal to various student interests and levels, and provide award winning materials that are both exciting and inspiring. I want our library media center to be a personal experience for each and every student, to introduce students from all backgrounds, grade levels and cultures to amazing, life-changing books. I hope students look back years from now and remember their library was a pivotal and personal place in their individual quest for success.

Nancy Lee Cheyne, Elementary Library Media Specialist at Louise Wolff Kahn Elementary School 

My favorite thing about being a staff member is keeping up with students after high school graduation and having them return to tell me of their successes in college and their career paths. Former student Efen Vera, a Townview Law Graduate who was awarded a Bill Gates Scholarship, recently sent me his graduation photo from NYU. Currently we have two of our former students teaching at our school, and another will join us in August.

The best thing about working in Dallas ISD is working and collaborating daily with a strong team of administrators and teachers who have a shared vision for their campus and community.

One way I hope to impact students is by instilling a love of learning and reading. I want them to know that they can make a difference in their lives by “Dreaming Big”, and that college is not out of their reach!

Name: Maribel Zamora, Teacher Assistant at Dan D. Rogers Elementary School

One of the moments that I remember with great satisfaction is when I started working at Dan D. Rogers 5 years ago. I was asked by the Principal to support a group of eleven 4th Graders that were at risk of failing Reading and Writing. We worked together very hard during the day, after school and on Saturdays. The results were amazing because they all passed the TAKS tests with good scores, but especially because they were very happy and proud of themselves.

Dallas ISD has given me the opportunity to work with elementary students, and I feel very blessed and thankful. Every day I learn from the students to not hold grudges, and they have an innocence about them that I love. Every day I take home a smile with me.

I hope and wish that as educators we can teach the ethical values to build character aside from academically preparing our children. I think that one of the most important things is to teach honesty, responsibility and respect by our own example. For instance, the way we talk to them, how we treat them and how we make them feel.

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