Staff Appreciation Spotlight: Robert Rushing, Monica Freeman-Fields, and Denit Pongkho


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 staff member 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?

Robert Rushing, audiologist with Dallas ISD

I can’t say I have a most memorable moment. I started working for Dallas ISD in January 2014, and what struck me the most was how welcoming all Dallas ISD employees I came across were, from the entire staff of the Dallas ISD Health Services, to the office workers in the local schools, to the special education teachers. Everyone was friendly and honestly seemed to be glad I was onboard.

The best thing about working in Dallas ISD is working with the students and having great co-workers to do so. My colleague, Cheryl Taylor, MS, CCC-A, has been more familiar with the district since she worked with the district through the Callier Center and has been a great source of information for me. I come in contact with other Dallas ISD staff members all across the district that want to bring about an improvement in the students’ lives. I have worked in doctors’ offices and sold hearing aids at retail, but I started out as a school audiologist and it is so great to be back in education.

The impact I hope to have on students is improving their ability to hear to make it easier on them to acquire their education. That can range from informing a parent that their child has wax impaction that the doctor should remove, to suggesting changes in a classroom to improve a student’s audition, to letting a parent know that their child should have a hearing aid evaluation and should use an FM system to better hear the teacher.

Monica Freeman-Fields, Licensed Specialist in School Psychology with Dallas ISD

My most memorable moment was working on September 11th. I was in the middle of a morning meeting when the principal of the campus made an announcement for everyone to turn on their televisions to watch the news. Several parents came to pick up their children from school some of them were frantic. It is a day that I will never forget.

It’s hard to choose one best thing because there are so many great things about working in Dallas ISD. The people are awesome. As a member of the Individual Evaluation staff, I have an opportunity to work with people from all over the district. The students, teachers, administrators, campus-based and central staff that I come into contact with on a daily basis make the district a wonderful place to work. Every day is different and there is never a dull moment.

I am a graduate of Dallas ISD and I hope to have a positive impact on the students that I work with. As a former student of the Dallas ISD from Kindergarten through the 12th grade, I was positively influenced by many dedicated, knowledgeable, and caring teachers, counselors, and administrators. I strive to have the same impact on current students.

Denit Pongkho, Speech Language Pathologist Network Coach for Sunset High School Feeder Patter

For me, life is full of “most” memorable moments such as graduating as the valedictorian from the Education and Social Services Magnet, the birth of my son, and being chosen to be the Speech-Language Pathologist Network Coach for the Sunset Feeder Pattern. However, I must admit the most humbling moment was when a former student’s mother called me by name outside of a grocery store and thanked me for helping her son who wouldn’t speak when he was three years old. She stated she has never forgotten about me. The funny part is her son is now a talkative middle school student.

The best thing about working in Dallas ISD is interacting with a variety of preschool to high school students. As a speech-language pathologist, I have the opportunity to improve the communication skills of my students by helping them understand and effectively use speech and language in a clear and fluent manner. It is a proud moment to see the shock and utter amazement on students’ faces when they have achieved their communication goals. PRICELESS!

Another wonderful thing about working in Dallas ISD is the collaboration with my fellow speech-language pathologists and speech-language pathologist assistants. We are a team of diverse thinkers! We learn, we grow, and we support each other.

The impact I hope to have on students is teaching them a way to  communicate effectively, whether it is through oral communication or an alternative mode of communication. I want my students to understand what they have to say is important. Communication is the key to changing the world.



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