A special event this month spotlighted and celebrated the work taking place to transform some of Dallas ISD’s most challenging schools under the Accelerating Campus Excellence (ACE) program.
The seven ACE schools are benefitting from being staffed by proven principals and effective teachers in a framework that allows them to focus on students’ needs. The event on Nov. 12 was at Billy Earl Dade Middle School, and recognized the hard work of the staff at Dade, Thomas Edison and Sarah Zumwalt middle schools; and Annie Webb Blanton, Roger Q. Mills, Elisha M. Pease and Umphrey Lee elementary schools.
“With the ACE program, we want to set the example for educators and policy-makers all over the country that we can change the trajectory of education in our most challenged schools,” Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said in a prerecorded video.
ACE Executive Director Jolee Healey said there are five components the initiative focuses on: strong leadership, effective teaching, instructional excellence, support for social-emotional development and having strong parent and community partnerships.
Tracie Washington, principal at Dade, says the program is working well so far. “The ACE program has been a wonderful asset and benefit to our students, our parents and our staff,” she said. “One of the key things is building a team that is able to come together with one vision and one goal, knowing that we are our students’ best hope and that is non-negotiable in the work we have ahead.”
Washington said the shift is positively affecting the culture for students.
Otha Stewart, the Leadership Cadet Corps instructor at Dade, said he has felt the improvement as a teacher. “From last year to this year, it’s almost like a whole different school,” he said. “It’s like a different community, everything is different. The improvement is unbelievable.”
The ACE schools are also forging partnerships in the community, and that is getting attention.
“The difference you are making – and understand the eyes that are watching your effort and want to help you and want to support you in any way,” said Todd Williams, a community leader and advocate for education.