Author: Jessica Coppedge

Approximately 250 Dallas ISD staff members across the district have earned a Mindfulness Coach Certification from the district’s Social and Emotional Learning department. This training has equipped these leaders to conduct campuswide training and small group support for staff and students.  “Mindfulness practices help students and adults practice self-awareness and self-management, two social and emotional learning competencies,” shared Juany Valdespino-Gaytan, executive director of Advanced Academic Services and Social & Emotional Learning. “By providing staff across the district with an opportunity to get mindfulness-trained and certified, we are broadening the reach of this practice to students and staff who interact with…

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Twenty years ago, Martha Mouret arrived in Texas from Mexico City, not knowing any English. In just one year, she learned English while attending Texas Tech University. She graduated with a triple major and went on to work as an assistant director in the Diversity and Community Engagement Department at Texas Tech. “I was able to see firsthand the discrepancy between the numbers of minority students in K-12 and the number of students in higher education,” she said. “Those numbers do not match. There are a lot of students, especially Hispanic students, who do not make it to college or…

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Like any parent, Itzel Davis wants the absolute best education possible for her children. Her son, Landon, is a kind four-year-old boy with a love for learning, and a special interest in tornadoes. When Davis and her husband noticed delayed speech development in Landon, they knew that their son might have learning differences.  The Davis family sought private speech therapy to help Landon, and while they certainly saw growth in Landon through that therapy, the most noticeable growth has come from his time at Lida Hooe Elementary School. Landon’s school counselor, Ms. Passmore, recommended that the Davis family have Landon…

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Dallas ISD’s Special Education Department has implemented Partner PE, an inclusionary Physical Education program designed to meet the unique needs of students with various disabilities, and its focus is peer teaching and individualized instruction.   Partner PE provides activities pairing age-appropriate general education (GENED) and special education (SPED) peers in an integrated setting at the secondary level. The class is taught by a certified physical education teacher and is established as a regular unit of instruction in the master schedule. The purpose of the program is to encourage physical activity, increase knowledge of health and fitness strategies, and assist in the…

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Students across Dallas ISD are receiving a powerful social and emotional learning (SEL) tool simply through a box.  Dallas ISD’s Social and Emotional Learning Department and Counseling Services Department are proud to partner with Tacky Box to provide students with a tool to help with the skills associated with social and emotional learning like kindness, empathy, compassion, and conflict-resolution that will benefit them in the classroom, home, and their communities.  Tacky Box was invented in January 2013 by Emma Phelps, a kindergartner at Lakewood Elementary, when she uttered a four-letter word to her mom. This ‘tacky’ language led Emma’s mom,…

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Isabelle and Katherine Adams are not your average high school students. These sisters, a senior and a sophomore, respectively, at School for the Talented and Gifted, are co-CEOs of their own nonprofit, co-authors of their own book, and now co-recipients–the first teenagers ever–of the Presidential Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award.  Isabelle and Katherine started their nonprofit, Paper for Water, in 2011 at just eight and five years old when they learned that girls in developing countries often did not go to school because they hauled water all day and that a child died every 15 seconds from unclean water. Wanting…

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Social and emotional learning (SEL) builds the skills, knowledge and attitudes that students and adults need to be successful. SEL is a high priority in Dallas ISD, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it more clear the value SEL skills bring to the district’s individuals, classrooms, and families. While SEL does not replace needed mental health services, SEL can promote mental wellness in many ways. By fostering responsive relationships, emotionally safe environments, and social and emotional skills development, SEL cultivates important “protective factors” to buffer against mental health risks. SEL is for individuals of all ages and when schools…

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Despite all of the challenges this past year has brought to students and learning, the Dallas ISD Visual & Performing Arts Department has found innovative ways to thrive in the midst of the pandemic and beyond. “We are taking COVID lemons and making lemonade,” said Tim Linley, executive director of Visual & Performing Arts. At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, Linley’s team set out a lofty goal of 100,000 touchpoints with Dallas ISD students. The Visual & Performing Arts Department has more than quadrupled that goal, reaching 485,000 touchpoints this year. A touchpoint represents an individual student experiencing…

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With so many school choice options available to families today, deciding where to attend high school can be tough. For Kaci Anderson, the decision to switch from a private to public school was easy after she visited Dallas ISD’s Innovation Design Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) and learned about the school’s personalized learning model, NAF Academy, small class sizes, and opportunities for real-world experience. Not only has IDEA impacted and shaped Anderson into the person she is today, but she has impacted and shaped her high school as well. Anderson has served as student council president all four years and is chapter…

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Sunset High School varsity cheer caption Jourdyn Hawkins knows how to start and finish strong. Last fall, Hawkins made Sunset athletic history as she was one of four cheerleaders from Sunset High School to make the National Cheerleading Association’s (NCA) All-American team.  Now, as her senior year quickly comes to an end, it is on another high note as her team took first place in the Game Day category at the “Sock it To Em” Nationals competition on April 18. Hawkins made further athletic history this year when she was the first-ever Sunset student invited to apply to join NCA…

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