DeSoto ISD - Spring /Summer 2019

Page 1


Independent School District


SCIENCE Family Fun Night

The Official Magazine of the DeSoto Independent School District


PUBLISHERS Scott & Kelly Murray

Important Info 4 DeSoto Board of Trustees

EDITORS Jana Melton Steve Gamel

39 Register Your Child for

CONTRIBUTORS Tiffanie Blackmon-Jones Rena Thomas DeSoto ISD

42 See Something Say Something

ADVERTISING Kelly Murray PRODUCTION Art Director Lizeth Wallace Graphic Designers Alyson Modene Caroline Brock Letters DeSoto ISD Magazine welcomes reader feedback, story suggestions and general comments. Email All submissions become the sole property of Murray Media Group.

Contact Us Editorial and advertising inquiries call 972.899.3637 or email your photos, stories, student spotlights and suggestions to for your chance to be featured. Address: 3513 Yucca Drive, Ste. 200 Flower Mound, TX 75028

DeSoto ISD Pre-K

48 2019-2020 Academic Calendar

School News 3 Greetings from the Superintendent 4

DeSoto High School Supreme XIX Top 10 Students


DeSoto Collegiate Academy Presents the Class of 2019

6 DeSoto ISD Education Foundation Sponsors District’s First-Ever Super Science Family Fun Night Expo 8

Marquita in Morocco


Lady Eagles Freshman Named to USA Basketball National Team

10 Alumni Profile Carly Strasser 11 DeSoto ISD Superintendent Completes Educational Equity Fellowship with The Southern Education Foundation 12 Building a K-5 Robotics Class

Published by Murray Media Group. Opinions expressed in articles or advertisements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher or the DeSoto Independent School District. DeSoto ISD is not responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented to the magazine. Advertisers and its agencies assume all liability for advertising content. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the permission in writing from the publisher. Š 2019 Murray Media Group.

from the Ground Up 14 Communicating with Mr. Conde 16 7 DHS Scholars Awarded Texas Christian University Community Scholarship 20 DeSoto Seniors Recognized Among New Recruits for Cedar Valley Technical Programs

21 DeSoto ISD to Open Academic Admissions-Based Campus for High-Performing Gifted & Talented Students 22 Kevin Curry: Improving Lives One Meal at a Time 24 Long-Time Boys Hoops Coach Chris Dyer to Retire 26 Musical Mr. Slider 28 Student-Athlete Spotlight: Jarius Hicklen DeSoto Varsity Basketball Team 29 Girls Basketball Caps Stellar Season with State Finals Finish 30 The Montessori Method 32 Whitney Cheatham Former DeSoto ISD Graduate, Current DeSoto ISD Employee & Beauty Maven 34 2019-2020 Academic Priorities: Making a Plan for Success 38 DHS Alum Keith Walker Receives National YoungArts Foundation Award 40 DeSoto ISD Music Education Program Receives National Recognition for the 3rd Consecutive Year 43 DHS Mock Trial Students Advance to State 43 DHS Senior Wrestles His Way to State 44 2019 Academic Signing Day 46 All Things Sparkle 47 Lady Eagles are 4-Peat State Track Champions!




ince joining DeSoto ISD, I have been very proud to call the district my new home.

system from financial and programmatic

We are working to ensure productive,

perspectives, each day, I find great solace

accountable, and transparent communication

My journey to superintendency began in

in knowing we are taking steps forward for

between our schools, community, and

the eighth grade when my teacher, Mrs.

every child, family and staff member within

families, which is essential for the healing

Curry, made a call to my school system’s

our organization.

that must take place within our system and

superintendent to allow me to attend a school better suited for my academic abilities where I could be challenged and have the opportunity to grow as a student. My life was forever changed in that moment and, since then, I’ve been working to position myself where I currently am today. I have always dreamed of positively impacting students the way my former superintendent impacted me and I am sincerely grateful to

We will continue to work to ensure DeSoto ISD develops a stellar reputation for providing an effective, innovative, research-based education to all students. We will reach this goal

Please know we value every person in our school community no matter your role or relationship to DeSoto ISD.

serve this school system and community. So far, my existence in DeSoto ISD

through collaboration and a healthy culture that values and considers every voice in our system. We will create

excited to see what lies ahead. I encourage you to stay informed with what is happening inside the schools by frequenting our website and social media pages and engaging in district activities and meetings. Please know we value every person in our relationship to DeSoto ISD. To our families,

educating every child at a

thank you for entrusting us with your most

high level in every classroom

valuable asset, your children, and thank you

every day.

for staying the course as we work to ensure

We are working to create a school system where deep learning and the holistic social and emotional development of where students’ learning needs are never

families, and talented colleagues. I am

second to a test score.

the challenges of repositioning the school

I consider what is already in motion, I am

school community no matter your role or

engagement with great students, amazing

While we have been working through

plan of constant forward momentum. As

schools that focuses on

our students is paramount in all we do and

for us here.

The vision we will cast for the future is a

a renewed vision for our

has been punctuated by my work and

truly excited about what the future holds

on behalf of our students.

We are working to develop a school system in which the synergy and

a better tomorrow.

Let’s build tomorrow together.

Dr. D’Andre Weaver DeSoto ISD Superintendent of Schools

interdependence of professional teams is leveraged for student success. Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •






BOARD OF Twice monthly at 6:30pm (2nd & 4th of each month) Monday except January (Midwinter), March, June, July, November, December. Board Agendas are posted and filed in compliance with the Open Meetings Law. The subjects to be discussed are listed on the agenda that is made part of the posting. Meetings are at the DeSoto ISD Board Room, 200 E. Belt Line Road, DeSoto, Texas. Agendas are available from the Board of Trustees Secretary, 972-274-8212 or online.

Cynthia Watson-Banks Place 1

Kathy Goad Place 2

Karen Daniel Place 3

Tiffany Clark Place 4

Aubrey C. Hooper Place 5

DeAndrea Fleming Place 6

Amanda Sargent Place 7


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019












DeSoto Collegiate Academy Presents the


eSoto Collegiate Academy, led by Principal Angela Batiste and her team, graduated their largest class of students receiving an Associate degree from Cedar Valley College (CVC). This year, 80 students were eligible to receive an Associate of Art or Science degree, which is equivalent to 60 credit hours. This class includes the top ten students in the Supreme XIX. Beginning in the 9th grade, students were required to pass the TSI Reading, Writing, and Math assessments. From there, they managed both high school and college classes simultaneously, which included a coherent sequence of dual credit classes like English 1301, History 1301, and Biology 1407. Amidst challenges, our students persevered and exceeded expectations. CVC graduation ceremony was held at the Inspiring Body of Christ (IBOC) church almost two weeks before the regular DHS graduation ceremony. Effectively, these students graduated from college before they graduated from high school! Congratulations to our class of 2019 graduates!



Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


DeSoto ISD Education Foundation Sponsors District’s First-Ever



he March 7, 2019 science-focused extravaganza included presentations

by teachers and students in each grade level as well as the various science courses available at DeSoto High School. The event emphasized the importance of providing rigorous science programs in our schools while bringing teachers, students, families, and the DeSoto and Glenn Heights community together for a night of science fun and fellowship. Event partners included the City of DeSoto, DeSoto Public Library, DeSoto Police Department, Fossil Rim Wildlife Park from Glenrose, Outdoor Education of Waxahachie, SciTech Discovery Center of Frisco, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, Perot Museum in Dallas, Texas Wildlife Association, and pilots from Southwest Airlines. Organized with the support of four retired DeSoto ISD instructors who, in total, represent more than 150 years of teaching experience, this exciting endeavor will likely become an annual favorite.


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

Donations to the DeSoto ISD Education Foundation supporting the event included but were not limited to: $1,000 + Archer Western Co. Advance Contracting Group Rafik Toumani $250 - $999 Omega Contracting Inc. $250 Freeman Honda West/Hurtt Funeral Home Cesar J. Metrive Adams Pharmacy Plains Capital Bank Thank you to the core group of retired DeSoto ISD Science Teachers (Greta Turner, Mika Malone, Linda Young and Linda Davis), Danielle Moore, Sabrina Mathis, the DeSoto ISD Education Foundation, and the many students, parents, teachers, and partners who collaborated to make this event possible for students and families.

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


Marquita In Morocco


ll it took for Marquita Rawlins, Computer Science and Coding teacher at Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy, to unlock a huge life and career opportunity was a simple web search. In her hunt for professional development opportunities over the summer, she came across something huge: a chance to take part in the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms program. The program, aimed at globalizing U.S. classrooms, would include an online professional development course, a global symposium held in Washington D.C., and two weeks of international field experience. After a rigorous application process, 76 teachers were selected out of an applicant pool of 450. Fourteen of those 76 teachers – one of which was Marquita – were placed in Agadir, Morocco. Their objective would be to sit in on and teach English-As-ASecond-Language (ELON) classes and advise teachers in training. Marquita and her colleagues didn’t waste a moment. Although Agadir is widely known as a resort city with its picturesque, sandy beaches and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, they had little time to revel in the scenery.


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

“Between morning sessions, afternoon sessions, and museum and cultural sights, the only time we got to enjoy the beach was when we were walking by it to get something to eat,” she laughed. The visiting teachers received a warm welcome to Derfoufi High School. Students decorated the walls with colorful drawings, hand paintings, and uplifting phrases. And throughout the weeks, the hospitality continued as students showered Marquita and her colleagues with gifts, such as the handmade purse Marquita received, and gave cultural presentations on Moroccan dress and accessories. Besides the social aspect, Marquita’s cohort engaged the students in an educational sense by speaking with them about their aspirations, discussing American culture and its school systems, and sitting in on classes. One of the first things Marquita noticed was how technologically savvy the schools were. Just like her school in DeSoto, which boasts a largely-electronic learning experience, the school in Agadir emphasized technology with as much vigor. Teachers assigned and students completed work online. The suite of apps like Google Classroom that Marquita had used back in DeSoto was just as widely used at Derfoufi.

Another thing she noticed was that classrooms were much larger. In DeSoto, she never taught more than 22 students at a time, but in Agadir, classes topped 50-60 students. Despite that, students were extremely respectful. So respectful, in fact, that they didn’t call their teachers by name. Instead, they just called them ‘teacher.’ “I learned that it doesn’t take raising your voice to get a class’s attention,” said Marquita. “In those large classrooms, a teacher just had to tap their pen on the whiteboard, and all 50-60 of those kids would immediately drop everything. Looking back, Marquita believes her experience in Morocco has helped her really appreciate the beauty of interacting with people with different experiences. “I learned to accept others’ cultures and customs,” she said. “Even though the way we do something may be different from another, we have to work to close the gap.” She also hopes that her trek may set an example for others. “I joined the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms program to be able to serve as an example for my students to inspire them to consider travel opportunities abroad,” said Marquita. “Also, as the only black woman in my cohort, I stand as an example to recruit and influence other women like me.” To read about Marquita’s experience in Morocco, head to her blog at https://

Lady Eagles Freshman Named to


eSoto High School Lady Eagles Basketball Freshman Center

Sa’Myah Smith has been named to the

and 2020. Smith is the only Class of 2022 freshman named to the roster. The 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams

2019 USA Basketball 3x3 U18 National

established for the 2019 USA Basketball

Championships Roster.

3x3 U18 National Championships competed

Smith was named Dallas Morning News’

April 13 and 14 at the United States

Newcomer of the Year. Smith was also

Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs,

named to the 2019 UIL All-State Tournament

Colorado. The teams feature 19 athletes

Team alongside teammate Kendall Brown

who have played in past USA 3x3 U18

following the Lady Eagles state finals

Nationals and 29 who have taken part in a

appearance. This season, Smith averaged

prior USA Basketball five-on-five trials or

9.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.5 blocks, and 2.5

training camp.

assists per game. Only 48 players in the country are

championship, the event also serves as the 2019 USA Basketball Men’s and Women’s 3x3 U18 National Team trials, and all competing athletes will be in consideration for selection to the men’s and women’s 2019 USA 3x3 U18 World Cup Teams.

The USA 3x3 U18 Nationals features men’s and women’s teams competing

awarded the opportunity, many of whom are

for their respective 3x3 U18 national

juniors and seniors from the Class of 2019

titles. In addition to the lure of a national

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •





n the summer between 8th and 9th grade,

all, her AP chemistry teacher, Ms. Malone,

strategy and development with a number

DeSoto alumna Carly Strasser made a

who submitted Strasser for a scholarship that

of organizations, including California Digital

decision that would kick-start the incredibly

helped pay for a significant portion of her

Library and the Gordon and Betty Moore

driven, yet also very unpredictable journey

freshman year of college.

Foundation. Along the way, she has been

to where she is today. An encounter with

“I did push myself, but I think a lot of it

a part of some of the most progressive

marine science at a summer immersion

comes from having the support system of

conversations about data science, open

program ultimately led her to receive a

students and good teachers who make you

science, and creating algorithms and

degree in the field from the University of San

feel like you can accomplish anything even if

methods for tackling some of the biggest

Diego. One PhD and a few postdocs later, a

it’s going to be challenging,” says Strasser.

challenges we face today. At her current

serendipitous turn of events landed Strasser

And it certainly seems like she can

workplace of Fred Hutch, Strasser develops

in the world of data science. The pivot was

accomplish anything these days. Strasser

partnerships and opportunities to benefit

a learning curve for her at first, but her

received her PhD in Biological Oceanography

the scientific goals of the institution. One of

enthusiasm for research and promotion of open science carried her through to becoming a leader in the field, as she currently serves as Director of Academic Alliances and Data Strategy at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer

“Think about what makes you happy, and then find a way to make a living doing that. . . .”

Research Center in Seattle.

from Woods Hole

those goals being to cure cancer by 2025.

Oceanographic Institute,

And with Strasser on their team, the odds

a joint program with

are in their favor.

MIT, and postdocs from

“Don’t be afraid to pursue the things that

Dalhousie University and

are really interesting to you, even if people

University of Alberta in

suggest that might not be the best plan,” she

Canada, and UC Santa

advises. Once, a scientist told a young high

Barbara. She’s been

school sophomore Strasser that she would

on a research cruise to

never make it as a marine scientist because it

Antarctica, has twice

was just “too hard.” Safe to say, she showed

Strasser is a profoundly passionate

been on a submersible journey to explore

learner, and reflects on her time in the

hydrothermal vents in the Galapagos, and

DeSoto ISD with immense appreciation for

spent a year and a half researching invasive

then find a way to make a living doing that.

developing her academic skills. A graduate

copepod species in Edmonton, Alberta.

That’s the best advice I could give. I feel

of Northside Elementary, Meadows

Following that, Strasser became interested

Intermediate, West Middle School, and

in exploring new ways of applying her

DeSoto High, she recounts diversity, a

knowledge and her PhD, which is how

rigorous education, and supportive faculty

she stumbled into the world of data. She

as aspects that were superior to those of

began another postdoc at UCSB, but this

her peers in higher education. As editor

time working with the DataONE project

of the school newspaper her junior and

to engage scientists in data sharing. She

senior year, Strasser engaged with all the

didn’t know much about data, but with

different students and groups at school and

her background in science, it was easy for

even contributed to the paper – winning

her to get excited about making research

multiple awards. And with the support of her

as efficient and available as possible for

teachers, she could do anything. It was, after

everyone. Strasser has since worked in data


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

him, and then some. “Think about what makes you happy, and

extremely lucky to spend my time doing things that I think are fascinating.”






eSoto ISD Superintendent Dr. D’Andre Weaver recently completed an

Each cohort of the Racial Equity

engage in thought partnership with

Leadership Network (RELN) is comprised

in-district coaches to assist in strategizing

18-month fellowship program for Executive

of up to 12 executive leaders from school

on how best to address their challenges.

Leaders through the Southern Education

districts in the South. RELN Fellows will

Fellows may also earn a chance to assert

Foundation Racial Equity Leadership

attend five two and a half day in-person

themselves as experts in the discipline

Network. The fellowship is designed

convenings focused on essential levers

through possibilities for shared publication

for equity-centered leadership and system

and peer-to-peer learning. Finally, fellows

transformation. Their fellows and their

will receive a host of suggestions for ways

districts also receive customized coaching

to utilize their current team and resources

to support the planning and implementation

more efficiently and promote buy-in for

of a co-created action plan addressing their

future initiatives so that they might scale

unique equity challenges. Fellows are asked

their efforts moving forward.

to prepare executive school leaders to guide the work of equity and inclusion in their respective school systems and who are committed to addressing persistent disparities in their system ensuring that race and class are no longer the most reliable predictors of student success. “This opportunity to learn about shaping and designing school systems for racial equity and inclusion is instrumental to the work we desire to take on for our students in DeSoto ISD,” said Weaver. “Creating a learning environment that embraces all students and one that is culturally-responsive will pay dividends for the students we serve as we prepare them for the world ahead.” The Southern Education Foundation is a

to create in-district design teams, a 5-7 member workgroup of district colleagues committed to addressing racial disparities within their school system. As members of the Racial Equity Leadership Network, Fellows should walk

Fellows worked with SEF Network Faculty to co-design the support needed for their respective district teams to advance an equity agenda that is inclusive of but is not limited to:

away from this experience with a more

• Communications Strategy

nuanced understanding of existing and

• Equitable School Finance

potential equity challenges their districts’

• Community Schools Strategy

face and could encounter in the future. They will be provided with a cadre of

Development • Equity Strategy Development

not-for-profit foundation created in 1937 to

tangible tools and resources in the form of

promote quality education for traditionally

critical time and space to strategize, peer

disadvantaged students. SEF provides

networking, access to experts, coaching,

research, policy analysis and programming in

and technical assistance. Additionally,

• District Equity Audits

15 states across the country.

fellows will have the opportunity to

• Listening Campaigns

• Executive Coaching and Team Development

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


BUILDING A K–5 FROM THE GROUND UP A veteran robotics teacher lays out his strategy for teaching STEM through robotics beginning in kindergarten. By Mike Causey


s a former computer engineer with a background in applied math, I’m a firm proponent of STEM education. As a math teacher with 14 years of experience facilitating robotics clubs for students, I’m also an ardent supporter of programming and robotics as a vehicle for STEM ed. So when I had the opportunity to build a K–5 robotics class from the lab up, I jumped at the opportunity. Our school is a brand-new Title 1 campus. We’re in our first year and just opened in August, so we’re still tweaking and learning a bit as we go, but we’ve developed a solid foundation for introducing students — even those who are very young — to a range of STEM and other concepts in an environment that feels more like fun than work. Here’s how we did it. KINDERGARTEN & 1ST GRADE When I was designing the program, I wanted to make sure we were building a bridge from kindergarten all the way to 5th grade and beyond, so our program is designed to be progressive throughout the six years students are with us and to set them up for more advanced robotics in middle and high school, should they choose to pursue it.


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

For kindergarteners and first graders, we use two products, STEAM Park, a Lego product, and KIBO, from KinderLab. STEAM Park uses Duplo Lego bricks and gears, pulleys, and other simple machines to help very young children begin to understand concepts like leverage, chain reactions, motion, measurement, and even buoyancy, which isn’t usually introduced until 2nd grade. KIBO is a kit that allows students to build their robots using a series of sensors and then program them by arranging a series of scannable blocks. The sensors are critical for them to understand going forward, of course, and the block coding helps them become more comfortable with the basic ideas of coding, such as creating sequences and other design concepts. 2ND AND 3RD GRADE In 2nd and 3rd grade, we use WeDo 2.0, also from Lego. WeDo offers a motor, some basic sensors, and programming software that helps students understand basic functionality and how all these things work together. Our 3rd-graders get the privilege of starting to work in with the robots4STEM suite from RoboKind. Robots4STEM comprises a two-foot-tall humanoid robot named Jett, a visual coding language, and a curriculum. Students can program a digital avatar as they learn programming, then switch over to run the actual robot with the code they have written. When students are working with the robots4STEM program, I talk a lot about abstraction, and I think that’s at the heart of the value that robotics provides students. Abstraction is the ability to make

things based on your ideas, to extend your knowledge about your environment, and work with what’s there to be creative and successful in solving a problem. We also try to encourage students to use other things in the environment around them to solve their robotics challenges. We were working on a flow-charting exercise the other day, for example. The instructions included cutting pieces of paper out with scissors but, being a 1:1 campus, my students and I decided to use the tools available to us and they completed the exercise in Keynote. So now, in addition to everything they’re learning directly from the robotics curriculum, they’re also learning to use presentation software. 4TH AND 5TH GRADE In 4th and 5th grade, students continue to work with Jett, but they also get to start working with Lego EV3s, which uses the Scratch programming language. I love marrying the two products, robots4STEM and EV3. Students build their confidence and understanding of coding with the robots4STEM tools, and then we take those lessons learned and finally they get to go ahead and start building robots and trying to make them work. Students can use EV3s all the way through high school if they choose to stick with

robotics, and they can incorporate other programming languages, like Python, as they progress. I’ve already been reaching out to the middle school and the high school to make sure we have some continuum in the flow and growth of the students that we send up there. CREATING A FLOW FROM GRADE TO GRADE A recent example from class helps to shed a little light on how the structured flow of the program throughout the grades is so helpful. Robotics forces students to think in a structured format or their robot won’t work. The other day, we had some 2nd-graders who were trying to get a robot to walk, but the robots never stood up. Then, when the students told it to walk, it never went anywhere because it hadn’t been told to stand up first. This offered every one of those students involved a practical lesson in why it’s important to think in an organized, structured manner when you’re trying to accomplish something, whether it be getting a robot to walk, conducting a science experiment, solving a math problem, or writing an essay. No matter what the project, the excitement the kids show when they have the opportunity to create something and get a robot to move just the way they planned is amazing. We had a little girl just the other day start clapping because her robot was moving for the first time, and it was just overwhelming to watch. Providing kids opportunities to be successful, to believe in their own potential — it’s what makes teaching the best job in the world. Mike Causey is the robotics teacher at Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy in DeSoto, TX. He can be reached at

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


Communicating WITH MR. CONDE


hen it comes to Eduardo Conde,

one of Conde’s endeavors with the Morning

the first word that comes to mind

Music program at CHLMA. Every morning,

Specialist for DeSoto, where he is able to

is community. As both a teacher and a

a 20-minute radio program broadcasts

do even more for students. As part of the

Communications Specialist, Conde is

throughout school, playing music and

A2E2 team, he oversees the allocation of

dedicated to diversifying education and

interviews organized by the elementary

funds from a federal grant that supports

giving every member of the DeSoto ISD

students. Conde notes his involvement was

instructional resources, professional

community a voice.

pretty hands off – just giving the students

development, field trip experiences, and

“I’ve learned to see the potential in

space to develop their communication skills

everyone,” says Conde. “And that’s because

was enough to allow them to shine and

somebody saw the potential in me.”

assume leadership responsibilities

That “somebody” was Conde’s wife, a teacher herself who encouraged him to consider the career change. Conde hails from a family of educators, but a degree in Business Administration led him to a job in sales, with a semi-professional soccer career on the side. As an athlete and a businessman, Conde developed a competitive mindset that

for themselves.

“The best way to build a relationship is respect first, because not only are you teaching your students, as a teacher you are also learning something from them.”

continues to drive him to be the best he can be. As a Spanish teacher at Cockrell Hill Linguistics Magnet Academy (CHLMA),

Born in Texas but raised in Mexico, Conde returned to the U.S. for high school and college, with a year spent abroad in Spain. It was then that he realized the value of his bilingualism and now strives to share that importance as an educator. He advocates for Spanish curriculum, teaches about diversity of Spanish-speaking cultures,

and is a leading voice for the Spanishspeaking community of DeSoto ISD. “Being able to speak both languages has

Conde now works as a Communications

technology to schools in the district. Conde speaks highly of the field trip experiences in particular, which allow students to become a part of the greater Dallas community – like a recent trip to the Methodist Charlton Medical Center. With so many accomplishments under his belt already, Conde looks to the future with high hopes for DeSoto. His current goals include seeing a Spanish teacher in every elementary school, spreading the Morning Music program throughout the district, and continuing to serve the Spanish-speaking community. At home, Conde and his wife also have high hopes for their daughters, Emma and Collieta, who are learning to be bilingual as well. “Being a father helped me be a better teacher, because you learn to really care for your students – that you respect them,” notes Conde. “The best way to build a

Conde introduced a Cinco de Mayo program

helped me build a relationship with the

to expose students to Hispanic culture

Hispanic community and let them know, in

and history. Each year’s program was more

the DeSoto community, that they’re going

comprehensive than the last, showcasing

to be heard,” says Conde, who succeeds

a spectrum of Hispanic traditions from

at making every student and family

mariachi music to baile folklórico.

member alike feel valued. By bringing on

district on a daily basis, exploring classrooms

board Spanish-speaking staff members to

and taking photos to post on various social

like that,” says Conde. “But the real reward

connecting with families through the Spanish

media platforms so families can be a part of

is not the performance; it’s the road the

social media pages he manages, Conde

their children’s day-to-day learning. If you

students take to get there.” An excellent

wants the community to know he is here

haven’t already met Mr. Conde himself, he’d

point that can be proven again in another

for them.

be very thrilled to meet you.

“I was really proud to organize an event


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

relationship is respect first, because not only are you teaching your students, as a teacher you are also learning something from them.” You can find Conde around the DeSoto


Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •





Community Scholarship


ach scholarship is valued at $260,000 and covers room, board, tuition, books, and includes a 17-week opportunity to study abroad anywhere in the world in one of TCU’s academic programs.

The students awarded the honor include: JA CURRIA ALLEN Ja Curria Allen is currently a senior at DeSoto High School who previously attended Judge Barefoot Law Sanders Magnet School. She is the product of Jessie and Jasmine Allen. Ja Curria is a member of the National Honor Society. She is in the top 10 percent of her class. Ja Curria have been on the A honor roll for eight years. She wants to attend a university and major in business management, with a minor in foreign languages and African studies. After she receives her bachelor’s degree, she will attend graduate school to receive a Master of Business Administration. Ja Curria will start an international non-profit organization that will give emotional, financial, and educational support to students who have lost their parent(s). TASIA MASSINBURG Tasia Massinburg is the daughter of Tasha and Jeffrey Massinburg. She is a proud senior at DeSoto High School who will be graduating with her diploma and associate’s degree, from Cedar Valley College. Tasia is a part of the Math, Spanish, and National Honor Societies where she holds leadership positions. She is the Captain of the DeSoto High School Eaglettes. Tasia also participates in The Interact Club. She plans to attend a university and major in psychology. Upon the completion of her bachelor’s degree, she plans to pursue her doctorate degree in order to open her own private practice and specialize in child psychology. HALEY FREENEY Miss Haley Freeney is the daughter of Mrs. Genika Freeney and Mr. Clifford Freeney. Haley is a senior at DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Texas and is currently the Valedictorian of her class. In fact, she has held this rank since her second semester of sophomore year. Haley has been very active in her high school career. For four years, she has been a member of her school’s female mentoring program Sisters in Service and is currently the President of the organization. In addition, Haley is a part of many honor societies. She serves as the Vice President in Spanish Honor Society and the Secretary in National English Honor Society. She is also in National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, and Phi Theta Kappa. Haley is also an active member in her community. She is a part of the DeSoto Youth Advisory Council and serves as an Executive Board Member and the Public Relations Officer. Upon graduation, Haley plans to attend Texas Christian University where she will major in marketing and minor in public relations. Later she hopes to attend graduate school at Harvard Business School and become a Chief Brand Officer. 16

• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

ARIYANA COOPER Ariyana Cooper is the daughter of Mr. Abe Cooper Jr. and Mrs. Dionne Cooper. Ariyana is a senior at DeSoto High School in DeSoto, Texas. For three years, she has been a DeSoto High School Cheerleader, and for the past two years she has been the cheer captain. She has volunteered to help the DeSoto West Middle School cheer team, along with the Tri-City Animal Shelter and Tag-Team Tutoring. She is also a part of Math Honor Society and National Honor Society. Upon graduation, Ariyana plans to attend Texas Christian University where she will double major in Education and C.R.E.S (Cultural Race and Ethnic Studies). Later, she plans to become a high school teacher, where she will share her experiences and knowledge with the youth of the world.

KAEDEN ALEXANDER Kaeden Alexander is a senior at DeSoto High School, and is a part of the Collegiate Magnet Program. He played football, is a member of the National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, Reserve Officer Training Corps, and the Debate team. Kaeden has received a multitude of academic and athletic awards including 2nd Team Academic All State and the SOAR and Scholars Award. He plans to attend Texas Christian University and dual major in Mechanical Engineering and Political Science with minors in technology and robotics. Kaeden’s goal is to build the bridges that connect different people, places, and things. He plans to have his PhD by the age of 25.

JEREMIAH HINES Jeremiah Hines is the son of Rodney and Claudine Hines. He is a senior at DeSoto High School. Jeremiah is a member of National Honor Society and Phi Theta Kappa. He is an active member at Church of the Living God Temple #73, where he plays the piano, drums, and sings in the choir and the praise team. Jeremiah wants to attend a university to major in a STEM related field to one day become a doctor.

JADAN CROW Jadan Crow is the daughter of Candra and Dewayne Bryant, the owners of 1011 Grill in Dallas. She is a senior at DeSoto High School and is a part of the Early College High School program. Jadan is a member of the National Honor Society, National Math Honor Society, and President of both DeSoto’s Teen Advisory Board and the Rotary Interact Club. By continuously volunteering, she has developed a love for servant leadership as well as making other’s dreams come true – as seen by her strong role as XPerience Radio’s Hostess on Everything Teen Talk Radio. She uses her platforms to not only influence others to fight for more, but to also experience new things. She will be majoring in Spanish in college while also completing the Pre-Health track in order to go to medical school at UT Southwestern. Even though her professional goal is to become an Anesthesiologist, she will use her fluency of the Spanish language to join Doctors Without Borders and provide medical treatment to those all across the world. Her Modus Operandi is truth of all for social progression. That is what motivates her every move.

CONTIN UED ON T HE NEXT PAGE Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


The TCU Community Scholars program was established by TCU’s Chancellor’s Council on Diversity in 2000 as a way to increase diversity on campus. This academic preparation and scholarship program focuses on 13 local inner-city high schools with predominantly minority enrollments. The immediate goal is to attract students to TCU who have demonstrated academic excellence and leadership skills and provide the funding and support they need to succeed. The long-term goal is to encourage those students to pursue advanced degrees and help them grow into community and business leaders. Students must be admitted to TCU to continue through all phases of the Community Scholar process, culminating in Community Scholar Interview Day. In fall 2000, 12 freshmen were enrolled in the first TCU Community Scholars Program. With foundation and corporate support, that number grew to 42 freshmen for fall 2017 and 50 students in this year’s TCU Community Scholars cohort across all 13 campuses involved in the program, which has a more than 90 percent four-year graduation success rate. ​DeSoto High School is the only school in Best Southwest Community selected to participate in this annual scholarship opportunity. To date, DeSoto ISD has produced more than 50 TCU Community Scholars and boasts a 100 percent program completion and graduation rate among DeSoto High School students who have been awarded the opportunity.



• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019


Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •




Cedar Valley Technical Programs T

wenty DeSoto ISD scholars were among the students from area school districts who participated in Cedar Valley College’s National Technical Letter of Intent Signing Day held on February 21 at the college’s performance hall. The national event, sponsored by the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), mirrors the NCAA’s National Signing Day for athletes who commit to play sports in college. It is designed to honor students who are entering a technical field and to celebrate the dignity of work. Among those recognized at the event, included are the following scholars from DeSoto ISD and the Career and Technical areas they plan to pursue:

• ASHLEY KING Veterinary Technology • ASHLEY LAM Veterinary Technology • PRESTON MANNING JR. Automotive & Diesel Technology • TY’LER MARTIN Automotive & Diesel Technology • DIEGO ORTIZ Automotive & Diesel Technology • DANIEL SIFUENTES Automotive & Diesel Technology • NICHOLAS SILVA Automotive & Diesel Technology • BENNIE SMITH Veterinary Technology

• JASMINE BALLARD Veterinary Technology

• KAZZDTAIR SMITH Digital Art & Design

• TYREKE BARR Business Management

• CHRISTOPHER STANLEY Automotive & Diesel Technology

• FRANCES BECKER Veterinary Technology

• MODESTY WASHINGTON Veterinary Technology

• CESAR CARMONA Automotive & Diesel Technology • MICHAEL CHIOMA Business Marketing, Real Estate • JAYDA DAVIS Veterinary Technology • ROBERTO FLORES JR. Automotive & Diesel Technology • ALEXANDER GRAY Veterinary Technology


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019


DeSoto ISD to Open




For High-Performing Gifted & Talented Students


eSoto ISD leaders asked the community what it desires from its local school system. The response? An academicallyrigorous learning environment. Starting in the 2019-2020 school year, DeSoto ISD will have such an option following the reconfiguration of Katherine Johnson as pre-K4 through sixth grade academic admissions-based campus. Through a unique partnership with the University of Texas at Austin, this campus will follow an incubator model whereby the university and DeSoto ISD will collaborate with an advisory committee to develop and define best practices that will serve to reimagine education for all schools in DeSoto ISD. Katherine Johnson will be a school where scholars learn based on a combination of classic principles steeped in standards-based learning and innovative practices that promote opportunities for students to achieve and provide opportunities to build capacity for excellence in schools districtwide. The district has reserved 80 percent of seats for current DeSoto ISD students and the remaining 20 percent of seats are available for prospective, high-performing non-district students.

All applicants will undergo an series of evaluations inclusive of assessments, interviews, and a review of academic and disciplinary records as aligned with the district’s existing selective enrollment process. In order to begin identifying Katherine Johnson’s student body, the DeSoto ISD Advanced Academics team reviewed a number of student performance measures and began reaching out to students who met the baseline criteria for academic evaluation for acceptance to the campus. The district identified more than 600 students who are eligible to attend Katherine Johnson as based on prior and current academic performance. Katherine Johnson was chosen as the site for this advanced academics options because of the schools innovative, modern, and creative design that will serve as inspiration for the out-of-the-box learning and engagement that is expected in a competitive learning environment such as it is designed to serve. Vandana Nayak, regional education practice leader for Perkins+Will, the campus’ architectural firm said, “With adaptable,

modern features and equipment seamlessly integrated into the building, students will have premium access to the latest curriculum in an open, synergetic environment.” The Katherine Johnson Technology Magnet Academy was developed with a progressive design concept that reimagines educational facilities to better support the innovative learning and instructional practices necessary for 21st century, future-focused education. With an emphasis on core content and outdoor learning, the school will provide extensive opportunities for students to engage in project-based, collaborative learning in a state-of-the-art building that’s environmentally friendly and energy conservative. The facility’s design is accented by four, secure outdoor learning environments accessible by students and flexible learning spaces that support the creative and innovative learning the district envisions for children. “We’re thrilled to offer students in DeSoto ISD a revolutionary approach to elementary education,” said Chief Academic Officer Celeste Barretto. “With the increasing number of educational choices, we’re taking a proactive step to offer this competitive and rigorous option and teaching strategy through a public school system.”

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


Food photos courtesy of FitMenCook facebook page &


f you are what you eat, Kevin Curry is a healthy, fun, colorful guy who’s full of energy — anything but bland or boring. Curry has created a life around the power of not just eating healthy, but well.

His brand, FitMenCook™, is a community and lifestyle resource focused on nutrition and fitness for both men and women around the world. With over 1.3 million Instagram followers and half a million YouTube subscribers, Curry is changing lives in ways he probably never thought possible while as a busy student involved in AP courses and extracurriculars at DeSoto ISD. Though Kevin graduated from DeSoto High School in 1999, the inspiration for FitMenCook™ didn’t come until later, after a few bumps in the road and a crash course in Food 101.


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

nearby Half Price Books kick-started his

even newer and more exciting means of

School, Curry continued his education at

campaign to figure out how to eat healthy

technology — is the future of optimizing

UT Austin with a dual-degree in business

without sacrificing the flavor and joy he

nutrition. And as the head “cook” behind

and Hispanic studies (a decision Curry says

found in food. He decided to create a Tumblr

FitMenCook™, he’s seeing food products as

was inspired by his experience in DeSoto’s

blog to document his journey, and just like

the next step to make proper nutrition even

AP Spanish program, where he first fostered

that, FitMenCook™ was born.

more sustainable for busy members looking

Soon after graduating from DeSoto High

Today, Curry’s brand

a love for different

has grown into not just a

languages and cultures).

for quick, but healthy, options. By all means, Curry has certainly arrived at

blog, but a movement to

success. Yet numbers and metrics aren’t the

eventually made his way

help men and women live

driving force behind his career. He says that

to the John F. Kennedy

their best lives through

the motivation has been – and continues to

School of Government at

approachable, healthy

Harvard University, where

eating and fitness. The

be – to serve others. It’s how he finds clarity

he graduated with his


master’s degree before

is simple: “Our bodies

settling in the Boston

are built in the kitchen,

area. Just as he began his

sculpted in the gym.”

new life, the recession of

Curry offers online

2008 hit and, like many

resources that feature

others, Curry’s vision

workout tips, recipes,

of the future quickly

and meal prep how-tos,

changed. He found

as well as YouTube video

he once did. Curry’s advice to his high

himself moving back to

tutorials, a recently

school self? You don’t have to have

DeSoto to live with his

published cookbook, and

it all figured out. Just stay ambitious,

After UT, Curry

in his purpose.

Now 20 years after graduating from DeSoto High School, Curry’s perspective offers reassurance for those seniors who may be contemplating their “right” path, just as

parents while he figured out his next move.

a mobile application that gives users features

hard-working, and passionate. When

With stress about the future and the abrupt

like customized grocery lists, “FitLife”

life change, Curry put his health on hold.

challenges, and more. But even in the flurry

you start feeling lost, get lost in service

One day, he saw a photo of himself that

of growth, Curry believes there’s a lot more

suddenly made him realize that it was time

to come.

to prioritize his health, not just his career. His

When asked about his end goal, Curry

eating habits left him overweight and tired;

thinks big, but dreams bigger; he wants

combined with rising blood pressure levels,

to “change the way people fundamentally

Curry had all the motivation he needed to

think about healthy food, diet, and

get back in shape. With little money for

nutrition.” And it won’t be just through

a trainer or expensive gym memberships,

social media. Curry thinks reaching

Curry focused on cleaning up his act in the

FitMenCook™ community members in their

kitchen. Stacks of nutrition books from the

own kitchens, through the mobile app — or

to others. After his own journey to better health, and a flourishing career that has taken him from DeSoto to destinations around the world, it’s advice that present-day Curry still very much lives by.

Discover the inspiring FitMenCook™ community online at

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •





entor. Father figure. Leader. Teacher.

and 2016. With an 80 percent win career

Coach. Hall of Famer. DeSoto High

record of 767-192, Dyer has impacted

school’s first State Championship, defeating

School’s Chris Dyer announced to his team

thousands of young men with his tough, yet

Corpus Christi Ray 94-73. The rest is history.

his intent to step down at the Eagles’ head

compassionate coaching and teaching style.

In addition to his work at DeSoto, Dyer

coach just days ago. While Dyer plans to hand over the reins to the program, he won’t be far. The 37-year veteran will continue to serve as a teacher and staff member at DeSoto High School. “My time in DeSoto ISD has been an amazing journey. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some really top-notch people and to watch some incredible young men grow up and

Dyer has seen his players go on to

often took on additional opportunities to

participate at top programs across the

grow and challenge himself as a coach. In

NCAA like Duke, Baylor, and

Dyer has been instrumental in establishing Dallas-Fort Worth as a hotbed of basketball talent

follow their dreams,” said Dyer. “When I came to DeSoto High School, my

In 2003, Dyer helped DeSoto claim the

SMU. Some of his athletes have gone on to pursue careers overseas and among the NBA ranks. Prior to his arrival in DeSoto in 1998,

2002, he coached in the Global Games, where the U.S. team defeated Yugoslavia for the gold medal. He was also an assistant in 2006 in the Jordan Classic and was the winning head coach for the West Team in the 2013 Jordan Classic held at the Barclay Center in New York City.

Dyer developed as

In 2016, fans of his coaching abilities,

coach in Dallas ISD

contribution to the basketball community,

winning titles as a head

and the countless student-athletes he’s

coach at Dallas South

mentored over the years were on hand for

Oak Cliff and as an assistant

a dedication ceremony to name the DeSoto

coach at Kimball. Before Dyer’s arrival at DeSoto, the

High School competition gym in his honor. In addition to coaching, Dyer has been

wife and I had been living in this community

Eagles had never won a basketball playoff

instrumental in establishing Dallas-Fort

for 13 years raising a family. Twenty-one

game and advanced to make the playoffs

Worth as a hotbed of basketball talent,

years later, DeSoto ISD has become an

just once in 1993.

positioning it as a regular stop on the

extension of my family, and I’m so very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here.” During his 37-year coaching career, Dyer made the trip to the state tournament nine

In a 2016 interview with the Houston

college recruitment trail through his

Chronicle, Dyer said there were times he

work with organizations like the Texas

questioned if things would improve or not.

Association of Basketball Coaches and the

“(...) it took us five years before we made

Great American Shootout.

times and amassed five State Championships

the playoffs,” he said. “There’d be days where

– one as an assistant coach and four as

we’d sit in the office and look at each other.

into the Hall of Fame at East Akron High

head coach. Three of those were while

‘Is it ever going to get better, are we ever

School, where Dyer competed as a high

coaching the DeSoto Eagles in 2003, 2009,

going to get better?’”

school athlete.


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

Most recently, Dyer was inducted

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


Musical MR. SLIDER W

hile classical training in any subject

Japanese drumming selection performed on

can be a very important foundation

taiko drums Slider fashioned from stacked

for learning, Daniel Slider understands one thing – kids wanna rock. That’s why several years ago, Slider abandoned the traditional teaching method and adopted a new one that is empowering his students at Woodridge Fine Arts Magnet Academy with radical musical knowledge and artistry. It all started with the program Little Kids Rock, a grant that provided funds for guitars, drums, and keyboards in Slider’s classroom. Three times a week, 3rd through 5th-grade students meet for class to learn how to play said instruments, as well as diving right into learning songs as a band. Now in his 10th year of teaching, Slider has transformed music curriculum into something modern, relevant, and awesome. These students’ performances are not something to be missed. Memorable shows to date include a cover of Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Christmas in Sarajevo,” Gloria Esteban’s “Rhythm is Gonna Get You” (for Hispanic Heritage Month), and a traditional


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

original song he wrote for the students. “It’s called Titan, to represent and honor

tires and packing tape. And the best is yet

Berry Gordy for being the titan that he was

to come.

in the industry when starting the Motown

In honor of Black History Month, Slider has curated a performance including Stevie

movement and everything,” says Slider. In addition to their performance skills,

Wonder’s “Superstition” with some “pretty

Slider arms his students with musical

sick” keyboard players on deck, along with an

awareness and knowledge. He encourages

his kids to intelligently use online resources

can promote social-emotional capacities

to discover new genres and new bands,

such as empathy.3 But in the words of Slider,

like exploring Spotify or finding a new

“none of that means anything until you’ve

favorite artist on YouTube that has less than

experienced it for yourself.”

100,000 views. “From the start, the most important lessons in music is for students to become tuneful, beatful, and artful, with the most emphasis on artful,” Slider describes. He hopes to see music become a lifelong influence in the lives of his students, something that they can enjoy not only as spectators, but also as music makers. Music has an overwhelmingly positive effect on our well being, and science shows that applies to music education as well. Some claim that structured music lessons can significantly enhance cognitive abilities, including reasoning, short-term memory,

A lifelong musician, Slider has been motivated by music from the start. Early piano lessons, music at his church, and high school band were all factors in him pursuing a degree in Choral Conducting at

1 Jaschke AC, Honing H and Scherder EJA (2018) Longitudinal Analysis of Music Education on Executive Functions in Primary School Children. Front. Neurosci. 12:103. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00103 2 Barclay, Rachel. “Study: Music Training Boosts Brain Function In At-Risk Kids”. Healthline, 2014, music-training-boosts-brain-function-090314#1. 3 “Long-Term Musical Group Interaction Has A Positive Influence On Empathy In Children”. Journals. Sagepub.Com, 2012, doi/abs/10.1177/0305735612440609.

Dallas Baptist University. Although as far as instruments go, he was mostly self-taught. Next, Slider became a worship leader, a member of the Christian rock band, Amos, and then finally ended up in education. And, he also plays in a new band now, called Walk of Faith. “I was pretty shy at first, but as I started learning from my students, I’ve opened up

planning, and academic performance.1 El

a lot, just to be more expressive and more

Sistema in Venezuela found that students

open,” recalls Slider about his early years as a

in music programs were more likely to stay

teacher. “They’ve made me a more confident

in school, perform well, and pursue higher

person, you know? I’m definitely not the

education.2 Music also helps develop social

same person that I am when I started.”

bonds, encourage cultural cohesion, and

Mic drop. Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


Student-Athlete Spotlight:

Jarius Hicklen

DeSoto Varsity Basketball Team T

he 2018-2019 season for DeSoto’s boys

football and track teams since junior high),

pure talent on the court, and smooth and

varsity basketball team has proven to

and his ability to stay focused on his studies

natural skills as a basketball player.

be another successful effort for Coach Chris

has helped him to excel in his advanced

Dyer and his talented squad. The Eagles

placement (AP) courses.

have positioned themselves to be leaders

For Jarius, inspiration to continue to follow his dream of becoming a pro basketball

“I love learning about history. A lot of

player is fueled by a very supportive family

in their division through a mix of teamwork,

people have different views of history and

at home. Having a fanbase inside his own

being able to seamlessly switch between

it’s interesting learning about the past,”

home has made a big difference when it

offense and defense, and going on multiple

Hicklen says.

comes to staying focused on his game and

win streaks. All those ingredients have boiled

Hicklen, who is currently undecided

together for a winning season led by impres-

about where to attend college but knows

sive shooting talent Jarius Hicklen named

he wants to pursue a business degree this

the district 7-6A Player of the Year averaging

fall, is a crowd favorite at games both home

I am doing that feeling knowing that my

18 points per game, 4.7 rebounds per game,

and away. Highlight reels online show the

parents are not going to have worry about

and 3.9 assists per game.

spot-up shooter being able to stretch the

college for me is amazing!”

The DeSoto senior, who’s owned a spot in

floor as a defensive threat to his opponents

the team’s starting lineup since his sopho-

while also being able to fire direct shots into

more year, has continued to show his skills

the hoop from beyond the 3-point arc. His

both as an athlete and as a student. While

style of game mirrors that of his basketball

he averages 22 points per game and leads

idols (Michael Jordan, Paul George, and

his team to wins on the court, he’s continued

Kobe Bryant) while also falling in line with

to learn how to be well-balanced off the

the way professional basketball is playing

court to stay sharp.

out right now with position-less players

“I have learned many things from being a student-athlete. The main thing is time

taking over ball-handling duties. “I love seeing big and tall guards, and loving

management—it is the biggest component

seeing people playing different positions. I

of being a student and athlete,” says Hicklen,

feel like if you have the ability and skills to

who’s built off his combined passion for

play different positions, then you should be

basketball and learning since he was five years

versatile and show your skills.”

old. “You have to be able to balance it out and

This couldn’t be any truer for Hicklen, who,

do both. Within time management comes

at 6-feet-3, stands taller than most of the

discipline as you have to be able to put some

players on the court. However, Hicklen has

things aside to focus on your schedule.”

continuously impressed coaches, players,

Hicklen’s devotion to his team, his passion for school athletics (he’s also been on the


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

classmates, and fans alike with his passion for the game,

his studies, as well as keeping his eye on what’s next after high school. “My family inspires me to keep doing what

Gi r l s Ba s ke t b a l l C a p s



ongratulations to the DeSoto High

• Freshman: Sa’Myah Smith

School Lady Eagles Basketball Team!

• Freshman: Tionna Herron

This team led by lone senior and University

• Freshman: Amina Muhammad

of Houston-bound Bria Patterson finished

• Freshman: Sanaa Murphy-Flowers

the season at the state semifinal with a 33-7 overall season record.

The team was led and supported by the following staff members: • Head Coach: Andrea Robinson


• Varsity Assistant Coach: Kadi Creel

• Sophomore: DeShayla Harris

• Junior Varsity Coach: Catherine Williams

• Sophomore: Kayla Glover

• Freshman Coach: Britney Taylor

• Freshman: Ja’Mia Harris

• Freshman Coach: Darmarcous Crockett

• Senior: Bria Patterson

• Athletic Trainer: Briana Bradshaw-Willis

• Freshman: Ayanna Thompson • Freshman: Michayla Gatewood • Sophomore: Kendall Brown • Sophomore: Ariyanna Hines • Junior: Ash’a Thompson

Kendall Brown, Amina Muhammad • 2nd Team All-District: Michayla Gatewood, Ash'a Thompson • Academic All-District: Kayla Glover,

The Team Includes The Following

• Freshman: Jiya Perry

• 1st Team All-District: Bria Patterson,

As a result of the team’s performance, student-athletes were awarded the following District 7-6A superlatives: • Defensive Player of the Year: Bria Patterson

Ash'a Thompson, Ayanna Thompson • TABC All-Region: Bria Patterson, Kendall Brown, Amina Muhammad • TABC All-State: Bria Patterson • UIL All-State Tournament Team: Kendall Brown, Sa'Myah Smith • Dallas Morning News Newcomer of the Year: Sa'Myah Smith • Dallas Morning News All-Area 2nd Team- Bria Patterson Congratulations to our Lady Eagles Basketball Team and staff on a great season and a job well done!

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •






f you were to peek inside the three-year-old classroom at Amber

Terrace Discovery & Design Early Childhood Academy, you would quickly notice it’s not quite like the rest of the classes in the building. Inside, students work independently or in small groups, often for long, uninterrupted stretches of time. Practical skills such as cleaning up the classroom, and passing food at a table are woven into the day’s activities right along with interpersonal communication skills, cultural studies, problem solving, and more.


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

This group of 18 preschoolers, led by

learn to make choices, and learn how to

of applied science and technology, including

teacher Ms. Natasha Neely, is Amber

collaborate during activities. These are skills

everything from robotics to gardening. For

Terrace’s inaugural class within the

that are so valuable outside of the classroom,

students who may face developmental

new Montessori

for any of our students.”

hurdles, the PPCD (Preschool Program for

program. Started in the fall of 2018, this program is the first Montessori curriculum-based class in the district — offered at no additional cost for DeSoto families. Dawn Lopez, Ph.D., DeSoto ISD Interim

Coleman says that reception has been overwhelmingly positive, and interested parents have already begun reaching out regarding next year’s class.

Montessori methodology also places greater emphasis on both social and

intervention to help increase students’ ability

emotional development, an area of

to succeed in elementary school.

education that the school district — and

its first year, Coleman says that reception

create more curriculum around. Lopez says

has been overwhelmingly positive, and

that Montessori curriculum is proficient in

interested parents have already begun

teaching students how to be respectful of their surroundings and others. Coleman explains that they hope to grow the program in the coming years to include a multi-age classroom

explains that the decision to add a new

of three, four, and

Montessori program came down to the

five-year-olds — a

desire to offer students options when

common feature

it comes to early education. “We are

for Montessori

always in search of meeting the needs

programs. This

of kids. One size does not fit all, at any

multi-age classroom

level of education.”

structure not only helps students

reaching out regarding next year’s class. Due to the program’s limited size, Coleman says that a lottery will most likely be used to select students for next year’s incoming class of three-year-olds. This spring and

The Montessori method could offer new and exciting educational opportunities for more of DeSoto’s youngest learners.

Montessori method of teaching; Montessori

learn from each

programs are well-known for focusing on

other, but as Dawn

discovery in learning and self-discipline.

Lopez explains, “it’s

The curriculum is created to foster all areas

also beneficial for

of growth in the early childhood to middle

parents and teachers; that crucial parent-

school years, including cognitive, emotional,

teacher relationship does not have to be

social, and physical development.

re-introduced each year.”

For over a hundred years, the student-led

Though the Montessori program is still in

schools around the nation — have begun to

Curriculum Lead,

That sentiment is one shared with the

Children with Disabilities) offers critical early

The new Montessori program is just

summer, Amber Terrace plans on holding parent information sessions to answer questions DeSoto parents may have regarding the optional program. Academic assessments at the end of the school year will help gauge the educational success of the Montessori class and offer valuable insight as to how the achievements within the Montessori program compare to the other classes at Amber Terrace. End-of-year parent surveys will also allow Coleman and Lopez to view qualitative feedback and implement changes to improve the program as it continues to grow. Though the program is still young, both Lopez and Coleman agreed they could

approach that Dr. Maria Montessori, an

another addition to Amber Terrace’s robust

Italian physician, developed for educating

academic offerings. The academy helps

children has steadily grown in popularity

more than 400 DeSoto and Glenn Heights

and accessibility in the United States. Since

preschool-age children gain the skills and

Though over 100 years old, the Montessori

2000, over 300 new Montessori programs

knowledge they need to be successful in

method could offer new and exciting

within public schools have opened across

the first year of school and beyond. Each

educational opportunities for more of

the country, with estimates that this trend

classroom has both a certified teacher and

DeSoto’s youngest learners.

will continue to grow.

teacher assistant to maintain the 11 to 1

see more Montessori options becoming accessible in the district in the future.

student-teacher ratio that ensures students


believes that the program can benefit not

receive individualized attention. Each


only independent learners, but any students.

day, three reading sessions with teachers

224 Amber Lane

“Montessori curriculum helps students

help to introduce phonetics and literacy.

DeSoto, TX 75115

develop a freedom to explore and interact

A STEM-centered class offers students

P: 972.223.8757

with their environment,” she notes. “They

hands-on opportunities to learn the power

F: 972.274.8247

Amber Terrace Principal Keishla Coleman

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


Whitney Cheatham

Former DeSoto ISD Graduate, Current DeSoto ISD Employee &


better relationships with her peers, she

hitney Cheatham and her family’s

“Being in track & field and taking AP and

roots in DeSoto and the Greater

dual-credit classes at DeSoto High definitely

soon moved from the register to makeup

Dallas Area run deep. Her grandparents

gave me the structure and discipline I

artistry. Eventually, the company invested in

were one of the first African

needed in life,” says Whitney.

her and sent her on company-funded travel

American vendors at the Texas State Fair, selling gourmet popcorn to attendees,

That structure and discipline propelled her forward to Northwood University in Cedar Hill where,

and later converted their

as a freshman, she began

concept into a Southern

working as a cashier at

home-style restaurant

Sephora, a personal

and catering business.

beauty store chain, for

Later, her mother, the

some extra cash.

late Dr. Tracy Tolbert, served as the Career and Technology Director of DeSoto ISD for 15 years where she developed the curriculum for career and technology courses in the school district. And then in 2008, Whitney herself graduated from DeSoto High School, setting her own prospects in motion. 32

• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

“I was really sporty, and I didn’t even wear makeup,” she laughs. And yet, even though she found herself in an environment that didn’t quite line up with

to provide her with additional training. “Along the way, I realized that I just loved meeting and interacting with new people,” she says. Not only did she enjoy the people part, but she also saw how makeup was like therapy to many. “To see peoples’ faces light up when they look in the mirror after a makeup session is amazing. They just feel so much more confident in themselves,” she says. After graduating from Northwood University in only three years – she owes this to her AP and dual credit courses that gave her college credits – Whitney began

her interests at the time, she began to

working part time as a substitute teacher

grow in the world of makeup. Through a

at DeSoto ISD while also holding down her

mentorship with her store manager and

role at Sephora. Eventually, she converted

to full-time work at DeSoto ISD, becoming a

really rewarding when I can say, ‘This is my

Site Coordinator at Woodbridge Elementary

line of makeup.’”

to provide additional after-school program

And whether a person buys something,

support and left Sephora to begin side work

Whitney educates prospective buyers

as a solo makeup artist.

about ways they and their friends can get

As she began to really fall into her stride

her products: on

and improve as an artist, Whitney pondered

as well as at the pop-up vendor shows

what it would be like to build her own

she frequents.

brand. Ultimately, what she landed on was

Looking forward, Whitney hopes to grow

the name Adrenaline Beauty, a concept that

Adrenaline Beauty to be able to have its own

she’s had for the last 5-6 years but only

warehouse facility and employ like-minded

just officially put into motion last year. It

individuals. And even further beyond –

was the unfortunate passing of her mother,

“One step at a time!” she chimes – selling

DeSoto ISD champion Dr. Tracy Tolbert,

wholesale to salons and businesses.

two years ago that served as the impetus to

To her students, Whitney

initiate the process.

emphasizes perseverance.

“Before my mom passed away, I made a promise to her that I would start a makeup line,” says Whitney. “It was really important to me to keep my word, and it’s been really gratifying to keep going because I know she would be proud.”

glitz and glamor, but nothing

“Everything outside looking in is comes easy. Everything is a journey. You don’t realize how close you are sometimes, and if you give up, you might have just fallen short of the breaking point that could push you to the next level,” she says. But ultimately, it’s about doing After completing her year-long research on sourcing, materials, bottling, and more, Whitney’s first official leap under the

what you love. “I’m an artist first,” she smiles.

Adrenaline Beauty name was a line of products just in time for prom season: glitter palettes. Then came mom lashes and liquid lipsticks. Since officially launching, Whitney has harnessed the power of her network to expand her brand. One friend of hers, who has a YouTube following of over 40,000 subscribers, gave her an official shout-out on air and generated lots of buzz for Adrenaline Beauty. And beyond word of mouth, Whitney is her own brand ambassador. “It’s as easy as wearing my own products,” she says. “It’s a great segue way to talking about my brand, and it’s

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •



Making a Plan for C

hange has been occurring at a rapid pace this school year under the leadership of an entirely new administrative team in the DeSoto Independent School District. As a school community, the district is prioritizing the needs of students, the quality of their education and students’ social and emotional development.

In our relentless pursuit of student outcomes, DeSoto ISD prioritizes the following areas of student learning:



• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

development of a comprehensive culture

student group needs by building a rigorous

level, seven-step priority list that covers

plan at both the district and campus level,

learning foundation defined and calibrated

those areas of learning necessary to address

which will establish behavior management

around a set of common, high-leverage

to move student learning forward for the

teams comprised of staff and administrators

educational best practices addressing the

future repositioning DeSoto ISD as the

and communicate individualized student

quality and delivery of instruction, use

premier school system in the Dallas area.

social and emotional support, student

of formative assessments, and priority

discipline strategies, and student attendance

standards for all content areas and grade

support and incentives.

levels with a focus on English, Language Arts,

District leaders have developed a multi-

CULTURE Immediate Action: Ensure a cohesive culture plan for each campus and department (aligned to CIPs and expected goal) Immediate Impact: Change the cultural expectations that impact climate while allowing for individualized support. 1. Support campuses in creating a Positive Culture Plan with an organized, systematic approach to discipline and school culture. 2. Identify a Campus Behavior Team at every campus that will be trained and supported in Responses to Intervention, Classroom Management, Behavioral Management Supports and De-escalation practices. 3. Define a student support philosophy that responds to behavior and discipline through intervention practices. When assessing how to better serve our

At DeSoto ISD, we desire that every teacher and administrator is equipped to

As a district, we will create systems

address the social and emotional needs

and processes that provide consistency

of students with the intent to remove

and commonality in standardizing

barriers to learning, enhancing student

high-quality education in every classroom

success and achievement.

at every campus.



Immediate Action: Define what high-quality

RTI process that identifies student levels of

instruction in DeSoto ISD looks like everyday

academic performance at all levels so that

and build a common lens for what high-quality

teachers can match differentiated instruction to

instruction looks like in a classroom setting.

specific student needs.

Immediate Impact: Improve student

Immediate Impact: Ensure differentiated,

outcomes directly through high-quality

targeted supports for every child by viewing

classroom instruction.

each student as having individual needs, and

1. Build a common, rigorous foundation for how DeSoto ISD does Teaching and Learning. 2. Build the systemic infrastructure

students and schools across campuses and

and common language for all

grade levels, we must address educational

Academic Systems.

Immediate Action: Establish a foundational

ensuring we plan for, document, and execute upon targeted supports for students performing at all levels. 1. Create a system of determining and responding to student academic needs. Another core component of the

barriers impacting student behavior, safety, and performance. Culture has a major impact

and Reading, and math.

As a district, we must define what

2019-2020 school year academic priorities

on the success of a learning environment

high-quality instruction in DeSoto ISD

focuses on personalized learning experiences

and student achievement.

looks like everyday and establish a common

and educators’ ability meet the needs

lens to improve student outcomes through

of each individual student by identifying

a campus behavior team to address the

classroom and instructional observation,

academic performance at all levels. Teachers

unique needs of students in a positive and

intentional student growth, and multi-

will view each student as having their own

productive manner. It is important to take

directional coaching and feedback provided

unique needs and make a plan for targeting

the time to shape and develop a framework

by and to teachers, leaders, and students.

the support they need to perform at all

Each campus and classroom will establish

for the environment in which students learn. In addition, the district will support the

Teachers and administrators will be asked to be agile in adjusting to individual and

levels through disciplinary data, personalized learnings plans, and student growth.

CONTIN UED ON T HE NEXT PAGE Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


coaching, district teachers will engage in the

to be flexible and agile in our roles and

instructional leadership teams and

collaborative learning environment aimed at

operations as a district while being willing

administrators to have recurring data chats

providing educators the support needed to

to make the right changes to better help

aimed at progress monitoring academic

grow and succeed.

our students and district as a whole, will be

Teachers will periodically meet with

growth for students on and above grade

In redesigning these collaborative

a major area of opportunities in this year of

level. This comprehensive focus on students

learning communities, we can establish

transition towards greater achievement

includes finding ways to better educate and

a joint learning cycle and create and use

and success.

serve Gifted and Talented students, English

facilitator checklists for planning and

Learners, and students with disabilities to

modeling excellent learning throughout all

ensure teacher training and specialized

DeSoto ISD campuses.

support. For those students below grade level, we will operationalize the responseto-invention process to ensure a universal process for advancing those students to grade level and beyond. The goal is meeting every child where they

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT Immediate Action: Develop district goals and monitor progress using high-quality data.

ORGANIZATIONAL REDESIGN Immediate Action: Engage the Community to develop Vision, Values, and District Goal that is aligned to a five year strategic plan Immediate Impact: Understand the current reality and how we’re progressing towards achieving our goals

are and devising a plan for each student to

Immediate Impact: Understand the current

reach his or her academic potential.

reality and how we’re progressing towards

1. Conduct Organizational Assessment

achieving district goals.

2. District Goals

PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE Immediate Action: Build and develop a strong

1. Evaluation and strategy 2. Design and innovation

common and recurring collaboration space at both the campus and district level. Immediate Impact: Empower educators to own their own development. 1. Operationalize Collaborative Learning through Professional Learning Communities. 2. Create and use a set of protocol-

Focusing on continuously improving the performance of our students will always be high priority as the district moves towards a more collaborative culture in the 2019-2020 school year. Through high-quality data mining, we will have the opportunity to issue more strategic response in achieving academic

leader checklists for planning and

metrics allowing the district to develop

modeling world-class collaborative

goals and monitor the progress of our

learning facilitation.

students’ success.

3. Establish a collaborative learning

As a district, we will establish leading

cycle, measuring quality using an

indicators aligned with annual goals that

aligned rubric.

provide a clear understanding and vision of the direction of our entire school

This piece of the outline focuses on

system using multiple measures. The

3. Organizational culture and alignment 4. Creation of the Strategic Plan The district is working to ensure that the voices and vision for DeSoto ISD is heard and valued from all stakeholders both internal and external. To date, the district has been active in planning and creating forums to provide platforms to hear and understand the experiences and concerns of students, parents, staff, and community and turning that feedback into actionable responses. Through staff visits, leadership came to understand employee concerns related to climate and culture and the culture of professional development. As a result, concentrated efforts towards an improved professional culture continue to be implemented and a team has been established to address the professional

building and developing a strong, common,

difference in our approach to education

and recurring collaboration space at both

will be mining and utilizing high-quality

the campus and district level. With a goal of

data that offers an introspective look

system where learning is a priority for both

empowering educators to take responsibility

at how we can create deeper, more

adults and children and one in which we

over their own development, DeSoto ISD

beneficial learning opportunities in all of

norm common and mutual respect.

aims to ensure that each teacher feels

our district’s classrooms.

supported and guided but also given the

With this foundation set, we can revisit,

learning needs of district staff. As a district, we desire to create a school

Through the upcoming strategic planning process, the district will continue to collect

freedom to make their professional growth

re-evaluate, and revise student learning and

such feedback and use it to inform a

and development their own. Through

teacher development goals throughout the

five-year strategic plan that will pave the way

achievement data, observation, and

school year. Understanding that we have

for the improved future of DeSoto ISD.


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

INNOVATIVE DISTRICT INVESTMENTS Immediate Action: Establish highlyrigorous and challenging frameworks in which to challenge high-performing students and teachers. Immediate Impact: Address the community’s concern about the quality of academic programming and recruit and retain academic talent to enhance the learning environment. 1. Establish a selective-enrollment school for advanced academics, Innovative Academics Academy to keep and attract students, to incubate advanced programs and ultimately strengthen magnet and non-magnet programming throughout the district. 2. Intentionally strengthening early childhood and elementary 3. Expand Early College by 100 students 4. 9th grade focus to reduce failure rates on English I and Algebra I EOCs

districts because we were not meeting their expectations for academic rigor. The reconfiguration of Katherine Johnson is a step toward offering a more challenging academic option that demonstrates the district’s willingness to assess its deficiencies while addressing the needs of the community. The school, which will be supported by a partnership with the University of Texas, will accelerate the growth and educational success of campuses throughout the district by offering advanced and innovative academic plans which will serve as a framework for a excellent educational experiences for every student in DeSoto ISD. Our students’ education is paramount in this model for progress. We look forward to continuing to develop the quality and consistency of the education offered in DeSoto ISD; the goals we have set for our staff, students, and community; providing students the level of post-graduation preparedness and diversity of learning they desire; and service to the

Following the voice of the community for

community through empathy, grit,

a rigorous academic environment, the district

determination, and leadership

launched the reconfiguration of Katherine

at every level of our

Johnson as an academic admissions-based

school system.

campus which will support and build on our current strengths while finding opportunities where we can advance and apply a more hands-on focus. At Katherine Johnson, students can engage in curriculum based on a combination of classic principles and standards-based learning with a mix of innovative practices that encourage student achievement. This learning incubator environment provides opportunities to build students’ capacity for educational success at every school across the district. This kind of innovative learning environment is geared toward families who believe that alternative educational options would better suit their child’s learning process. Data shows that nearly 20 percent of families living in the DeSoto ISD choose to send their children to other Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •




HS class of 2018 graduate, Keith Walker, was selected out of 7,000 entries from around the nation as one of the merit winners of the National YoungArts Foundation awards. Walker was selected in the voice category for popular voice. YoungArts' winners consist of the nation’s most promising young artists in the visual, literary, design, and performing arts. Selected from a competitive pool of applications and representing artists from across the country, YoungArts winners gain access to one of the most comprehensive programs for emerging artists in the United States, offering financial, professional, and artistic development opportunities over the course of their careers. Selected through a blind adjudication process conducted by an independent panel of highly accomplished artists, the winners represent the top 10 percent of applications. Of each year's winners, some are awarded


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

for excellence in multiple disciplines at various levels. Winners are named Finalists, the organization’s highest honor, Honorable Mention, and Merit winners. While at DHS, Walker was active in the Choral program, especially the A Capella choir. His accolades include: UIL • 2x First Division Rating Soloist (Regional) • 1x First Division Rating Soloist (State) • 6x First Division Rating Ensemble (Regional & State) • 1x Second Division Rating Soloist (State) • Outstanding Soloist NAACP ACT-SO • 1x Regional Bronze Medalist (2016-2017) • 1x Regional Silver Medalist (2016-2017) • 2x Regional Gold Medalist (2015-2017) • 1x National Gold Medalist (2016-2017)

Encouraged by the success of a friend, Walker decided to enter the YoungArts competition in the fall of 2018. After receiving acknowledgement of his win, he attended the showcase in Florida in February of 2019. “We had some workshops with celebrities from theater, famous musical theater actors.” Walker explained. “Then we had rehearsals for the showcase. We had to mold the showcase together in a week! It wasn’t easy, but everybody out there was so good! They actually wanted it, and it showed!” Currently studying musical theater at Drake University, Walker is setting the course for his future. “I’ve really taken the time to appreciate and understand my art” he said. “Once I wanted fame and fortune, but now, my main goal is to find happiness in my art!”


DeSoto IS D Pre- K D

ata shows that students who attend DeSoto Independent School District

• The child is a dependent of an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces.

For more information on the pre-K application process and requirements,

pre-K and stay with the district significantly

• The child is or has been in foster care.

contact the DeSoto ISD Early Childhood

outperform their peers by third grade.

• The child is a dependent of a recipient

Education Office at 469.297.4556.

DeSoto ISD Pre-K options are available for students who will be four years old during the 2019-2020 school year. “Pre-K and kinder education is extremely beneficial to providing students a solid early foundation for learning,” said Myla Wilson,

of the State of Texas Award.

Families interested in enrolling their

For children who do not meet one of the

children in the district’s kindergarten

five eligibility requirements, a limited number

programs should contact the district’s

of spots for tuition-based pre-K are available

Office of Administrative Support Services at

at Amber Terrace at a little over $500 per

972.223.6666 or visit

month per child.

Enrollment for more information.

Director of Early Childhood Education in DeSoto ISD. “Additional classrooms have been made available through the district’s partnerships with area day care facilities through grant programs to support three-year-old early childhood education opportunities. DeSoto ISD wants to build a continuum upon that early exposure by making our four-year-old program at Amber Terrace and the districtwide kinder programs at each campus more easily accessible. The demand for early childhood education is clear here in DeSoto ISD. Parents should apply as soon as possible, as Amber Terrace Discovery and Design Early Childhood Academy fills up quickly along with the district’s available kinder seats!” DeSoto ISD offers free Pre-K programs for children who will be four-years-old on or before September 1, 2019 and meet at least ONE of these requirements: • The child is eligible to take part in the national free or reduced-price school lunch program. To find out if your child is eligible, click here. • The child is unable to speak and comprehend the English language. • The child is homeless.

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •






eSoto ISD has been honored

demonstrate outstanding achievement

and opportunities in DeSoto ISD,” stated

with the Best Communities for

in efforts to provide music access and

Matt Edwards, Fine Arts Director. “We

education to all students. To qualify for

know the phenomenal level at which

Music Education designation from The NAMM Foundation for its outstanding commitment to music education. This award was given to less than 5% of school districts in the nation this year, and among those that received the award, less than 3% are given the

Everyday listening skills are stronger in musicallytrained children that in those without music training.

honor for more than two consecutive years nationally.

the Best Communities

our students perform; this solidifies that

designation, DeSoto

level to the world. This award is a product

ISD answered detailed

of the amazing work being done by our

questions about funding,

music staff and students each and every

graduation requirements,

day throughout the year. I could not be

music class participation,

more proud of them and the job that they

instruction time, facilities,

all do in working collaboratively.”

and support for the music

This award recognizes that DeSoto

programs. Responses were

ISD is leading the way with learning

verified with school officials

opportunities as outlined in the Every

and reviewed by The Music Research

Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The

Now in its 20th year, the Best

Institute at the University of Kansas.

legislation guides implementation in

Communities for Music Education

“This is the feather in our cap to

the states and replaces the No Child

designation is awarded to districts that 40

• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

recognize the amazing fine arts programs

Left Behind Act (NCLB) which was

often criticized for an overemphasis on testing-while leaving behind subjects such as music. ESSA recommends music and the arts as important elements of a well-rounded education for all children. “Anytime our students and teachers are recognized among the best in the nation and certainly for the third year in a row, we want to celebrate and recognize that hard work, talent and effort,” said DeSoto ISD Superintendent Dr. D’Andre Weaver. “Music and the arts are creative means of expression that deeply enhance the educational experience for our students and the quality and depth of our arts programs continues to showcase the talent and creativity of our students and staff members.” Research into music education continues to demonstrate educational/ cognitive and social skill benefits for children who make music. After two years of music education, research found that participants showed more substantial improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores that their less-involved peers and

that students who are involved in music are not only more likely to graduate high school, but also to attend college as well. Everyday listening skills are stronger in musically-trained children that in those without music training. Significantly, listening skills are closely tied to the ability to perceive speech in a noisy background, pay attention, and keep sounds in memory. Later in life, individuals who took music lessons as children show stronger neural processing of sound; young adults and even older adults who have not played an instrument for up to 50 years show enhanced neural processing compared to their peers. Not to mention, social benefits include conflict resolution, teamwork skills, and how to give and receive constructive criticism. A 2015 study supported by The NAMM Foundation, “Striking A Chord,” also outlines the overwhelming desire by teachers and parents for music education opportunities for all children as part of the school curriculum. Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •



• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019


Students Advance to State T

he following DeSoto High School students competed rigorously as Attorneys and Expert Witnesses against 30 other Texas High Schools for the State Mock Trial Competition in Austin, Texas during the January 24-27, 2019 competition: • Rickey Hewitt (Captain) • Shatavion Finley • Gerald Wise • Asia Cockrell • London Thompson • Rachel Weaver • Iyana Hale

DeSoto High School earned the honor to compete at the State level by winning three rounds out of the four competition rounds at the District Competition, which took place earlier this year at Duncanville High School. DeSoto High School placed 9th out of 30 teams, a huge accomplishment due to the fact that only the top 10 teams are recognized at the state level. In addition to advancing to state competition, the DeSoto High School Mock Trial team was recognized for Outstanding Attorney Team along with the team’s Top 10 placement.

DHS Senior

Wrestles His Way to State C

ongratulations to DeSoto High School Senior student-athlete Ronnie Council,

who finished the year with a record of 27-6 while placing third in the Region 1-6A tournament and qualifying for state. Council accumulated 45 takedowns and 17 pins over the course of the wrestling season en route to first-place finishes at the Colleyville Heritage American Wrestler Invitational, the Lamar Invitational, and the Bowie Invitational. He also had a thirdplace finish at the Outback Invitational at Weatherford High School and became the District 3-6A Champion before advancing to the state tournament.

Council will attend Stephen F. Austin University, where he plans to establish the first-ever wrestling program in the university’s history. Council was guided through this stellar season by Head Wrestling Coach Michael McAdams, who graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Bachelor of Arts in English before pursuing a 13-year teaching and coaching career. McAdams is a first-year teacher and head coach in DeSoto ISD. In his first season at the helm of the Eagles Wrestling team, the wrestling team had four wrestlers qualify for regionals, including the first two girls in school history. Congratulations to both Ronnie Council and Coach McAdams on a stellar season!

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


2 0 1 9 Academic Signing Day O

Accepted Students

n May 2, DeSoto High School hosted

country to pursue their dreams. These young

an Academic Signing Day for the Class

men and women have earned their ‘free’

• Alcorn State University: Kennedy Hardaway

of 2019, with 60 DHS scholars accepting full

education – and will no doubt make the

• Dallas Baptist University: Roy Suarez

academic or military scholarships for college.

most of this opportunity.”

• Fisk University: Peyton Williams (Full Tuition)

The Class of 2019 has been a class of

The students featured in the May

champions on the field and in the classroom

Academic Signing Day event will have their

earning to-date $16,464.131 in scholarships.

tuition covered through several different

This class has earned numerous athletic and

avenues such as scholarships, grants,

fine arts awards over the past three years,

Hazelwood/GI Bill funds, and/or Tuition

including state titles in football as well as

Exemption for Current or Former Foster Care

boys and girls track, with many Academic

Students under the Conservatorship of the

All-State athletes; UIL top rankings in band

Texas Department of Family and Protective

and choir and Music Scholars; Ma’At Step

Services (TDFPS). Additionally, 5 students

Team National Champions; Eaglettes Drill

will be enlisting in the military.

Team National Champions and much more! “This is the eighth year DeSoto High School has hosted a special event for academic and non-athletic, full-scholarship

Military • Navy: Daeja Dixon, Valencia Valdes,

DeSoto High School. “DeSoto High School

Ty’Shenell Wilson

is sending students into the world prepared

• Army: Chase Daniels

for college and a bright future – students

• United Sates Naval Academy: Sara Topic

are attending premier schools across the


• DeSoto ISD • Spring / Summer 2019

(Full Tuition) • Louisiana Sate University: Mirakle Cook, Ahvae Nicholas (Full Tuition) • Midland College: Diarra Foley-Pettes (Full Tuition) • Morehouse College: Don Louis Edwards, Paul Edwards • North Carolina A&T State University: Nadia Durham • Prairie View A&M University: Annesia


recipients,” said Shon Joseph, principal of

• Jackson State University: Dynasti Smith

Estes, Zariah Jenkins (Full Tuition), Sydnei Williams (Full Tuition) • Philander Smith College: Justus Emerson (Full Tuition), DeAundria Green (Full Tuition)

• Oral Roberts University: Karlie Brown

(Full Tuition), Jeremiah Hines (Full Tuition),

Kendellon Lamb (Full Tuition), Aliyah

• Southwestern Assembles of God

Ayomide Ayowole-Obi, Tasia Massinburg

Neal (Full Tuition), Taliyah Neal (Full

(Full Tuition)

Tuition), Jereigha Robinson (Full Tuition),

University: Gabriela Mireles (Full Tuition) • Oklahoma State University: Monica Jones • Sam Houston University: Roneria Davis (Full Tuition), Glen Fisher Jr. (Full Tuition), Alphie Guillory, Tailah Payne, Jasmyne Sanders • Southern Illinois University: Elizabeth Stratton • Southern Methodist University: Jordyn Harrell • Southern University: KamRon Wilson • Texas A&M University:

• Texas State University: Anissa Kuti (Full

Ke’Erica Russel (Full Tuition), Terione

Tuition), Jakeria Lewis, Armani Smith

Taylor (Full Tuition) Camille Woodard

(Full Tuition), Kayla Vickers

(Full Tuition)

• Texas Tech University: Chyair Walker (Full Tuition) • Texas Women’s University: Chynna Crawford • University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff: Deirian Franklin (Full Tuition), Christopher Stanley (Full Tuition) • University of Houston: Sarah Akintunde

• The University of North Texas at Dallas: Alaric Williams Jr. (Full Tuition), Kevan Wise (Full Tuition) • The University of Texas at Austin: Kayla Campbell (Full Tuition), Garren Lorio (Full Tuition), Sherelyn Orozco (Full Tuition), Taylor Walker (Full Tuition) • University of North Texas: Gorgeous

Marifer Vega-Hernandez (Full Tuition),

(Full Tuition), Kavon Childers (Full

Cyrus (Full Tuition), Teth Gloster, Joshua

Kimora Howard (Full Tuition)

Tuition), Jefferson Coe (Full Tuition),

McCullough (Full Tuition), Trinity Perkins

• Texas College: Bria Sloan

Javion Johnson (Full Tuition), Kaitlin

• Texas A&M University Commerce:

Henderson, Jada Watkins (Full Tuition)

Karrington Brooks, Amari Jones (Full

• St Thomas University: Eamon Burke

Tuition), Kira Lumpkin (Full Tuition),

(Full Tuition), Michael Chioma, Jaylor

Shariah Perkins (Full Tuition),

Crawford (Full Tuition), DeWayne Cokes

Heaven Thomas (Full Tuition)

(Full Tuition), Braxton Demby, Taaliyah

• Texas Christian University: Kaeden Alexander (Full Tuition), Ja Curria Allen

(Full Tuition), Jordan Williams (Full Tuition) • University of Texas at San Antonio: Amani Larry (Full Tuition) • Xavier University of Louisiana: Jordan Roberts (Full Tuition)

Garner (Full Tuition), Deville Greene (Full Tuition), Yasin Guidry (Full Tuition),

(Full Tuition), Ariyana Cooper (Full Tuition), Jadan K. Crow (Full Tuition), Haley Freeney

Spring / Summer 2019 • DeSoto ISD •


Sparkle All Things


rofessional make-up artists and hair

decor and wondered about the interesting

stylists volunteered their time on a

treats being displayed.

Saturday morning to assist DHS students

She was genuinely excited for the

in getting ready for the prom. The

opportunity. The UNT Dallas bound future

volunteers setup the experience in the

business major enthused “It’s great to have

DHS Cosmetology Salon, compete with a balloon tower and organization banner. DJ Hype kept the atmosphere lively and waiting patrons snacked on box lunches from Jason’s Deli and beautiful custom treats by Absolutely Edible Cakes. Organizer Brittany Coats-Holloway’s husband is a 2001 graduate of DHS. “It’s just great to give back to our community,” she said. Ten DHS seniors were treated to hair and make-up sessions in preparation for the DHS Senior Prom. The students were selected by DHS staff based on criteria including attendance, discipline, community service, and academics. One of these students was Supreme XIX Top 10 senior, Lily Olguin!

this opportunity to help achieve our look on this magical night!” First up was hair. Lily wanted an up-do for her spaghetti-strapped red gown, so stylist, Indee, began creating spiral curls in her long brown hair. Wrapping the curls up into a bun, Indee created spirals around Lily’s face to frame the look. Then to the makeup chair! Lily and her mom consulted with artist, Brittany, to determine the best face for the evening. Keeping a natural glow with dramatic eyes and a hint of color on the lips, Lily’s transformation was completed. In the end, Lily glowed in her beautiful

Lily’s mom dropped her off for the 10 a.m.

red gown, fabulous and prom ready, thanks

appointment to start her preparation. As she

to the generous volunteers from All Things

entered the salon, she smiled at the beautiful

Sparkle - Prom Edition!




or the fourth consecutive year, the DeSoto Lady Eagles have won the State

Track and Field Championship for Division 6A - this time with a record breaking 121 points - the most points any team has ever scored at the Texas State Track meet! These ladies broke the national record at the regional meet in the 4x100 with a 44.44. For the state championship, they broke it again with 44.24, also breaking the record for a state championship time. BY THE NUMBERS:

4X100 - 1ST PLACE AND NATIONAL RECORD - 44.24 Ja’Era Griffin, Jayla Hollis, Taylor Armstrong, and Rosaline Effiong

100 HURDLES 1ST PLACE - Jayla Hollis - time 13.40 2ND PLACE - Jalaysi’ya Smith - time 13.42

100M 4TH PLACE - Ja’Era Griffin - time 11.65

4X200 - 1ST PLACE WITH A TIME OF 1:36.21 Ja’Era Griffin, Trinity Kirk, Taylor Armstrong, and Mia Abraham

400 3RD PLACE - Cierra Wash - time 54.90

300M HURDLES 1ST PLACE - Taylor Armstrong - time 42.12 9TH PLACE - Jalaysi’ya Smith

200M 2ND PLACE - Rosaline Effiong - time 23.51 3RD PLACE - Jayla Hollis - time 23.52

4X400 - 1ST PLACE WITH A TIME OF 3:39.79 Cierra Wash, Rosaline Effiong, Zariah Jones, and Bryannia Murphy

DISCUS 2ND PLACE - Brianna Washington - 148’3” Personal Best!

SHOT PUT 6TH PLACE - Brianna Washington - 41’