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August 2009

A newsletter for employees of the Dallas ISD

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Verbeana Hatton named School Counselor of the Year 2 School safety 3 2008 bond program News in brief 4 Distance Learning program First day of 2009– 2010 school year 5 Inside Track

Former Teacher of the Year described as workaholic on a mission to help children


erbeana Hatton, counselor at Seagoville

High School, was named the Dallas ISD 2009– 2010 School Counselor of the Year.

A former Dallas ISD Teacher of the Year, Hatton has

been a school counselor for five years. She taught for nine years at Fred F. Florence Middle School before deciding to pursue a career in counseling. Hatton is seen by the staff at Seagoville High as a workaholic who is on a mission to help children. “For Verbeana, counseling is not a Monday through Friday, 9 to 5 job,” said Seagoville High School principal Jeff Baker. “She organizes weekend field trips and attends many extracurricular activities. Both parents and students know they can call her 24/7.” Hatton says her goal as a counselor is to educate students and their parents about the

millions of opportunities that exist. “Whether students choose college, the military, or the workforce, I want each of them to graduate with a plan of action for their future and complete the necessary steps to bring those plans to fruition. I also want parents to see me as a resource. I’m a parent and I know what it feels like when you don’t even know what questions to ask,” said Hatton. An Outstanding School Counselor has been selected for each learning community. Hatton, who represented the Superintendent’s Learning Community, was selected as the 2009 School Counselor of the Year from among the seven Outstanding School Counselors.

Outstanding School Counselors representing the other learning communities are:

n Northeast Elementary Lonnie Beadles, George W. Truett Elementary School n Northwest Elementary Sharon Sandahl, Preston Hollow Elementary School n Southeast Elementary Sarah Dickey-Hill, Albert Sidney Johnston Elementary School n Southwest Elementary Karen Zachary, Birdie Alexander Elementary School n East Secondary Agatha Randall-Richardson, Harold Wendell Lang Sr. Middle School n West Secondary Angie Alexander, Sunset High School


Dallas ISD Communicator

August 2009

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School safety New initiative welcomes visitors but puts safety first


hen parents and

visitors arrive at Dallas ISD campuses, they will receive a new welcome at the schools. Each campus will display Welcome! bright green signs welcoming visiSafety is the key tors and directing them to sign in in Dallas ISD. at the office. Please sign in at The posters and signs are perthe main office. haps the most visible part of a districtwide initiative that has brought together several departments that had previously worked on their own to make all schools safe and welcoming for everyone, said Rachel Moon, Student Advocacy and Mentoring coordinator. “The purpose is to create a safe and welcoming environment so that parents and visitors feel engaged and that they can participate in the schools,” she said. “We hope that parents will feel less intimidated about visiting the schools and approaching teachers about their child’s grades and performance.” Using the motto “Safety is the key in Dallas ISD,” the initiative also seeks to ensure that safety measures, such as making sure that all visitors register in the school’s office, are followed in every campus, Moon said. “We wanted to have a standard of what the district’s message is when parents and visitors come to the schools,”

she said. And once they get to the office to sign in, “that they will be received in a courteous manner with the four Fs in mind: fast, flexible, focused, and friendly. Ev¡Bienvenidos! eryone knowing the expectations La seguridad es la when they arrive on a campus imclave en el Dallas ISD. proves safety.” Por favor regístrese In order to help schools ensure en la oficina. they are meeting safe and welcoming standards, the departments working on the initiative have developed a manual and a checklist for safe and welcoming “walks” that can be performed by the principal or by members of the Site-Based Decision Making committee. The initiative, which resulted from one of the recommendations of the Dallas Achieves! Commission, brought together representatives from Risk Management, Emergency Operations and Compliance, Safe and Civil Schools, Safe and Drug Free Schools, Police and Security Services, and Parent Services and School Choice departments to come up with standards for safe and welcoming schools. “There’s strength in unity,” Moon said. “When all departments are working together, we’re all emphasizing the same message, and we are sharing what are some of the safety issues we need to address.”

DISTRICT ASKS PARENTS, COMMUNITY TO HELP KEEP CHILDREN SAFE BY OBSERVING TRAFFIC LAWS IN SCHOOL ZONE AREAS At a news conference in August, Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa, Dallas Police Department Chief David Kunkle, and Dallas ISD Police Chief John Blackburn asked parents and the community to help keep children safe by observing traffic laws and reducing speed in school zone areas during the school year. They also were reminded that the use of cell phones in school zones is prohibited.


Dallas ISD Communicator

2008 bond program update


he 2008 bond program is progressing as expected, and the

first group of construction contracts will begin the bidding phase by Thanksgiving. Actual construction will begin in earnest in January and February of next year. Property acquisition for the new schools is making good progress with six properties already closed, two properties scheduled for closing, and 10 properties ready for board approval. Architects, engineers, and program managers are actively involved in design work for new school and renovation projects involving almost 100 schools. Town hall presentations have been held to inform the community about the designs for three schools in WilmerHutchins—a new elementary school and renovations to Wilmer Hutchins High School and Kennedy-Curry Middle School; W.H. Adamson High School replacement; and the new George Herbert Walker Bush Elementary School. The Construction Services (Bond) Department moved earlier this month to the Stephen J. Hay Building, 3801 Herschel Ave. The building is centrally located in the Oak Lawn area and will not only save the program more than $1 million but make good use of a vacant district building.

August 2009

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news in brief Board approves pay raises for employees At their August meeting, the Board of Trustees approved to set the salary schedule, which includes pay raises, for all employees during the 2009–2010 school year. Teachers, related instructional and professional support will receive an average pay raise of 3.4 percent, which was mandated by the state. In addition, all other personnel will receive a 3 percent pay raise over their 2008-2009 base salary. DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL This would mark the first pay raise for support staff in three years. Beginning employees on the Bachelor Pay schedule will receive $45,350. District hosts second annual Districtwide College Fair District 12th-graders and their parents will have the opportunity to meet college and university representatives at the Districtwide College Fair to be held at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 23. The free fair will be held in Hall D at the Dallas Convention Center, 650 S. Griffin St. Transportation to and from the convention center will be provided. To attend, students should register with their school counselor.



Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:30–8:30 p.m.

Sponsored by

Dallas Convention Center Hall D, 650 S. Griffin St. Transportation provided for all Dallas ISD high school campuses. Parents are encouraged to ride the school bus.*

Register to attend with your school counselor.


* Parents riding the bus must register as volunteers and receive clearance online by logging on to /main.htm. In Spanish, the site is /main_sp.htm.


Dallas ISD Communicator

August 2009

Distance classes enrich student learning


nstruction in less com-

monly taught languages— Russian, Japanese, and Chinese—is now available to students in several Dallas ISD schools thanks to the district’s distance learning program. Through a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language Assistance Program grant, students at several secondary schools have the opportunity to study these languages through video instruction. W.H. Adamson and Skyline high schools offer all three courses to interested students for the 2009–2010 school year. Approximately 26 students at ­Adamson High School will continue their study of these three languages for the second year. For the first time in eight years, a Japanese distance learning course, Irasshai, is being offered to students at Skyline, and more than 60 students have already signed up to take the course. Another 45 students will study Chinese I and II: A Journey to China,

and 55 will enroll in Russian World I–III classes. To encourage future enrollment in these languages at the high school level, students in three middle schools also are learning about the culture, customs, history, and languages of Russia and Japan. During the school year, the classes will take field trips to an Asian museum and participate in a Russian festival. Approximately 160 students at the William B. Travis Academy and Vanguard for the Talented and Gifted and the Alex W. Spence Talented and Gifted Academy will alternate semesters studying Japanese and Russian. Another 50 students at Harry Stone Montessori will study Russian. Elementary students will not be left out. In prekindergarten through third grade, students will have the opportunity to learn Spanish this year. Nuevos Amigos is designed to bring Spanish language instruction to students through a fun and interactive format. This program targets English-speaking students who want to learn Spanish as a second language. It also benefits Spanish-speaking students who want to maintain or improve their native language. Enrollment brochures will be mailed to the schools in early September. For more information about any of these distance learning programs, contact Vicky Mitcham Probeck at (972) 925-3117 or

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Students return for first day of 2009–2010 school year Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa welcomed students at Moisés E. Molina High School and Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School back to school Aug. 24. About 125,000 students attended the first day of classes. The district’s projected enrollment for the 2009– 2010 school year is 157,278, which includes about 8,650 prekindergarten students who begin Aug. 31. On the first day of school, 673 buses transported 14,917 students, and 105,998 hot meals were served.


Dallas ISD Communicator

August 2009

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Inside Track gets a facelift First meeting of Inside Track reps is Thursday, Sept. 3


he district’s employee

communications program Inside Track is changing to give employees more access to district leadership. The goal of the revamp is to reap the benefits of improved communication between the rank and file and top administrators. These benefits include increased productivity and employee satisfaction and higher student achievement. The new format will bring Inside Track representatives from campus and central staff together for quarterly meetings with the superintendent and other district leaders. It’s hoped these sessions will build rapport and trust and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas from the bottom up. Two-way communication is the whole idea behind Inside Track and the superintendent says he’s excited to have more face time with employees. “This is part of an ongoing effort to encourage a dialogue with district staff,” said Superintendent of Schools Michael Hinojosa, who tours at least one campus per week

on his customary Wednesday visprograms, and accomplishments. its. “In addition to the visits, last The first Inside Track meeting year we held a series of 12 dialogue for 2009 is scheduled for 2 p.m., sessions with staff across the disThursday, Sept. 3, in the administrict where I answered a variety of tration building auditorium. questions about our financial staSome things about Inside Track tus and plans to improve the work will remain the same. Division climate and academic achieveheads will still select the represenment. The new Inside Track fortatives for their departments and mat will permit me to hear directly submit the names to Communicafrom employees ideas about how tion Services. Principals still select we can continue our work to make the Inside Track representative Dallas ISD the best urban district for their campus and submit that in the country.” name online on the district intraThe new features of Inside net at Track include representatives who /insidetrack/index.html. This will gather input from their coyear’s deadline to submit represenworkers, submit questions via etatives’ names was Wed., Aug. 26. mail for discussion at the meetings, All employees will still have acattend meetings, collect informacess to information by submitting tion, and share that information questions to Inside Track. As in the with their colleagues. past, these questions will be anThese employees also will reswered by the appropriate district ceive periodic news updates on staff and posted online for viewing developments affecting the district by all employees. and e-mails with vital information For more information, employto share with their colleagues. They ees may log on to http://inet also will serve as communications contacts to share positive news of .html, or call (972) 925-3915. school or department activities,


Dallas ISD Communicator

August 2009

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Information Dallas ISD Communicator is published monthly by Communication Services, News and Information Services

Board of Trustees

Adam Medrano President District 8 Lew Blackburn, Ph.D. First Vice President District 5 Carla Ranger Second Vice President District 6

3700 Ross Ave. Dallas, TX 75204-5491 (972) 925-3700 Michael Hinojosa, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools


Leigh Ann Ellis Secretary District 3 Edwin Flores, Ph.D, J.D. District 1 Jack Lowe District 2 Nancy Bingham District 4

Would you like to have your classroom, school, or department featured in ­Communicator? Just answer a few questions to help us evaluate the new online format of ­Communicator. Include your name, school/ department, and e-mail address so you can participate in a monthly drawing for the “Spotlight On…” feature of Communicator. We appreciate your participation!

CORE BELIEFS The seventh of the core beliefs adopted by the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees is:

We believe that a supportive community is fundamental to achieving and sustaining our success.

click here to take the

­survey now!

Jerome Garza District 7 Ron Price District 9

Click to view all of the Core Beliefs of the Board of Trustees


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