Superintendent Sees Her Role as Lifting Up Dallas ISD

W.T. White stakeholders quiz Elizalde about choice schools, COVID consequences

Stephanie Elizalde wore W.T. White orange during a recent meet and greet at the high school and explained how she views her role as Dallas Independent School District superintendent.

“I used to think that the superintendent was at the top of the organization, and I’ve discovered that an effective superintendent is actually at the bottom — it’s an inverted triangle,” she explained.

Her role, Elizalde said, is to “lift up” the organization.

A few dozen parents, teachers, students, and faculty spread out in the auditorium to hear the new superintendent, who began her role in June.

Elizalde sat alongside Trustee Edwin Flores, ready to answer questions. Many inquiries centered around school choice and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With multiple choice schools offered in Dallas ISD, some community members said they felt more support was going toward those schools than neighborhood schools like W.T. White and its feeder campuses.

Instead of focusing on the “either-or,” Elizalde responded that she wants to focus on the “both-and” approach to supporting the schools. 

“We want parents to help find where their child fits best by acknowledging that each child has different talents and needs,” she said. 

Though back in classrooms, students still feel the effects of COVID lockdowns, which created learning gaps when teachers and students scrambled to adjust to new methods. 

Additionally, the pandemic increased mental health challenges for students and educators.

“We must ensure that we are taking touchpoints of how our students and team members are feeling because we have to provide support during this period of time,” Elizalde said. 

She also acknowledged the uncertainty about whether the pandemic problems will ever end, calling the current climate “endemic.”

For students to thrive during this period, it is essential to acknowledge the challenges while finding ways to meet educational goals, Elizalde said. “It can become a way in which we harm students where we begin to lower our expectations of children, and children of color are more susceptible to us doing that.”

Before returning to Dallas ISD, Elizalde served as Austin ISD’s superintendent. She agreed to come back because Dallas has always been home, Elizalde said.

With big shoes to fill as successor to Michael Hinojosa, the new superintendent said she knows the work ahead and would be counting on her Dallas ISD team to move the district forward.

“At the end of the day, people are the program,” Elizalde said. “People ultimately are the ones who implement and execute programs.”

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