Stella M. Chávez | KERA News

Stella M. Chávez

Reporter/Blogger

Stella Chávez is KERA’s education reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35. The award-winning entry was  “Yolanda’s Crossing,” a seven-part DMN series she co-wrote that reconstructs the 5,000-mile journey of a young Mexican sexual-abuse victim from a small Oaxacan village to Dallas. For the last two years, she worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she was part of the agency’s outreach efforts on the Affordable Care Act and ran the regional office’s social media efforts.

Ways to Connect

Students from low-income families often don’t apply to the best schools in the country. Ivy League universities like Harvard have noticed and are trying to figure out how best to connect with those students.

Yesterday’s show Here & Now featured a story from Houston’s public radio station KUHF that looks at how one program there is tackling this issue head-on.

Lakewood PTA

A group of parents who live around White Rock Lake in East Dallas wants to split from the Dallas Independent School District. That’s right, the group wants to secede and create a new school district it’s calling White Rock ISD. But the hurdles are high.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Students learning Arabic at Central Junior High in Bedford have three teachers – the two in their classroom and another one 5,000 miles away. In Morocco. Once a month, the class calls him up on Skype. The students practice speaking Arabic and learn something about breaking down cultural barriers, too.

 

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Voters in the Fort Worth Independent School District are being asked to support nearly half a billion dollars in bonds to improve facilities and instruction. Three proposals to do just that are on the Nov. 5 ballot. Offering pre-kindergarten to more children is one of the measures under Proposition 1.

A new documentary airing next week on KERA-TV takes an in-depth look at the challenges facing Latino students, their families and educators. Bernardo Ruiz, executive producer of The Graduates/Los Graduados will be speaking with “Think” host Krys Boyd during the 1 p.m. hour of the show today. You can tune in on 90.1 FM or listen online.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is hosting a conference about online learning in December with the help of a $97,200 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The event will bring in speakers from universities around the country that offer massive open online courses, otherwise known as MOOCs.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

David Marquis has spent nearly 40 years writing and performing three installments of his one-man play ‘I Am A Teacher.’ He draws from that experience in the classroom, diving into education issues that are as relevant today as when he wrote part one in 1976. The three plays will be performed as a trilogy for the first time this weekend at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary in Dallas.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

In KERA’s Class of ’17 series we’ve been featuring students as they begin their journey through high school. For Chance Hawkins, that trip has been bumpy. Chance, who has a form of muscular dystrophy, started the year at Cassata, a small, private Catholic high school in Fort Worth. But he didn’t stay long. He has since transferred to a big public school, Dunbar High. His story shows the challenges schools face in adapting to a student’s special needs.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

In the 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage, a submarine crew is reduced to microscopic size and injected into the blood stream of an injured diplomat. The goal: to save his life.

Moviegoers were promised a stunning experience that would take them where no human or camera had ever been.

That was, of course, science fiction.

But, on Wednesday, you could take a different kind of voyage: a trip through a giant inflatable replica of a human colon -- 20 feet long, 12 feet high.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Digital learning sounds like a teacher’s dream. But tech savvy kids and their devices present a whole new set of challenges. On Tuesday, a group of about 200 educators from around the state participated in a summit to discuss the latest digital teaching tools and strategies at Grand Prairie High School. The event was organized by Discovery Education, the Texas Association of School Administrators and the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Can you imagine a school without a library? It’s not unheard of in Houston, where the number of school librarians has dwindled due to budget cuts.

Texas was the first state in 1985 to pass a law requiring students to test and treat students with dyslexia, but many parents still feel schools aren’t doing enough to help dyslexic kids.

Dallas Independent School District

Every Dallas ISD student will be able to eat breakfast and lunch for free, the district announced Tuesday.

Nearly 90 percent of students in Dallas public schools qualified for free and reduced-priced meals last year, and district officials say about that many could be eligible this year. Processing that many meal applications costs money, so the district is changing the program by offering free breakfast and lunch to all of its students.

Rosanna Boyd / UNT

More than 800,000 students whose first language is not English attend Texas public schools. About a quarter of them are in North Texas classrooms. The challenge for many educators is figuring out the best way to teach these students. A hotly-debated question is whether they should learn English through immersion or some other technique such as bilingual education.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Jarrell Brown made an impression last month as one of the stars of Student Speak Out: A KERA American Graduate Special. During the hourlong TV show, he and five of his peers asked each other questions and talked about what it takes to graduate from high school.

Kristi Kinard Suthamtewakul / KERA News

The suspect in Monday’s Navy Yard shootings had North Texas connections – and a checkered past.

Friends described Aaron Alexis, a discharged Navy reservist who lived and worked in Fort Worth, as a nice guy who was interested in Buddhism and Thai culture.

Alexis, 34, told them that he liked guns and was a good shooter. His shooting got him into trouble with police: He was arrested in Fort Worth and Seattle in separate gun-related incidents.


A long line of leaders of Dallas schools has come and gone since August 1884 when a man named W. A. Boles was elected superintendent. KERA’s Shelley Kofler looks at this revolving door of superintendents in a story that aired today.

Willow Blythe / KERA News

Phantasia Chavers has faced a lot of heartachce for a 14-year-old: a stepdad who died in a car crash, a dad in prison, a cousin shot to death. But this 9th grader has her sights set firmly on college, and she's just started out as a football trainer.

Phantasia Chavers
Willow Blythe / KERA News

Meet Phantasia Chavers. She may only be 14, but she’s already experienced a lot of heartache. When she was 7, the man who raised her was killed in a car crash. Last year, a cousin her age was shot in the head and killed.

Vogel Alcove, a longtime champion of homeless children, has found larger digs. The Dallas Independent School District, which has a partnership with the nearly 25-year organization, said today that the group would be moving into the district’s former City Park Elementary School building south of downtown.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

The Dallas School District just issued a statement from board president Eric Cowan who says the results of an independent investigation into whether or not Superintendent Mike Miles interfered with a contract would not be shared with the public, at least for now.

In the press release, he says that the report would be delivered to all board trustees and they would be given a chance to read and review the report before any discussion of it.

KERA News

A long line of leaders of Dallas schools has come and gone since August 1884 when a man named W. A. Boles was elected superintendent.

In a quarter century, no Dallas school district superintendent has lasted more than six years. Through the years, there have been some retirements, resignations, firings, a few interims and even a prison sentence.

Victor Palomares / KUHF

NPR aired an interesting story on Monday about how the coal industry in Texas is paying for science teachers to attend a camp where they learn all about mining.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Hogs are running rampant in Dallas. That's right -- parts of the nation's ninth-biggest city are beset by a plague of feral pigs. The problem's so bad that last month, the city approved a three-year, $284,000 contract to catch the beasts, which are wreaking havoc on land, especially in the southeast wilds near the Trinity River. So we took a ride with the city's official hog-catcher.

The Texas Education Agency is creating an Office of Complaints, Investigations and School Accountability after a state audit found the agency failed to uncover a widespread cheating scandal in the El Paso School District.

The state auditor’s office has released a report that basically says the Texas Education Agency isn’t doing its job to uncover cheating scandals.

The report, done at the request of Education Commissioner Michael Williams, says TEA “failed” to do its due diligence when it looked into cheating allegations in the El Paso Independent School District.

What does it take to finish high school? In this hour-long special, you’ll meet six North Texas students tackling this topic. Four of the students will describe the odds they’ve had to overcome to graduate while two are still trying to finish.

If you missed it on KERA TV Wednesday night, you can watch the entire show online. We’d also like to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter using #studentsspeakout.

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UPDATE: Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles has raided City Hall and hired the mayor’s Chief of Staff, Paula Blackmon. Her marching orders are to improve relations with elected officials and business leaders.                                      

chemisti / Flickr

NPR's Wade Goodwyn recently set out on a bird-watching adventure at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge with veteran guide Karl Haller.

Haller's 97 years old and shows no signs of giving up what he loves to do. Hear Goodwyn's tale here.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

A long line formed outside the Dallas County Health and Human Services building on Friday. Most were parents waiting to get their child immunized before the first day of school on Monday.

Schools require that students be up to date on all of their required shots, but the recent outbreak of measles in North Texas may also have prompted some parents to take immunization more seriously.

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