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

The number of first-year teachers hired in Texas public schools has dropped significantly, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.

Anthony Spangler / Open Channels Group PR

Nearly 1,800 kids and spouses of those lost in combat are in town for the 8th annual Snowball Express. It’s a four-day, all-expenses paid weekend filled with activities, which gives families an opportunity to bond.

January’s Grammy Awards is billed as music’s biggest night. The Grammy Foundation is now also recognizing teachers. When nominees were announced last week, a Plano orchestra teacher learned she’s up for the first ever Music Educator Award.

Star-Telegram/Ross Hailey

The ice storm that’s blanketed North Texas streets and highways has spawned a new name: cobblestone ice.

Cobblestone ice – sounds poetic, doesn’t it?

Not if you’ve had to drive through it.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

More than 20,000 runners from 25 countries are planning to run in Sunday’s MetroPCS Dallas Marathon, but icy conditions are not helping ease their nerves. These runners have put in months of training and plan to show up at the starting line no matter what -- unless the race is canceled due to the winter storm.

(UPDATE: Since this story first aired and was posted online, the marathon has been canceled due to the ice storm.)

City of Dallas

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings responded Tuesday to federal housing officials who say the city is violating civil rights laws with its affordable housing practices. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development alleges that the city has steered most of its housing for low-income residents to southern Dallas.

NPR aired an interesting story this morning about how some parents think their kids begin their school day too early. They and some experts say students aren’t getting enough sleep and wake up feeling groggy. Sleep deprivation can ultimately lead to irritability and health issues like depression. Now, there’s a national petition promoting legislation to prevent public schools from starting before 8 a.m.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

When you think of book clubs, you don’t necessarily think of boys. And when you look at the most recent Nation’s Report Card, the scores reveal that boys don’t fare as well as girls on reading tests. Here’s one book club that’s bucking that trend.

Irving ISD

The Irving school board is expected to hire a new superintendent next month. The lone finalist is Jose Parra, the superintendent of Lockhart ISD, a much smaller Central Texas school district south of Austin.

Now that Texas lawmakers have revamped high school graduation requirements, the State Board of Education must decide what courses should be considered advanced. KUHF Public Radio in Houston looks at this issue, which the board takes up this week. A final decision is expected in January.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

When kids with autism, Asperger’s and Down syndrome get too old for high school, the next big challenge is how to build an independent life. That’s what the Plano non-profit My Possibilities specializes in. The center is taking an artful approach.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

There are more foreign students in the U.S. than ever before. Texas ranks third in the nation. That’s according to the latest Open Doors Report released Monday by the nonprofit Institute of International Education. The University of Texas at Dallas has the third-highest number of international students in the state. KERA visited the campus to hear from students who’ve made the decision to leave their home country in search of a higher education.

Lakewood PTA

An East Dallas group of residents is talking about creating an independent school district for the White Rock Lake area. They say the Dallas school district is too big and mismanaged. Former State Rep. Allen Vaught created a Facebook page, which now has more than 2,500 likes.

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.

Shutterstock

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.

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