The Dallas Education Foundation Awards HeART of Teaching Grants to Dallas ISD teachers


The Dallas Education Foundation, the designated and direct nonprofit partner of Dallas ISD, is excited to announce the recipients of its inaugural HeART of Teaching Discretionary Grant Awards Cycle. The Foundation received grant applications from dozens of teachers from campuses across the district and named 35 awardees with nearly $127,000 in funding.

Proposals included projects that spanned the spectrum of the Arts in Dallas ISD included visual, performing, theatrical, and musical arts.

“The importance of the Arts in education cannot be overstated,” says Dr. Scott Rudes, Dallas ISD’s Executive Director of Academic Enrichment and Support. “We’re grateful to the Dallas Education Foundation for recognizing the Arts, for their continued focus on elevating our teachers, and for funding these amazing projects.”

Serving on the HeART of Teaching grants review committee were Dr. Rudes; Amy Hofland, Sr. Director, Crow Museum of Asian Art of the University of Texas at Dallas; Charles Santos, Executive Director and Artistic Director, TITUS; Dallas Education Foundation board members, Theresa Flores, Drex Owusu, and Jennifer Scripps; and Brian Nguyen and Emily Davis of Dallas ISD’s Human Capital Management.

“What an incredible review committee we had for our first ever discretionary grants cycle!” says Mita Havlick, Executive Director of the Dallas Education Foundation. “The team’s diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives led to productive conversation and debate. We are honored to have served alongside each of them so we may collectively advance equity and learning through the Arts.”

Ms. Havlick continues, “We know how committed our educators in Dallas ISD are to their students. Providing innovative teaching grants provides our teachers with opportunities for them to creatively explore how to further engage and support their scholars.”

The 2023 Dallas Education Foundation HeART of Teaching grant recipients are:

  • Lorenzo McCoy, Seagoville MS, A Practical Approach to Arts Integration
  • Rachel Woods, Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, Addressing Equity and Diversity in Texas Orchestras
  • Michael Keeton, E.D. Walker MS, AI in Arts Exploration
  • Vonceia Hill, Margaret B. Henderson ES, Art and Vocabulary Acquisition a School Wide Vocabulary Initiative
  • Claudia Ramirez, Leslie Stemmons ES, Art Show Displays
  • Kathy Nguyen, North Dallas HS, BioArt: Bringing Science to Life with Augmented Reality
  • Lesya White, North Dallas HS, BioArt: Integrating Art and Science for a Sustainable Future
  • Pamela Bradford, Birdie Alexander ES, Book Buddies ‘R Us
  • Alexandria Saulnier, Edward Titche ES, Caldecott in our He(Art)
  • Theresa Anderson, Hillcrest HS, Celebrating Culture in our Community
  • Rachel Rogerson, W W Samuell HS, Culturally Responsive Community Art
  • Whitley Green, Hulcy STEAM MS, Dance & Tech: The Dancing Camera
  • Philomena Jones, SS Conner ES, Dragons Love Pie
  • Karleen Hesselbacher, Hillcrest HS, Equilibrium: Bridging Humans and Nature Through Art
  • Chris Drews, Leslie A. Stemmons ES, Equitable World Drumming
  • Patricia Sifuentes, Annie Webb Blanton ES, Exploring the world through art!
  • Robert Lewis, James Madison HS, Exposing Opportunities through Music and the Arts
  • Diana Trevino, Benjamin Franklin MS, Falcon Mariachi Group
  • Dawna Duke, TC Marsh Preparatory Academy, From Art to STEM to Entrepreneurship at TC Marsh Prep
  • Arlene Esparza, Martha T. Reilly ES, Herstory 101: Documenting the untold stories and contributions of women in the City of Dallas though photography and oral interviews.
  • Emma Akimoto, Skyline HS, Japanese Calligraphy in Sumi Ink
  • Mackie Bailey, Mata Montessori School, Literacy through Musical Theatre
  • Blake Mokate, Skyline HS, Live Audio Production
  • Sophie Nah, Skyline HS, Multiple projects – “My Korean Friend – Story Book” “My World Travel Journal” “Let’s Celebrate Holiday”
  • Jessica Laureano, Nathan Adams ES, Partnership with Dallas Children’s Theatre
  • Jorge Porras, Leslie A. Stemmons ES, Passport to the world through the lens of Arts
  • Natalia Morodo, Richard Lagow ES, Promoting literacy and equity through musical theatre
  • Delanna Sanders and Tammye McWilliams, Richard Lagow ES, Rap Project
  • Brady Stebleton, Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, Sewing Machines for Costume Design
  • Martin Mejia-Rodriguez, Rosie M. Collins Sorrells School of Education and Social Services, Signs Preceding the end of the World – Dia de los Muertos Alters
  • Juan Moreno, Prestonwood Montessori, The Power of Making: Investing in a Makerspace with Advanced Tools for Student Innovation and Learning
  • Beth Poquette Drews, LV Stockard MS, Valuable Music
  • Deidra Ballard-Moore, LG Pinkston HS, What’s the Stitch?
  • Caitlin Schmidt, Woodrow Wilson HS, Who Runs the World: Under-represented artists and composers
  • Karen Wood, WW Samuell HS, WW Samuell High School Arts & Literary Journal
  • Vaughn Belcher, Bryan Adams HS, You Are Enough!


The mission of the Dallas Education Foundation is to inspire community investment to accelerate student success in Dallas ISD. Our vision is a galvanized community whose resources support the transformative work that makes our school district the preferred choice for families across North Texas.

As the district’s direct, non-profit philanthropic partner, the Dallas Education Foundation aligns with Dallas ISD’s strategic initiatives and partners with our city’s business leaders, residents, and philanthropic community to raise funds for programs that enrich the lives of our students. Since 2019, the organization has disbursed more than $5.5 million to Dallas ISD to support our students, teachers, and schools. To learn more, visit DEF at, follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube) at @dallasedfound, or see our 2022 Year in Review video and Annual Impact Report. Questions? Please contact DEF at 972.925.3225

About Dallas ISD: The Dallas Independent School District is continually preparing its more than 141,000 students for college or a career. The district offers a competitive mix of innovative programs, choice programs, and instructional initiatives that support the increased academic achievement and the social and emotional development of its students. To learn more, visit