The Heart of Teaching campaign recognized the talents of Dallas ISD art educators

The Dallas Education Foundation (DEF) hosted its second annual “Heart of Teaching” gala on Tuesday, with an evening of desserts and drinks as well as stunning dance and musical performances by Dallas ISD’s own performing arts educators.

The foundation is the direct, nonprofit philanthropic partner of Dallas ISD, with a mission to inspire community investment to accelerate student success. This year’s Heart of Teaching campaign focused on advancing learning through the arts. 

Prolific civic leader and public servant Regina Montoya, the gala’s honorary chair, said, “One of the reasons I’m so proud to be a DEF board member is because they are focused on eliminating obstacles around access to the arts for Dallas ISD students.”

All proceeds from the gala directly fund innovative teaching grants that equitably integrate the arts and instruction. “Our educators have a heart for teaching and we are incredibly excited to invest in their innovative ideas to utilize arts instruction to advance literacy and learning,” said Mita Havlick, DEF executive director. 

Guests were awed by the talents of the district’s fine arts teachers as they performed dance and musical numbers including a flash mob, Mariachi band, Ballet Folklorico and a New Orleans-style brass combo that wound its way through the crowd. 

“Good arts education is not about the product – it’s about the process of learning,” Jamie Kasper, director of the Arts Education Partnership, said in a recent article in The Benefits of Arts Education for K-12 Students. Arts education can help kids engage with school, reduce stress, develop social-emotional and interpersonal skills, enrich their experiences, handle constructive criticism, bolster academic achievement and improve focus.  

That is why all proceeds from the Dallas Education Foundation’s THE HEART OF TEACHING gala are used to fund innovative teaching grants that equitably integrate fine arts and instruction. 

“The soft skills that [students]learn in fine arts classes are those skills necessary to be successful in a global market,” said Steven Ramirez, Bryan Adams High School’s orchestra and mariachi director.

The Dallas Education Foundation expressed its gratitude to the following Dallas ISD educator-performers who spent their personal time rehearsing for and performing at the gala:

  • Alejandro Hernandez, assistant band director, Raul Quintanilla Middle School
  • Cecil Neal, band director, T.W. Browne Middle School
  • Christopher Young, band director, Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy
  • Daniel Negrete, dance teacher, Conrad High School
  • Dorian Collier, Dance Specialist, Carter High School
  • Douglas Baskin, retired, Carter High School
  • Felipe Diaz, mariachi and orchestra director, W.E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy
  • Hope Crockett, dance teacher, Wilmer-Hutchins High School
  • James Guyton, instrumental music teacher, Bedford Law Academy
  • Joshua Howe, assistant band director, Zan W. Holmes Middle School
  • Kenneth Clark, assistant director/percussion instructor, South Oak Cliff High School
  • Maria (Lupe) Garcia, head mariachi and orchestra director, W.E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy
  • Stephanie Martinez, dance teacher, E.D. Walker Middle School
  • Steven Ramirez, orchestra and mariachi director, Bryan Adams High School
  • William Allen, head band director, South Oak Cliff High School

In addition, the DEF expressed appreciation to Dallas ISD’s Rametria Smith, director of instrumental music, and Devondria Douglas, manager of Visual and Performing Arts, for creating the evening’s run of show.

Locke Lord LLP was the Heart of Teaching’s presenting sponsor, and Niagara Cares was the major grant sponsor. Thompson & Horton and Frost Bank served as partnering sponsors. Supporting sponsors included the Addy Foundation, Barnes & Thornburg, Dallas Citizens Council, Dallas College Foundation, Four Day Weekend, Linebarger hGoggan Blair and Sampson LLP, Mary Kay, READYTOWORK, and Texas Instruments. 

“It is through public education that we are going to educate our future doctors, lawyers, accountants and architects, and we’re proud to support Dallas ISD to help those students achieve success,” said Paul Coggins, a Locke Lord LLP partner.

The Dallas Education Foundation’s 2022 Heart of Teaching campaign runs from Nov. 1 through the last day of December. For more information on how you can support students through the Dallas Education Foundation, please visit their website