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Photo: Cindy Homsher

As much as I love to talk about Dallas public schools and what I’ve learned through talking with administrators, teachers, parents, students and school board members, nothing can replace the insight from a been-there-done-that family entrenched in the district. So I’ve come up with 10 questions (the same 10 I ask every DISD parent when I want to talk about their school or schools), and each month we’ll highlight a family who answered. Our inaugural edition will begin with the Homsher family, who live in Preston Royal. Mom Cindy Homsher and her kids – Natalie, Matthew, Nicholas and Catherine – answered our questions.

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Saturday morning, the Mister, Tiny and I drove over to Ellis Field house to attend the DISD magnet school fair.

We left kind of stunned. A good stunned, though, because even with our two years of research and question-asking and review seeking, we were still surprised by the sheer volume of choice offered to families who attend Dallas public schools.

In fact, even if your kiddo isn’t even at the point of attending school yet, I recommend you go to next year’s fair, just to start getting the lay of the land and – even more so – to have a tangible way to visualize the myriad of ways your child can learn.

Our original plan had been to just make a beeline for the two schools we were interested in – Dealey and Harry Stone. We did go there, and asked plenty of questions (more on that in a minute), but then we spent another half hour or so milling around. Vanguard schools for STEM and fine arts. International Baccalaureate schools out the wazoo. Law magnets. Engineering magnets. Leadership and communication magnets. You name an interest, and there is a way to address it.

In fact, a teacher at Skyline High wanted me to make sure our readers knew that free transportation is available to all magnet, vanguard and montessori schools. “Make sure they know!” she said. (more…)

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This weekend, the Mister, Tiny and I will be heading to the DISD Magnet Fair I mentioned last week, to get a bit of the lay of the land. Next week also means dropping by the Dealey open house as well – so keep your eyes peeled for what I’ve gleaned from those two treks next week.

This week I am working on defining some of the things we see talked about – but if you’re new to Texas, public schools or Dallas ISD, you might not know exactly what they are. It’ll be an ongoing feature that I hope will eventually be spurred by reader questions – so if there is something you’ve been wondering about but haven’t wanted to call yourself, email me – I’ll find out!

In the meantime, here are some stories and blog posts that I found interesting about Dallas public schools:

 

Photo: Bethany Erickson

Photo: Bethany Erickson

If you are considering a magnet program or are just interested in your neighborhood Dallas public school, these are some dates you need to mark on your calendars.

To get the lay of the land, Dallas ISD will be hosting a Magnet Fair Saturday, Dec. 6, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ellis Davis Field House, 9191 South Polk, Dallas. If you wish to fill out the application for a magnet school or montessori, paper forms will be available on Dec. 8,  or you can begin filling out the online application on January 12, 2015.

To tour a specific school, check here for its open house date. More information, including projected open slots at each school and application requirements can be found at the DISD magnet page.

To find your Dallas public school and its feeder pattern, visit the parent and student section of the DISD webpage. Once you find your school’s homepage, look for its calendar for dates like kindergarten roundup and other open houses. You can also always email the principal and ask for a meeting and tour! I also recommend looking up the school’s PTA webpage, and getting in touch with those folks.

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Last week, I wrote about the decisions we have coming up regarding real estate, and our son’s education. And I love, love, love all the reader feedback and comments. This week? This week I’d like to talk about our thought process thus far.

My husband and I are products of public schools – albeit not in Dallas, since we both landed here as adults. But in our time as a couple, we have kept a watchful eye on our adopted hometown’s education offerings, and once Tiny became a waving little alien on an ultrasound screen, we began, in earnest, discussing what we would do.

We’re kind of planners. OK, more accurately, I’m a raging planaholic, and my husband is a planner. But this now-ongoing discussion needed to happen that early because it involved real estate – which, as we all know, is something you try not to go into willy nilly.

So we first took a look at the school we would be assigned to for elementary school – Withers Elementary. As luck would have it, we have several friends and acquaintances with children who were attending at the time, and at least one whose children are now attending. Nothing but raves. A dual-language program that has benefitted hundreds of children. Robust parental involvement. Great ratings from the TEA, and compares well with  many of the elementary schools in the area of similar size and make up. (more…)

Reunited!

Reunited!

While everyone is out enjoying this glorious fall day, complete with cool weather and crisp air, Nina Pham, America’s favorite Ebola-free nurse, was reunited with her darling blenheim Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Bentley.

Bentley stole most of the nation’s hearts when he became the first dog quarantined in case he had contracted Ebola from his owner, who tested positive but survived. [I will refrain, though hard, from lambasting those who called for Bentley’s immediate execution.] Nina was frantic when she was admitted to the hospital and confirmed positive for Ebola – Bentley is her baby and she wanted him safe. Can you imagine the fear when you are in a bubble in ICU, Ebola-positive, powerless over your pet’s fate, and Spain had just peremptorily killed the Spanish nurse’s mutt when she was diagnosed with Ebola, without ever testing him or monitoring him? No doubt Nina was terrified, feeling ill (she did have Ebola!), and helpless to care for or protect her sweet dog.

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tres mess

This big boy came down in yesterday’s storm, bringing down the tree lights. So I have to call Unique Electric first, then a tree man.  My front driveway is even worse. Judging from my drive home along Royal Lane, I am not alone. Are you all busy cleaning up today after the storm, too? Power came on at 3:06 a.m., but many of my neighbors (and Jo!) are still without.

Meantime, the rest of the nation now knows us for two things: Ebola and massive wind storm!

Big Tex in MaskThe nation’s first case of Ebola is here in Dallas, after a patient at Texas Healthcare Presbyterian was first seen, sent home, then returned to get a full-fledged diagnosis of Ebola. (Full disclosure: My husband is a physician on staff there.) The patient is now in isolation. Turns out that when he was sent home on Sept. 25 from his first visit to the Presby ER, armed with antibiotics aimed at treating a stomach virus or something, he may have infected others, including children. Including every one he came into contact with.

By the way, they have isolated a patient in Honolulu now, too. Get ready to be placed in isolation now if you go to the ER with a stomach ache and have recently travelled.

Now we hear that the Ebola patient may have been in contact with up to 100 people during the time when he should have been isolated. The Observer has the latest updates, and here is a decent piece from Politico on how the Ebola epidemic is about to get worse.  The New York Times reports on how he may have contracted the illness: he worked as a driver in Liberia, and he helped transport a pregnant woman in Monrovia, the Liberian capitol, who had Ebola, could not get medical care, and who later died.

Of course, at first they said Ebola was a wimpy virus that could not be airborne: now some are saying it may be.man sneezing, showing the spray of mucus and saliva that is potentially infectious (more…)