The Dayton Chamber of Commerce hosted a new teacher luncheon on Tuesday to welcome the 87 new teachers who have joined Dayton ISD this school year. The new teachers are among a total staff at Dayton ISD of 860, which includes teachers, administrators, coaches, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, custodial workers and support staff.
With the first day of school set for Aug. 11, Dayton ISD Superintendent Dr. Jessica Johnson was eager to welcome the new teachers and encourage them to become fully committed to the Dayton community.
“Sometimes we think of a community or a school district as just a building. Well, it’s not just a building. It’s full of people like you and me. New teachers, you are going to be part of our community now and I am going to ask everyone to take that next step. We don’t want to be just a building. We don’t want to be just a community. We want to be a family community,” Johnson said.
She encouraged them to seek to understand the community, be committed to the community and focus on growth, not just the growth of the students but themselves as teachers.
“If we want to change this world – and we have a crazy world out there right now and our world, our country, our community needs prayers – then we need to start with ourselves,” she said.
To help the teachers better understand the community and school district, Johnson asked them to answer the following five questions: 1. How many square miles does Dayton ISD cover? 2. What year did Dayton ISD become an independent school district? 3. How many students are in Dayton ISD? 4. How many miles to Dayton ISD buses cover a day? 5. What are the demographics of Dayton ISD students?
“The City of Dayton itself is 32 square miles but Dayton ISD encompasses 262.7 miles. Even though we are perceived as a small town, we are on the brink of growth with the completion of 99 (Grand Parkway), which is going to change the complexion of Dayton,” she said.
She then explained how Dayton ISD formed in 1907 after an election that drew just 25 votes – 18 in favor of the creation of the school district and eight against it.
Today, Dayton ISD has 5,400 enrolled students, making it a 5A school district.
“We have a lot of award-winning programs like our BPA, UIL Academics, FCCLA, all of these things. We have kids excelling at the District, Area, Regional, State and National levels. I am so proud of our high school. We offer 43 college hours before they even graduate from high school if they choose to participate,” she said. “We also have seven national honor societies at the high school and have 40 organizations and clubs between our junior high and high school campuses. I am very proud of the fact that before our fifth-graders leave, they all go through an etiquette and manners banquet. This year, we are doing something a little different in our GT in fourth and fifth grades with Destination Imagination. We offer a full time 3- and 4-year-old program at our Colbert Campus. You can see we have wonderful things. We offer 18 varsity boys and girls sports at Dayton ISD, along with our fabulous ROTC program. Our Fine Arts program has just expanded, in our choir, our drama club. In this year alone, we are looking at over 630 kids in the band.”
To get those 5,400 students to and from school, Dayton ISD buses collectively travel approximately 4,000 miles per day when school is in session.
The demographics of the campus have changed over the last couple of decades with the Hispanic students making up 45 percent of the student population. White students account for 44 percent while black students make up just 6 percent.
“We are a culturally diverse community and we pride ourselves on teachable moments, character education, respect and kindness,” Johnson said. “I encourage you teacher to build those connections to our students. Your student achievement will go up and your discipline issues will go down.”
The Dayton Chamber presented $500 scholarships to two recent Dayton ISD graduates – Kasia Ellis and Phoebe Brown. The scholarships were provided by Sterling Funeral Home and Mainframe 24-Hour Wrecker. Ellis plans to attend the University of Texas in Austin to pursue a degree in business or pediatric nursing. Brown plans to attend Texas A&M University to pursue a bachelor degree in Allied Health before later applying to an occupational therapy school.
With the new COVID-19 variant causing some concern, Johnson was asked after the meeting if the District plans to enact a mask ordinance.
“All of our protocols will still be in place but masks will be optional,” she said.
Presenting sponsors for the luncheon were Enterprise Products, Liberty-Dayton Regional Medical Center and OmniPoint Health (formerly Chambers Health). Ponies level sponsors were Bear Plumbing and Lee College. Colts sponsors were BJ Ford in Liberty, Ashley Nguyen with Mortgage Financial Services, Mary Ellen Conner with Berkshire-Hathaway Home Services and Liberty County Farm Bureau.
Table sponsors were Tara Brandt with Avon and Mainframe 24-Hour Wrecker, Sherri Schmidt with Texas Diamond Realty, Norma Stephens with Texas Diamond Realty, Ripkowski Insurance, Randel Arnold with State Farm Insurance, Tarver Abstract Co., Journey Fellowship, Thrif-Tee Food Center, Bayou Urgent Care, City of Dayton, DayNet, Sign Gypsies of Dayton and Liberty, and Amanda Wessels with Berkshire-Hathaway Home Services.
Other sponsors included Jess-John Inc., Lee College, CW Tint, Cardinal Dental, Susan Simmons, August Blush Boutique, First United Methodist Church of Dayton, Marsalas Italian Grill, Christie Tuttle, Sullins and Johnston, attorneys at law, and Chachere Veterinary Clinic.