Staff

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Melissa Gipson

Grant Director

Ms. Gipson currently serves as Grant Program Coordinator for the A2E2 Grant Program. Melissa received her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. She received her Master’s in Education Administration from the University of North Texas. Melissa has served in a multitude of leadership roles throughout her educational career over the last 12 years. She is certified in Special Education EC-12, ESL EC-12, Generalist 4-8 and Principal EC-12.

Melissa began her educational career in DeSoto ISD as a teacher at West Middle School teaching 6th-8th grades. She also served as a teacher at Moates Elementary educating students in 4th grade. Melissa continued her career in education as an Instructional Math Coordinator and an Assistant Principal in a Private Charter School near Dallas. In her private time she enjoys traveling, cooking and spending time with her family.

She is glad to be back in DeSoto ISD where she calls “Home” and she is thankful to be a proud DeSoto Eagle!!!

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Ashley Parks

Co-Director

Ashley Parks is a Secondary Strategist for DeSoto ISD’s A2E2 Magnet and Innovative program. She received a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies at Texas State University. Ecstatic to give back to the community in which she grew up, she proudly came back to teach. After flourishing her fervor for education & eager for a chance to evoke true change in education, she obtained a Masters of Education at Dallas Baptist University in Educational Leadership & Policy Studies. Ashley eagerly enjoys creating enriching avenues for children to learn by educating teachers on innovative ways to boost engagement of diverse learners. In her spare time, she loves to play sports, be active, adventurous, knit, lettering on canvas and wood boards. She also enjoys spending time with family, spoiling her nephew and discovering quaint eclectic eateries. She is currently a Doctoral student at DBU in pursuit to obtain an Ed.D.

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Sandra Lee

Magnet Executive Program Assistant

Mrs. Sandra Lee graduated from Sherman High School and attended Grayson College. She worked in corporate America as Administrative Assistant for Texas Instruments. She served as an Associate Brand Manager at Dr. Pepper/7UP, as well as, Associate Manager in the Cash Management Department at American Home Mortgage, Inc. before joining the district six years ago.

Being “seasoned” has afforded her to be able to communicate effectively with all levels of management. She loves her current position working with a great team of caring people…….our mantra around the office…..”It is ALL about the kids”. When not at work, she is hanging out with her girls, Chastity and Brooke. They look forward to their weekends to brunch. She has two adorable grandsons, Kedric and Karson whom are her world.

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Heidi Williams

Instructional Technology Coordinator

Ms. Williams is a Missouri native who moved to the Dallas area 10 years ago. During her 16-year professional career, she has had the pleasure of working in the educational field in a variety of roles. These positions have included 5 years as a Technology Specialist for the Parkhill School District in Missouri, 7 years teaching Technology Applications for Dallas ISD, and for the last 4 years, she has been working with the DeSoto ISD Grant Program.

Over her career transitions, Ms. Williams’ skill and passion for technology have remained at the center of her success. It is her belief that technology is the gateway to success and strives to be a role model for young girls interested in entering STEM careers.

Ms. Williams received her undergraduate degree in Computer Information Systems and her Masters of Science degree in Educational Technology from the University of Central Missouri. She also holds a certification in Technology Application EC-12 and a Principal Certification EC-12. Mr. Willams plans to continue her career in a capacity that serves both students and parents in the educational community.

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Kenneth Miller

Career and Technical Education Strategist

Mr. Miller is a true Military Brat who claims Killeen, Texas as his home. He was raised in Panama, Germany, Virginia, Georgia and other locations. Mr. Miller has spent the entirety of his professional career, 13 years, teaching elementary and middle school students a variety of subjects including Mathematics and Social Studies.

As a teacher, Mr. Miller has had the pleasure of being Team Lead for 4 years at various schools and receiving the Teacher of the Year Distinction twice in 2 different districts. He has had a variety of roles in the education sector and has loved every minute of it. Having taught a variety of learners, Mr. Miller has gained a perspective that allows him to look at situations from many angles and make decisions based on what is best for students and schools. He has a passion for students and believes that all children can achieve their dreams. He received his undergraduate degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education.

Mr. Miller is incredibly excited about his return to DeSoto ISD, where he first started his educational career. He looks forward to doing what’s best for students by enhancing the A2E2 Programs in the district so that our students may receive unique educational opportunities and go on to soar like the Eagles they are. He is a positive, passionate and unmoving member of the DeSoto ISD village.

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Elexia White

Primary Theme Strategist

Elexia C. White serves at the Elementary Strategist for DeSoto ISDs Academies for Academic Enhancement and Excellence. In her role, she works with four elementary magnet academies to provide professional learning, foster effective partnership development, and aid in strategic thematic integration. As a DeSoto graduate, she is always ecstatic to give back to the community that has deposited a great deal into her life.

Ms. White is a graduate of Prairie View A&M University and The University of North Texas at Dallas and is an influential pathfinder. She passionately and captivatingly works to build bridges between educations’ past, present, and future through innovative strategies and high commitment. She is also a Doctoral Candidate at Dallas Baptist University. In her spare time, she likes to travel, shop, spend time with her family, and relax.

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Tracy Heath

Grant Math Facilitator

Mrs. Tracy Heath is grew up in the West suburbs of Chicago. She moved to Texas in 2004. She has a B.A in Mathematics from Eastern Illinois University (the Alma Mater of Tony Romo), an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas Tech University and an M.Ed in Educational Administration from the University of North Texas. She is certified Math 4-8, Math 8-12 and Principal EC-12.

When Mrs. Heath is not supporting Mathematics on the seven A2E2 campuses she can be found at home on the farm with her horses, dogs and family. Mrs. Heath is an accomplished horse trainer and trained most of the horses her family currently owns. Mrs. Heath and her husband have four children, Grace, Tyler, Kaci and Kristine. Mrs. Heath, her husband and her family enjoy riding their six horses, archery, hunting and other outdoor activities.

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Sandra Hogg

Grant ELAR Facilitator

Sandra Orr-Hogg has been in education for 20 years. During this time, she has had the pleasure of being part of many roles. She has been a pre-k/kindergarten teacher, a 4th grade teacher, reading interventionist, instructional coach, dean of instruction, assistant principal, district K-6 ELAR Coordinator and now currently serves at the ELAR Facilitator for the A2E2 Magnet Program. Mrs. Orr-Hogg loves teaching and studying literacy and holds a Master’s of Science in Reading. She is currently finishing up her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Reading and Early Childhood. Knowing the importance of literacy, she has pursued a career in helping children not only learn how to read, but to be life-long readers.

She is married to Jimmy and they have 3 grown, successful adult children, Jimmy II, Jarayd, and Jarryka. Her main joy are her two grandchildren, Jimmy III, 5yrs old, and Caymon Josiah, 3 months, both who are the best outcome to parenting. She loves spending time with her family and being a role model that exemplifies faith, family and fortitude. Her love for education is what continues her drive to make sure every child has an opportunity to be their best person and the confidence to know they deserve it.

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Christopher Polk

Curtistene McCowan Middle School Master Teacher

Christopher Polk is currently a Site Coordinator at Frank D. Moates Blended Learning Magnet Academy. He is humbled and honored to serve Frank D. Moates magnet students, faculty, and families. Mr. Polk obtained his bachelor’s degree in Arts and Sciences from the University of North Texas. He obtained his master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). His passion for education and commitment to serve his community motivated him to further his education as he is currently pursuing his second master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at UTA. Christopher is proud to be an integral part of the enhancement and excellence of all Desoto ISD stake holders.

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Nadiyah Williams

Frank Moates Master Teacher

Nadiyah received her bachelor’s from the University of North Texas where she earned a Sociology degree. She later obtained teaching credentials and started a career as an educator at the middle school level. She worked with inner city middle school aged students for eleven years.
During her tenure, she had the awesome opportunity to work with sixth through eighth grade scholars of various academic levels. In addition to serving scholars, she also worked as a new teacher mentor and the Math-7 team lead. Ms. Williams has received many honors such as Teacher of the Year. Educational success is a paramount goal of hers.
Ms. Williams is a native of Dallas, TX. She is a mother of two wonderful children. Her passion for education was ignited when her oldest child started kindergarten and began to explore and flourish academically.

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Theresa Cockran

The Meadows STEAM Magnet Academy Master Teacher

Theresa is eagerly looking forward to supporting, guiding, serving, and leading teachers and students to their potential. Mrs. Cockran is a committed professional with a heart for education. Her experience includes building and cultivating strategic relationships, and engaging best practices to manage and expand programs.

Theresa has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and a master’s degree in Educational Leadership with the following certifications: Principal (EC-12), Generalist (EC-4, Generalist (4-8), ESL Supplemental (EC-12), Special Education (EC-12).
Early in her educational career, Mrs. Cockran adopted the philosophy that “All Children Can Learn” – Students are different in their own right, so they learn differently. She absolutely believes that every child can learn given the opportunity, skills, and guidance!

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Lauren Stewart

Frank Moates Master Teacher

After 6 years of a thriving career in the insurance industry, Lauren Michelle Stewart tipped the balance of her life by quitting her job and pursuing her true passion of becoming an educator. This determined woman of God plowed through obstacles to complete her destiny by graduating from Texas Woman’s University, with her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, a minor in Education, and a specialization in Special Education.

Though offered multiple positions in suburban neighborhoods, Ms. Stewart took a unique plunge into the inner-city, urban communities. Once engulfed in these communities, Lauren’s desire to see change ignited. She worked with the children and parents to aide in the availability of simple resources like books, supplies, and technology.

Ms. Stewart, currently serves as a Site Coordinator for the A2E2’s, (Academies for Academic Enhancements and Excellence), Fine Arts Academy. Additionally, she avidly volunteers and is a member of many different organizations, expressing continued passion for people through the engagement of pageantry, teaching, directing, producing, mentorship, hosting, and public speaking.

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David Fuller

McCowan Fine Arts Site Coordinator

David  Fuller  is a Site Coordinator at Curtistene S. McCowan Fine Arts Magnet Academy. He  holds a degree in Business Management and Finance from the University of Texas Dallas and is currently pursuing his MBA in Strategic Management from the University of North Texas Dallas. Mr. Fuller has experience in the financial services industry in which he has served as a financial analyst, consultant, trainer, and manager.  His journey into education comes from a family of educators that have instilled in him a desire to lead and serve.  Prior to joining DeSoto ISD, he was a secondary mathematics teacher in Dallas ISD. David is a honorable recipient of the Dallas ISD ‘King Midas Award’ for consistent excellence, in which “everything he touches turns to gold”.  Additionally, he has been a coach for football, basketball, and cross country during his time at Dallas ISD in which his teams held several district and regional awards.  Outside of the workplace, Mr.  Fuller  can be found enjoying the outdoors and spending time with family.

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Sophia Jones

Woodridge Fine Arts Master Teacher

Education has been her passion for 21 years. Serving as the Grand Prairie High School Career and Technology/Business Education teacher for thirteen years, Mrs. Jones was able to gain the leadership role of wellness coordinator, department chair and assistant principal intern. As a CATE teacher, Mrs. Jones executed career days, public speaking, business presentation opportunities, mock interview and mock entrepreneurial practices for her students.
Supervising 37 schools, Mrs. Jones continued student success by working behind the scenes in central office to increase student support and attendance for Dallas Independent School District as a coordinator.
To support the efforts made daily, Mrs. Jones has finished the coursework toward her Doctoral degree in Organizational Management, she has a Master in Technology/Management, and a Bachelor in Biology with a minor in Chemistry.