DeSoto ISD Announces ISC and Campus New Hires

DeSoto ISD Announces New District and Campus Leaders for the 2019-2020 School Year
Posted on 08/27/2019
New Hires ISC and Campus New Hires

DESOTO,TX /DeSoto ISD – During the regular August meeting of the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees, the district announced the hiring of new district and campus leaders to serve its students and staff during the 2019-2020 school year. Most of the new staff will directly support the new academic and student services support model while other positions will fill critical needs of the district.

Academic and Student Services Support

Dawn Hogan-Lopez, Ph.D. – Director of Pre-K3 Dr. Hogan-Lopez is an educational leader with 21 years of experience serving public schools. Dawn recently completed her fifth year in DeSoto ISD as an Instructional Coordinator. Prior to coming to DeSoto ISD, Dawn served 10 years as an elementary school principal and the Director of Early Childhood Education in Ladue School District, the top performing school district in the state of Missouri. Dawn is passionate about early childhood education, equity and social justice, school leadership, and ensuring that all children have access to a high quality, public school experience. She received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri, with a double major in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. She also holds both a Master’s and Doctorate degree in the area of Educational Administration from Texas A&M University at College Station.

Jaime Kovar, Ph.D. - Director of Fine Arts - Dr. Jaime Kovar has spent the past 16 years working as a music educator, program director, clinician, adjudicator, and performer throughout the Midwest and in Texas. Prior to coming to DeSoto ISD, Kovar served as the Associate Director of Bands for Burleson High School, as well as the Professor of Clarinet at Navarro College.  With an extensive background in visual design, Dr. Kovar has also been active with Drum Corps International and Winterguard International throughout her career. Dr. Kovar earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and a Master of Instrumental Music Performance from the Wanda L. Bass School of Music at Oklahoma City University.  She completed her Doctorate of Education degree in Educational Leadership and Management in 2018 as a President’s Scholar, and is currently completing a second doctoral degree in Educational Administration with an emphasis on Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Kovar is a member of the Texas Music Educators Association (TMEA), Texas Bandmasters Association, College Band Directors Association, and Kappa Kappa Psi.  She has also served in TMEA and UIL Regions 7 and 30 in various capacities such as a contest host, adjudicator, contest director, auditions host, and clinic/contest organizer. 

Robin Johnson-Ford - Gear Up Grant Project Director Robin Ford became the first DeSoto ISD District College and Career Readiness Coordinator in 2013 and an innovator of several district awards, programs, and events, such as the College Board Gaston Caperton Opportunity Honor Roll 2015; University President’s Round Table and Military Career Fair and ASVAB Testing. She also established the district’s first official College Board Texas Success Initiative (TSI) Testing Site, Young Scholars Academy and the Superintendent’s National Merit Scholars Academy to name a few. Prior to her work in DeSoto ISD, Ford served as an elementary teacher in Dallas ISD, helped to launch the Cedar Hill Collegiate Early College High School and participated in the first Dallas ISD Principal Fellows Cohort where she developed her desire to help students to be able to finance and gain access to college. Ford is a proud graduate of Howard University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and also holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Dallas. She graduated as summa cum laude from the University of North Texas with a Master of Education Administration and is certified in the following areas: Principal, Grade EC-12, Certified ESL PK-12, English Language Arts and Reading 8-12, English Language Arts and Reading 4-8; Social Studies and Language Arts and Reading 4-8. She is entering her 19th year in Education.

Chasity Jackson - Director of Special Education –Chastity Jackson began serving families and children in Dallas ISD as a fourth-grade teacher at W.B. Miller and J.P. Starks elementary schools. After earning her Master of Education in Special Education, she transitioned to DeSoto ISD during the 2010 school year as an Educational Diagnostician. Her tenure in DeSoto ISD includes completing psychoeducational evaluations, leading, mentoring and supervising educational diagnosticians, providing oversight of Special Education operations in the elementary schools, assisting with conflict resolution, and providing guidance, support, and special education training to departments and campus personnel. Prior to this new role, Jackson served as the Elementary Special Education Supervisor in the DeSoto Independent School District. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Health Studies in 2001 and a Master’s degree of Education in Special Education in 2008 from Texas Woman’s University. She currently holds the following certifications: Early Childhood-4th grade, English as a Second Language, Special Education, Educational Diagnostician, and a Principal Certification.

Student Support Services

Etna Tiburcio - Executive Director of Social Emotional Learning - Etna Tiburcio most recently served as a System of Care Coach at Spring Branch ISD in the greater Houston, Texas area where she collaborated with administrative teams, teachers, parents and students in supporting the social and emotional needs of students. Tiburcio provided district-wide training on mental health, response to intervention: behavior, restorative practices, classroom management and student behavior plans. Prior to this role, Tiburcio taught third, fourth and fifth grade bilingual classes within Spring Branch ISD and developed a strong culture of achievement centered on student-teacher relationships, identity, and connections that were grounded in forming strong bonds with students’ families. She is also a degreed public health professional who has served communities domestically and internationally as a clinical research coordinator, director, principal investigator and volunteer. Tiburcio is a champion for health equity, social justice, mental health, and evidence-informed decision-making to address the underlying determinants of health through rigorous research and applied practice. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Community Health from Brown University and a Master in Public Health (MPH) with honors from Yale University.

Stephanie Aldridge - Director of Social Emotional Learning & GuidanceStephanie Aldridge began serving students in the metroplex area in 1995, as an early childhood classroom teacher after graduating from The University of Texas in Austin with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. In this role, she discovered her passion for students with complex needs which led to a variety of specialized roles including English as a Second Language and Special Education teacher and coordinator. She soon became a secondary instructional coach for grades 6-12 in all content areas. Her love for increasing classroom practitioner capacity led to the pursuit of her administrative credentialing which was achieved in 2005 when she earned her Master’s degree in Educational Administration and Policy Studies from The University of Texas at Arlington. Since 2008, Aldridge has served in both campus and district administrative roles and most recently held the position of a Special Populations Consultant at Region 10 ESC where she trained and coached multiple district leaders and support staff in collaboratively meeting the needs of the whole child.

District Support

Chasiti McKissic - Director of Strategic School Support – DeSoto High School alum, Chasiti McKissic previously served DeSoto ISD in the capacity of Project-Based Learning Coordinator and Project Director for the Investing in Innovation (i3) grant to assist campuses with incorporating S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics) with Visual, Dance, Theater, and Music. She also assisted with the blended learning implementation at Frank Moates Elementary and managed various district-level projects. McKissic and her i3 team successfully coordinated a field trip for more than 400 students to enhance their classroom instruction by providing them an opportunity to experience hands-on learning with life-like models at the NASA Space Center Houston. McKissic has been in education for 10 years and has held positions of Classroom Teacher, Campus Interventionist, and Assistant Principal prior to joining DeSoto ISD. McKissic was instrumental in her campus receiving 5 of 7 state accountability distinctions for academic achievement and student progress. McKissic holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston, a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from Texas Woman’s University and a Master’s in Education Administration degree from the University of North Texas.

Jacquinette Murphy – Assistant Director of Communications – Jacquinette Murphy comes to DeSoto ISD with more than 15 years of experience in Communications with specific expertise in Public Relations, Media Relations, Marketing and Journalism. For the last eight years, she has served in the area of school district communications as a specialist and a coordinator. She is a three-time state school public relations award recipient and is known for her commitment to excellence. Her school district work has concentrated on media relations, the development and management of internal and external communications, branding and re-branding programs and crisis communications. Murphy understands the importance of creating and carrying a consistent message across various communications platforms. Prior to her role in school communications, Murphy served as a public relations consultant to national non-profit and professional associations, religious organizations, authors, small business owners and school districts to shape their communications matrices and to ensure a rich connection with their stakeholders. Murphy is known for content development, humanizing and localizing brands and developing a customized strategic approach to meet the needs of the audience. She is also a professional writer and editor, journalist and photographer, her work has been featured in multiple print and digital publications both locally and nationally. She holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Journalism degree in Public Relations from the University of Texas at Austin.

Lakeisha Murray – Director of AccountingLakeisha Murray comes to DeSoto ISD with more than 20 years of experience in accounting, finance, and administrative roles. Prior to joining the district, Murray worked for CBRE for 11 ½ years as the Controller for the East Division Global Workplace Solutions business segment. While there, she supervised a staff of 11 accountants and associate accountants and oversaw the day-to-day accounting functions for the East Division, the training of new accountants on day-to-day policies, procedures, and software. Murray also assisted in developing and implementing new procedures and features to enhance the workflow of the department. Additionally, she has held several accounting and administrative roles for Maximus (the state contractor for Medicaid Managed Care), Comdata, McKesson Corporation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. Murray is a graduate of the University of North Texas, where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business in 2004. In 2007, she received a Master of Science in Accounting and Information Management degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Campus Leadership

Leon Darden - Principal of The Meadows Elementary - Leon Darden brings more than 15 years of educational experience serving students from low socio-economic backgrounds. He believes that every child deserves an education that matches their limitless potential, not the condition of their neighborhood. Darden began his career as an educator in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex with experiences ranging from the Juvenile Justice Charter system to several school districts in the area. Due to his passion for instruction, more than 80% of his students consistently experienced growth in math, reading, and English. Prior to receiving his Master’s degree in Education Administration, Darden also enjoyed success as a middle school football and track coach for much of his classroom career, helping to develop well-rounded student athletes. As a secondary principal, Darden brought an integrated leadership style and trained his staff to become vested, confident leaders themselves. As a result, his campus received seven academic distinction designations in two years. Immediately prior to joining DeSoto ISD, Darden was a principal at a local charter elementary school, rounding out his administrative experience at all grade levels. He is a graduate of Baylor University with a B.A. in Public Relations, and a Master’s degree in Education Administration from Concordia University – Austin where he was inducted into the Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society. Darden has also served on the McLennan Community College Alternative Teacher Certification Advisory Board.

Dr. LaBotta Taylor - Principal of DeSoto Early College High School - Dr. LaBotta Taylor brings a wealth of experience from the corporate sector, public schools, and higher educational realm.  Most recently, she worked as a Central Office Administrator in a school district.  Prior to this, she served as the Director of Academic Affairs at Tarrant County College, overseeing programs for Early College High School, Dual Credit, and other TCC initiatives.  She worked collaboratively with several school districts to increase post-secondary readiness and graduation rates by students completing college credit hours and/or obtaining an associate degree. As an advocate for student success, Dr. Taylor is extremely passionate about college and career readiness and collaborating with P-16 educational partners in the community.  
Dr. Taylor earned her Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.) in Marketing from the University of North Texas and a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) in Strategic Leadership from Amberton University.  To support her love of education, she also earned a Master of Educational Administration (M.Ed.) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Texas. In addition, she holds certifications as a teacher, principal, and superintendent.