Category Archives: Dallas

Guide dog puppies begin basic training in Texas

Amy Smith was both nervous and excited as she walked in front of a crowd of well wishers and veteran guide dogs to accept Tomei, an 8-week old yellow Labrador puppy, as part of the Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) puppy delivery event at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Thursday, Jan. 12.

Amy is one of six members of the Lone Star Guide Dog Raisers, the most recently established of GDB’s five puppy clubs in DFW. Members from all of the Dallas clubs and their guide dogs welcomed the new puppies, which were flown in from a GDB campus on the West Coast, to be raised for 15 to 17 months before being flown back for further training.

“We’re flying in puppies about every month, and we’re flying out dogs,” said Sandi Alsworth, a Community Field Representative for Texas. “We actually have two dogs leaving to go to formal training on the 21st. They’re both flying to our Oregon campus.”


Guide Dogs for the Blind serves blind or low vision individuals throughout the United States and Canada. The organization, now the second largest school in the world of its kind, has been raising dogs since 1942 and has two main campuses, one in San Rafael, Calif. and a second in Boring, Ore.

Alsworth, who has been volunteering with the program for 15 years, takes on a number of responsibilities for the non-profit including looking after the group leaders and trainers, evaluating the dogs three to four times a year, and being on call for any type of emergency.

“I’m making sure that [the puppies] are attaining levels we need them to attain while they’re here and making sure they’re viable animals for our program,” Alsworth said. “If they’re having difficulties or if they’re having challenges, I give them special protocols to work with.”

Preparations for the raisers began months before the puppies were flown in and included a combination of classes, events, and hands-on dog-sitting.

“We’ve had a lot of different meetings that we’ve gone to,” Smith said, a former zookeeper at the Dallas zoo. “We had a three hour class for Puppy 101 where we got to learn a lot of the basic care and training. Since our club is new, groups like the Fort Worth group and Dallas group lent us some of their dogs that were in training, so we could practice with them. We’ve also puppy sat for some other dogs that are currently in training. There are lots of different ways of getting experience.”

After the initial classes and application, a home study took place to make sure the puppy’s new home was a suitable environment. If someone is not in a position to raise a puppy, GDB accepts volunteers for a number of other roles.

“We have a lot of people that can’t raise a puppy on their own and they’ve become puppy sitters for us,” Alsworth said. “We train everybody from the get go. We have local leaders and the guide dogs have staff support who are evaluating the dogs and assisting in the training.”

GDB functions entirely through volunteers and donations. The program does not charge blind or visually impaired individuals for their newly trained dog upon completion of the formal program.

“I liked that there’s no charge for the person that [the dog goes] to work with,” Smith said. “For a lot of companies or different groups, it can be upwards of $4,500 to get a fully trained service dog, but Guide Dogs for the Blind does not charge at all.”

GDB has been breeding dogs for over 75 years. Dogs are evaluated primarily on temperament and confidence. GDB uses only Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and a mix of both breeds know as Golden Labradors.

“We’re trying to breed for a calm, relaxed temperament, but a dog that’s confident enough to do the work,” Alsworth said. “They are going to be managed by a blind person, so this is a dog that’s not resistant to people handling them or touching them or manipulating them.”

Golden Retrievers are generally trained differently than their Labrador counterparts.

“It’s been cool to watch how different Goldens and Labs are,” Sophie Herran, a Golden Retriever raiser said. “[Golden Retrievers] are much more of a challenge. They’re more distracted, more sensitive, but they’re also very socially aware.”


Becky Clark, a former professional dog trainer, is the leader of the Fort Worth group, a club that has eight dogs currently being trained.

Clark’s dog Sinead is on breeder watch, where she will be evaluated as a potential guide dog breeder. If chosen, she will move into a custodian home near one of the two main campuses. If not, she will be spayed and placed into formal training college, the period after the initial 15 to 17 months of basic training. Formal training generally lasts 12 to 16 weeks. Dogs that do not make it through this final stage are sent into another service such as working as medical alert dogs. Raisers generally receive another puppy only weeks after their last dog is sent into formal training.

“The hardest part is giving him back,” Clark said. “A piece of your heart goes with him. But then when they become a guide or a medical alert dog or whatever it is that they’ll be, it makes your heart swell even more because you’re so proud of them.”

Gen. Colin Powell speaks about education at McDermott Lecture

For the past 40 years, the annual McDermott Lectures have brought together the best and brightest in North Texas to reflect and discuss the problems that plague society. Named after the famed scientist and civic leader Eugene McDermott, the lectures have provided a platform for prominent writers, artists, philosophers, and educators, all sharing their experiences and expertise.

The 2016 lecture featured retired US General Colin L. Powell, a man who has held multiple senior military and diplomatic positions across four presidencies, and brought hundreds of people flocking to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

The topic addressed was the issue of educating young children, and ensuring they have the foundation of knowledge and character necessary to succeed in life. The opportunity to receive proper schooling is an undeniable boon to a child; the lecture stressed that these children will go on to not only help themselves, but to help the communities they live in.

Some shocking statistics gathered by the Commit! 2015 Community Achievement Scorecard predict a bleak future if the current standards of education in Dallas County are not changed. Of every 30 students who arrive at their independent school districts, only 17 will be ready for kindergarten, only 10 will be at their required reading level by the third grade, and only 4 will be ready for a career or for college by the time they graduate from high school.

This shows that 86 percent of students will not be prepared to continue on to college. These same statistics reveal that by the year 2030, 60 percent of Dallas County adults will need to complete some form of education beyond high school in order to meet the county’s workforce needs. These numbers show that, as things stand, the county’s needs will far exceed what public education is currently capable of producing.

General Colin Powell shared many details about his efforts to make a difference in the lives of American youth, and expressed that one thing he has learned himself is that children succeed when they are made to feel valued. A person taking an interest in a child’s life, whether it is as a tutor or to simply read to the child before he or she enters the school system, can make a great deal of difference. Just the simple act of reading to a child highly increases the likelihood that they will be reading on level as they progress to secondary education, which ultimately increases the number of students who will move on to college level education.

Dean Joshua Parents of the University of Dallas’ Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts, in a statement released prior to the event, indicated that the continued efforts of educators and their supporters have a profound effect on the children they teach.

“Recognizing that teachers are a vital, and often underappreciated, force in maintaining the strength of our nation, we cultivate the principles of learning and virtues of mind and heart that flower into excellence in their life’s work,” Parens said. “Each teacher’s influence, especially on students in their earliest phases of human life, can be felt for generations.”

Parens went on to discuss how critically important education is in the early stages of a child’s life.

“Quality early education can make all the difference in the life of a child. Our society needs few things as much as it needs excellent teachers, prepared to form both intelligent, skillful members of society and flourishing human beings, capable of becoming agents of change, forces for good, and virtuous citizens throughout the course of their lifetimes. It is one of Braniff’s highest aspirations to support the good work of educators across North Texas, as we strive together to improve our nation,” he said.

Ultimately, as Gen. Powell and the other speakers of the McDermott Lecture explained, the duty of helping pave the way for our children’s future should be a joint effort between teachers, parents, and the wider community. The act of investing in the youth of Dallas is something that will not only benefit them and their families, but the wider county as they join the workforce.

Trinity Forest Golf Club to host AT&T Byron Nelson in 2018

Dallas, Texas – The AT&T Byron Nelson and the PGA TOUR recently announced the tournament will move to Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas in 2018.

Located 10 minutes south of Downtown Dallas, Trinity Forest Golf Club is an 18-hole, links-style course designed by former PGA TOUR player Ben Crenshaw and renowned golf course designer Bill Coore.

The 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson will be played at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas in Irving on May 15-21.

“Our mission to transform kids’ lives has been the heart of what we do since 1920 and that cause remains central to all our decisions about the AT&T Byron Nelson,” said David Watson, AT&T Byron Nelson Board Chair. “We are forever grateful to Four Seasons and the City of Irving for a long, prosperous partnership that has enabled us to raise over $150 million for Momentous Institute, impacting over 100,000 lives. We look forward to our tournament’s future and continuing to change the odds for kids.”

Momentous Institute is the nonprofit owned and operated by the Salesmanship Club of Dallas. Momentous Institute has been building and repairing social emotional health in kids since 1920.

“Improving lives and charitable giving were central to tournament namesake Byron Nelson’s beliefs, and the PGA TOUR is committed to these ideals in the communities in which we play,” PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem said. “We are excited to continue our partnership with AT&T and the AT&T Byron Nelson in the City of Dallas starting in 2018. The move to Trinity Forest Golf Club will have a positive long-term impact on thetournament and those served through Momentous Institute.”

AT&T, the tournament’s title sponsor since 2015, is also based in Dallas.

“This is a special sponsorship for us because it benefits Momentous Institute and thousands of children right here in our hometown of Dallas and beyond,” said Lori Lee, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and Global Marketing Officer.


SOURCE AT&T Byron Nelson

Rail-connected development driving regional growth

Transit Oriented Development near DART Rail, like City Line and the continued growth in the Cedars south of downtown Dallas, is driving the North Texas economic boom with more than $7 billion in economic impact from new or planned constructionwithin a quarter mile of rail stations.

Researchers from the Economics Research Group at the University of North Texas, led by Michael Carroll, Ph.D., also determined this activityin 2014 and 2015 generated more than 43,000 jobs resulting in nearly $3 billion in wages, salaries and benefits. A 2014 study from UNT identified $5.3 billion in transit-oriented development near DART Rail stations between 1996 and 2013.

“DART, and the projects around it, will sustain our continued growth,” Carroll said. “This very rapid increase in investment and development activity around DART stations reflects the improvement in our regional economy. More important, this proves the wisdom of regional leaders in building a regional transit network like DART.”

The regional economic benefit takes many forms. Completed or under construction transit-oriented development near DART stations has already generated $69 million in state and local tax revenue. The study also projects potential spending for planned or proposed developments could produce another $160 million in state and local tax revenue.

“Increased property values and the revenues generated from that is another way Dallas and the other DART cities are benefitting from our investment,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said. “DART has created new connections to attract developers to fertile areas for investment. We see that transformation in all parts of our city and are excited to see what’s next.”

Investment paying dividends

The 93-mile light rail system, the nation’s longest, was built at a cost of $5.5 billion. The most recent extension, three miles, connecting a renewed Ledbetter Station to the campus of the University of North Texas Dallas, opened Oct. 24.

“This study reminds us transportation is more than a ride from one point to another,” DART President/Executive Director Gary Thomas said. “Developers see the benefit. That’s why they’re putting their money into new live/work/play communities close to our stations. The value of those projects significantly exceeds the regional investment in rail and they are changing the face of our region.”

A development magnet in good times and bad

Authors of the 2014 study found DART could make substantial contributions to regional economic health even when the area experienced an economic downturn not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

“Even through difficult economic times, DART has demonstrated its ability to boost the North Texas economy through its daily operations, capital spending and attracting private investment,” said Terry L. Clower, Ph.D., principal author of the 2014 study and now director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University.

But the authors of the 2016 study believe the regional environment has fully recovered noting, “The region is one of the fastest growing nationwide in terms of population and continues to be the destination for corporate relocations.” To prove the point, they identified 11 projects in various stages of development, in all parts of the DART Service Area, with a total economic impact of $5.1 billion for the region. The list of projects includes development of the Dallas High School site near Pearl Station, an expanded Southwest Airlines Training Facility, and Northshore and the Irving Entertainment District in Las Colinas.


SOURCE Dallas Area Rapid Transit

Letter to the Editor

From the Blue Family

We’ve lost five heroes. These heroes represent the good in the world. These heroes represent unity, honor and a perpetual love for others. Other departments across the country have also experienced the loss of their own heroes, and we grieve with them. All of these brave men laid down their lives for their brothers and sisters. They exemplified the oath which the men and women who wear the badge have sworn to uphold.

A tragedy has a way of bringing people together, as we mourn as one. A loss as substantial as this has unified communities and police across our cities and nation. We come together, in the name of good, and vow to not let evil have its way. Law enforcement pledges to stand with our communities through this difficult and challenging time. We will remain steadfast in our commitment to the members of our public, always seeking the ideals we share.

On behalf of the law enforcement agencies across the North Texas area, we would like to thank the individual communities for the tremendous outpouring of love and support. You have truly overwhelmed your police departments across the Metroplex with the flood of notes, cards, emails and visits to show your encouragement. We have also been smothered in southern love with the abundance of food you have brought to show how much you care. Each gesture speaks loudly to us during this dark and difficult time, often bringing the encouragement we need to carry on.

So we will continue to carry on, in the name of those lost.


The North Texas Police Chiefs Association on behalf of the men and women of law enforcement

After 25 years with Irving ISD, Layne takes position with Dallas ISD

Dallas ISD knew they found a golden prospect with Scott Layne when they offered him the position as Chief Operations Officer after a 25-year run as Irving ISD’s Assistant Superintendent for School Support Services. Layne, who has been working in public education for 34 years, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to a growing Metroplex, with a hunger for improving the environments and schools for North Texas kids.

Layne began his career in public education at Katy ISD and four years later, Midland ISD, which he left to accept a position as Irving ISD’s Assistant Superintendent for School Support Services.

“I can’t think of anything more beneficial to an individual then being able to help kids on a daily basis,” Layne said. “That’s what we do; we try to make a difference in their daily lives. An environment definitely impacts the learning process. That’s how I got started, and I just never got out. I just love it.”

Layne has a passion for initiating renovation and construction improvements throughout the schools of Irving ISD and is always developing more projects to allow Irving students to excel in fine arts, sports and education.

“I consider myself more of a builder than a maintainer,” Layne said. “I’ve gotten to improve programs and make progress in different areas. I really felt like I would be someone who would stay four or five years in one place, and then move on to more challenges and opportunities. But I loved working. I loved the Metroplex. It’s always been my favorite place in Texas.”

Layne described how the diversity of his positions at Irving ISD allowed him to pursue a multitude of challenges.

“It allowed me to continue to grow, to continue to build programs in different areas,” said Layne. “Plus I loved it here. I don’t think I’ll ever leave the Metroplex area.”

Layne’s most important motivation throughout his career in public education has been to support the instructional and educational goals of the district.

“My job title is Support Services, and that’s exactly what we do,” Layne said. “We are here to support the educational products of this district. Whatever I can do to help principals, teachers and kids, that’s our goal.”

“Without the kids, none of us would have a job. Principals have a very tough job; they should not have to worry about how their facility should operate. If they are having to do that, then my team at Support Services is not doing our job. Their focus and concentration needs to be on the instructional programs.”

Layne will make his debut as Dallas ISD’s Chief Operations Officer the first day of school this year, Aug. 22, and will be supervising four departments along with the $1.6 billion bond program, which covers transportation, food service, maintenance and facilities. Layne’s first goal is to meet with his staff and understand their philosophies and goals for the team and for education.

“It’s one thing to spend money on facilities to make them better, but it’s very important that you have staff in place to maintain those buildings,” said Layne, who spent ten years as Maintenance Director. “I understand maintenance, I understand custodial programs, I understand grounds programs, so I’m looking forward to that, as well as building and renovating schools.”

Layne has several construction and renovation projects underway at the three Irving high schools that should be nearly finished by the beginning of school this year.

“It all ties together and it’s all important. I want to make sure my staff understands why we’re there, and that’s for the kids, to support the campuses, to support the principals, and to meet their instructional goals,” he said.

Layne will hit the ground running as the new Chief Operations Officer and is certain to bring fresh ideas and valuable experience to Dallas ISD.

El Centro College, DCCCD grieve the loss of lives caused by deadly Dallas shooting

El Centro College and the entire Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) community are deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred in downtown Dallas on Thurs., July 7. The main campus of El Centro College was directly affected when the perpetrator entered the college, including the 2nd floor of the “C” building.

“Our hearts go out to the victims of this senseless tragedy, and our prayers are with them and their families,” Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor said.

“El Centro College was born in the aftermath of another American tragedy, the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Since its founding, it’s been defined not by whom we exclude, but by whom we include. El Centro will continue to be an institution that welcomes all in Dallas County.

“I am very proud of our people for displaying the type of uncommon heroic behavior that really exemplifies El Centro, the Dallas County Community College District and the city of Dallas.

“I’m proud of the outstanding role that our colleges play in the communities we serve, and it’s our employees who make a real difference, not only in the lives of our students but also in the communities in which they live and work. It is that spirit which will allow us to continue to provide the type of quality education needed to ensure better lives and better communities,” he said.

Heroic Actions

DCCCD would like to salute El Centro’s Chief of Police, Joseph Hannigan, and the college police officers for their heroic actions during this tragic event. In addition to Chief Hannigan, five El Centro police officers worked the evening of the shootings: Detective/Corporal Bryan Shaw, Officer John Abbott, Officer Luis Hernandez, Officer Andrew Maughan, and Officer Gene Pouncy.

Two El Centro officers were injured as a result of their heroic actions. Following the initial chaos and confusion, early accounts indicated that Corporal Shaw was actually shot when the suspect began to shoot out the glass doors at the Lamar entrance. The bullets broke through the glass and into the building. Corporal Shaw was hit under his vest by one of those bullets as he guarded the entrance. Shaw returned to protect other officers and civilians with bullet fragments still lodged in his stomach and was not examined by Emergency Medical Services personnel until 3 a.m. He will require surgery but is resting at home with his family.

Officer Abbott also was guarding the Lamar entrance and sustained injuries to both legs from the knees down from flying glass that was penetrated by bullets from the shooter. Abbott currently serves as a U.S. Navy Corpsman (medic).

Abbot first went to the immediate aid of downed DART officer Brent Thompson; he attempted to render aid and to save Thompson’s life, but the DART officer was mortally wounded and died on the scene. Abbot then took care of the lacerations he himself had received from the broken glass and then returned to protect other officers and civilians. He is recovering at home with his family.

During this difficult time, both officers have asked for privacy during their recovery.

“Our hearts go out to the officers’ families and everyone involved,” Dr. José Adames, president of El Centro College said. “It’s a tragic day for Dallas and the country. El Centro College prides itself in being a family and, in this tragic moment, we are more committed than ever to demonstrate, through our positive thoughts and actions, that we are indeed a family.

“The El Centro family recognizes the outstanding bravery of our police officers in this life and death situation. Our police officers did not pause in protecting our students and employees. They exemplify the best of our police force,” he said.

Several off-duty El Centro officers responded once the shooting started: Captain Rex Gaston, Sergeant Lauri Boudreau, Sergeant Mike Holmes, Corporal Erroll Russell, Officer Donald Brazil, Officer Michael Brown, Officer Rodrigo Garcia, Officer Charles Stewart and officer Troy Willis. Additionally, Officer Nathan Reed from our West Campus and Lieutenant Michael Beissel from DCCCD’s North Lake College also came downtown to assist on the night of the shooting. Since the shootings, all DCCCD Chiefs have been in contact with Chief Hannigan to offer resources and manpower as needed.

The El Centro College Police Department has shown true heroism as they protected the safety of our students, staff, civilians and other officers involved in Thursday’s shooting.

DCCCD’s Food and Hospitality instructors Chris LaLonde, Jackie Preston and Food and Hospitality Director Steve DeShazo have partnered with Chili’s and Maggiano’s to provide meals for Dallas PD and El Centro officers as well as everyone involved working through the night on site. Culinary faculty also have helped serve those meals. DCCCD would like to thank Chili’s and Maggiano’s (part of the Brinker International company), especially Dom Perry, Vice President of Operational Services and Learning & Development of Brinker International for organizing and providing food for all law enforcement officials who are on the scene at El Centro.


SOURCE Dallas County Community College District

DCCCD students cultivate a world view through seminar in Salzburg

Eleven student leaders from the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) are now students of the world.

The DCCCD group got a chance to expand their international knowledge with a trip to Salzburg, Austria; during their one-week visit last month, students from each of the seven colleges in the system toured and experienced the storied city.

A trip with purpose

DCCCD’s global economic development department, which is part of the workforce and economic development division of the district, sent the students to workshops designed to help them develop their roles as well-rounded students on their campuses in their communities and for their future endeavors.

The trip was sponsored by the Global Citizenship Alliance Student Seminar (GCA); it marks the first time DCCCD has sent students to the GCA seminar, which is an intensive workshop that helps students to think critically about their role as world citizens. The program helps students examine challenges brought about by globalization, plus the financial and cultural interactions among countries.

“Students gain an understanding of the conceptual challenges around global citizenship and peace, with a focus on cross-disciplinary problem solving of real-world political, economic, social and cultural problems,” said Anita Gordy-Watkins, DCCCD’s vice chancellor of global and economic development.

Members of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society were asked to apply. To qualify, students had to be 18, U.S. citizens and committed to attend DCCCD for the fall 2016 semester.

In July, nine DCCCD staff members will visit Potsdam, Germany, home of Prussian kings and queens that is known for its palaces and parks, where they will participate in an intensive workshop that allows them to translate concepts and ideas into their area of teaching. This educational program also is offered by the district’s global economic development department

The learning experience of a lifetime

The food, culture and picturesque views of Europe were exciting for Enoc Chicas, a sophomore nursing student at Brookhaven College.

“DCCCD gave me this one lifetime opportunity,” Chicas said. “Now it is time for me to deliberate results, serve and inspire others. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go to Salzburg.”

Chicas, who hopes a nursing career helps him to expand his travels, found Salzburg vibrant, uplifting and educational. Travelling to Europe, he said, is a stepping stone to global citizenship.

“I enjoy meeting people and making new friends,” said Chicas, who has visited El Salvador, Guatemala Costa Rica and Mexico but had not traveled to Europe.

“I want to do something with this. I want to be able to encourage other students to try harder. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was fortunate to be able to go there. I want to give something back but I don’t know (what). I want to be able to share my experiences with others in the community.

“I have a different perspective on things. I got a chance to explore and learn more about global concerns. I’m going to be able to incorporate that into my career and my everyday life. I want to become a family practitioner and travel to help other countries,” he said.

The students enjoyed a concert, food and tours of Germany. One of those trips included visiting a former concentration camp. Chicas found the experience “haunting.”

He loved Salzburg with its bustling markets and easily navigable streets. He brought back souvenirs and a cache of photographs to share with family, classmates and friends.

Picturesque Salzburg

Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, its most celebrated son. DCCCD students arrived in time to witness the celebration of Salzburg’s bicentennial. They hummed songs from the Oscar-winning movie “The Sound of Music” after visiting Schloss Leopoldskron, the ornate palace where the film about the von Trapp family was made.

Jaimi Singleton, a veterinary technician major, said the trip marked her first overseas venture. The Cedar Valley student found the country beautiful and was pleasantly surprised that the language barrier was barely noticeable.

“It was peaceful. That’s the best way to describe it,” Singleton said. “Everyone was friendly and understood everything. I was able to get around in a taxi. The food was great.” She found the trip eye-opening because of the exposure she experienced to people from other cultures and a partnership she hopes will endure.

“I think this is going to help me as I travel. I plan to see more things. You learn to interact. You learn to have a broader perspective,” she said.

William De La Cruz, who also attends Brookhaven, said Austria offered him a chance to interact with people from another culture and hear their views. The trip promoted his status as a student of the world.

“I was not sure what to expect. I just went there with an open mind,” De La Cruz said of his first trip to Europe. “If given the chance to attend another seminar like this, I would not hesitate. I would go again in a heartbeat.”

Martha Hughes, an advisor who accompanied the students, said the excursion allowed students to overcome class and social barriers.

“They talked about the globalized world we live in,” said Hughes, who is vice president of academic affairs at North Lake College. “Our speakers really were attempting to help us understand global issues, like refugees. They talked about Islamophobia. And they talked about us and our gun culture. We’re all here to learn and make this a better place.”

Hughes praised the students for participating and expanding their world view as they soaked up the city’s museums, music, food, exhibitions and customs.

“I think, for some of them, travel itself is an experience. There were a number of students who never had a chance to do anything like this. We give opportunities to students who might not otherwise see this,” Hughes said.

DCCCD students who attended the seminar included: William de la Cruz and Enoc Chicas, Brookhaven College; Jaimi Singleton, Cedar Valley College; Alejandra Salcedo, Eastfield College; Doris Greene-Curry, El Centro College; Alex Melton and Daniel Birckbichler, Mountain View College; William Zamudio and Corey Gregory, North Lake College; and Allen Lee Williams and Alicia Fernandez, Richland College.  Advisors who traveled with the group were Kacem Ayachi from Richland College and Martha Hughes from North Lake College.


SOURCE Dallas County Community College District

Live music soothes the traveling soul at Dallas Love Field

Photo courtesy of Dallas Love Field Art Program

In a busy airport concourse, music normally drifts down from ceiling speakers and is lost in the noise of a busy public place. The Love Field Art Program brings music to the forefront, allowing it performers to entertain passengers, families and staff as the music refreshes souls.

Dallas Love Field Airport now features live music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. The airport’s visitors and staff are enjoying the Texas Singer/Songwriter Series made possible through a partnership with the Texas Music Project.

Actually, live music is popping up in a number of airports around the country. Austin and Nashville provide live music in their airports, which not too surprising. New Orleans, Seattle, and Portland do as well. What is interesting about Love Field is not only that it is new, but also how well they do it.

The live music program began when Mayor Mike Rawlings came through the concourse after arriving from Austin. He saw live music in the airport down there, and he asked why Love Field did not have it. From there, Mark Duebner, Director of Aviation for the city of Dallas, and Guy Bruggeman, Love Field’s Art and Program Coordinator, took on the challenge.

The Love Field Stage was completed in March of this year. It is a spacious elevated stage fully appointed with power, lighting, and a large video screen backdrop. Backstage, there’s a wide ramp to facilitate moving heavy equipment up to the stage level. There is secure storage, and of course, some comfortable privacy available for the musicians between sets. The whole live music hub is situated in the busiest part of the T-shaped concourse near a spacious food court.

All of that sets Dallas Love Field apart from every other airport offering live music. So far, no other airport has a performance stage that is as well thought out.

“This is great. Nashville has a pretty basic plywood stage with rounded corners,” said Will Yates between sets. Crystal Yates and her husband, Will, are already regulars on the Love Field Stage. Some airports like Seattle do not even have a stage. They merely have musicians playing somewhere on the concourse.

“At the start, we were worried that local musicians wouldn’t support our performance stage, but their response has been great,” Bruggeman said. “They’re performers, and they like the exposure. We get well over one million passengers a month, and a lot of those are here during the live music performances. The response on the concourse has been overwhelmingly positive.”

For more information and a current schedule of events at Love Field, visit .


Opportunities add up in the world of accounting

Army veteran and North Lake College graduate Wesley Wilson experienced a life-changing moment on a battlefield in Afghanistan in September 2011. His convoy had just been ambushed; fortunately, he escaped injury. Once back on base, he decided he was ready to move on with his life.

“It put everything in perspective. I thought: if I’m going to live my life, what’s the best thing I could do? What do I really want?” Wilson asked himself. “First thing, I wanted a family, but I didn’t want the military life.”

Wilson left the Army, moved to Texas and enrolled at North Lake to study finance, but after talking to friends and family, he decided to major in accounting instead.

“I liked the idea of a better work-life balance that a job in accounting offered,” Wilson said. “Being a financial advisor meant selling a lot, meeting clients after hours, and bringing in new clients. I wanted something more stable where I could work from 9 to 5.”

Careers in accounting add up

Numbers for the Dallas-Fort Worth indicate that Wilson should find the accounting job he wants in the area. In March 2016, more than 4,200 accounting positions were posting (non-duplicated), according to EMSI. The Dallas-Fort Worth area added 8,400 accounting and auditing jobs between 2001 and 2015 alone.

In the U.S., the number of jobs for accountants and auditors climbed 10.9 percent between 2001 and 2015; in the DFW region, that number grew 29.6 percent during the same period. And in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the median hourly earning is $33.31 per hour, compared to $32.20 per hour nationally.

Wilson, who worked in graphic design in the Army, took his first accounting course in 2014 at Brookhaven College and enjoyed it. He enrolled in his second accounting class at North Lake with faculty member Stephanie Swaim.

“She’s a great instructor,” Wilson said about Swaim. “We did practical exercises, and she taught me what I would be doing as an accountant.”

Swaim, who also studied at North Lake before she became an instructor at the college, said students in accounting need to learn that what they are studying matters on a day-to-day basis, so she tries to find context in the material she teaches.

“If you’re just studying something, you have no idea what it’s about. You have no concept of how you might use the information, and it becomes difficult to learn it,” Swaim said. “If I just tell them how to apply the material, it’s difficult to absorb it, so I try to bring context and relevance to the material.”

Swaim said every business needs accounting, and she compared businesses to sports. “Every sport has a score, and accounting is score-keeping for business. You figure out how much is coming in and how much is going out. If students can think about accounting in the way you keep score in business, then they can compare statistics, just as they do in baseball,” she said.

Credentials are critical

Accounting is a very client-driven business, according to Swaim, and accountants “need to be collegial and detail-oriented. If anything slips through the cracks, it can generate significant errors,” she said.

Wilson’s Army experience as a graphic designer prepared him for a career in accounting.

“It taught me to think outside the box, how to talk to people and to be diplomatic,” Wilson said.

“In accounting, you can ‘get it’ or you can learn it, and some students just ‘get it,’” Cencelia Pierre, an accounting faculty member at Mountain View College, said. She added that she knew from early on that accounting was for her, and she can tell when students “get it.”

“They see how credits and debits work. They have a good work ethic, and that ethic in academia carries over into their work,” Pierre said. “I love students who walk into my office, because those are the students who have a keen interest in learning. Students who seek me out, ask for help and ask questions–they get it instinctively, or they roll their sleeves up to get it.”

Wilson said the firefight he was in was an “eye-opening experience. Every time I left the base, I would think about what I wanted to do with my life. It put everything in perspective.” He found his passion in accounting and hopes to start a family in the future, too.

For more information about the accounting programs at North Lake and Mountian View colleges, contact Stephanie Swaim at or Cencelia Pierre at

SOURCE Dallas County Community College District