Undergraduate students in a public health course at SMU honed their persuasive speaking abilities in a formal debate on reducing firearm suicide.
Gun-related deaths in the United States hit an all-time high in 2020, with a record number of gun murders and near-record gun suicides, according to new statistics from the Center for Disease Control. In 2020, more than 45,000 people lost their lives from gun-related injuries, including murders, suicides, and other types of deaths tracked by the CDC. Based on this information, the students of Dr. Eric Bing’s class Pandemics! The Science of Disease Spread, Prevention, and Control (APSM/ANTH/MNO 4344), held a debate on the topic: To reduce firearm-related suicides in the United States by 30% by 2031, should the primary focus be increasing access to mental health care or restricting access to firearms?
The students began their arguments by highlighting the significance of the topic, pointing out that many people in the United States experience mental health issues but lack access to necessary resources. One team noted that the top 3 states with the highest suicide rates share a neglect of mental health care providers, underscoring the importance of increasing access to mental health care. In contrast, opposing teams argued the dangers of firearm access, noting the quick and impulsive nature of suicide and providing data showing the increased risk of suicide with handgun access. They also cited the success of legislation like the Permit-to-Purchase (PTP) law in reducing suicide rates.
After the arguments of each side were given, the judges had a chance to ask follow up questions or for clarification, then rebuttals were given to the arguments by each side. After providing feedback to all of the teams, the judges ultimately chose the winning teams: Team 5 and Team 4.
Throughout the semester, students will keep learning and exploring global diseases, as well as discovering how epidemiologists relying on a range of academic disciplines can fight pandemics.
2022-2023 District Leadership Fellows gathered at SMU for a Mid-Year Retreat to share progress on their individual projects, and to plan for moving forwards in the spring.
District Leadership Fellows program director Dr. Eric G. Bing welcomed the cohort back to SMU for their mid-year retreat. Dr. Stephanie Knight, Dean of the Simmons School of Education and Human Development, lead a panel discussion on developing leaders. Panelists Drs. Dana Arreola, Aldine ISD, Keena Bradley, Aldine ISD, Bryan Taulton, Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD, and Mrs. Taylor Williams, Slidell ISD, shared their insights on developing leaders. They shared the initial goal of their projects and ways the District Leadership Fellows program has helped them reach their goals. The panel ended with the Fellows reflecting on advice they wish they had known before starting their projects.
Dr. Darwin Spiller, Richardson ISD, presented an update on his project to the full cohort. He began by asking the audience to reflect on two contrasting images: the first image of police officers and people in handcuffs followed by an image of students in graduation cap and gown. Dr. Spiller shared an overview of a training program for students which is helping them move away from interactions with law enforcement and towards graduation. He reflected on successes and challenges while implementing the training program. He showed his appreciation for the District Leadership Fellows cohort who provided him with valuable feedback as well as for Dr. Bing who helped him with advice through one-on-one coaching sessions. Through these experiences, along with collaboration with departments in his district, he was able to dig deeper, create a detailed plan with specific goals for his position, and help students reach their fullest potential.
All cohort members had the opportunity to share progress on their projects with a small group. Along with feedback from their small group, the Fellows received praise from cohort members on their efforts and successes.
To close the day, cohort member Dr. Kristin Craft, Spring Branch ISD, shared a keynote address with the title “Heart and Soul.” She reflected and discussed the significance of several photos that motivate her and why they are meaningful to her. Dr. Craft shared her reasons and motivation of applying for the program and her understanding of leadership as ‘leading through influence’ with well-built relationships and trust.
The cohort will continue to meet online throughout the spring semester as they support each other in continuing to implement their projects.
The SMU District Leaders program at its center creates a space for leaders to discuss Problems of Practice that are germane to the conversation happening in the field of Educational Leadership.– Dr. Eduardo Hernandez, Superintendent, Edgewood ISD, Texas
Applications are open for the 2023-2024 cohort of the District Leadership Fellows, a hybrid in-person and online strengths-based leadership development program run by the Institute for Leadership Impact at Southern Methodist University. Established and emerging district leaders who are collaborative, motivated to create change, and who have a strong desire for personal leadership growth are invited to apply. Fellows will apply learning from cohort meetings, peer group meetings and interactive tutorials to a real-world challenge in their districts.
Participate in a dynamic in-person and online learning environment
Learn from SMU faculty and education experts
Receive individual coaching
Engage with in-house interactive training modules
Enhance your leadership skills
Better align your work with your personal mission
Apply your learning to a real-world challenge in your district
Expand your network and collaborate with a diverse cohort of peers
The 2022-2023 cohort of District Leadership Fellows has begun the year with an in-person meeting at SMU.
After two years entirely online, the Institute for Leadership Impact was delighted to host district leaders from across Texas and Arkansas in-person at SMU for a two-day kick-off for the District Leadership Fellows program.
Program director Dr. G. Bing launched the program by challenging teams of leaders to solve a problem well outside their usual experience. While planning to slow the health crisis in Africa might seem removed from providing the best education possible to children in the United States, it became clear that the leadership skills needed to solve one challenge applied directly to the other challenge.
To start day two, fellows engaged in a mindfulness activity, remembering and re-finding their purpose and motivation. They will keep their larger goal in sight as they move through the year.
Each leader entered the program with a goal in their district they want to accomplish overt the course of the program. Leaders began by interviewing each other about their district goal, internal and external resources available, and the activities they might carry out to accomplish their goal. From there, leaders moved on to talking through measuring progress along the way. Each leader then transferred this information over to an Impact Model.
Following the kick-off, leaders have been refining their Impact Model in discussion with their district team, and their Peer Group. The cohort is continuing to meet online, with an in-person winter retreat scheduled in January.
32 school district leaders have been welcomed into the 2022-2023 cohort of District Leadership Fellows, a hybrid in-person and online leadership training program for school district superintendents and executive district leaders run by the Institute for Leadership Impact at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
The 2022-2023 cohort, the largest since the program was founded in 2016, includes leaders from school districts in Arkansas and across Texas. It includes Superintendents and Assistant Superintendents, along with Executive Directors and other district leaders. School districts of many different sizes are represented, from rural schools with less than two hundred students, to urban districts with over sixty thousand students.
Of the program, 2021-2022 participant Dr. Angela Herron, Chief Teaching & Learning Officer, Grand Prairie ISD, said “SMU’s District Leadership Fellows program is a wonderful program that enhanced my ability to lead with a more laser focus on my desired goals for my district. Through complex, relevant, and engaging activities, the program equipped me with the tools to have a more strategic approach to problem-solving, which allowed me to lead more efficiently and systematically. I appreciate my time in the program and found each session beneficial to increasing outcomes for my district.”
The District Leadership Fellows program is a strengths-based leadership development program that enhances the leadership abilities of established and emerging school district leaders through an intensive year-long cohort. Through collaboration with peers and recognized education experts, Fellows are empowered to solve hard problems in their districts, build their leadership skills, and develop lasting educational leadership networks. The program is hosted by the Institute for Leadership Impact in the Simmons School of Education & Human Development at SMU in Dallas, Texas.
Who’s in the 2022-2023 cohort?
School leaders in the upcoming cohort of the District Leadership Fellows program include Dr. Dana Arreola (Executive Director of Leadership Development, Aldine ISD), Dr. Stephanie Bonneau (Principal, Mansfield ISD), Dr. Keena Bradley (Executive Director of Employee Services and Experience, Aldine ISD), Mrs. Onjaleke Brown (Superintendent, St. Anthony Academy), Mr. Brett Bunch (Superintendent, Brookland Public Schools), Mrs. Shenikwa Cager (Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, A W Brown Leadership Academy), Dr. Sedric Clark (Superintendent, Gladewater ISD), Dr. Michelle Cline (Superintendent, Throckmorton Collegiate ISD), Dr. Kristin Craft (Associate Superintendent, Spring Branch ISD), Dr. Denver Crum (Superintendent, Springlake-Earth ISD), Dr. Carnelius Gilder (Superintendent, West Sabine ISD), Dr. Winnifred Goodman (Chief of Schools, Duncanville ISD), Mr. Tellauance Graham (Assistant Superintendent, Cedar Hill ISD), Mr. Ron Holmgreen (Superintendent, Brock ISD), Dr. Brad Hunt (Superintendent, Coppell ISD), Mrs. Gaya Jefferson (Executive Director of Professional Learning, Richardson ISD), Mr. George Kennedy (Assistant Superintendent, Brookland Public Schools), Dr. Tonya Knowlton (Superintendent, Community ISD), Mrs. Jaema Krier (Director of Administration, UT Tyler University Academy), Dr. Donny Lee (Superintendent, Wichita Falls ISD), Dr. Sandra Moore (Executive Director Human Resources, Richardson ISD), Ms. Karalei Nunn (Founder & COO, Meridian World School), Dr. Jeremy Owoh (Superintendent, Jacksonville North Pulaski School District), Dr. Veronica Perkins (Superintendent, Blytheville School District), Dr. Brenda Poole (Superintendent, Brinkley Public Schools), Dr. Mike Rockwood (Superintendent, Lake Dallas ISD), Dr. Darwin Spiller (Executive Director of Title IX Compliance & Investigations, Richardson ISD), Mr. Jeremy Strickland (Superintendent, Trenton ISD), Dr. Bryan Taulton (Superintendent of Schools, Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD), Ms. Cindy Trevino (Chief of Human Resources and Student Services, Edgewood ISD), Mrs. Amanda Wallace (Assistant Superintendent of Personnel & Policy, Henderson ISD), and Mrs. Taylor Williams (Superintendent, Slidell ISD). Mr. Bunch, and Drs. Cline and Poole are returning Fellows.
Program alum Dr. Chris Moran shared his wisdom on effectively working with school boards.
At a recent cohort meeting, Dr. Chris Moran, Superintendent of Whitehouse ISD, shared his experiences in enhancing the superintendent – school board relationship. Drawing on his 30 years in education, including 11 as a school superintendent, Dr. Moran shared with fellows his 10 Commandments for Board Superintendent Relations:
I am the Board, your boss, you should have no strange goals before me
Take the time needed to work with the board to develop a strong strategic plan so everyone is working towards the same shared goals.
Don’t take the name of the board, your boss, in vain
It is so important that the board knows that you respect and value them. You can do that by investing time with them.
Remember to keep holy the board’s day
Board meeting days, and days leading up to board meetings, should be time to focus and ensure the board meeting is a successful and pleasant experience. Prepare the board well in advance of big agenda items, starting months in advance if needed.
Honor your Board of Trustees members
Never say a disparaging word about a board member to anyone. You can be sure it will resurface if you do.
You should not kill your future by picking battles you should not fight
Pick your battles wisely and be a consistent leader.
Don’t commit unfaithful acts against your board
As superintendent you are always on the clock. Dress and act like the superintendent they hired you to be at all times.
Don’t steal the credit
Give credit when credit is due. Make time daily to give encouragement and recognition to someone in your district.
Don’t bear false witness against your board
Give only solid and accurate information to the board. Hiding or shading information will ruin trust and destroy relationships.
Don’t covet other people to serve on the board
Serve the board you are given, just bloom where you are planted with the board you have.
Don’t covet your neighbor board’s operating procedures
Develop your district operating procedures with the board, so everyone is on board with the ground rules.
These 10 items provided a basis for the discussion that followed. Fellows shared their experiences and discussed how to best apply the points raised by Dr. Moran, and others, in their own districts. Collaboration with peers is one of the key components of the District Leadership Fellows program, and this session provided a great demonstration of that process in action.
“The District Leadership Fellows Impact Model has been very beneficial for me. It gives me a way to distill big ideas into something that is very concise and easier to communicate.” Dr. John Tackett, 2020-2021 cohort alum
The District Leadership Fellows program at SMU, designed for school superintendents and executive district leaders, focuses on creating impact. Each Fellow enters the program with a leadership project they wish to accomplish over the course of the year. Early cohort sessions introduce the Impact Model, an organizational framework for thinking through the project, communicating the project to others, and executing the project. Later cohort and coaching sessions offer support and collaboration as Fellows implement their Impact Models.
Dr. Michelle Cline, Superintendent of Throckmorton Collegiate ISD and District Leadership Fellows alum, sat down the Dr. Eric G. Bing, Director of the Institute for Leadership Impact, to talk through the Impact Model and how it helped her achieve goals in her district. Learn more about her experience in this video.
Gratitude, conviction, execution, growth, intentional, accountable and open are words the 2021-2022 cohort will embody as they move forward on their leadership journey.
At the final meeting of the 2021-2022 cohort of the District Leadership Fellows program, Fellows had the opportunity to celebrate their successes and reflect on their mission and journey. Fellows read back through their initial thoughts on their mission, and reflected on whether those sentiments still spoke to them. They had the opportunity to reaffirm or modify their mission, and to talk through how they might strengthen the alignment between their actions and mission to make their work more meaningful and impactful.
Dr. Debbie Atwell began the discussion on the cohort’s leadership journeys by speaking on her passion for her work in Mountainburg Public Schools. The cohort then reflected on their own leadership journeys, what they will take with them as they move forward, and how they have grown as leaders. Congratulations to the 2021-2022 cohort of District Leadership Fellows! We are proud of you and wish you continued success and growth on your leadership journeys.
The seventh annual Battle to Save Lives case competition was presented by students in Dr. Eric G. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global and Public Health course
On April 12, over seventy people gathered to watch SMU’s seventh annual Battle to Save Lives, a global and public health case competition. The event was introduced by Dean Stephanie Knight, Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and featured five teams of students from SMU professor Eric G. Bing’s Creating Impact in Global & Public Health course. Each team presented their best strategies to solve real-life challenges. Attendees included SMU alums, current students, faculty, staff, and community members who helped the judges select the winning team at the end of the competition.
Two of the teams presented on the case of the Kalita Humpreys Theater, developing strategies to improve the connectivity and engagement with the African American and Hispanic population as well as the physical accessibility of the theater. Three teams presented their case on the West Dallas STEM School, proposing plans to develop a learning garden at the school to increase student interest in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
You can watch a video summary of each team’s proposal here, and read more below.
Ms. Dionne Davis, Manager of Foundation and Government Relations at the Dallas Theater Center, and co-leader of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Ms. Hilda Rodriguez, Advisory Board for Renovation of Kalita Humpreys Theater
Mr. Wes Keyes, Executive Director of Brother Bills’ Helping Hands
Mr. Chris Luna, Vice President, Legal Affairs at T-Mobile US, Inc.
Ms. Rikki Schramm, Environmental Education Teacher at the Dallas ISD STEM Environmental Education Center
Case 1: Kalita Humphrey’s Theater
The two Kalita Humpreys Theater teams presented their plans to improve the physical accessibility as well as the connectivity of the Kalita Humpreys Theater in Turtle Creek overall by 25% and by African Americans and Hispanics 50% within the next 2 years. Team ‘Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future,’ started the night by presenting their solutions of increasing visibility of the theater by bringing the theater to the audience and providing online-streaming options of the theater plays, hosting culturally relevant events, such as a Freedom Walk where patrons could take a 35-minute walk from the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre, a nearby Dallas Theater Center, to the Kalita Humpreys Theater while viewing scenes of a play along the walk. Team ‘Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future,’ included Bretton Laboret, Bria’ Merchant, Cici Santos, Alex Smith, and Alexandra Yeager, and was coached by Yolette Garcia.
Team ‘Unearthing the Jewel’ took a slightly different approach, beginning their presentation with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) that demonstrated and acknowledged the existing strengths and efforts taken by the theater toward increasing community connectivity. The team suggested building on top of the existing efforts by hosting in-person talkbacks, which would be led by the current full-time staff members to minimize cost, and attracting patrons and foot traffic to the theater through investing in a mural art wall. Team ‘Unearthing the Jewel’ included Imani Holmes, Taylor Jeske, Brooke Koritala, Joseph Lee, Lauren Small, and Joann Yang, and was coached by Collin Yarbrough.
After each presentation, judges were able to ask the team questions. Following the second presentation, the judges and audience voted and Team ‘Honoring Our Past, Envisioning Our Future’ was awarded the win.
Case 2: West Dallas STEM School
The second part of the night included three teams of students presenting their strategies for developing a Learning Garden at the West Dallas STEM School (WDSS) that is intended to increase STEM-related knowledge relevant to the learning objectives for the State of Texas, and interest in the STEM-related fields among children attending the school. Team ‘Learning Garden Flower STEMS’ captured the audience’s attention as they began by asking the audience to imagine that they are six years old and in the shoes of these children who will soon get to plant and grow their own plants right in their schoolyard. The team planned to meet the goal by creating learning stations and experimental tables near the garden as well as recruiting volunteers from organizations such as UT Southwestern and the Perot Museum to give speeches and STEM talks to the children. Team ‘Learning Garden Flower STEMS’ included Cole Deal, James Gullett, Belleza Mitchell, Deemah Pulak, and Nushah Rahman and was coached by Amit Sharma and Lucy Weiss.
The second team, Team ‘Nurturing Seeds’ suggested having a salad garden and a pollinator garden that are ADA accessible. This team shared their plans of collecting data through surveys and test scores of the students on their schoolwork to measure the efficacy of their plan. They also emphasized the importance of developing a learning garden by mentioning research studies that found students to learn better outdoors compared to traditional indoor classroom settings. Team ‘Nurturing Seeds,’ included Hannah Andrews, Carlisle Dunnam, Hannah Jacobs, Nancy Le, and Brooke Shepherd, and was coached by Marc Sager.
Lastly, Team ‘Digging Deeper’ began with the big picture by sharing with the audience the importance of increasing STEM interest of children at the WDSS. They specifically mentioned the continuing cycle of the racial disparity in the STEM field with low numbers of minority students pursuing a career in STEM fields. Focusing on maximizing STEM learning and outdoor learning, the team suggested increasing STEM knowledge through having role models that could bring to the students a sense of belonging and focused attention, in addition to an outdoor learning space by the garden. This team also discussed the expansion possibilities of the learning garden at the school as well as the replicability of the project to other schools across the world. Team ‘Digging Deeper, included Eliana Abraham, James Chamberlain, Kaitlyn Gearin, Kyle Kavrazonis, and Thomas Truong, and was coached by Shelly Potter.
After each presentation, judges were able to ask the team questions. Following the third presentation, the judges and audience voted and Team ‘Team ‘Digging Deeper’ was awarded the win. Following the competition, Team ‘Digging Deeper’ presented their case to the SMU President, Provost and Simmons School of Education and Human Development Executive Board, showcasing the work of students in the Creating Impact in Global & Public Health course.
For the seventh annual Battle to Save Lives case competition, students in the Creating Impact in Global and Public Health course are developing strategies for the West Dallas STEM School and The Dallas Theater Center.
Students in Dr. Eric G. Bing’s course Creating Impact in Global and Public Health are developing strategies to assist the West Dallas STEM School and The Dallas Theater Center in the seventh annual Battle to Save Lives case competition. Five teams of students will present their cases to a panel of judges with the audience having the opportunity to help select the winning team.
The project charge for teams working with the West Dallas STEM School is to develop a strategy to assist Brother Bill’s Helping Hands in creating a Learning Garden at the school. Students must consider foundational items such as choosing a location of the garden and the approximate number of students the garden can serve. Additional topics such as the sustainability of the garden and the type of data to collect in order to monitor the effectiveness of the project in increasing STEM knowledge also need to be considered.
The project charge for teams working with The Dallas Theater Center focuses on strengthening community connectivity and access to the Katita Humpreys Theater in Turtle Creek. One aspect is to develop a plan that improves access for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles while improving traffic safety and reducing the potential for congestion on the adjoining Katy Trail and surrounding streets. A second aspect is to increases connectivity, access and use by the diverse North Texas community, increasing overall patronage as well as patronage by the African American and Hispanic communities.
Join us on April 12th to see the innovative plans the student teams present!
Event Details Date: April 12, 2022 Time: 5:30pm to 8:30pm Location: Annette Caldwell Simmons Hall Room 138, 3101 University Blvd Suite 138, Dallas, TX 75205 Guests: Welcome in-person, face masks required Parking: Information available here