New Bishop Scholarships Support Master’s Degrees for Dallas ISD Teachers

Eight Dallas ISD teachers have been selected from 400 applicants to receive the first Kathryne and Gene Bishop Endowed Scholarships, created in 2019 to enable Dallas ISD teachers to pursue Master’s degrees in education from SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

The endowment creates a partnership between SMU Simmons and Dallas ISD to determine the nature of the degree, taking into account the needs of the Dallas Independent School District and Simmons faculty expertise.  The joint committee also establishes the criteria for the award.  The scholarship serves as a means to recruit new teachers in high-needs areas and to build the capacity of existing teachers in the district.  Scholarship recipients commit to two years teaching in Dallas ISD schools in addition to the two years of the program.  The scholarship covers approximately 94 percent of tuition costs for the 2020 Bishop Scholars who are pursuing Master’s degrees with dual specialization in special education and bilingual/ELL studies.

“With the vitality of innovation, the Bishop Endowment allows Dallas ISD and Simmons to re-think how to recruit and retain teachers to meet the challenges of urban education,” says Stephanie L. Knight, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean. “Simmons faculty members, who excel in scholarship and teaching, can equip teachers with proven research-based practices to increase learning in the classroom. For teachers, acquiring new knowledge matters, especially if they can build on skills the district needs.”

“Students in Dallas ISD will be the ultimate beneficiaries of these scholarships,” she says. “We are grateful for the generosity of the Bishop family and happy to welcome the first Bishop Scholars to the Simmons School.”

According to the recipients, which include teachers at eight Dallas elementary schools, the scholarship offers an “opportunity of a lifetime” to better support their special education and English-language learner students.

Okary Wong, a bilingual teacher at the School for Talented and Gifted in Pleasant Grove, is looking forward to the opportunity: “Through this program, I plan to equip myself with the knowledge and skills to best support my students,” Wong said. “As a product of Dallas ISD and a first-generation college graduate, I am truly invested in helping my students succeed in the same way my teachers supported me.”

Other scholarship recipients include Cheri Butler, inclusion/resource teacher at Frank Guzick Elementary; Diana Gonzalez, bilingual teacher at Clinton P. Russell Elementary; Ashley Millan, bilingual teacher at Adelfa Callejo Elementary; James Mims, bilingual special education inclusion/resource teacher; Alba Ramirez, bilingual teacher at Pleasant Grove Elementary; Adela Sanchez, inclusion/resource teacher at Stephen C. Foster Elementary, and Yadira Pagan Vargas, bilingual teacher at Clinton P. Russell Elementary. (Kathryne and Gene Bishop Scholars Bios)

The scholarship was created by Kathryne and the late Gene Bishop to support Dallas ISD teachers pursuing Master’s degrees. The couple worked together as long-time supporters of children’s health and education, among other philanthropies. Gene Bishop passed away in 2019.

At SMU, Gene Bishop served on the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors (1979 – 1987), on the board of the Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series, and on the executive board of the Cox School of Business (1985 – 1989).  Kathryne Bishop served on the board of SMU’s Godbey Lecture Series.

Mr. Bishop served as an advisory director of Tolleson Wealth Management. He previously was chairman and CEO of Life Partners Group Inc., vice chairman and president of Lomas Financial Corporation and CEO of MCorp. He started in banking at First National Bank of Dallas in 1954.

The couple’s community involvement includes Children’s Health Services of Texas, Southwestern Medical Foundation, Communities Foundation of Texas, Dallas Methodist Hospitals Foundation, the Dedman Foundation, the Nancy Ann and Ray L. Hunt Foundation, and the Constantin Foundation.


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