East Dallas has bragging rights to the best elementary school principal in Dallas ISD — Lisa Lovato of Dan D. Rogers — but only a tiny fraction of homeowners in the surrounding neighborhoods send their children to the school.
Instead, parents are sending their children to private, charter or other district schools, such as Robert E. Lee and Dealey Montessori. Only 7.7 percent of Rogers’ 518 students live in Ridgewood Park, University Meadows, Fisher Heights or North Hill homes and condos.
“I don’t even have the opportunity to make an impact on the kids who never gave us a chance,” Lovato says.
Lovato has spent the past six years navigating the shifting culture of the school, the changing demographics of the neighborhood and, most recently, the transition to a DISD “school of choice” in 2015. That’s when the school switched to a personalized learning curriculum approach, and subsequently, her students’ success skyrocketed. This past year, Rogers received all possible distinctions from the Texas Education Agency, meaning it performed better on mandated STAAR exams than peer campuses with similar demographics. The elementary school was one of 17 DISD schools that received this honor, and one of only eight non-magnet schools.
DISD recognized Lovato’s success and community-driven approach in December, when she received the Principal of the Year award, given to one campus leader at a district elementary, secondary and magnet school, respectively. It’s an even higher honor considering that there are 151 DISD elementary schools.
Rogers is thriving, but neighborhood families are just starting to take notice.
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Wynne McNabb Cunningham