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An ecstatic Wesley Stoker, a fourth-grader at Withers Elementary, upon winning the 26th annual Gardere MLK Oratory Competition for his inspiring speech.

The Dallas ISD community recently learned about the charismatic uniqueness of Wesley Stoker, a fourth-grader from Harry C. Withers Elementary School.

With the theme “What is your dream for today’s world?” Stoker not only delighted, but also empowered many people during the 26th annual Gardere MLK Oratory Competition with his speech, delivering a message honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

With his speech, using the refrain “I may not look like Dr. King, but I believe like Dr. King,” Stoker took the first place in the competition.

Wesley’s message of inclusiveness stole the hearts of many.

“I wish that all of our differences would be celebrated, and that everyone felt included,” Stoker said. “I would like to see all people treated equally, feeling important and admired for their deeds. I wish there were no more wars. My dream is that everyone lives in a safe environment, loving and not hating each other. I feel like sometimes people don’t try very hard to befriend people whom are different from themselves, particularly those with different skin color.”

Congratulations to Wesley Stoker!

Students like Wesley Stoker, are a result of the dedication and contributions of outstanding educators who choose to be part of the Dallas ISD family!

I am particularly proud of two teachers from District 1 schools: Tamesha Connaughton, physical education teacher at George Bannerman Dealey International Academy and Gina Maffucci, a fourth-grade reading language arts/social studies teacher at Arthur Kramer Elementary School. They were among the finalists for this year’s Dallas ISD’s Teacher of the Year recognition.

Connaughton known as her students’ biggest cheerleader, consistently sacrifices personal time to support students. She attends students’ activities such as sports activities, dance and other events to let them know what she is interested in their achievement, not just in the class but outside as well. Through her actions, she bridges the gap and builds trust, creating a genuine connection with her students.

Gina Maffucci, is also a firm believer of building strong relationships with students in order to help them succeed academically.

When teachers see students as individuals with unique interests, learning styles, and lives at homes, they get a better idea of the whole picture surrounding that child’s life and learning.

Teachers who are able to understand the whole picture of a student’s needs, position their students for academic success and become some of our brightest and most effective educators who are able to help develop the child academically and socially.

Without doubt the dedication of Ms. Connaughton and Ms. Maffucci in and beyond the classroom, contributes to the district’s mission of educating all students for success.

I am thankful for their service to our Dallas students, and I am sure that with their contributions, as well as those from other District 1 educators, we will have a successful second half of this school year.

Edwin Flores

—Edwin Flores is the District 1 representative on the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees