Stella M. Chávez | KERA News

Stella M. Chávez

Reporter/Blogger

Stella Chávez is KERA’s education reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35. The award-winning entry was  “Yolanda’s Crossing,” a seven-part DMN series she co-wrote that reconstructs the 5,000-mile journey of a young Mexican sexual-abuse victim from a small Oaxacan village to Dallas. For the last two years, she worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she was part of the agency’s outreach efforts on the Affordable Care Act and ran the regional office’s social media efforts.

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Justin Martin / KERA News

Dallas will make history Wednesday as the first Texas city to get state recognition for its LGBTQ neighborhood.

Tonight at 7, the Texas Historical Commission will unveil a historical marker in front of JR’s Bar & Grill in Oak Lawn — the heart of the gay and lesbian community in Dallas.

Mike Pence in Dallas to campaign for Pete Sessions
Christopher Connelly/KERA

Vice President Mike Pence came to Dallas on Monday to campaign for a pair of Republican incumbents, U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Both are facing tough Democratic challengers.

Courtesy of the Dallas Mexican American Historical League

Growing up, Victoria Ferrell-Ortiz didn’t hear her grandmother talk about life in Cemento Grande or Cement City, the town built for workers of The Trinity Portland Cement Company in the early 1900s.

She’s in her 80s now and Ferrell-Ortiz wanted to document her story before it’s too late.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Miguel Oliva Esquivel was outside at work when he heard a helicopter flying overhead.

"What’s with the helicopter?" he wondered.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

From the outside, the brick and metal building in Paris, Texas, looks like any other storefront. But inside, Iglesia Evangelica Filadelfia has become a place of refuge.

This church is not just a house of worship. It’s where immigrants caught up in a raid at a trailer factory — and their family members — have gone seeking information, financial aid and comfort.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Staff and students at the Leadership Academy at Mitchell Boulevard Elementary celebrated not only the first day back but also the fact that the Fort Worth campus is no longer on the state’s list of failing schools.

Lara Solt / KERA News

The Dallas Independent School District launched a program a few years ago to turn around struggling schools called Accelerating Campus Excellence, or ACE. Now, other North Texas school districts are launching similar efforts, while Dallas ramps down the program.

Lara Solt for KERA News

The Texas Education Agency rolled out a new A through F accountability system Wednesday that measures the academic performance of school districts.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Rural libraries in Texas face many challenges — they don’t have a lot of resources, but the people they serve have a lot of needs.

A new effort from Texas Woman’s University in Denton and the Texas Library Association is focused on helping them.

Lara Solt for KERA News

Dual-credit courses are more popular than ever in Texas. High school students are taking college-level classes and getting both high school and college credit. But a new study finds that not all Texas students benefit equally from these classes.

Dallas Mexican American Heritage League

Forty-five years ago — on July 24, 1973 — a Dallas police officer shot and killed a 12-year-old Mexican-American boy, Santos Rodriguez, while he sat handcuffed inside a patrol car.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

A former school board member is suing the Richardson school district and school board claiming they violated the state open meetings law.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Some North Texans with ties to Mexico are excited about the new President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who campaigned on rooting out corruption and advocating for the poor. Others are skeptical.

Tony Gutierrez / AP Photo

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is demanding the Fort Worth school district turn over a copy of its sixth grade human sexuality curriculum, which includes lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity. He says parents were repeatedly denied access to class materials.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Fourth- and fifth-graders are gathered inside a cool, dark conference room. They take turns wearing headsets and face a computer screen. Calming, electronic music plays in the background.

The objective: to paint. But this isn’t exactly the kind of painting you’d imagine.

Courtesy of Alia Salem

A group of North Texas activists traveled to McAllen, Texas, over the weekend to protest the separation of immigrant parents from their children – many of whom are being held in detention centers.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

President Trump Wednesday signed an executive order ending his controversial policy of separating children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

It’s not clear yet how these children will be reunited with their parents. In Dallas, city and community leaders gathered at City Hall to speak out about what’s been happening along the border.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

The Fort Worth Independent School District took five of its struggling elementary campuses and turned them into leadership academies this school year. Now, the district is pointing to some early successes. 

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

The race to save failing schools doesn’t just happen in inner cities. Suburbs like Arlington face the same challenges.

Two miles west of the Cowboys’ glitzy AT&T Stadium, Wimbish Elementary is trying to turn itself around. It’s been on the state’s “Improvement Required” list for four straight years.

If it doesn’t succeed by next year, the state could shut it down or take over the district.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Opened in 2011 to relieve crowding at other nearby schools, John T. White Elementary School in Northeast Fort Worth has always been on the state’s “Improvement Required” list.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

Seniors at J.W. Adamson High School in Dallas had a lot to celebrate on Wednesday. Many of them have plans to go to college tuition free. That’s thanks to a new initiative called Dallas County Promise.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

Mitchell Boulevard Elementary is one of five low-performing schools in the Fort Worth Independent School District that has been designated a “leadership academy.”

The school struggles with kids regularly moving in and out and low literacy rates, but administrators believe changes made this year — including an ambitious literacy goal set by the district — will put Mitchell Boulevard back on track.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Students in North Texas participated in a national walkout in protest of gun violence on Friday, which marked the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.

DeSoto ISD

DeSoto Independent School District Superintendent David Harris resigned this week.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

The Richardson Independent School District is launching a plan aimed at improving four of its low-performing elementary schools.

It joins other North Texas school districts – Dallas and Fort Worth – that have poured more money and resources into its struggling campuses.

Stella M. Chávez / KERA News

A man dressed in gold and black blows a trumpet shell. A teenage boy beats on a drum. They’re part of a group that performs traditional Aztec dances.

On Saturday morning, they’re inside the gym at the Wesley-Rankin Community Center in West Dallas. Some of the kids watching may have seen these colorfully dressed dancers before, but few of them know what the dances mean.

Megan Zerez / KERA News

In Collin County, Republican Angela Paxton defeated Phillip Huffines for the State Senate District 8 seat. It was the most expensive primary race – and among the most heated.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

A Plano City Council member generated headlines – and controversy – a couple of weeks ago when he posted a video on his Facebook page, calling for a ban on Islam in schools. Tom Harrison later apologized.

Despite calls to resign, Harrison says he’s not stepping down. Many in Plano say the council member’s actions were a blow to the city’s Muslim community.

Stella M. Chavez / KERA News

Mentoring has always been about developing a one-on-one relationship. As technology has changed, so too has that relationship between mentor and mentee.

One of the country’s largest mentoring organizations – Big Brothers Big Sisters — has evolved to help professionals with busy lives and kids who like spending time online.

Lara Solt / KERA News special contributor

A new report out by the Southern Poverty Law Center finds American students don’t fully understand many facts about slavery and the role it played in U.S. history. The study also finds that educators aren't adequately teaching students about it.

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