Category Archives: Awards

DART Named a Best-in-State Employer by Forbes

For the second year in a row, Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has been recognized as a Best-in-State Employer by Forbes.

The Best-in-State Employer award winners, given out by Forbes and Statista Inc., were chosen from a sample of 80,000 Americans working for businesses with at least 500 employees across the U.S. Surveys were conducted on a rolling basis from October 2020 to June 2021 and were anonymous, allowing participants to freely share their opinions. The final list ranks the 1,328 employers that received the most recommendations. The full list of award winners can be found on the Forbes website.

“We are honored to once again be named as a Best-in-State Employer by Forbes,” said Nadine Lee, President & Chief Executive Officer. “DART is an incredible place to work and develop your career because of the fantastic people who have chosen to be part of the DART family. Our employees’ dedication to DART’s mission and values and determination to put our customers at the heart of everything we do, is the key to our success.”

DART is ranked #23 out of the 101 businesses to make the Texas state list.

Employees across the country were asked to rate their employers on various criteria, including the safety of their work environment, the competitiveness of compensation, and opportunities for advancement.

Grapevine Police Media Manager Earns International Award

Grapevine Police Media Manager Amanda McNew is the 2021 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Leadership in Public Information Management Award Winner. The announcement was made during the General Assembly of the IACP Annual Conference on Monday, September 13, 2021.

The IACP Leadership in Public Information Management Award recognizes the accomplishments of an individual public information officer and his or her ability to effectively disseminate information to the public. It is the highest international honor awarded to a public information officer in the field of law enforcement. 

Upon hiring by the Grapevine Police Department, Amanda McNew quickly identified areas of improvement, including changes to social media posts, a new delivery style for news releases, the development of crisis communications plans, and the creation of a network of neighboring PIOs to aid in the case of a critical incident.

McNew’s accomplishments as a public information officer include messaging with local and national media during critical incidents, community response to civil unrest, various social media campaigns and public safety announcements, a drive-through event for National Night Out, and her continued work helping educate other public information officers in north Texas, where she serves as Vice Chair of the North Texas PIO Group.

“I could not be more proud of the recognition and award Amanda received this year from the IACP.  She does an amazing job, every day, for us and has elevated our ability to communicate and serve our community members.  I’m very thankful she is on our team, as she continues to make a significant impact in our daily operations and the communications we provide,” said Chief Mike Hamlin.

The Grapevine Police Department congratulates Media Manager Amanda McNew on earning this prestigious honor, and thanks the International Association of Chiefs of Police for honoring this emerging issue in public safety.

TX Governor to Honor Grapevine Officer with Medal

Hudson at Bike Rodeo Practice Course

Grapevine Police Officer RJ Hudson will receive the Star of Texas Award, presented by Governor Greg Abbott, on Friday, September 10, 2021, in Austin. The award honors first responders killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.

On October 19, 2017, Officer Hudson was traveling south on SH-121 near Hall-Johnson Road when an SUV swerved into his lane and hit his police motorcycle. Officer Hudson suffered dozens of broken bones, lacerations and internal injuries. He was hospitalized for over a month before being released on Thanksgiving. His rigorous recovery routine earned him back to full duty on November 4, 2019.

Hudson’s strength, perseverance and unwavering spirit carried him through nearly two years of surgeries and intense physical therapies in order to return to full duty. The Grapevine Police Department is proud of Officer Hudson’s hard work and dedication, and is in full appreciation of Governor Greg Abbott’s recognition of his service.

Hudson’s ceremony can be watched live at 10:30am through the Governor’s website https://gov.texas.gov/organization/cjd/star-of-texas.

Since returning to the Traffic Division as a motorcycle officer, Officer Hudson has spoken to various officers and police recruits about both the dangers of law enforcement and traffic accidents, and the importance of a positive mind to overcome challenges.

You can also see Officer Hudson, along with several other agencies’ motorcycle units this week at the Back the Blue Motorcycle Rodeo benefitting Spokes 4 Hope. It will be held in the parking lot of Grapevine Mills (Lot 1B) Friday and Saturday. The public is invited to watch the competition and practice rides.

Grapevine’s Rock Art Trail Achieves Guinness World Records® Title

The City of Grapevine Parks and Recreation department and pioneers behind the Grapevine Rock Art Trail have officially broken the Guinness World Records® title for the Largest Display of Painted Pebbles with a total of 24,459 rocks.

The Rock Art Trail first began in March 2020, as a way to inspire and uplift the community during the harsh reality of the COVID pandemic. The display is filled with talented and skilled artwork and is sure to inspire all who meander through the trails to explore.

The trail lies between Wall-Farrar Nature Trail and the trail connection from Parr Park along Big Bear Creek. This community-driven project has been led by Ron Olsen and Chris Penny, both Grapevine residents, who joined forces to transform the trail into an artsy attraction for anyone in Grapevine and beyond who wanted to escape the stress of the pandemic.

“The Rock Art Trail is a beautiful symbol of our community’s resilience and resolve in the face of such a devastating and disruptive pandemic,” said Ron, who placed the first cluster of rocks that started the collection. These rocks consisted of a simple happy face, an Oklahoma University logo, blue-bonnets, a mountain and stream scene, a galloping horse to represent the Grapevine Mustangs, and rock zero was the Iceland national flag.

After Chris Penny and his daughters discovered the rock art trail near their home, they painted a few rocks and picked the perfect spot to place them. While most of the world was shut down due to the pandemic, Chris connected with artists around the world who would later donate rocks to the trail.

“What started as a random act of kindness to spread joy and positivity during the pandemic has grown into something extraordinary,” said Chris. “It amazes me that people from all over the world have sent rocks to be placed on a trail that they might not ever visit. These works of art have led to the trail being filled with laughter, new friendships being developed, people spending more time outdoors, couples holding hands, and childhood memories being relived. In essence, the rock trail ended up being exactly what the community needed during these unique times.”

This Grapevine trail filled with thousands of rocks is now “a wonderland of tiny paintings” as described by the Washington Post. Community members along with artists from all over the world are now a part of this meaningful world record due to coming together during trying times.

“Grapevine is a community of togetherness,” said Kevin Mitchell, Grapevine Parks and Recreation Director. “It is amazing what has been accomplished on the Rock Art Trail and the positive impact it has had on so many.”

The trail can be accessed by parking in the Church at the Cross’ southwest corner parking lot, located at 3000 William D. Tate Ave., Grapevine, Texas. To learn more about the story behind the Rock Art Trail, visit GoGrapevine.com/Blog.

DART Student Art Contest Lands at Love Field Airport

Student art from the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Student Art Contest are on display at Dallas Love Field Airport through August 31. This year’s theme, “Everyday Heroes Ride DART,” gave young artists the chance to salute the hometown heroes that have kept our community going during the pandemic – the everyday people that have made a positive impact in the lives of others.

Image/Photo: DART

The primary focus of the Love Field Exhibit Program is to present a variety of collections representing diversity in visual art and culture to the traveling public. Educational institutions, arts organizations, museums, and cultural institutions exhibit their collections, artifacts and original artwork with the principal focus on education.

Collin Chon, a 5th grade student at Greenhill School in Addison, was this year’s Best of Show winner. His artwork was selected from 688 entries from students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Greenhill School 5th grader Collin Chon (with family), from Addison, TX, won Best of Show out of 688 entries from students K-12 (Photo: DART)

The DART Student Art Contest is a 23-year tradition that helps promote the use of public transportation. The winning artwork will be seen at DART rail stations, buses and inside trains, as well as on display at the Dallas Museum of Art, Love Field Airport, and on DART’s website, DART.org.

You can view all of the winning entries at studentartgallery.dart.org.

Congressional Art Competition Reception, Winners Announced

The Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau is pleased to partner with U.S. House Representative Beth Van Duyne to display high school student artwork submitted for the annual Congressional Art Competition for the 24th District of Texas. Winners will be announced on Tuesday, May 4 at a reception hosted by Rep. Beth Van Duyne from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau Tower Gallery (636 S. Main St). 

The 24th Congressional District Grand Prize winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol and will be featured on the House of Representatives’ (House.gov) Congressional Art Competition page.

The exhibit in Washington will also include the winning artwork from all participating districts from around the country.

The People’s Choice competition invites the public to vote for their favorite artwork.

Voting, located at the Tower Gallery, opens on Tuesday, May 4 and closes on Friday, May 7 at 3pm.

About the Congressional Art Competition

The Congressional Art Competition, created in 1982, is an opportunity to recognize and encourage the artistic talent of high school artists and across the nation. Hundreds of thousands of talented high school students have represented their communities and have served as artistic ambassadors. The competition is open to public, private, and home-schooled high school students. Students could submit up to two pieces of two-dimensional art ranging from the following mediums: paintings, prints, drawings, collages, mixed media, computer-generated art or photographs. All entries had to be original concepts and designs.

About Grapevine, Texas

Historic Grapevine, Texas, centrally located between Dallas and Fort Worth, is the premier go-to destination when planning a meeting or vacation in North Texas! Step back in time on Historic Downtown Main Street with a collection of charming boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries. Enjoy fantastic hotels and resorts, great attractions for the entire family, a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities, exquisite winery tasting rooms, internationally renowned festivals and events, world-class shopping, delectable dining at more than 200 bistros and cafes and much more.

For more information, visit Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau, located at 636 S. Main St., visit GrapevineTexasUSA.com or call 800.457.6338.

Nichols achieves Circle of Success recognition at Ameriprise Financial

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Wilson Elementary Principal Cooper Hilton selected as Region 10 “TEPSAN” of the Year


(L-R): CISD Superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt; TEPSA Region 10 Board Member Amanda Borowczak Schmitter, Cooper Hilton, Board Members Alisha Crumley and Maggie Garcia and CISD Board Trustee David Caviness. Photo credit: Naveen Boppana with CISD

When Wilson Elementary Principal Cooper Hilton was called outside from his Coppell ISD school on Friday, Feb. 5, he had no idea the surprise that awaited him. There in the parking lot of his school were his family, school colleagues, Superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt, CISD Trustee David Caviness and representatives from the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA). 

This group gathered to inform Hilton that he was selected as the 2020-2021 “TEPSAN” of the Year for Region 10 of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA).  Out of more than 600 members of TEPSA Region 10, Hilton was chosen by his peers for this recognition because of his dedication and service to all school children in Texas. 

“Cooper Hilton is the kind of leader who inspires everyone,” said Amanda Borowczak Schmitter, TEPSA Region 10 Board Member and principal of Rayburn Elementary STEAM Academy in Grand Prairie ISD.  “He collaborates with principals and supervisors in the state to positively impact the decisions being made for students.”

She continued, “He is kind, driven, and has a great love for his teachers, students, and school families. Cooper is a difference maker.” 

In addition to the surprise announcement, students, teachers and staff at Wilson Elementary honored Hilton with a parade to celebrate this achievement and his leadership of the school. 

“[Hilton] leads by example and motivates his team to be the best we can be each and every day,” said Jordan Muse, assistant principal of Wilson Elementary. “Especially this year, he has shown us how to be compassionate and caring and to work hard every day to show our love for our students and our school.” 

This sentiment is shared by CISD Superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt.   

“I am so proud of Cooper,  for not only this recognition, but for what he does every day to serve our children, our educators, our families and our community,” Dr. Hunt said. “He  is a true advocate for public education and his dedication to our profession shines through in all that he does.”

For Hilton, receiving recognition from his peers in this surprise fashion truly astonished him. 

“I was rendered speechless by this, and those who know me know that never happens,” Hilton said. “To have my own family join my school family and my district family and my TEPSA family in sharing this with me was truly special.”

He added, “To be recognized by my peers for doing what I feel is my calling, which is advocating for public education in Texas, means so much to me.”

Hilton has almost 20 years of experience in education as a teacher, leader and principal.  He has worked in Coppell ISD for 11 years, serving as an assistant principal and principal. He is the former principal of Austin Elementary School and has led Wilson Elementary since 2017.  In 2020, he was elected as the 2020-2021 Member-At-Large for TEPSA.  In this elected position, Hilton is one of five voting members of TEPSA’s Executive Committee, which consists of the president, president-elect, 1st vice president, 2nd vice president and an at-large member leading the almost 6,000 members of the organization.

GPISD’s Hobbs Williams Elementary School Named 2020 National Blue Ribbon School

The Grand Prairie Independent School District is proud to announce that Hobbs Williams Elementary School has been named a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School. Williams is one of only 367 schools across the country to be recognized today by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as a Blue Ribbon School based on overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

“We are extremely proud of the students and staff of Hobbs Williams Elementary School,” said Linda Ellis, GPISD Superintendent of Schools. “This award affirms their hard work and commitment to excellence.”

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Now in its 38th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed almost 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools, with some schools winning multiple awards. Schools are eligible for nomination after five years. 

“Congratulations to this year’s National Blue Ribbon School awardees,” said Secretary DeVos. “It’s a privilege to recognize the extraordinary work you do to meet students’ needs and prepare them for successful careers and meaningful lives.”

The U.S. Education Department recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, student subgroup scores and graduation rates:

·         Exemplary High Performing Schools – These are among their state’s highest performing schools as measured by state assessments or nationally normed tests.

·         Exemplary Achievement Gap Closing Schools – These are among their state’s highest performing in closing achievement gaps between a school’s student groups and all students.

Up to 420 schools may be nominated each year. The U.S. Education Department invites National Blue Ribbon School nominations from the top education official in all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the Bureau of Indian Education. Private schools are nominated by the Council for American Private Education (CAPE).

The 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools Awards Ceremony will be held virtually Nov. 12 and 13.

DFW Airport Chaplaincy recognizes major supporters with Ministry of Presence awards

By Stacey Doud

Congresswoman

Congresswoman Kay Granger and Rev. Greg McBrayer

The DFW Interfaith Chaplains held their annual Ministry of Presence Awards in the Hyatt Regency DFW Airport on December 13. These awards recognize the men and women who have gone above and beyond to keep the Chaplaincy open and available to DFW Airport travelers who may need spiritual comfort.

“We wanted to recognize those who have blessed us and continue to bless others,” said Father Greg McBrayer, who serves as a senior chaplain and is a 40-year employee of American Airlines, as well as the Host for the event.

“The mission of the DFW Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy is to provide the ministry of presence, spiritual counseling and personal support to the DFW Airport community at large by providing places of worship and reflection for people of all faiths and religious traditions,” McBrayer said.

The Chaplaincy is in its 42nd year and is currently made up of 19 volunteer chaplains representing different religions, as well as two intern chaplains. These clergy members keep this service open 24 hours a day and seven days a week in chapels in all of the DFW terminals.

“Every year, we gather to give thanks and to reflect and to recognize, some special individuals who have contributed in making our Chaplaincy the beacon of light, which it has become at DFW International Airport,” McBrayer explained.

To meet the needs of people of all different religions, the Chaplaincy offers sacred scriptures, such as the Bible and the Torah, as well as holding services for Catholic, Protestant and Islamic guests. The chaplains provide counsel, prayer and support, from consoling family members of fallen soldiers to performing weddings free of charge.

“This year, our Board of Directors added corporate sponsors and three new board members. We made additional improvements to our web site, and we added three new Chaplains. We also reinstated our Associate Chaplain internship program,” McBrayer said.

“This year’s, annual Spring Fling Golf Outing and RISE UP Prayer Breakfast were both very well attended again and fostered new partnerships in the airport area, enabling us to widen our footprint in the community.

“This year was also a very active year for our Chaplains, as we participated at more than 100 Fallen Soldier Angel Flights and ramp-side services of our own AA Employees transitioning home to their final resting places.  

 “We had more than 7,000 DFW employees and travelers attended our regular and special services, chapel masses and interfaith services. 

“This year, our chaplains logged more than 4,000 hours, connecting with more than 19,000 airport employees, travelers, Department of Public Safety (DPS) and military personnel. Of those, more than 4,000 were personally counseled. Our Chaplains also provided the ministry presence at numerous DFW Airport, DPS, American Airlines and other airport Community events.

“We also, provided continuing education training for our Chaplains and remain actively involved with DFW Airport and American Airlines at all Emergency Response Drills.

 “The highlight of this year, however, was the ribbon cutting and consecration of the new Terminal D – Meadows Chapel, located near gate 40, which is much larger and far more accommodating for all our all of worshipers. We are one of the few US Airports with Ablution Stations for our Muslims,” McBrayer reported.

McBrayer presented DFW Airport CEO Sean Donohue, DFW Hub Operations Vice President Cedric Rockamore and Liz Wahlquist, who worked for Braniff for four years and continues to support the Chaplaincy, with Ministry of Presence awards. Kay Granger, who is a former mayor or Fort Worth and is now a Congresswoman, received an Honorary Lifetime Advisory Board Member position for her assistance in keeping the Chaplaincy Program alive via her position in government.

“We are recognizing our past, present and future,” McBrayer said. “We honored the past with recognizing Congresswoman Kay Granger, the present with Liz Wahlquist and Cedric Rockamore, and the future with Sean Donahue, who underwrote the spaces we needed at the airport. This allows us to serve many purposes, with one being ‘spiritual first responders,’” he added.

“The potential growth [for the airport] is enormous. DFW Airport strengthens and supports the area, and we try to support the supporters,” McBrayer added.

For more information, visit http://www.dfwairportchapel.org/.