Category Archives: Awards

Grapevine Detective Named Mental Health Peace Officer of the Year

The State of Texas Crisis Intervention Team Association (Texas CIT) named Grapevine Police Detective Christina O’Rear the 2022 Mental Health Peace Officer of the Year. The award was announced during the association’s annual convention in South Padre Island on Friday, April 29, 2022. 

(left to right): Captain Marc Shimmick, Detective Christina O’Rear, Media Manager Amanda McNew, Assistant Chief Tim Hall

Detective Christina O’Rear is the primary liaison between the Grapevine Police Department and MHMR resources and hospitals in north Texas. In recent years, she recognized a need to stay in contact with individuals and families dealing with mental crises after police cases were done, and initiated audits of her department’s police reports to ensure any MHMR-related calls were coded with MHMR. Detective O’Rear then confirmed follow-ups were made on each case. 

Detective O’Rear was personally selected by Congresswoman Beth Van Duyne to serve on the Law Enforcement Advisory Board, which consists of various police chiefs and four officers statewide. O’Rear serves on the Steering Committee for the Law Enforcement Mental Health Alliance of North Texas, where she helps get resources and training to first responders. She is also a member of the Tarrant County Law Enforcement Mental Health Stakeholder Committee, where she works to improve mental health services for citizens and officers. 

May is nationally recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month, which aims to bring awareness to the issue and also remind people in crisis that there are agencies and experts ready and willing to help them. The Grapevine Police Department is extremely proud of the continued work done by Detective Christina O’Rear to help individuals and families and appreciates the recognition by Texas CIT. 

Angel Carter Receives Beautify Texas Award

Carter (Photo: City of Grand Prairie)

(Grand Prairie, Texas) – Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) recently announced Angel Carter as a winner of the 2022 O.P. Schnabel Volunteer of the Year award. The Beautify Texas Awards, formerly the Keep Texas Beautiful Awards, recognize the efforts of those working to enhance their community and protect the Lone Star State. These awards range in honoring extraordinary volunteers, professionals, youth, educators, businesses, local/civic governments, organizations, and specific projects and programs.

The O.P. Schnabel Volunteer of the Year award is one of ten categories and recognizes individuals who support the mission of KTB through extraordinary volunteer efforts and contribute to the betterment of their community. Angel Carter is incredibly deserving of this recognition. 

In January of 2022, Angel Carter brought together Arlington and Grand Prairie residents for the fourth year in a row for the Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge by joining forces with the City of Arlington Parks Department and the City of Grand Prairie Keep Grand Prairie Beautiful Program. Moving within watersheds, instead of within city limits, 406 volunteers removed 13,640 pounds of litter from Fish Creek in 2022. This increases the lifetime numbers of the Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge to 2,246 volunteers removing over 62,220 pounds of litter from Fish Creek.

The Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge was founded in 2019 because Angel Carter was motivated to do something about the litter accumulation along her beloved walking trail. The 7.3-mile Fish Creek Linear Trail overlooks Fish Creek along the entire route while crossing the city boundary between Arlington and Grand Prairie, in north-central Texas. Join us for the 5th annual Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge on Saturday, January 28, 2023. Information is available at https://cleanupchallenge.info.

In addition to being the founder of the Fish Creek Cleanup Challenge, Angel also serves as the DFW platoon leader for The Mission Continues and an Operation Legacy Leader of the Travis Manion Foundation. She continues to serve her community as an active member of many environmental, community, and social improvement initiatives including Trinity River Trash Bash, Ferguson Road Initiative, Character Does Matter mentor, and local race director for the 9/11 Heroes Run DFW.

“We are proud to honor and recognize Texans who are making a difference in our state,” says Suzanne Kho, Executive Director of Keep Texas Beautiful. “Their actions do more than protect the environment: they inspire community members to get involved and help us keep Texas beautiful.”

For more than 20 years, Keep Texas Beautiful has recognized extraordinary Texans and Texas institutions who are committed to keeping Texas beautiful. Today, these awards serve as a continued reminder of the hard work and dedication of our supporters across the state.

Angel Carter will be honored at the KTB Annual Conference, which will take place in Austin from June 27 through June 29. A full list of winners and award descriptions, as well as information about the conference, can be found at www.ktb.org

Math Success and Mentorship Equal a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for Teacher Emily Dickerson

Dickerson (Photo courtesy of GPISD)

At Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie, Texas, Emily Dickerson’s ninth-graders know that math is a lifetime skill. That’s because her creative lessons encourage students to explore how math fits into the world around them, incorporating current events in new ways to engage and challenge young minds. Today following an all-school pep rally, Dickerson was surprised with a national Milken Educator Award for her indelible impact on students and colleagues alike. The recognition includes a $25,000 cash prize that she can use however she chooses.

Milken Educator Awards Founder Lowell Milken was joined by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to present Dickerson with the prestigious honor before cheering students, appreciative colleagues, state and local dignitaries, and media. In addition to today’s fanfare, Dickerson will join a national network of more than 2,800 Milken Educator Award recipients dedicated to strengthening K-12 education.

Dickerson is among more than 60 educators across the country who will receive the Award during the 2021-22 season. She is the first recipient from Grand Prairie Independent School District.

“Emily Dickerson instills a passion for learning in her students that will influence their pursuit of excellence long after graduation,” said Lowell Milken. “Her effectiveness in the classroom, combined with her instructional leadership at large, make her a force in the community and a model for the state and nation.”

Extending beyond the classroom, Dickerson’s spirit of mentorship led her to serve as a TAP System for Teacher and Student Achievement mentor teacher through Grand Prairie’s partnership with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET). Her work helps support student success schoolwide through her role as math department chair and involvement with initiatives like AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) that build college readiness and increase inclusive opportunities for all students.

“Emily Dickerson reflects the very best of the teaching profession in Texas,” said Commissioner Morath. “By holding her algebra students to the highest of standards, her diligent work and dedication benefits the Grand Prairie High community today while strengthening the Texas of tomorrow.”

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” Milken Educator Awards inspire and uplift with the unique stories of educators making a profound difference for students, colleagues, and communities. The Awards are not designated for lifetime achievement. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.

More About Emily Dickerson

In the Classroom: Dickerson fosters curiosity, critical thinking skills, and a growth mindset through real-world applications of math. Her algebra students explore exponential functions by studying transmission patterns of COVID-19. When she taught geometry, her students learned to find the midpoint between two points on a coordinate plane by looking at a map of Grand Prairie and calculating the center between the two closest grocery stores. The lesson continued beyond math as the class discussed the concept of “food deserts” and how they might use their findings to advocate to city officials for the construction of a community garden or grocery store. Dickerson’s classroom mantra is “Be the change,” encouraging students to make choices each day that will have a positive impact on not only their own futures but the lives of those around them.

New Data-Driven Strategies: Dickerson creates an inclusive and respectful environment where student data informs every instructional decision. She is never afraid to try new approaches, adjusting as she discerns student needs. Hoping to improve student performance, Dickerson instituted small group instruction in Algebra I several years ago. By the end of the 2019-20 school year, students were showing tremendous growth, and Dickerson introduced the strategy to the rest of her team.

School and District Leadership: Dickerson works with student teachers, mentors new educators, serves on the district math leadership team and leads professional development for the building and district. As math department chair, Dickerson turns department meetings into an extension of her classroom, building in activities she hopes colleagues will use with their own classes. During the pandemic, she modeled the use of breakout rooms to raise teachers’ comfort levels with virtual instruction and shared strategies for building relationships during online learning.

College and Career Readiness: Dickerson is on the Grand Prairie High School site team for AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a program that helps build college readiness and increase opportunities for historically underrepresented student communities. To raise the program’s profile and expand the impact of its college-going culture across the campus, Dickerson and colleagues created the “My AVID Is Your AVID” buddy system, encouraging 11th graders in AVID to share learning strategies with their peers.

Educational Equity: Equity is an important focus of Dickerson’s practice. She is part of the committee that advocates for culturally relevant teaching, tackling issues on how to deliver instruction to the school’s diverse student body. Dickerson partnered with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity to learn about equitable access to STEM opportunities.

Education: Dickerson earned a bachelor’s in business in 2013 from Baylor University and a master’s in school leadership in 2020 from Southern Methodist University.

More About the Milken Educator Awards: 

“The future belongs to the educated.”

Along with the financial prize, Milken Educator Award recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals, and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards, and others dedicated to excellence in education.

The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.

Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. 

Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in leadership roles at the state, national and international levels. 

“We find you. You don’t find us!” Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, with the final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 

The $25,000 cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children.  

Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year’s recipients in a video message thanking “the most incredible educators around the country” and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the “tireless work” they do.

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).

For more information, visit MilkenEducatorAwards.org or call the Milken Family Foundation at (310) 570-4772.

DART Board Chair Michele Wong Krause Selected as 2022 Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Award Winner

Krause (Photo: DART)

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board Chair Michele Wong Krause has been selected by the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) as a 2022 Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Award winner.

The Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Award is one of the highest honors bestowed by COMTO and recognizes women in transportation from across the nation who have provided inspirational leadership by opening career pathways for women and for their extraordinary achievements in the industry.

“I am honored to be included among such a distinguished group of women transportation leaders from across the country,” said Wong Krause. “Since 1971, COMTO has worked tirelessly to provide opportunities and leadership training for minorities in the transportation industry, while developing members to take their place as our future leaders.”

Chair Wong Krause will be honored at the 11th Annual Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Awards Breakfast on March 16.

COMTO is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing minorities and other underrepresented groups in the transportation industry. With 35 chapters in the U.S. and Canada, COMTO’s mission is to ensure opportunities and participation in transportation for minorities, veterans, people with disabilities, and certified minority, women or disadvantaged-owned businesses through leadership training, professional development, scholarship and internship funding, advocacy, partnership building, and networking opportunities.

City of Grand Prairie Acknowledged for Clean Air Efforts in N. Texas

The City of Grand Prairie received the award for outstanding advertising, as well as the Arlo Ambassador Award. Grand Prairie promoted the Air North Texas campaign throughout the year via the official city social media accounts. Posts were tagged with the #AirNTX hashtag, and the content included tips on clean air, high ozone level alerts, and Clean Air Action Day participation. Additionally, Air North Texas messages and advertisements were featured in several city newsletter editions throughout the year

Grand Prairie also earned the Arlo Ambassador Award for its efforts to advance the Air North Texas message through campaign mascot Arlo the Armadillo. For example, the Environmental Quality staff purchased a 2020 Chevy Bolt to reduce emissions and wrapped it with a “Plugged into the Prairie” graphic design that featured Arlo.

Finally, The City of Dallas received the award for the outstanding initiative. Dallas hosted a virtual Clean Air Action Day celebration, which focused on renewable energy and provided opportunities for communities to participate in and benefit from renewable energy strategies. Dallas also participated in a city-wide event called Branch Out Dallas, which distributed over 2,000 free trees to residents.

Air North Texas is a regional public awareness campaign that includes 38 partnerships pursuing environmental awareness in North Texas. It was formed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments with support of the Air North Texas Coalition. Partners support the campaign by encouraging residents to commit to actions that improve air quality, such as working from home, bicycling, or walking to the store and packing a lunch. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered many routines. However, improving air quality remains an important contribution people can make. For more information, visit www.airnorthtexas.org

Ozone season runs from March through November, but North Texans are encouraged to consider how they can contribute to the effort to improve the air throughout the year. Currently, 10 Dallas-Fort Worth area counties do not meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations for ozone pollution, meaning the region has additional environmental responsibilities. Air North Texas is one of many strategies to improve air quality in the region, calling on entities to enact innovative, individual, collective, and creative changes in North Texas to reduce emissions and create cleaner air.

About Air North Texas:

Grand Prairie is one of several organizations involved with Air North Texas, a regional air quality partnership and general public outreach effort. Air North Texas leverages existing resources and program strengths to offer the public a comprehensive resource for air quality information. Collaborative efforts focus on reducing harmful emissions, protecting public health and welfare, motivating residents to make choices that improve air quality, and preserving the economic vitality of the region. Visit www.airnorthtexas.org to learn more.

Irving PD Receives 2021 Law Enforcement of the Year Award

It is with great honor that we will be receiving this year’s 2021 Law Enforcement of the Year Award. Please join us and other fellow honorees listed as we gather on Nov. 13th. These upstanding individuals will be recognized and celebrated for their involvement and service in the community.

Peacemaker Award Honorees:

  • Darius Brown-Community Peacemaker
  • Kenneth Scott-Community Peacemaker
  • Angela Shaw-Community Peacemaker, Alive at Last-Peacemaker Medal of Courage
  • Willie Ford-Community Peacemaker of the Year
  • Cariol Horne-Shield of Honor Award
  • Opal Lee-Soldier Award

Tickets can be purchased at http://blessedarethepeacemakers.us

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.