Some Dallas ISD Teachers Getting Masters Degrees Through SMU Partnership

The $3 million Bishop Scholars endowment is for K-5 teachers in Dallas ISD to get their Masters in Special Education with an emphasis on Bilingual Studies

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Dallas ISD teacher James Mims is working towards his master's degree at SMU. He is among eight DISD teachers chosen for the first cohort of Bishop Scholars. The $3 million endowment created by Kathryne and the late Gene Bishop is a partnership between DISD and SMU, so teachers can earn their Master's Degree in Special Education with an emphasis on Bilingual Studies.

"Some of the most marginalized students in the country," James Mims said. Mims is a Bishop Scholar and teacher at Wilmer-Hutchins Elementary School in DISD.

"Making that investment in high-quality education is something that is going to have long-term, positive effects; not only on Dallas ISD, but I feel the global community as a whole."

Mims is one of eight K-5 teachers in DISD chosen for the first cohort of Bishop Scholars.

"It's been transcendent in a sense, that they provide me with strategies that are designed to support bilingual students," Mims said. "But as we know as educators, effective strategies are effective strategies."

Mims' strategy wasn't always focused on the classroom. He used to be a floating deputy in the Dallas County Criminal Courts. Seeing young people come through the system made Mims change his career goals from becoming an attorney to becoming a teacher.

"To essentially support students so they don't go down this path," Mims said. "I felt that was a much more valuable and noble role than working as an attorney."

Mims said some of the strategies he's learned in grad school at SMU he's been able to apply to native English-speaking special education students as well.

"Knowing that these students who may have thought they can't, do, and then they're inspired to do more and they want to work harder and they want to work through the struggle," Mims said. "It's an amazing feeling to know that you have the ability to do great things, and then you achieve those great things."

Mims will get his Master's Degree from SMU in the spring. He said he wants to go on to get his Ph.D.

DISD is currently recruiting K-5 teachers for its second cohort of Bishop Scholars.

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