Bison News

Summer Edition

Principal Message

It always seems impossible until it is done.

Nelson Mandela

And now we are done and we can breathe. We have successfully graduated our first cohort of students. They are now headed to the next chapter of their lives. They have been accepted to universities, joined the Armed Services, and pursuing careers. No matter the direction we are extremely proud of their accomplishments.


Just Say Yes

A mentorship is a powerful tool that any organization can use to grow individuals and help them become their best selves.

Just Say YES is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2002 by Dan Bailey. In 2019, Just Say YES formally merged with Aim for Success, another dynamic nonprofit that has provided powerful research-based health education programs since 1993. Together, we have served over 3.9 million students, parents, and educators across the nation. Our joining of forces, combined years of expertise, resources, and passions will provide an even greater impact on students!

Just Say Yes believe strongly in connecting students to positive messages and healthy relationships that will help them navigate cultural pressures. Through their programming, they equip students of all ages, backgrounds, and circumstances with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills they need in order to achieve more healthy and successful futures. This is achieved through motivational experiences, wellness education, and peer-to-peer mentoring.


We have a local peer-to-peer mentoring program led by Ms. Hardee, our MAPS instructor.

PAL Program Purpose

The purpose of the Sunset P-TECH PAL program is to foster community between students in different cohorts, provide an opportunity for upper-class students to develop leadership skills, and enrich the experience of freshmen students in the Sunset P-TECH program.

PAL Job Description

PALs (peer advocates and leaders) serve as mentors to support and encourage freshmen students' (protégés) success in the Sunset P-TECH program. PALs provide sound advice, knowledge, and strategies to help protégés throughout the academic year. Through one-on-one, staff and PAL and protégé (P2) meetings, PALs will be a knowledgeable guide for protégés, a thoughtful facilitator who provides access to people and resources, and ultimately a role model and advocate.

PAL Qualifications

  • Be a sophomore student in the Sunset P-TECH program
  • Be in good academic and student conduct standing at Sunset P-TECH and Dallas College
  • Be willing to learn and share information about the Sunset P-TECH community including updates from industry and higher education partners, school resources, extracurricular and co-curricular activities, community service opportunities, etc.
  • Demonstrate good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Have a genuine desire to help their protégés and peers succeed
  • Be self-motivated with a positive attitude
  • Demonstrate leadership potential

General Responsibilities

  • Serve as an energetic and enthusiastic volunteer to help protégés succeed at Sunset P-TECH
  • Develop and maintain relationships with and provide assistance and support to protégés (focus on a smooth transition, acclimation, and a sense of belonging)
  • Participate in PAL training, attend monthly PALs staff meetings and help facilitate monthly P2 meetings
  • Encourage protégé attendance to all P-TECH meetings, huddles, workshops, and programs and attend all P-TECH meetings, huddles, workshops and programs yourself
  • Serve as a resource and positive role model for protégés and peers


PALs have the opportunity to:

  • Build close relationships with freshmen students
  • Guide freshmen students through their first-year
  • Be highly considered for opportunities within the P-TECH program
  • Develop leadership skills and ENHANCE YOUR RESUME!

Additional Responsibilities of a PAL:

  • Maintain regular contact with protégés
  • Work both independently and as part of a team with fellow PALs
  • Understand and abide by all Sunset P-TECH and Dallas College policies
  • Educate protégés about various resources and services (i.e. counseling, food distribution, etc.)
  • Maintain confidentiality with any shared information
  • Coordinate and facilitate social and educational programs, as desired or needed
  • Participate in formal evaluations and assessments of the program
  • Meet individually with the program coordinator (Ms. Hardee) to discuss protégé concerns, as needed
  • Participate in and complete all other tasks deemed necessary by the program coordinator

Financial Literacy for Interns-May 20th

We have approximately 38 students beginning internship June 21st with Thomson Reuters, IBM and PepsiCo. As part of preparing for this experience, we had The Make a Wish Foundation come back to present to our interns about receiving a pay check, understanding deductions and how to manage this significant amount of money. The students had an opportunity to ask questions and see financial literacy from another perspective. These students have the opportunity to earn over $20 an hour and we want to make our students make smart financial choices. We definitely will have them return next year to continue to grow their knowledge of financial literacy.

Oak Cliff Block Walk

We have been working with our Industry Partner, Dallas County Health and Human Services, volunteering at mobile COVID vaccination stations. It is an excellent opportunity for our students to learn about the Public Health field and how DCHHS services the community. Many of our students do not have a clear understanding of Public Health careers. This partnership has helped our students to gain clarity. This semester our students had two opportunities to team up with Dallas County Clay Jenkins office to work the Oak Cliff Block Walk. These walks took place on May 15th and June 5th. Our students sacrificed part of their Saturdays to work with these partners and service their community. During the walk, students helped with voter registration and disseminated COVID vaccination information. Way to show Bison Pride!!!!

DCHHS PSA Public Health Announcements

Dr. Huang, Director of Dallas County Health and Human Service, came to speak to our seniors about the importance of getting their COVID vaccinations now that it was available to students ages 12-19. The Public Health students were asked to find creative ways to get the messaging out to their communities and other students. The students met and the teams were led by Seniors Karla Palomares and Celsie Hernandez. They came up with flyers to post and put on their social media accounts. With this partnership, our students are truly learning what it means to work in the field of Public Health.

Incoming Freshman Orientation-5/22 and 6/12

Every year we host Orientations to help our new cohort prepare for the coming journey. This year was no different. Though we did not meet face to face we still hosted our Annual Incoming Freshman Orientation on May 22nd then part two took place on June 12th.

We covered the following information on May 22nd:

  • Curriculum (High School/College Expectations)
  • Workplace Learning Expectations
  • Freshman Supports
  • Uniform Expectations
  • Enrollment Instructions

On June 22nd:

  • How to order uniforms
  • Creating their professional P-TECH Gmail account

All of the information was also sent out to the families who could not make the meeting. We are so excited to see the amazing things our new cohort will encounter.

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CBS Impact Story

Everyone throughout the United States has been impacted by the current COVID pandemic but often we do not understand how others are weathering the storm. Our P-TECH student, Luis Borja, and Mrs. Vega were able to sit down with CBS News correspondent Mireya Villareal to discuss the turbulent struggle of getting off track and being able to fight his way back. Mrs. Vega candidly spoke of the challenges in the school as well as how hard it was to see her families suffer during this trying time. We are so proud of Luis Borja as he is a true example of GRIT. He has always been a really good student but like many students, online learning became a challenge as he was faced with the responsibility of getting a job. Please take a moment to view this inspiring story of our P-TECH student, Luis Borja, and our courageous Principal, Ms. Vega as they were interviewed by news correspondent Mireya Villareal. It is truly an inspiring video.

Motivational Moments

As we begin to look back over the last four years, we have had a lot of ups and downs but to see our first cohort nearing the finish line has been extremely rewarding. Mr. Spencer reached out to all of our stakeholders to say thank you for your continued support and for them to come and speak to our seniors as they are about to spread their wings and fly. So Ms. Vega attended the daily Senior Huddle to give words of encouragement as well as advice as they move into the next chapter of their lives. We then had a host of guests who played an integral part in getting these Seniors to the finish line. We would like to thank:

  • Juan Vega, Deputy Chief of Human Capital Management
  • Joycelyn Anderson, Former P-TECH Counselor
  • Ms. Wheeler, Former P-TECH Counselor
  • Blake Chambers, Dallas College
  • Larena Flemmings, Dallas ISD Human Capital Management
  • Sandra Vasquez, Children's Health

UNT Dallas Presidential Scholars Award

UNT Dallas has a Presidential Scholars Program where students have an opportunity to receive a scholarship for $66,800.00 over the four years! They participate in leadership development experiences, community service initiatives, and cultural programming, and also serve as the President's ambassadors for the university. The Presidential Scholarship is our most prestigious, merit-based freshman scholarship. We were pleased to have one of our own receive this opportunity. Senior, Yesenia Tejeda, received an amazing opportunity to have all expenses paid including her room and board. She is also was the proud recipient of the Sunset Alumni Foundation Scholarship, Nicole Williams Scholarship, DSAA (Dallas Schools Administrators Association) Scholarship, the DISD Superintendent's Scholarship as well as the Latin X Ascender Scholarship. But we are not surprised by her achievements because of her laser focus during her four years in our program. Yesenia completed the program with a 4.3 GPA and ranked #6 due to her highly motivated work ethic. Yesenia is also the only student at Sunset P-TECH who has had an internship every summer since her sophomore year of high school. She is ending her journey at Sunset with an internship with Thomson Reuters that will conclude in December. Congratulations Yesenia on all of your achievements.

Bison Buddies 2.0

Bison Buddies was a program created to keep our future teachers engaged in their future careers as educators. Through this program, we have partnered with Lida Hooe, Salazar and Rosemont Elementary. Students are able to meet teachers in their desired area of study. Students travel to the campus to read to students, conduct small group instruction, and shadow teachers. It also gives them the opportunity to learn about other areas of employment opportunity such as administrators, counselors, nurses, or instructional specialists. COVID definitely slightly sidetracked our program. We decided that we did not want to miss an opportunity for our juniors and seniors to participate in one last engagement. During the last two months of school, our teacher education students were able to sign up for virtual and face-to-face opportunities with Salazar Elementary. The last week of school our seniors assisted with Salazar's awards ceremony, their 5th-grade dance, and Field Day. We are so proud of these young people, they will be great educators.

Teacher Education College Fair

The P-TECH/ECHS Program continued to work to grow the program and offer a variety of opportunities for all students. Our teacher education students had a unique opportunity to participate in P-TECH's first Teacher Education College Fair. Currently, Dallas ISD has four schools with teacher education programs under the P-TECH/ECHS umbrella. On May 7th, the Education Pathways Steering Committee hosted their first Virtual P-TECH/ECHS Education Pathways College Fair. Teacher Education students had the opportunity had opportunity to learn about the different programs from a variety of colleges. Our future teachers were able to attend sessions with Dallas College, University of North Texas, Texas Woman's University, Texas Tech University, the University of Texas at Arlington, Prairie View A&M University, and the University of North Texas at Dallas, and Texas A&M of Commerce. There are not many events where students are able to attend a college fair that is exclusively focused on their chosen career pathway. Dallas ISD is leading the way in becoming "Change Makers". Great event P-TECH/ECHS Education Pathways Steering Committee!!! And a special thank you to our Industry Partner Dallas ISD Human Capital Management and Coordinator Justin Bryant for this opportunity.
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Career Investigation Mini Project

This year it was the focus of the Workplace Coordinator to come up with a way for our students to exclusively focus and learn more about their career pathways. There are many misconceptions about Teacher Education and Public Health. Many students believe their only choice in the field of Education is becoming a teacher. We want to expose our students to the many options that fall under a degree in Education. There are also misconceptions about Public Health. Most students enter into our program believing they will become a doctor or a nurse without understanding that Public Health is about educating a community as a whole versus individual care. The Coordinator created a Career Investigation Lesson designed for students to explore careers on their pathway. She was able to team up with Ms. Hardee, the 9th grade MAPS teacher to execute these group projects. The students were able to conclude their lesson with a group presentation. Thank you Ms. Hardee for helping to see this task through and helping our students to understand their options. Great job Freshman!!!

2021 Senior Activities

The 2021 Graduates were fortunate this year to have the opportunity to have a Prom. Our seniors were so excited to have the chance to end their year with Senior activities. This year the students were able to have a Prom, Senior Six Flags Trip, Senior Pictures, P-TECH Senior Dinner, and most of all A GRADUATION. P-TECH students participated in Sunset High School graduation on June 21st at Ellis Davis Field House and then they participated in their Dallas College Graduation on June 26th at The Curtis Culwell Center. These last months have been extremely emotional because we have watched these students grow into amazing young adults who are now ready to move to the next chapter of their lives. Seniors were could not be more proud of you!!!
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Summer Internships and the Work Hub

Our goal each year is to have a percentage of students participate in internships. Internships are an important way for students to apply learned skills in a real-world experience. We were fortunate to have 35 students participating in Virtual Internships with IBM, PepsiCo, Thomson Reuters, and Dallas Works. With COVID still looming and many still not back in their corporate offices, the internships this year were virtual. After careful consideration, it was decided anyone participating in these internships will come to campus to work. Due to the struggles with online learning, it has been our experience that every student did not have a home environment that was conducive to a work environment. It would also give students an opportunity to get used to getting up, having to get dressed and be somewhere on time daily. They were able to receive immediate feedback on behaviors as well as guidance on how to navigate professional situations. Due to Sunset High School being closed due to construction, the Adamson P-TECH family welcomed us into their home and allowed our interns to have the professional environment needed for success.
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Mrs. Vega Says Farewell

This year has been filled with ups and downs. Who could have ever expected that after spring break 2020 we would not return and we would be in a Global Pandemic. But through these trying times, we have had a leader with a cool head, determination, and a true heart for students. After five years, we had yet another unexpected turn, our leader, Mrs. Vega, would leave at the end of the year. Mrs. Vega is instrumental in building a variety of programs at Sunset High School. And who better to lead the charge than a Sunset alum who truly understands the community and takes the time to understand each employee as well as "make sense" of all decisions. Mrs. Vega, you have been P-TECH's biggest supporter and you will be missed. We know you will not be a stranger because Sunset High School is home and you are ALWAYS welcome.

Summer Bridge 2021

The P-TECH/ECHS Summer Bridge program is designed to orient rising 9th-grade students to the high school and college curriculum and program expectations. The focus is on preparation for college and career. During the 5 days, students will receive support in the following areas:

  • M.A.P.S-Methods of Academic and Personal Success
  • Reading and Writing-TSIA2/SSI Support
  • Math -Algebra/TSIA2/SSI Support
  • Workplace Learning-Workplace soft & technical skills/Industry Partner Engagement

The last day was designed to have Workplace Learning engagements. Our new industry partner, Dallas ISD Early Learning and Children's Health. provided "Welcome Videos" for our virtual Summer Bridge. Also, this year we were fortunate to have 35 students participating in internships who agreed to speak to our new cohort about the importance of internships and the process.

Thank you to our teachers who agreed to guide these classes and our Industry Partners who provided video messages to our new cohort of Bisons. Thank you for another successful Summer Bridge under the leadership of Ms. Shockley. Great work.

Mrs. LaGrone Retires

This year has been a year of ups and downs and the retirement of Mrs. LaGrone, our first MAPS teacher is definitely a sad moment for the P-TECH family. We were so excited to celebrate all of her hard work and dedication to not only P-TECH but also Sunset. Mrs. LaGrone served in many roles with our team but more importantly she was willing to serve wherever she was needed. Thank for the years of service. You will be missed.
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Welcoming New Leadership to Sunset High School

Over the summer, we welcome our new principal Dr. Jesus Martinez to the Sunset Family. He began this summer and had hit the ground running. Dr. Martinez is a proud product of Dallas ISD schools; growing up in Oak Cliff, he attended Winnetka Elementary, Greiner Middle School, and the Science & Engineering Magnet at Townview.

Dr. Martinez earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Southern Methodist University, his Masters in Educational Administration, and his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of North Texas. Dr. Martinez has successfully served many roles throughout his career in education: middle school English teacher, Advanced Placement English teacher, Soccer Coach/ asst. Football Coach. He has taught at the public-school setting in grades ranging from eight all the way to college level. As a leader of learning, Dr. Martinez has served in a number of roles as dean of students, assistant principal, and principal over the last 8 years. He has conducted research focused on increasing access and equity for minoritized students and has presented at state, regional, and national conferences. His goal is to work collaboratively with the Sunset High School staff, students, and community to make Sunset High School THE premier high school in the state.


Sunset P-TECH will enable students to explore a wide range of career interests in the fields of public health and education. The curriculum in these two areas of focus will provide a foundation of knowledge on which to pursue a bachelor's degree.

Students who opt to pursue the Public Health track will have the opportunity to develop the skills and experience to protect the safety and improve the health of communities through education, policymaking, research, prevention, and administering services while serving as a "change agent" in promoting healthcare equity, quality, and accessibility.

Students who opt to pursue the Teacher Education track will have the opportunity to develop the skills and experience to explore and engage with delivering high-quality education, acquire the communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills that are necessary for success in the 21st-century classroom in the field of education.