Jon and Heidi Dahlander have a lot to say about what happens in their neighborhood.
As DISD’s director of community relations, Jon wishes he didn’t have to be out talking for the school district as often as he’s had to during the past five years and, until a year ago, Heidi made her living as an anchor for Channel 5 and her mark as one of the first reporters telling Oklahomans the details of what occurred at the Federal Building in 1995.
Their journey toward marriage and an eventual life in our neighborhood was “a long road through many career stops along the way,” Heidi says.
Upon returning to Dallas, Jon, a passionate advocate for the district who completed 1-12th grades, here, graduating from W.T. White, found what he considers the ideal job: one that deals with a community he’s accustomed to trading in – information – and which incorporates his love of the school district.
“It’s giving back to your community, and I can’t think of any other place that’s more rewarding, and that actually needs people that care about it,” he says.
The district needed people who cared about it more than former superintendent Yvonne Gonzalez, whose career debacle coincided with the beginning of Jon’s DISD career. As a newly hired spokesperson, it was Jon’s professional baptism by fire, if you will.
Heidi, who received a respite from that story because of her husband’s position – “I was the only reporter who never had to camp out in front of their building” – still had to endure what she saw Jon going through.
“If you can survive that, you can pretty much survive anything in that business,” she says. “Jon came during the time of Dan Peavy (a former school board member from our neighborhood involved in a wiretapping dispute with a neighbor), and that was a pretty volatile situation also. But he was excited about it,” she says. “He does love a challenge.”
“The biggest thing now is,” he says, “is battling the perception, but I think that whatever organization you are, if you have the leader of that organization change once a year for five years – which we’ve had – you’re gonna have turmoil.
“I do think that Dr. Moses is the right leader at the right time for us.”
If Moses and DISD do as well as expected, we should see Jon delivering more good news in the future. But considering the past few years, the Dahlanders know that no news can sometimes be good news.
When the time comes, the Dahlanders say that Jared will attend Stonewall Jackson, a neighborhood elementary well-known for its program for children with hearing difficulties. And knowing enough about the intricacies of DISD schools, they’re pleased about what Jared will gain by being a student there.
“It really is a model school,” Jon says. “There’s a tremendous parental support and excellent teachers there.”
Not just a graduate one, but an advocate for all the district’s schools, Jon cannot emphasize strongly enough one other important DISD note: If you haven’t attended the neighborhood Woodrow Wilson High School Spring musical, you’re missing out.
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.