At Back to School Fair, Mayor Rawlings, Fresh on the Job, Is Amazed by "The Scale of It"

Photos by Alex Scott, slide show here
With a bright blue Frisbee on his head and a blow-up ball hanging from his lips by its mouthpiece, 9-year-old Emanuel spins around in circles so fast, his new camouflage backpack lifts from his body like a parachute at the moment of landing. Today is his birthday, but it feels more like Christmas morning as he hops from stand to stand at the Mayor's Back to School Fair in Fair Park, where he gathers free school supplies, candy and juice. Emanuel and his family arrived at 1 a.m., early enough to land the first spot in line.

For the third year in a row, his mother, 29-year-old Tyeisha Montgomery, packed up her children and made the short drive to Fair Park to stock up on school supplies. "It helps me a whole lot," says Montgomery, who raises her six children as a single parent in South Dallas. "They get the basics and I take it from there." The 15th annual fair helps low-income families with students in the Dallas Independent School District by doling out pens and notebooks, as well as dental and vision screenings, immunizations, even haircuts.

Mayor Mike Rawlings addressed the crowd as they waited for the doors of the Centennial and Automobile buildings to open. "We've got to have parents that support the child -- parents are the key," he said, repeating, "Parents are the key." He was joined at the event by several council members and Dallas ISD trustees, including school board president Lew Blackburn and interim superintendent Alan King.

"This is what I like about being mayor," Rawlings told Unfair Park before the event, at which thousands were expected once again. "What's amazing is the scale of it." Rawlings called the day a "perfect starting point" to the emphasis on education he began calling for on the campaign trail. "There's just something exciting about seeing this many people caring so much about their kids."

As the sun came up this morning, Montgomery, who allowed Unfair Park to walk through the fair with her family, stood at the front of the line as a clown with big blue pants waddled around, bouncing to the music and twisting dog and sword balloons for the kids. Montgomery's best friend, Stephanie Lacy, and her four children came as well, bringing the group's total to 12. The women packed sandwiches, bananas, apples and oranges to keep everyone energized during the overnight wait.

As the group waited, Rowdy, the Dallas Cowboys' mascot, fist pumped and high-fived fair-goers, while another clown pulled a ball from a little boy's ear, and a baby-faced teen on stilts made the rounds, daring people to give him a nearly unreachable high-five. Exhaustion was an afterthought as a group of about 50 children gathered in an open area near the stage, dancing all morning until it was time to go inside for supplies.

"Let's go, guys," Rawlings said, ushering Montgomery and her family into the fair just after 8.

Tyeisha Montgomery, making a stop along the way
While walking among the sea of stands, Montgomery gathered information about tutoring services and nutrition before heading into the area where volunteers gave away packages with binders, pens, glue sticks and other supplies, one per child. A stop at the 97.9-The Beat's stand landed Montgomery a quick on-air interview. "Supermom in the house!!" the DJ yells into the mic.

Her kids got drawstring backpacks from the radio station, then moved on, gathering all the goodies they could get their hands on. Montgomery had to stop every few paces so her crew could catch up without someone getting lost.

Walking among the growing crowd in the open space of the Automobile building, Montgomery told Unfair Park the advice she gives her children regarding education: "You cannot not go to school," she said, adding that respect for authority is "No. 1."

"I'm just not raising kids that don't have an education," she said, leading by example. (She says she's currently taking online college classes.)

Her son Emanuel pumped his fists in the air as a volunteer filled up a big brown box with 10 supply packages for all the children. Montgomery stopped near the exit, gathering the group once again before they left. What's on the agenda for the rest of her day? "Sleeping." Finally.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Its so sad
Its so sad

29-year-old Tyeisha Montgomery, packed up her children and made the short drive to Fair Park to stock up on school supplies. "It helps me a whole lot," says Montgomery, who raises her six children as a single parent....


NOW THAT IS DISD'S FAILURE TO TEACH SEX EDUCATION! or something... Poor kids, what a mother to have... 

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

Now this is a mayor that give a shit about something

Just a few blocks away from the State Fair of Texas sits the Jubilee Park Community if you drive by there now you will see that this community has been hit by DISD's twister.

Livelihoods have been destroyed as many families have been ruthlessly uprooted from their homes and businesses. As many readers may be already aware, DISD has been behind the carnage of clearing out a neighborhood piece by piece, brick by brick. First, DISD lurked through the neighborhood using eminent domain lawsuits as a guise, and now today it is demolishing the newly renovated historical O.M. Roberts and every vacant home left in the aftermath of its lawsuits. For the remaining families whose homes have been spared, the horror only continues. DISD has been busy transforming its newly "acquired" property into parking lots and is placing them right in-between the remaining homes. Does that make sense? Parking lots in-between homes? NO!

In the meantime, DISD has still failed to give an answer as to why it spent $2.6 million dollars of taxpayer money to renovate the historical O.M. Roberts school, only to now demolish it.

The community has been voicing their concerns for over a year now, and DISD has been taking every opportunity to avoid giving any clear and precise answers to important questions. DISD's current actions only further serve to demonstrate how far removed DISD is with the wants and needs of it's taxpayers and voters.

We invite you to join the movement and help make a stand in defending the Jubilee Park Community against DISD. Please Contact your DISD board member at 972-925-3700 or State Representative and voice your concerns about this plan that will waste millions of your tax dollars! This may seem a problem too big to solve, but, your small step becomes part of a giant one.

To learn more visit

Check out two videos about the issue.


Is that what they mean by school supplies?  I thought it was pens, pencils, glue, tape and a few notebooks for individual use.  Is that the intention, parents sending in listed stuff to stock a communal supply cabinet?

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Yes.That's exactly what is going on.I forgot to add the boxes of Ziploc bags also frequently requested--1 box per child of gallon-sized, 1 box of quart-sized, and 1-box of sandwich-sized.  And send the ones with the actual plastic zipper.  You know, the more expensive ones...Bad teachers overseen by bad principals...Meanwhile, the school board fiddles with some volunteer, pay-$200 think tank thing to muse about public education.Without good teachers having input,  this is the district you get.

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

Believe it or not, the whole school supply issue is a problem in DISD.

There are thousands of parents like Ms. Montgomery in DISD who want the best for their kids and I am so honored to know them bc they are dedicated parents.DISD admin needs to help these parents by getting a clearer policy on school supplies.  At many schools, the teachers are allowed to make excessive supply lists that include every child bringing hand sanitizer, paper towels, cleaning supplies like Windex, and air freshener (not good for kids with asthma).

Secondary teachers rarely have fewer than 70 kids; no one needs 70 units of hand sanitizer or Windex.  Especially in secondary, teachers can have class sets of markers, crayons, scissors, etc.  Have the boys bring markers and the girls bring scissors for the class set and you'll still end up with extras.  Secondary teachers who teach 100+ kids can arrange lists so that each child brings pencils, pens, a spiral/binder, and 1 other "class set" item.

Departmentalized elementary (where kids change classes; true for most 3-5th graders in the district) teachers usually see 50+ kids.

Excessive supply lists financially burden families and are the result of incompetent principals and teachers placed in schools by 3700 friends and relatives.

The district should provide unlimited Kleenex and paper towels in the bathrooms.  Lord knows they've got the money (see $57 million spent on food and hotels).

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault