Dallas ISD teacher reflects on first year of teaching during pandemic

A Dallas ISD teacher is reflecting on his first year of teaching at the district. He started last fall during the pandemic and never expected to be teaching Dallas ISD students.

With a background working in the theatre industry in New York, Philip Vilar expected to take his experiences into higher education. But the pandemic sparked another idea.

A theater and media teaching position at W.H. Adamson High School in Dallas wasn’t exactly the goal Philip Vilar had been working towards as a grad student at SMU.

"I was always looking to teach at some sort of education level, and it was going to be some sort of higher education," he said.

Vilar says the lightbulb moment last May came when he heard Dallas ISD Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa advocating for free Wi-Fi access for every family in Dallas.

Hinojosa cited a federal government survey saying that 40% of Dallas households didn’t have stable internet.

It struck a chord for Vilar, reminding him of his childhood in New York with his parents who had just emigrated from Brazil.

"At that time, they didn't know any English," he said. "My mom was a house cleaner. My dad was a construction worker. You know many of these students what their household is like."

So after earning his masters in stage design from SMU in May 2020, Vilar applied to Dallas ISD in July. He found a new purpose found at Adamson High, which has a 95% Latino student body.

"I wanted to be the person I needed but didn't have when I was in school," he said.

Vilar’s first year was unconventional. And like many others, he’s still navigating teaching both online and in person. But he calls his first year teaching a success and an unexpected start to a new chapter.

"I’m looking forward to me meeting the students that I had the good fortune of having my first students for the first time," he said. "I get to meet them in person next year. That’s what I’m looking forward to."

Vilar says he’s happy to see Dallas ISD trying to recruit more Latino teachers. He says he has no plans on leaving the district anytime soon.