Great Day Trips from Dallas, Texas

Image of Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas. Used for Robert Peter blog about great day trips from Dallas, Texas.

Though there’s nearly an endless supply of activities to enjoy in Dallas, a plethora of day trip opportunities surrounds the city as well. If you’re spending only a weekend in Dallas, take time to explore the city itself and make plans to come back another time for some of the great day trips. But, if you recently moved to Dallas or are visiting for a longer period of time, definitely take a look at the incredible places close to the city!



Distance: 3 hours

Austin is located only a few hours from Dallas and also serves as the state capitol. Considered one of the most stunning capitols, visitors can take tours that are free to the public. You can choose a guided tour or wander around yourself, but either promises to be a great experience. Spend the rest of your day exploring the city and trying the great food.


Enchanted Rock

Distance: 4 hours

This park has the typical outdoor attractions, such as hiking and camping, but the true attraction are the rocks in the center of the park. Enchanted Rock is named for the giant pink granite rocks that visitors can climb, stargaze, or have a picnic at.



Distance: 2.5 hours

If you enjoy history and old homes, Jefferson is a town you have to visit. You’ll love the old, historic homes, some of which you can even tour. If you want to stay overnight, many of the older homes also serve as bed and breakfasts. Since Jefferson is located close to the Big Cypress Bayou, visitors can easily take a tour of the bayou in a riverboat as well.


Arbuckle Wilderness Park

Distance: 2 hours

The Arbuckle Wilderness Park is a perfect day trip for families; it’s home to many wild animals you’ll definitely get to see as you travel through the 200 acres of the park. Some of the animals even come up to your vehicle! If you go to this park, you might want to camp overnight at Turner Falls State Park since it’s so close and home to beautiful landscapes.



Distance: 1.5 hours

While Tyler is more commonly associated with business and retail in Texas, if you go at the right time of the year, you’ll see stunning fall leaves. You can drive around and look at the leaves or you can visit the Tyler Rose Garden, which is the largest in the country. If you choose to visit in the spring, the Tyler Azalea Trail is in full-bloom and makes for a beautiful walk.


Fort Worth

Distance: 40 minutes

Fort Worth is often referred to as Dallas’s twin city, but it has a much more laid back atmosphere than Dallas. The city contains an endless amount of cultural and historical attractions, such as museums, art galleries, and old houses and buildings.


Turner Falls

Distance: ~2 hours

Turner Falls is the largest waterfall in Oklahoma and just a short trip from Dallas. There’s a state park situated around the falls, which visitors can explore and hike the various trails. You’ll see caves, streams, beautiful plants and trees, and even have a chance to hike through portions of the Arbuckle Mountains. You can camp here overnight and there are even beaches and places to swim.

Don’t Mess With Texas



As Texans, we know that there is nothing better than the Lone Star state. We know it, and thanks to a variety of slogans, the rest of the country does too. People know that everything is bigger in Texas, and every knows not to mess with Texas, but do they know why? The saying, “Don’t mess with Texas,” asserts our strength, but this famous slogan has its own history. This slogan was created for a great cause, one as valiant as the people of our state.

A little over 30 years ago, Texas was allocating a huge amount of money to cleaning the highways across our state. By 1985, the state was spending nearly $20 million annually, to pick up the trash Texans were throwing out of their windows as they drove around the state. As a response, the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) hired advertising agency GSD&M to create a slogan as part of an anti-littering campaign. The project was led by Mike Blair and GSD&M founder Tim McClure, and was targeting the 18-35-year-old male demographic. The team had some difficulty convincing TXDOT to adopt the slogan, who wanted to try a tamer slogan like, “Keep Texas Beautiful.” McClure and Blair knew an ordinary statement wouldn’t inspire anyone to resist throwing their garbage anywhere they pleased, so the campaign stuck with “Don’t Mess With Texas.”

The campaign launched in 1985, with bumper stickers as the vehicle for spreading the message. A year later, the campaign aired its first TV advertisement, and the slogan made a television debut. The ad ran during the 50th annual Cotton Bowl Classic on January 1st, of 1986 and featured Stevie Ray Vaughn singing the class “Eyes of Texas” with the slogan “Don’t Mess With Texas” added at the end. The TXDOT has worked with many other famous faces in “Don’t Mess With Texas” public service announcements, including Lance Armstrong, Willie Nelson, and even Chuck Norris.

The TXDOT, McClure and Blair didn’t know this slogan would become as ubiquitous as it is today, but it has become “an identity statement, a declaration of Texas swagger.” The slogan is federally trademarked, and the TXDOT has tried to enforce trademark rights with very little success. It is printed on all types of souvenir goods, spreading the message to others across the country, and maybe even internationally. The campaign was successful in reducing litter across Texan highways, but today, the slogan lives on in the spirit of Texan pride.


Check out this informational video about Houston, Texas!

The Effort to Enroll the Uninsured

Robert Peters Manor Texas

The Obama administration has announced recently that with the next round of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act happening quite soon, they will be focusing on certain areas of the country.
Two major areas to focus on are: Dallas and Houston. Interestingly, the secretary o health and human services Sylvia Mathews Burwell said on Tuesday that this year will be quite different than last year in terms of open enrollment.

Many uninsured people have already signed up for healthcare, which leaves a smaller pool of eligible people to sign up. Ms. Burwell stated that their goal this enrollment period is to focus on 10.5 million Americans who are uninsured.

To be clear, the enrollment period starts on November 1st and goes through January 31st, 2016. Ms. Burwell also said that they expect about 9.1 million people to have coverage through the marketplace, which is where state and federal exchange programs and information for where people can buy insurance.

The issues that may arise when signing up for insurance or help from marketplaces is that some people fail to pay their premiums, which brings the numbers down on a national level in terms of who is insured. Other instances include issues of inadequately answering questions o federal employees about citizenship or immigration status.

Another interesting fact that Ms. Burwell brings up is that many of the eligible uninsured in the specific pool of people being target for this enrollment period are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Last year, the Census Bureau reported that the number of Americans without health insurance has dropped 8.8 million since last year – because of the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, 33 million people are still uninsured and the goal is to get every eligible American insured within the next few years.

Houston and Dallas will be big focal points for the health and human services department. We should be encouraging families and individuals to sign up and receive health insurance!

Startup Scene Brewing in Austin

It’s interesting to see cities grow and evolve! It’s no secret that Austin, Texas, is a large tech hub attracting young professionals around the world. Many intelligent, creative people have made the move to Austin to live a better quality life and work at the company of their dreams.

5 Reasons to Move to Texas

Robert Peters Texas

Texas has a pretty well-known reputation for being the Cowboy state; full of extremely right-wing people and great barbecue.

A few things people don’t know about the new Texas is that it’s full of students, young adults, and tech-inspired people followin their dreams. Texas has evolved into a very diverse state of people from all different walks of life.

Of course, Texas as a whole has maintained it’s reputation as being a big, lively, and different place to live. Not only being a beautiful part of the country, Texas has so much history and to see it evolving into a very positive place for many early entrepreneurs and creatives, this makes it a hotspot for plenty of people to move. Here are a few reasons why a lot of people are making the move to Texas.

1. It’s cheaper. The cost of living is so low that a great quality life is inexpensive. Housing, food, and other items are at a lower cost than many other places in the country.

2. Lower taxes. There is no personal income tax in Texas and no corporate income tax. There is a sales tax, but it is still lower than most other states.

3. Low unemployment. This means there are jobs! Surprising because there is a major lack of work in other states near by. This is a great thing for people looking to stabilize and grow their career.

4. Good schools. The school system in Texas is one of the best int he country. They take care of all students regardless of economical status or minority.

5. Very little to no snow. This is great news for East coasters or Northerners! The weather is temperate year-round.

Texas is attracting young people everywhere to live a happy, cheaper, fuller live with great culture – especially in cities like Austin!

Texas Legislators: Missing the Big Picture

Robert Peters Manor Texas TX Educator

Recently, a new study claims that across the state of Texas there have been more Latino drop outs from high school, but an increase in college enrollment. The issue with this is that some legislators may not be looking at the right numbers to glean this statistic. So the real story may be still hidden, especially when the Latinos’ population growth has expanded. This issue has been projected to be a huge problem in the future if Texas doesn’t do something about this now.

Dallas is having some issues with their kids graduating from college. Within the past two years, graduation rates have been dropping and it’s alarming to advocates who have fought for this for the past 5 to 10 years.

The interesting fact about this projected statistic is that the Latino college enrollment rate has shot up recently. These colleges are primarily two-year institutions and many never finish to get their AA or Bachelor degrees.

This data comes from Pew Research Center and the last in-depth study was made in 2013-2014. A lot has happened in the matter of just over a year, and it appears that state officials will not be acting on the statistics.

The major issue for the legislators not to act is because of the school Financing Lawsuit and its unresolved state. They say that until the lawsuit is settled, there cannot be any actions made to improve things in Texas. In 2011, very deep budget cuts were made across the country. Texas is still struggling to improve their conditions, as are many other states in the country. Unfortunately, Texas has ranked to be 49th on the list in terms of having the least funding per student. This is appalling.

Many people think the funding is not the core issue. The bottom line is that there is a lack of accountability and choices within the community and government. This needs to change, and we can change it together.

Texas Sites: San Antonio

Robert Peters Manor TexasSan Antonio is the second most populous city in Texas, and is the fastest growing city in the list of the top ten most populous cities in the United States. That means one and a half million people need things to do whether it be touring a scenic landscape of national parks or getting rowdy at the rodeo. Whether you’re into trekking through quiet caves, standing in awe at roaring beasts, relaxing along the river, or revisiting history at the nation’s oldest cathedral, San Antonio has more than one thing to offer you. Here’s a few of the invaluable experiences to be had next time you’re in Texas:

The Alamo Mission
Remember the Alamo? The pivotal battle in Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico? The Alamo retains a great deal of history reverberating through the walls of this old church. The building was constructing under the Spanish Empire back in the 1700s and its colonial architecture entices 4 million travelers annually making it one of the most popular sites in the country. Near the Alamo, churches and museums offer re-enactments of historical events, and the building itself boasts an impressive gift shop.

The Paseo del Río River Walk:
After a flood in 1921 devastated much of the area, plans for a dam were up in the air. However, after successful protest the plan changed to constructing a walkway alongside the San Antonio River. The area is a series of walkways that traces the urban center’s many waterfront hot spots for shopping and dining, and the scene has developed into a tourist attraction for its historicity and leisure. Easy access to malls, theaters, and casinos is available all along the pathways. What’s more is many buildings on the river have additional riverside entryways which has created a pedestrian network of bridges and walkways separate from the original roads. When walking gets tiresome, sit in a boat and take a scenic tour down the river. Nothing beats the golden glow of streetlights reflected in the river at night.

The McNay Art Museum
If taking a break from the cowboy culture, the first museum of modern art featured in Texas should offer a fresh set of exhibitions. With World War II commemorations, a catalogue of Rodin to Warhol, and interactive, three-dimensional sculptures the museum stands as the city’s new figurehead for artistic culture. The San Antonio Museum of Art offers more exhibits for the unspecialized viewer, and the Witte Museum is dedicated to natural history and features ancient pieces such as cave drawings and dinosaur fossils. More modern exhibits at the Witte include a recreation of a crime scene mimicking the forensics of the CBS show CSI.

Tower of America
The tallest building in San Antonio, gives a powerful 360˚ view of the city. If it isn’t a convincing site per se it will provide you with your next adventure. The tower hosts a few restaurants and popular radio stations.

A Commitment to Relevance and Rigor

Robert Peters Manor Texas Education
Manor New Tech’s success has been made possible by an unwavering, school-wide commitment to the new dieting and implementation of a project-based learning model (PBL). Students within the PBL model are driven to actively pursue their knowledge. From the moment a new project is introduced, students are responsible for finding out what they need in terms of resources, facts, and concepts, and what it will take to get the work done. It’s these types of learning models that teach kids how to find information, analyze, and present theories and concepts. Teachers serve as guides along the way through each step of the process and help by providing workshops to clarify certain concepts or problem solving techniques.

The PBL protocol at Manor New Tech is designed to give students the opportunity to drive their own learning sequences. Some elements may be common, such as assessments, peer reviews, and other group learning sessions. The sum of the total process along with the integrity and enthusiasm with which it is followed at Manor New Tech is a huge part of the success they’ve experienced. The Manor community loves their mantra, “This is our house.” and the community truly means it. Everyone involved in the network at Manor New Tech its here because they choose to be. Not a single student as dropped out of school in the five-years of operation, nor has any teacher left the institution out of dissatisfaction.

Manor has a success motto – and it begins with the three R’s; rigor, relevance, and relationships. Switching the order of these concepts and beginning y building relationships and then implementing relevance and rigor is also an interesting take on this concept of successful education. Ownership and autonomy are also key characteristics for success within Manor’s PBL. All teachers start with the standards presented by the state, then observe and stay true to the PBL model. Teachers are often left to their own creativity to design projects and guide students to success. This creates a wonderfully innovative and integrated ecosystem even for the teachers themselves, all while students are getting the best they can from their instructors, or more accurately, their guides. Teachers strive to provide latitude for their students int terms of how to demonstrate their knowledge, as long as the main goal is to aim for learning outcomes definite in the rubrics. This allows for freedom for expression, creativity, and knowledge.

United Way for Greater Austin’s Target Graduation Program

Robert Peters Manor Texas United Way

United Way for Greater Austin’s Target Graduation Program

By Dr. Robert Peters


United Way for Greater Austin is on a mission to bolster the education system and improve high school graduation rates in a district that features dramatic social stratification and low levels of scholastic achievement. To do this requires an understanding of why some students succeed where others fail, where hurdles are placed, and how to overcome them.

United Way for Greater Austin’s Target Graduation endeavor is contingent on timely and effective intervention at the middle-school level. Under their pilot program, MSM (Middle School Matters), students in three high-need schools, Decker, Mendez, and Webb, will be offered out-of-school help with behavioral management, tutoring, mentoring, case management and parent education. Though similar services have been offered by area organizations before, MSM is confident that their system will build a more cohesive relationship between out-of-class programs and their respective schools.

Effective out-of-school programs are particularly important for students in high-need schools, where many face the disadvantages of low cultural and social capital, poverty, and gatekeepers in both the educational system and the community. The United Way for Greater Austin has drawn up an extensive agenda for the development of their out-of-school action, funding ten organizations to back their plan. They have taken measures to ensure that MSM will be effective and expect to see higher graduation rates for the next generation of high school students. I am proud to take part in this initiative! Find out more here.