Wednesday, May 20, 2015

100 MISD Ambassadors Learn the Importance of Spreading Positivity

There's a lot of great things happening around Mansfield ISD, and 100 staff members from various campuses and departments around the district learned how to spread that positivity throughout the community.

For the second year in a row, MISD partnered with Friends of Texas Public Schools to bring the Ambassador Training Academy. The program reunites campus and district staff around the district’s overall mission to foster a community built on mutual support and to cultivate productive, lifelong learners.

The ambassadors learn how the power of professional unity profoundly impacts their classrooms, campuses, district, and profession. Through three powerful sessions, participants are challenged to think differently about their roles as educators, and to stand up for public education in a way that sparks positive change in our organizational culture.

The program explores some of the major issues negatively affecting the perception of Texas public schools, but the majority of time is spent focusing on celebrating all that is going RIGHT in our schools.

Ambassadors engage in a variety of activities including a book study, headline-gathering to share strengths and achievements from each campus and department, and initiating an activity or program that promotes brotherhood and teamwork.

The response from this year’s group of ambassadors was overwhelmingly positive:

"Ambassador Training was by far the best training I’ve been to in a while. What an opportunity to hear the great things we are doing all around and celebrate successes. The presenters were truly exceptional and the book teaches all of us how to begin to reframe our thinking. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it and I hope others will get to attend next year!" – Jennifer Castrillo, Curriculum Coordinator

"I would like to say how welcomed and included I felt. Being in transportation I must say this district strives to include all departments, and it means the world to me! I found this very informative, and an all-around fun time. To see and hear the stories generated and the togetherness we have in our district was heartwarming. I felt privileged to be a part of this!" – Rosetta Sanford, Transportation Department

"The Ambassador Training Academy reinforced my belief that culture makes a big difference and is the driving force behind employee performance and productivity. It is responsibility of campus leaders to set the tone and model acceptable behaviors in bringing about change. I feel empowered by the training and honored to be a part of campus leadership in Mansfield ISD." – Erika Dillard, Content Mastery Teacher at Ben Barber Career Tech Academy

Congratulations to our newest group of MISD Ambassadors!

Friday, May 15, 2015

MISD Seniors Graduating with Diploma and College Degree

Jaeidah Reed (left) and Yesenia Day (right) looking forward
to graduation day.
As two Frontier High School seniors walk across the stage on graduation day, they’ll go back to their seats knowing they only have two more years to go until they earn their bachelor’s degree.

That’s because Yesenia Day and Jaeidah Reed have earned enough credits to obtain a diploma and an associate’s degree in June.

The 17-year-olds are part of Frontier High School’s TCC Trinity River East Campus (TREC) Program, which allows juniors and seniors to take college courses and earn certifications in the health profession.

Day and Reed will readily admit the journey was hectic and difficult at times.

“It’s not a hand out, and you have to really plan it out to make it happen,” said Day, who is also valedictorian of her Frontier High class. “You just need to be committed.”

“You have to be able to handle leaving your tradition school setting. There are no bands, no sports, and not a lot of extracurricular activities,” said Reed.

But for them, the hard work was well worth it.

Day will test to get certified as a pharmacy, electrocardiogram (EKG), and medical billing/coding technician. Reed is studying for her pharmacy technician, EKG, and emergency medical technician (EMT) certifications.

The two friends both plan to go into the medical field—Day as an orthopedic surgeon and Reed as a trauma surgeon.

“There’s a lot of school ahead for us, so getting our associate’s and hopefully our certifications will cut down some of that time and money,” said Reed.

Reed plans to take a semester at sea through the University of Virginia before she enrolls at Southern Methodist University. Day will be heading out to Santa Clara University in the fall on a full scholarship.

“Everyone has the opportunity to do what we did,” said Day. “You just have to be proactive.”

Friday, May 8, 2015

Elementary School Challenges Students, Community to Keep Reading in Summer

As the school year comes to a close, one Mansfield ISD elementary school principal hopes an important activity her kids practice in the classroom will continue into the summer months.

So with students cheering, cheerleaders chanting, and teachers dancing, Janet Brockett Elementary School kicked off their 333 Reading Challenge with a school-wide pep rally.

Principal Tamara Liddell talking about the 333 Reading Challenge.
The challenge calls for families to sit down together and read for 30 minutes a day, three times a week. And after each reading session, everyone should share three things they learned from what they read.

Principal Tamara Liddell started the challenge two years ago at Brockett Elementary. She said it’s important to start early to plant that seed and develop a strong foundation for reading.

“When you learn to read, that is something that no one can take away from you,” said Liddell. “Reading brings experiences, understanding, and connections.”

One of the special guests at the summer reading pep rally was Jarius Pace. He’s a seventh grader who attended Brockett from kindergarten through fourth grade. He talked to the younger children about how reading has personally helped his academic career.

“I've gotten awards for reading,” said Pace. “It allowed me to understand things better, and I'm able to focus more."

Jarius Pace speaking to the elementary students.
Teachers and administrators at Brockett Elementary have come up with ways to keep summer reading interesting for the students. “Reading bingo cards” were created that include suggestions to read a book in an accent or read under the kitchen table.

“Camp days” have also been scheduled in the summer where students can come on campus and be read to aloud and receive free books.

Students who participate in the summer reading challenge will get to go on a field trip to the Winspear Opera House in Dallas on July 30.

Principal Liddell hopes the reading challenge will bring families together while instilling a joy for reading in her young students.

For those who can’t make it to a library, most public libraries offer e-book options. You can also check out Unite for Literacy and Children’s Library, which provide free online books.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Two MISD Seniors Receive Big Scholarships

As the end of the school year approaches, seniors have two things on their minds—graduation and scholarships.

Watch the stories of two Mansfield ISD students—Brady Moore from Legacy High school and Lizzy Hennessey from Timberview High School—to hear in their own words how they won their generous scholarships in a very competitive field.

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Put It Down, Save a Life

A reenactment of a fatal car crash.
Distracted driving and drunk driving are among the leading causes of deaths for teenagers in the U.S. Because of this, the entire Mansfield ISD community came together this week spreading one message—put it down, save a life.

The two-day event challenges juniors and seniors to think about the consequences of driving while distracted or impaired. It helps turn the “what ifs” into a stark reality.

Each campus exposed students to graphic reminders of the dangers of unsafe driving—ranging from “grim reapers” reading a students’ obituaries and taking them out of class, a flat line heart beat playing over the intercom throughout the day, multiple crosses placed outside of a campus to represent the lives that could be taken, or a wrecked car on display to provide students a glimpse of what could happen.

One of the most haunting moments of the event is when the scene of a fatal alcohol-related and distracted-driving car crash was reenacted. About 300 students, 50 from each campus, experienced what it was like to be—or see their peers—seriously injured, taken to jail, or dead.

A student acting as if he died in an impaired/distracted
driver accident.
“We had the involvement of Mansfield police, Mansfield ISD police, Mansfield Methodist hospital, coroners, parents, teachers, administration, and so many more,” said Lynn Wilkie, MISD Center sales and marketing coordinator, who helped organize the event. “It was neat to see so many people working together to help these kids make the right decision.”

Students also heard from speakers whose lives were unexpectedly changed forever because of a drunk or distracted driver. Later in the evening, the students wrote a “last chance” letter to their parents explaining what they want to say if they passed away.

“It was definitely emotional. We were all just bawling,” said Evelyn Stewart, a senior at Summit High school. “Even though it was fake, it was so real because you never know when your last chance is.”

As prom, graduation, and summer are fast approaching, the program was a powerful way to communicate the dangers of getting behind the wheel distracted or under the influence. You never know the harm in which you could be putting yourself and others.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Grit, Potential, and Ambition: the GPA of Dell Scholars

Timberview seniors Peyton Sennet and Sabrina Gonzales
Sabrina Gonzales and Peyton Sennet had way more to worry about than their grades in school.

The Timberview High School seniors were dealing with a lot of difficulties in their personal lives, but they never let that stop their vision of going to college.

Gonzales just suffered the loss of her 15-year-old brother in December 2014 from a stroke; and months before that, her parents filed for divorce. While she was going through that grief, she knew she had to keep her education as a priority.

“I had to grow up and become mature at an earlier age,” said Gonzales. “I taught myself how to study and to be more responsible.”

Sennet also had some hardships to overcome. She said while she was dealing with family issues, she followed the wrong path. The 18-year was even put in a mental health facility because of her behavior. It was the birth of her little brother that made her realize that she had to turn her life around.

“He looked up to me,” said Sennet. “I needed to start being a better example because he was going to follow in my footsteps.”

The two students had their mind set on higher education, but there was one road block in the way—the money to pay for it.

As a requirement for their AVID class, which focuses on college and career readiness, Gonzales and Sennet applied to become Dell Scholars. The Dell Scholars Program places greater emphasis on a student’s determination to succeed than just academic record and test scores. The winners receive $20,000, a laptop, textbook credits, a mentor, and other support services.

Gonzales and Sennet applied for the scholarship in January. Three months later, they received the news they had been hoping for.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was crying and speechless,” said Gonzales.

“I was just worrying about finances for college the night before, so when I heard I got the scholarship, I was screaming,” said Sennet.

The seniors are two out of 300 students in the nation who received the Dell scholarship, and this is only the beginning for the big plans they have for their careers.

Both have a heart for helping others. Gonzales plans to attend Abilene Christian University and become a nurse. Sennet wants to attend the University of North Texas and become a psychologist for the often-forgotten people in jail.