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Friday, November 16, 2018

Harlem Globetrotter Returns to Former High School

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Lili Thompson went from being a Lady Wolf to being on the world-famous Globetrotters, and she returned to where it started to encourage students to follow their dreams.

Thompson graduated from Timberview High School in 2013. During her tenure, she was the leading point guard on a winning team, member of the debate team and member of the student council. She went on to have a standout college basketball career at Notre Dame and Stanford University.

All the while, her eyes were set on something bigger—going pro. She accomplished that when she was draft by the Harlem Globetrotters in November as one of only two female players to be selected.

“I always wanted to be a professional basketball player, and I always wanted to use basketball as a vehicle to take me places in life both physically and in terms of opportunities, and it’s done that,” said Thompson. “The Globetrotters have an amazing legacy, and I’m really proud to step in and be part of it.”

Thompson, also known as Champ, made her way back to her former high school to motivate them to aspire for something greater and never give up. She said she also wanted to show her support of the Timberview girls basketball team for being top-ranked and undefeated in its district.

"Champ" shows students her basketball spin trick.
“I had so much fun at Timberview,” she explained. “It’s a great place, it’s a great school district and a great place to be in Texas. I’m really, really proud of them for how they’re doing, and it’s just great to be back.”

The rookie Globetrotter noted that her time at Timberview High School shaped a lot of habits that propelled her to success, such as working hard, being disciplined, having time management skills and utilizing good communication skills.

Head girls basketball coach Kit Martin was in attendance at the assembly. She said she wanted students to take Thompson’s story and apply it in their lives.

“You hope that they can see that there is going to be a future, regardless of what it is, once they walk out these doors and they’re done,” said Martin. “It should be limitless. It should be without a ceiling to dream for whatever they want. Lili is a perfect example of that, and coming back gives them that tangible goal that they can look out and say, ‘Hey, if she can come from here and do that, then I can do whatever it is that I set out to do.’”

Globetrotter teammate Zeus McClurkin accompanied Thompson to the assembly, where they both showed off their ball handling skills. The Harlem Globetrotters are in town through Nov. 25 as part of its Fan Powered World Tour.

Friday, November 9, 2018

MISD School Mixes It Up to Cross Social Boundaries

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Lunchtime can be a scary moment for students. As they walk into the cafeteria, they have many quick decisions to make. Where do I sit? With whom? Will they like me? Will I fit in?

To help ease the possible anxiety and create a campus atmosphere of togetherness, staff at Danny Jones Middle School decided to break up the usual groups and change things up a bit.

It was part of Mix It Up at Lunch Day, an international campaign that encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries. Jones Middle School students walked into the cafeteria on Wednesday and had to sit at table with kids who shared the first letter of their first name.

“They mix up your seat organization so that you sit with people that you don’t normally sit with and make new friends and enjoy your time with other people that you don’t normally spend time with,” said eighth-grader Aaron Newman.

Tonya Willis, the school counselor, said she brought the idea to Jones Middle School because she wanted to spread kindness and connectivity.

New friends captured the moment at a decorated area on the stage.
“We try to talk about this because most times when you read about things that happened in school, the person who committed a crime when asked says, ‘I went to school and no one ever said hi to me. No one spoke to me in the school day,’” Willis explained. “We like to have Mix It Up Day so that all kids get to meet someone else, and they feel they’re a part of something.”

During the mixed up seating arrangement, games are played to help the students feel more comfortable to talk with one another. When students made a new friend, they had the chance to take a picture together at the Mix It Up photo area.

Plenty of students went outside of their usual social bubble on Mix It Up Day. Willis said the effects of the connections will last well beyond lunchtime.

“These kids are going to see the people they met all throughout the school year and built deeper relationships,” she added. “Some even exchanged information so that they can talk even outside of the school day.”

The counselor explained that the day was successful because she saw plenty of smiles and students were able to meet new people.

Teaching Tolerance launched the Mix It Up program in 2001 to promote inclusion. Schools can organize a Mix It Up at Lunch Day any time during the school year. Registration is free, and schools that register are eligible for special contests and giveaways.

This is the second year Danny Jones Middle School has held a Mix It Up at Lunch Day.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Therapy Dogs Help Students Build Reading Skills

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Some Mansfield ISD students who need a little extra help with reading are visited by some four-legged friends every week to provide additional support.

Glenn Harmon Elementary School launched its Rover Reader program this school year. It’s designed to encourage struggling readers to build confidence in reading aloud and building reading fluency.

Trenell Scott, assistant principal at Harmon Elementary School, started the initiative at her campus because she has seen the program work in other schools to address a student’s academic and emotional needs.

Each child reads aloud to a dog for approximately 15 minutes.
“The benefits for the children is to build self-confidence,” said Scott. “Because the trainers are retired teachers and retired school counselors, there’s a mentoring component to it as well.”

Rover Reader gives students the ability to read aloud in an unstressful setting. The children in the program said the canines also help brighten up their day.

“I love this program because it helped me, and it helped me be special,” said third-grader Kemarreon Carter. “It makes me feel happy and better from reading to the dog.”

The therapy dogs, provided by a local chapter of Pet Partners, visit the school every Wednesday morning. Staff members have received a lot of positive feedback from participants and their parents.

“Our first time that we had the dogs come, the kids came to school with bags of treats because they were excited to see their dogs,” Scott continued.

Program organizers said they enjoy seeing the students bond with the animals while achieving their literacy goals. They hope the program will be a staple at the school for years to come.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Elementary Students Becoming Bilingual Learners

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Through immersion and collaboration, Mansfield ISD elementary school students in the Two-Way Dual Language Program are learning a second language.

English and Spanish native speakers are grouped together for classes that are taught 50 percent in English and 50 percent in Spanish. The result is a room full of students who are able to understand another language and learn other cultures.

“The benefit is just them accepting other cultures and being able to look at other people and find value,” said Tiffanie King, principal of Erma Nash Elementary School. “Eventually, they’ll be able to apply for jobs that they may not have been able to apply for and pursue because they have two languages, and they are bilingual and biliterate.”

Two-way dual language began in Mansfield ISD last school year at the kindergarten level at Erma Nash Elementary and D.P. Morris Elementary School.

Students listen intently as their science is taught in Spanish.
In the initial year, students learned the basics of their second language. Students who have entered into the second year are now able to integrate other languages into their everyday conversations.

“When they’re speaking to me, they’ll substitute some of the English words for a Spanish word or two and vice versa,” said Crystal Flores, a two-way dual language teacher at Nash Elementary School. “At this point, a realistic goal may be to communicate a thought to one another.”

Students in the program said the program is fun because they are constantly learning something new--even when they don’t realize it.

Drew Kindred, a second-year student in the program said he likes having a skill that others do not and plans to use his second language of Spanish wherever he can.

“My favorite thing about this class is learning because I like to learn English and Spanish,” the first-grader continued with excitement. “All about about timers...all about everything!”

Principal King said she gets chills to see how the students have progressed within the two-way dual language program. The program will continue to expand to the fourth-grade level with hopes of having a similar program at an intermediate school.

For more information about MISD’s Two-Way Dual Language Program or any other Power of Choice program, visit the district’s webpage.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Celebration of ‘Good Food, Real Food'

The Legacy High School staff serve meals with a smile.
A balanced diet is an important part of good health, and the Mansfield ISD Student Nutrition Team makes sure students and staff receive that nutritious foundation every day.

National School Lunch Week is a time to recognize school nutrition professionals around the country for their passion for food and education while bringing awareness to the federally-funded National School Lunch Program.

The federal program requires school meals to meet federal nutrition standards like offering fruits and vegetables every day, serving whole grain-rich foods, and limiting fat, calories and sodium.

Mansfield ISD has gone above and beyond those standards by adding a variety of scratch meals and fresh options on the menu. Some of the house-made items are chicken spaghetti, lasagna, taco meat, hot rolls, cinnamon rolls, various breads and sauces.

Rita Denton, director of student nutrition at MISD, said the weeklong celebration of National School Lunch Week is a great way to recognize the impact the kitchen staff has on their campuses.

“It’s a week that we get to celebrate our team and stakeholders. We get to give thanks to our food service professionals,” she explained. “They come in every day preparing fresh, healthy, delicious meals for our students.”

The theme for National School Lunch Week 2018 is “School Lunch: Lots 2 Love.” Some of the special celebrations at MISD included giveaways, highlighting student favorites on the menu, emphasizing locally sourced ingredients and providing free desserts for elementary students.

“For us, it’s just a celebration about ‘good food, real food’ and about our students,” Denton said.

She added that her team members are some of the best and most cheerful in the industry. They play a crucial role in starting the day off right with a breakfast and recharging the students at lunchtime.

MISD’s Student Nutrition Services served more than 5 million meals last year with a projection to serve even more this year.

National School Lunch Week 2018 is Oct. 15 through Oct. 19. The observance was started in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy.

For more information about MISD’s Student Nutrition Services, visit the department’s webpage.

Friday, October 12, 2018

AVID Prepares Students for the Next Stage in Life

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Mansfield ISD students in grades 7-12 have the opportunity to enroll in an elective that helps them learn vital educational skills so they can succeed in all levels of education.

Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, is a college-readiness system designed to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges or universities. The program is about setting high goals for the students and allowing them to rise to the challenge.

“We’re preparing students to be able to excel in school and be ready for the next level,” said LaKetra Robinson, an AVID teacher at James Coble Middle School. “In the middle school level, we’re preparing them for high school; and at the high school level, we’re preparing them for college and career.”

MISD also has an AVID Excel program for English language learners (ELL) in middle school to support those students with their academic success in hopes that they will continue the program in high school.

AVID students also go on college visits throughout the year.
Kimberly Peña, an AVID teacher at Timberview High School, said the needs for AVID students change as they progress in the system. The foundation is set in middle school, but organizational skills are stressed even more at the higher level.

“There’s a diversity in their classes. Some of them are taking AP courses where they’re allowed to get college credit,” she explained. “They have a lot more freedom with their time management, so they have to be accountable to themselves on how they spend that time.”

Students in the program noted that AVID classes have broadened their perspective on studying skills and goal setting.

“I need to put in the work myself. Nobody else is going to do that for me,” said Corbyn Wilde, a junior at Timberview High School. “It has also helped me plan by giving us time in class to really consider what we’re going to do with our futures.”

Although the students graduate from the program with a knowledge of test-taking strategies, organization, study skills, notetaking and public speaking, Robinson said her favorite part about teaching AVID is the holistic approach to educating a child.

“We’re teaching them about life skills, so I’m building them up to be prepared for society,” she added.

MISD classes are not designated for AVID until seventh grade. However, foundational AVID programs are available to MISD fifth- and sixth-graders to start them on the path of college readiness as well.

More information about the AVID program is available here.