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Friday, September 15, 2017

Bilingual Learners Break Language Barriers

What happens when you combine children whose primary language is English with others whose primary language is Spanish? In Mansfield ISD, the answer is a group of bilingual learners.

Two-way dual language programs are now available at Erma Nash Elementary School for kindergarteners and at D.P. Morris Elementary School for kindergarteners and first-graders.

The English and Spanish-native students work simultaneously learning both languages in every subject.

“The students do an amazing job helping each other with words or pronunciations and understanding what the teacher is saying at times,” said Tara Sublette, principal at Morris Elementary. “They learn together, they play together, they socialize, they eat together, and language is never a problem.”

Anderson teaches the students how to read.
The programs allow students to be college and career ready by becoming bilingual, bi-literate and multicultural.

Sublette noted that the teachers work very hard to ensure that fun lessons are made in both languages.

Rebecca Anderson, a two-way dual language teacher, said it’s the social aspect of making friends and breaking barriers that has impressed her the most.

“We have students from all different schools and all different backgrounds,” Anderson said. “They’ve learned how to get along. They didn’t know each other at the beginning of the year, and they all love to come and be friends and learn each other’s languages."

Two-way dual language programs are part of MISD’s Power of Choice initiative. View more information about what’s offered here.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Displaced Foreign Exchange Students Find Refuge in Mansfield ISD

Foreign exchange students Marine Torres and Nina Kuepper took flight from Europe at the beginning of the school year to get a taste of the American experience. They were placed in a Houston home, but things took a turn for the worse when Hurricane Harvey hit.

The damage and historic flooding forced 17,000 people in the Gulf Coast areas to go into shelters. Torres and Kuepper were among those who had to evacuate. They later found out that their host families' homes were destroyed, along with all their belongings.

“After the evacuation, we found out from the television that the area was totally flooded, so the house of my family was flooded too,” Torres, from France, recalled. “I felt very sad for the family.”

“We drove to Fort Hood and then to Dallas, and we lived in a hotel for three days. It was a scary experience,” said Kuepper, a Germany native.

Kuepper and Torres also enjoy Byrum's service dog.
They found refuge at the home of a Mansfield High School teacher. Marilyn Byrum has been part of a foster family for 10 years, but decided not to do it this year. That is, until she received an emergency call from the foreign exchange agency. She then jumped at the opportunity.

“The hurricane of a lifetime had just happened, and they have an experience of a lifetime that was about to happen,” Byrum explained. “I didn’t want the hurricane to interfere with their experience of a lifetime because they’ve been looking forward to this year in America.”

The English teacher took the two teenagers shopping to buy more clothes. Torres said she was excited to see the shops, but most amazed by the warm welcome they received.

“People here are very friendly and welcoming. It’s cool,” the exchange student said.

The girls expressed extreme gratitude to Byrum for allowing them to live with her. Byrum said she wouldn’t think twice to do it again.

“Our motivation in life is to help those who are helpless, father the orphaned, care for the refugees, care for the downtrodden,” she said. “They needed help. I had a room. We did what we could."

Friday, September 1, 2017

Students Help Pets Displaced by Hurricane Harvey

While Mansfield ISD is conducting a relief drive to help those affected by the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, high schoolers are making sure an often forgotten population is taken care of as well.

Ben Barber Innovation Academy students started a donation drive to collect food and supplies for displaced pets. The students in the agricultural science practicum class saw the need and spread their idea to their home high school campuses.

Through collaboration and the power of social media, the donations started to come in by the dozens.

“The schools were very receptive, and a lot of people were able to post it to their social media pages (using the hashtag #HeartsOutToHarvey). We’ve gotten a lot of shares. It’s been shared all the way into the U.K.,” said agricultural science teacher Kristi Chambliss.

Agricultural science students dropped off the decorated donation
boxes at each MISD high school.
Donation boxes were given to each high school. The items from each campus were carried into a trailer and brought back to the Reed Stewart Agricultural Science Center to store.

“We’ll be working with an organization that is going to take this to areas in the south that need it most,” Chambliss continued, “I’m so proud of these students because it was all their idea. They saw a need and had a heart for giving.”

The MISD rodeo team is also taking feed and hay to the Houston area to assist.

Senior Katelynn Timmerman added that the community has been a great help to their cause. They’ve even received discounts from local businesses to help offset the costs.

“We were using our own money to go help those animals. It feels really good helping,” she explained.

The campus pet drive ends Sept. 1. A community drive will take place on Saturday, Sept. 2 from 7 a.m. to noon at the Reed Stewart Agricultural Science Center, located at 1924 N. Main St., Mansfield, TX 76063. Anyone who would like to donate supplies is welcome.

Friday, August 25, 2017

MISD Program Helps Students Earn College Credit

The program is housed inside of Timberview High School.
Saving time and money while fostering a desire to become a lifelong learner is one of the goals of Mansfield ISD's newest Power of Choice program.

The Early College High School at Timberview will allow students to graduate from high school with an associate degree in hand. The program is currently open to ninth-graders and will add a grade level each year until this year's class becomes seniors.

Ninth-grader Jesus Herrera said the college-going culture is exactly what he needs to fulfill his dream, which is to finish what his father started.

"Since I was young, I could remember that his dream job is being an engineer, but he had to settle with being a carpenter," said the 14-year-old. "I want to become a mechanical engineer for the both of us."

The program comes at no cost to Mansfield ISD students. In partnership with the district, Tarrant County College Southeast pays for the tuition fees, while MISD covers the cost of any textbooks.

Transportation is also provided so that students from any part of the district can take advantage of the opportunity.

Herrera said his motivation is his father who
couldn't finish college.
It's a deal that associate principal Erica Bennett hopes will tear down any barrier or excuse a student may have for not wanting to go to college.

"We're looking for the student who wants to go to college, or they have the need and demand for their family and lifestyle to go to college," Bennett said.

Bennett noted that extracurricular activities are also important for students to become well-rounded individuals. Although traditional athletics or fine arts activities are not available for Early College High School students, they can still participate in any Timberview High School or Tarrant County College club.

“These students are college students. They have their student I.D. and the same benefits and access to what Tarrant County College offers,” Bennett added.

The Early College High School program is another way MISD is giving students and parents the ability to choose the educational pathway that is best for them. Herrera said it’s a pathway he is eager to explore.

"I'm pretty excited because I'm closer to being at my dream job pretty soon," he said.

Friday, August 18, 2017

MISD Crews Prepare Down to the Bell

Anderson Elementary was rebuilt under the 2011 bond package.
In a matter of days, the newest MISD facilities transformed from looking like a construction site to being pristine buildings.

Charlotte Anderson Elementary School and The STEM Academy at Brooks Wester Middle School were ready to accept students and parents for the first day of school, but it took a lot of teamwork to reach to that point.

“It was amazing to see the construction workers, maintenance crews, custodial staff from different campuses, teachers and staff work together,” said Franklin Alvarenga, custodial supervisor for the Anderson Elementary School project. “We worked long nights and early mornings—even on the weekends—but we were so fortunate to have the resources and support needed to get the job done.”

Construction on the facilities were underway for months; however, the weather and earlier start of the school year made the completion schedule even tighter.

Alvarenga said Mansfield ISD staff had six days to move in and clean up at Anderson Elementary School. He said the reward was the look on the children's faces when they saw their newly rebuilt school.

“There’s a sense of satisfaction that your time and effort pays off and is recognized,” Alvarenga said.

The STEM Academy is currently housing 75 sixth-graders.
Over at the STEM Academy, the principal said she was overwhelmed by the amount of support she received to move into the building. Victoria Webster and her staff were given the “okay” to go inside on Monday, giving them only two days to get everything in place.

“The teamwork was absolutely phenomenal,” said Webster. “Everybody was checking up on us, and there was no complaining. The mentality was to get it done, and get it done right.”

Crews remained up until the wee hours of the morning putting the finishing touches on the building. Webster said she was surprised and grateful to see all the progress that was made in such a short amount of time.

“When everything was finally done, it was like a dream,” said Webster. “It was shocking to see something that you’ve been imagining actually come to life.”

Friday, August 4, 2017

MISD FFA Students Earn Nearly $57K at Showcase

MISD's FFA team prepared for the competition since January.
A group of 20 Mansfield ISD students who take great pride in their livestock can now say they have some of the best longhorns in the area, and they have the scholarship money to prove it.

The Autobahn Youth Scholarship Tour is an annual event in Fort Worth in which children and teens showcase their longhorn cattle. Organizers give out more than $400,000 in scholarship money to winners.

The five-day competition is much more than making sure the bovines have shiny coats. Contestants can also compete in various categories including public speaking, judging, agricultural mechanics, art and photography.

“I want my students to be really well-rounded individuals, so I tell them that they have to compete in certain categories,” said Kristi Chambliss, agricultural science teacher at Ben Barber Innovation Academy and sponsor for MISD’s FFA club. “If you want to be a pro in this industry, you have to be able to speak and write properly.”

Students from all over the Metroplex
showed off their cattle.
Diversifying the students’ talents paid off. The team raked in a club record of $56,998 in scholarships. In addition, three of the four all-around winners came from Mansfield ISD.

“My favorite part was seeing how happy the kids were when they heard their names being called for the awards,” Chambliss explained. “Our group also won the Herdsman Award for keeping our area the cleanest and working hard behind the scenes. It’s a big deal because showing is only a small part of what we do.”

This is the fourth year for MISD to compete in the Autobahn Youth Scholarship Tour. The students come for the competition, but leave with memories and lasting relationships.

“This is a major networking opportunity as well,” Chambliss continued. “They have common interests with other students and industry professionals. This can open the door to countless possibilities.”

View results of the 2017 Autobahn Youth Scholarship Tour here.