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Friday, October 20, 2017

Positive Messages Pop Up in Girls Bathrooms

Can't see the video? View it here.

With all the messages young girls are being exposed to about what it looks like to be beautiful, a Mansfield ISD principal took the initiative to ensure that girls on his campus know the true meaning of beauty.

Matthew Brown, principal of Donna Shepard Intermediate School, heard of a school that decorated positive messages inside of the girls bathrooms, and he decided that it would be a great thing to incorporate at his new campus as well.

“One of the first things that I thought about as I toured the building this summer was that we had an opportunity at our school for that kind of advertisement for our kids,” said Brown.

He posted the idea on the school’s Facebook page and was pleasantly surprised about how many parents wanted to help.

Moms gathered on campus to complete the project.
“There were a lot of moms interested in helping and volunteering,” said Tracie Whittler, a parent who took the lead on the project. “Having two young ladies myself, I just think any type of inspiration you can give them to be themselves and know that they’re beautiful is amazing.”

Whittler said parents have pitched in to buy supplies, print the material, cut the vinyl and mount the artwork. The decorations will be on display in the girls bathrooms and locker room on stall doors and mirrors.

Brown has two daughters of his own and said this project hits close to home for him.

“My whole goal in this was to look at what really makes our students beautiful,” Brown explained. “That’s in our values at MISD. We talk about being resilient and putting others first. That’s what I wanted our girls to see.”

Friday, October 13, 2017

Student-Run Restaurant Reopens Oct. 17

Can't see the video? View it here.

There’s a reason why Savvy’s Bistro, located inside of Ben Barber Innovation Academy, is called food with educated taste. The restaurant is operated by high school students in the culinary arts program.

Savvy’s Bistro started more than ten years ago as a test kitchen for the aspiring chefs. Under the guidance of Chef Adair Smith, the eatery expanded to a place that is open to the public.

The restaurant will reopen for the 2017-18 school year on Tuesday, Oct. 17.

“My students have been preparing for this for a month-and-a-half, and they’re ready to go,” said the culinary teacher. “From the servers to the back of the house to the executive chefs, everybody’s ready to make sure we’re 100 percent on service and food.”

Savvy's Bistro also caters food for campus and district events.
New this year, patrons will get to enjoy a bigger and newly remodeled dining area. Another added feature is the ability to see students cook the food in an exhibition kitchen.

Students who work at Savvy's Bistro are certified ServSafe food handlers. They said it’s a great opportunity to experience the real world in a safe and nurturing environment.

“He doesn’t baby us. We make our mistakes, and we learn from them,” said Cecilia Harlen, senior at Frontier High School. “Instead of sitting in a classroom and watching videos on how to make something, we actually make it.”

Chef Smith said there are menu staples, but there are also new featured foods every two weeks. The featured foods on opening day will be spicy Cajun dishes.

“If you’re in the mood for some really tasty food, come on down to Savvy’s Bistro,” he added.

Savvy’s Bistro is open every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on school days. To view a menu and calendar, visit the restaurant’s webpage.

Friday, October 6, 2017

All-Male Middle School Classes Seeing Early Success

Editor's Note: Men of Tomorrow (MOT) launched in 2011 at Legacy High School, under the leadership of Ashley Brown, as an all-male English class with the focus of growing successful men inside and outside of the classroom setting. The story below depicts how staff at a middle school started its own chapter of MOT and expanded it to fit their needs.

When administration at a Mansfield ISD middle school noticed a gap in male and female performance on test scores, they implemented a unique learning experience in hopes of increasing performance.

New this school year, T.A. Howard Middle School launched a program called Men of Tomorrow. It’s an opportunity for male students to receive all of their core content instruction in an all-male setting.

Ninety-seven boys are currently enrolled. Seven male teachers, including one for special education, are designated to the program.

Staff say before they started, they created a committee and sent out a community survey, which included input from students, to determine how to improve the learning experience for males.

Seven male teachers are part of the Men of Tomorrow program.
“We did this to meet the specific learning needs,” said assistant principal Brad Schilder. “We identified three research-based best practices that coincide with their desires and how they wanted to learn.”

The key for engagement, he said, is the use of visual aids, movement within the classroom setting and a need for competition.

Although their core classes are all-male classes taught by male teachers, the students still have the opportunity to partake in other extracurricular activities.

“I like Men of Tomorrow because I feel like I get more work done, and the teachers understand me,” said Sebastian Haros, a seventh-grader. ”Having a male mentor is important.”

The program is in its first year, but results are already being made.

“We have seen a reduction in disciplinary issues. We have also seen an increase in academic achievement,” Schilder explained.

Schilder said it’s still too early to know where Men of Tomorrow will go in the future, but the program has the potential to expand pretty quickly.

For more information about T.A. Howard's Men of Tomorrow program, visit the school's website.

Friday, September 29, 2017

MISD Student Uses Hospital Stay to Help Others

The displayed piece is titled "Pop Stars."
When Zoie Taylor told her mom that her stomach hurt, none of them realized how serious the problem was.

The two went to the hospital as a precaution, but Zoie was admitted for a full week. It turned out the severe abdominal pain was caused from inflammation in her colon. Doctors said she had hypersensitive nerves in her stomach.

While recovering in the hospital, the J.L. Boren Elementary School student did what she does best to pass the time—draw.

“She drew everyone pictures,” Heidi Taylor, Zoie’s mother, recalled. “She would give them to anyone who wanted one. It’s something she has loved to do since she was little.”

The hospital staff at Cook Children’s Medical Center took notice of the third-grader’s art. They were so impressed that they decided to hang up a drawing in one of the hallways.

“It feels amazing to have my artwork on the wall,” the eight-year-old said with a grin. “I wanted to inspire other kids so they can be happy and not sad.”

Zoie was thrilled to have her drawings featured.
Zoie’s art pieces were recently featured at a charity auction for the medical facility. She received five-star treatment and got to ride in a limo to the event, which was hosted by Texas Christian University’s Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

“Three of my drawings sold,” said Zoie. “And I met a very nice lady who bought one of my drawings and then gave me the pearl necklace she was wearing.”

To show her appreciation for a hospital staff and community that she said has given her so much, Zoie gave back by bringing a big box of art supplies to the hospital for other young patients to use.

“I was using the hospital’s art supplies when I was there, and I wanted to make sure that there would still be some for the other kids,” she explained.

“She has such a big heart, and I’m just proud of her,” her mom said.

Zoie’s drawings will be rotated throughout Cook Children’s Medical Center so that patients and visitors from various wards will be able to view it.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Homegrown Salad Bar Becomes Staple at MISD Elementary School

It’s not every day that children are excited to eat their fruits and vegetables, but at one Mansfield ISD school, the produce is a result of weeks of hard work.

Tarver-Rendon Elementary School is home to the district’s first salad bar for elementary school students. The idea is part of the school’s new agricultural leadership program, which teaches students responsibility through growing and caring for plants and animals.

Students in the program plant and harvest vegetables at an on-campus garden. The school worked in partnership with the district’s Student Nutrition Services to feature those homegrown fruits and vegetables in a salad bar during lunch.

“It’s a great addition to our agricultural program,” said Shaye Anne Atwood, agricultural leadership teacher. “The students can use the bar to get a side salad or to have a salad for their meal. Some of the items are grown right here, and we also work with a local farmer to supply items.”

The featured homegrown produce will rotate with the seasons.
Atwood said the students have responded positively to the new salad bar because they were part of the entire process, from seedling to full-grown food. Jenny Laib, assistant director of student nutrition, added that students who normally don’t like healthy foods are coming back for seconds.

“The best part about the salad bar is watching the kids light up,” said Laib. “The fact that they’re getting to customize it and use the utensils themselves, we’re seeing a huge difference with the kids with how well received it’s been.”

Tarver-Rendon Elementary School’s salad bar is being tested out on third and fourth-graders first. Staff hope to expand the food option to other grades in the near future.

Apart from the salad bar, agricultural leadership skills are incorporated into all subjects at the campus. Atwood said her hope is that the program will grow and follow the students throughout their educational career.

For more information about the agricultural leadership program, and other Mansfield ISD Power of Choice initiatives, visit the district website.

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.