Friday, February 5, 2016

Gifts of Love to Our Four-Legged Soldiers

Fort Hood soldiers and their canine partners introduce
themselves to Daulton Elementary students, parents, and staff.
They may be cute and cuddly, but don’t let the fur fool you. Military dogs are an integral part to the protection of our country.

Students and staff at Anna May Daulton Elementary School are helping those four-legged soldiers get the support they need by raising money and collecting supplies to ship overseas. Through Operation Military Care K9, the campus is sending the military dogs and their handlers items to keep them healthy and protect them from harsh weather conditions.

“I want the kids to know how important these dogs are to our military,” said Lynn Kostel, librarian at Daulton who organized the fundraiser. “These dogs are nobody’s pet, and they’re vital to the survival of our guys.”

A military canine retrieves an object for his handler.
All branches of the armed forces utilize military service dogs specializing in drug and bomb detection. The canines sniff out narcotics, search for explosives, and support in other roles.

To kick off the fundraiser, Fort Hood soldiers visited the school with their canine partners to demonstrate how the dogs are used in different missions. The kids and adults were excited to see the dogs as they exhibited their talents.

“We try to teach kids about what the dogs really do,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Morton. “They always see dogs out and about, but this is a little different from the dogs they have at home.”

After the demonstration, the soldiers were surprised with baskets of supplies that were donated by local businesses. Kostel said the entire community did not hesitate to support when they heard about an opportunity to support the troops.

Local businesses donated gifts for the military dogs.
“I cried when I saw everything that they brought,” said Kostel. “Chick-fil-A sponsored the soldier’s lunch. We also had Petco, Petsmart, and Pet Supplies Plus supply items for the dogs.”

Daulton Elementary hopes the gifts of love keep coming. Money can be donated through the PTA, and the campus will be accepting items through Friday, Feb. 12. A list of needed canine supplies is available here.

Friday, January 29, 2016

MISD Teacher Named KLTY Teacher of the Month

She usually likes to stay behind the scenes, but Brooks Wester Middle School teacher Stephanie Shackelford was front and center to be recognized for a job well done by a local radio station.

Hundreds of students and staff gathered in Wester’s gym to honor Shackelford for receiving the 94.9 KLTY Teacher of the Month award. The award is given to deserving teachers who are nominated by the public. Coworker Julia Stephen said she wrote into KLTY after seeing how hard Shackelford worked to raise more than $10,000 for the campus’ Angel Tree program.

Radio host Frank Reed talking to Shackelford about her award.
“She really took the bull by the horns,” said Stephen, seventh grade science teacher. “She did the planning, and put in the hours, and the time, and the energy. She was just incredible to work with—very excited, motivating, and inspirational.”

Shackelford said she is in shock and humbled by such acknowledgement.

“I’m not used to having the attention on me, so this is all so new for me,” said Shackelford. “I hope students take away from this assembly that when you do good, something good eventually comes to you—even though you’re not doing it to get any sort of recognition for it.”

As the KLTY Teacher of the Month, the eighth grade English teacher received hundreds of dollars in gift cards, a complimentary facial treatment, and a plaque of recognition.

Buckets and TNT speaking to Wester Middle school students.
At the award ceremony, the audience received an additional treat by having two members of the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters speak to them about the importance of having good character. Afterwards, Buckets and TNT brought members from the crowd down to the court to teach some of their basketball skills.

The students left the presentation learning about cooperation, healthy mind and body, effort, enthusiasm, and responsibility (C.H.E.E.R.). The acronym is used to get the kids to care about school and each other to better prepare them for the challenges they may face as young adults.

Monday, January 25, 2016

MISD Staff Spotlight the Good in Schools and Departments

Ambassador Training spotlights the positivity in public schools.
For the past three years, Mansfield ISD has partnered with Friends of Texas Public Schools to bring the Ambassador Training Academy to staff members from across the district. The program unites campus and departmental employees around the district’s overall mission to foster a community built on mutual support and to cultivate productive, lifelong learners.

Each year, a group of 100 individuals are nominated by district leadership to represent MISD and come together for three energizing and informative professional development sessions. Participants learn how the power of professional unity profoundly impacts the field of public education.

The program explores some of the major issues negatively affecting the perception of Texas public schools, but the majority of the sessions are spent focusing on and celebrating all that is going right in public schools. The overall goal is to change the conversation about public education from the inside out by addressing the attitudes and mindsets of those working in the schools, and helping them to step up as ambassadors for themselves, their classrooms, their campuses, district, and the profession.

MISD ambassadors engage in the interactive sessions.
Ambassadors engage in a variety of activities including a book study, headline-gathering to share strengths and achievements from each campus and department, and the development of an activity or program that promotes comradery and teamwork. Each year, the participants share more than 1,000 "good news" stories from across the district.

"The Ambassador Training Academy was a great opportunity to learn about the wonderful things going on at all the MISD campuses and to see how well we appreciate and encourage each other in the district," said Todd Butler, third grade dual language teacher at Erma Nash Elementary School. "I've always believed that the public school system works well, but I learned things about its effectiveness that surprised even me."

Upon the completion of the program, ambassadors are challenged not only to continue their role as advocates and champions for Texas Public Schools, but also to share what they have learned to empower others with the same type of optimism and hope for the future of education.

"I truly enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of this year’s Ambassador Training Academy," said Beatrice Owens, instructional specialist at Lake Ridge High School. "The atmosphere was electrifying which challenged people to self-motivate. Personally, it was a great time to lift my spirit, and I left each meeting refreshed and ready to cheer on the staff at Lake Ridge." 

The 2015-16 MISD Ambassadors are encouraged to share what they learned to their peers.
This year’s class completed the program on January 13. There are now 300 Mansfield ISD employees who have fulfilled the training requirements to become MISD Ambassadors. Although the training is complete, the role of each ambassador is just beginning.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Building Character and Raising Funds Through Fitness

Before the run, students and parents recited
the pledge of allegiance.
It was time for a different kind of fundraising at Thelma Jones Elementary School. Teachers and staff wanted to raise money for more technology in the classroom, but they didn’t want to deal with selling and delivering products.

“We figured that if we gave something to our community that was healthy, they’d appreciate it, participate in it, and help the cause,” said PTA president Angela Cleversy.

As hoped, the community response was positive for the campus’ first ever Boosterthon Fun Run. It’s a program that wraps fitness, leadership, and character together.

First grade boys ran first while the girls cheered them on.
For two weeks, students learned about different character traits—like teamwork and humility—during their enrichment period. As they developed sportsmanship, the students prepared for the fun run by asking for pledges based on the number of laps they ran on the final day.

“It’s fundraising, but the focus is on character, fun, and fitness,” said second grade teacher Aline Trinh. “It’s something that I had done in my old school district in Virginia, so I suggested the idea to the PTA.”

The preliminary results amazed the staff. On the day of the fun run, more than $27,000 pledges were received from 36 states and five countries.

Not only will the funds be used to help the campus—some of the money also helps those in need. For every class that raises $30 or more per lap, Boosterthon Fun Run will donate a pair of shoes to a person overseas who needs it.

Angela Cleversy (third from left) is all smiles with
Principal Dameon Gray (left) and helpful teachers.
“It’s just been a great overall learning experience for the students. These kids are excited to get fit, and they’re excited to learn about the different character lessons. They're more united,” said Trinh.

Cleversy, who is also a special education teacher at Jones Elementary, said the school will use their portion of the funds raised to purchase more learning iPads, starting with third grade, fourth grade, special education, and enrichment classes.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Fourth Graders Take on Big Responsibility as Mini-Mentors

The 2015-16 Mini-Mentors pose with their interviewers.
At Louise Cabaniss Elementary School, it's never too early to become a great role model. That's why each year, a small group of hardworking and motivated students are selected to step up to the plate and become Mini-Mentors for their peers.

The Cabaniss Mini-Mentors are a council made up of fourth grade students with big responsibilities and even bigger hearts. They are committed to peer tutoring, community outreach for campus events and programs, delivering the school announcements, and organizing various projects.

The selection process for these mentors is rigorous and gives the students the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the program.

After being nominated by their classroom teacher, the nominees have to develop and present a resume detailing their accomplishments, academic goals, extracurricular involvement, family value system, future aspirations, and references.

The Cabaniss Cowboys select
six Mini-Mentors each year.
The next phase of the process includes interviews that challenge students to elaborate on their resume amongst an interview team of four teachers. If students make it past that portion of the process, they compete in a debate-style setting to prove to a panel of judges that they have what it takes to be a member of the Cabaniss Mini-Mentor team.

Out of more than 33 nominees, six dedicated students are finally selected.

Sherry Smith, the lead ESL teacher at Cabaniss Elementary, and math specialist Alethia Williams, oversee the program and assist with each phase of the process.

“The Mini-Mentors are like the role models for our school,” said Smith. “They are responsible, honest, hardworking, and very kind-hearted.”

Cabaniss Mini-Mentors are trained to be effective, age-appropriate mentors. They meet weekly with their younger mentees and help out with various campus activities.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Lake Ridge Football Makes District History by Going to State Championship

Coach Thor and quarterback Jett Duffey embrace after winning
the state semifinal game. Courtesy: Dallas Morning News.
For head coach Kirk Thor, the journey has been surreal. He went from starting Lake Ridge High School’s football program in 2012 with a record of 0-10 to going into the 5A Division I state championship game as an undefeated team three years later.

The 2015 matchup is the first time Mansfield ISD has reached a state championship game in football.

“I knew it would be a tough road, but it energizes me to build programs and people,” said Coach Thor.

“We have a tremendous coaching staff, and our focus is on the process and building a culture of acceptance. We love you for who you are, and we want you to do your best at all times. It’s not about the scoreboard.”

The Lake Ridge Eagles became runner-ups in the championship game against George Ranch Longhorns on Dec. 18, but Thor said he still has plenty to be happy about.

The 2016 senior class at Lake Ridge High School will be the first class that has been at the school all four years. Coach said it has been amazing to see his team grow throughout the years and accomplish so much.

The Lake Ridge football team gathers together after a victory.
“I’m like a proud dad,” Thor added. “It’s been fun as a coach to see these boys develop into the great young men they are today.”

Thor noted that senior quarterback Jett Duffey, who has committed to Texas Tech University, stays humble even after winning so many awards and recognitions for his athleticism. He said his entire team deserves the spotlight and there are plenty of unsung heroes.

Being able to make it all the way to the state championship game has been a great ride for coach. He said he is thankful for the community support he has received along the way.

“To be able to make it that far is exciting,” said Coach Thor. “It’s a neat experience, and we’re humbled and very grateful.”