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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kids Learn the Wonders of Water at Science Camp

When you’re having so much fun that you forget you’re learning, that’s what coordinators at Mansfield ISD’s summer science camp call a win.

Young scientists entering grades 1-5 participated in various labs and experiments focusing on this year’s camp theme—water. The topics covered ranged from conservation, hydroelectricity, pollution and purification.

“We try to combine keeping their education going and making them realize that education is not just sitting in a room and writing,” said camp coordinator Daniel Beauford. “They’re learning things without even realizing that they’re learning.”

Kids learned about the water cycle in one of the various sessions.
MISD Science Camp is being held June 19-23 at Brooks Wester Middle School. The program is in its fifth year and keeps gaining momentum. Last year, approximately 300 kids attended. This year, the camp maxed out at approximately 420 students.

“There’s a lot of kids here eager to learn. It grows every year, and that’s because of the different experiments and hands-on activities we provide. We have 35 of the best teachers in the district heading these science lessons,” said Beauford.

Incoming third-grader Jackson James said his favorite activity was creating an aquifer out of ice cream and toppings that he later got to eat. He said he learned some valuable information that he can share with others.

“I learned that 75 percent of our body is made out of water,” said the eight-year-old. “We’re also doing a PSA (public service announcement) to teach people not to waste water.”

As interest continues to grow in the camp, camp coordinators said they may need to expand the camp to two weeks to accommodate all the children. It’s a problem they said they’re happy to have.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

MISD Youth Dive into Future Career Choices

It’s a summer of exploration for dozens of Mansfield ISD students going into grades 6-8. Ben Barber Innovation Academy’s (BBIA) annual Rising Star Discovery Camp is underway.

The camp is a fun introduction to a few courses offered at BBIA. Students are able to receive an interactive overview of topics ranging from culinary arts, video production, graphic design, criminal justice and computer maintenance.

Green helps a student troubleshoot a computer tower.
Instructor Jimmie Green, Sr. said he likes seeing the kids learn, and the learning is a mutual process.

“These kids are smart. I can teach them 1,000 things, and they can teach me 2,000,” he said. “We’re diagnosing, defragging; and by the end of it, we’ll have a race to see who can take a computer apart and put it back together the fastest.”

Camp coordinators work hard to make the courses mimic real-life situations.

In the criminal justice class, the students went outdoors to investigate a staged crime scene. Chris Vasquez, who previously worked with the Houston Police Department for 11 years, said it’s a way to give students a general idea of the policing world while creating positive experiences between the children and law enforcement.

“I went into teaching because I got tired of putting kids in jail and wanted to catch them before they get corrupted in the system,” he said. “They’re learning the steps of an investigation right now, which involves documenting and picking up evidence.”

Vasquez gives instructions on how to correctly document evidence.
The teachers said their goal is to spark an interest in the students that will hopefully have them coming back to BBIA to pursue their respective career paths when they enter high school.

“Once my curiosity was sparked in computer maintenance, there was no turning back for me, so I hope these kids find the same interest in a topic,” Green said.

BBIA’s Rising Star Discovery Camp runs June 12-16 from 8 a.m. to noon. The cost of registration is $65.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Learning Continues in the Summer for MISD Teachers

What do teachers do in the first week of their summer break? At Mansfield ISD, they get a jumpstart at perfecting their skills for the following school year.

MISD is holding its annual Summer Curriculum Conference June 6-8 at Legacy High School. Attendees have the opportunity to select from various sessions, such as English language learners (ELL), technology, advanced academics, special education and other content-specific courses, to further their professional development.

“The conference provides professional development that teaches strategies and ways to integrate technology into learning,” said Toni Clarkson, elementary math coordinator. “So next year, as they go back to class, they’ll feel like they have a lot more tools to use with students and make students more successful.”

Teachers took part in immersive learning games for the classroom.
Clarkson said the neat part about the conference is the collaborative nature of it.

“The educators are really able to share with each other, so it’s a place where all the district teachers can come together and share best practices,” she added.

Hosting the summer conference is no easy feat. Coordinators said the planning starts in January to offer relevant courses paired with the best instructors. Registration opens in April.

Teachers enjoy the experience. They said becoming a student and soaking up the knowledge is the best way to better themselves in the classroom.

“I’ve learned a lot about dyslexia and dysgraphia in my session,” said Christie Furtick, teacher at Erma Nash Elementary School. “I’ll use the tools I learned to help my students even more.”

Attendance to the conference is free for MISD employees. Out-of-district educators pay $25 to attend. For more information about the conference course offerings, view the catalog here.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

MISD Senior Graduating with Associate Degree

Cobb graduated from TCC on May 16.
It’s graduation weekend at Mansfield ISD; and for one senior, it’ll be the second time within a month that she crossed the stage.

Frontier High School’s Brianna Cobb earned her associate degree before officially receiving her high school diploma.

She was able to accomplish the academic feat through Frontier’s Tarrant County College Trinity River East Campus (TREC) program. The program allows health science students an opportunity to earn 42 dual credit college hours and a certification.

The 18-year-old joined TREC in her junior year. She said it was a big goal to set for herself and admits that the road wasn’t easy.

“It was frustrating at times,” she explained. “Sometimes I wanted to give up because of the workload.”

Cobb took 17 college hours last semester. She said that she didn’t have much time for extracurricular activities in her junior or senior year, but knew that her end game was more important.

“I kept telling myself that it’ll be worth it, and it was so worth it. I’m so glad I stuck with it,” she continued. “I’m still in shock. When I think about it, I’m like ‘Wow! I did it!’”

The graduate plans to enroll at the University of North Texas this fall to earn her bachelor’s degree. She wants to become a cosmetic surgeon or an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN).

“I’d tell anyone who wants to do what I did to persevere,” she said. “It can get stressful, but don’t give up. Believe in yourself.”

For more information about MISD’s TREC program, visit the Frontier High School counseling center webpage.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Rewarding the Determination to Succeed

Having a high grade point average (GPA) is great, but proving that you have the drive to roll with life’s punches on your journey to college is also important. And for three Mansfield ISD seniors, that trait is being rewarded.

The Dell Scholars Program annually awards $20,000, a laptop, textbook credits and ongoing support to students who demonstrate that they have a different type of GPA—grit, potential and ambition.

Medina (left) and Ali (right) said they value service
and want to make a difference in people's lives.
Timberview High School’s Maria Medina and Hana Ali, along with Summit High School’s Samira Bideh, were three of the 400 finalists nationwide.

Medina said she has come a long way from being the little girl who moved to the U.S. from Mexico and didn’t learn English until the second grade. Despite the naysayers and doubters she encountered, she was determined to make something of herself.

“I started getting really good at English by fourth grade,” Medina said. “The next year, I was taking Pre-AP classes. I was nervous at first, but my teachers kept encouraging me to try it.”

The senior is now graduating from high school with enough credits to enter Texas A&M University as a sophomore this fall in hopes of becoming an immigration lawyer and, eventually, the president of Mexico.

Her classmate Ali also knows a thing or two about not letting life’s experiences deter the future. The fellow Dell Scholar lost her father when she was in the eighth grade. Instead of making excuses for herself, she pushed herself even harder.

“It was a hard time for my family,” Ali explained. “But I’ve always valued education, and I knew it’s what my dad would have wanted. Doing good in school would make my parents proud, and that’s what I wanted to continue to do.”

And there’s certainly a lot to be proud of. Ali will be graduating as valedictorian of her class. She will also be attending the University of Texas at Arlington with a full ride and some leftover money for medical school.

Bideh said she's ready to take on college
and further her education in graduate school.
Over at Summit High School, Bideh spent her high school years striving to succeed by juggling school, a job and her extracurricular activities—all while still keeping up with her grades. She said her determination comes from her parents who came to America from Somali speaking little to no English when she was an infant.

“They didn’t know the system or how anything worked since it was a new country,” she recalled. “I just kept putting education first. But even if you don’t have the best grades, showcase the different things you’re good at to prove to colleges that you have what it takes.”

Bideh, who is one of six siblings, said that she plans to attend the University of Arlington. She wants to major in biology to become a physician assistant.

Although these ladies may have had different life paths and obstacles, they kept their positive attitude through it all. Now, with the welcomed surprise of being a 2017 Dell Scholar, they will be able to use their positivity to help others through their respective careers.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Elementary Students Get Innovative in the Classroom

Visitors at Elizabeth Smith Elementary School this week had to watch out for photographers, flying Frisbee discs and even students taking part in military formations. The different activities were all part of the school's first ever Innovation Week.

Innovation Week is an opportunity for students to step outside of their everyday curriculum and explore subjects of interest in a project-based learning environment. Project-based learning is a way of instruction in which students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge over a longer time period rather than just one class session.

Each student had the opportunity to select one of 15 areas to work with for the entire five days. Areas ranged from baseball and softball to movie making and Frisbee golf. Teachers and parent volunteers with experience in these areas were on campus all week to help the students through the process of learning their exploratory area.

A student in the gardening class works on her fairy garden
project for Innovation Week at Elizabeth Smith Elementary.
Stormi Berry, Smith Elementary physical education aide and instructor for the Innovation Week’s hair design classes, feels that while the students are learning a new skill, seeing them intermingle with students from other grades is the real story of the event.

"Students from all grades participate in each area. They are all together, kindergarten through fourth grade, and it has been really fun seeing the older kids become big brother or big sisters to the younger ones," Berry said. "The older kids are excited to be a mentor to the young ones, and the younger students just love hanging out with the older kids."

For Cody Cross, taking part in the photography club and learning from some really great teachers has made this the best week ever.

"I love photography group because we take so many pictures, our teachers are amazingly nice and this is just the best time I have ever had at school."

Principal Lea Boiles hopes her students leave Innovation Week with an even further love of learning.

"My hope for Innovation Week is for students to engage in creative critical thinking activities that include building relationships, collaboration and community service," she said. "All of this is done in an atmosphere that promotes a love for learning and a desire to make a positive impact on our little part of the world, leaving it a better place than when we started."