Friday, October 21, 2016

Learning Through Immersion: The Foreign Exchange Student Program

You can learn about different countries in geography books, but 11 new Mansfield ISD high school students have chosen to learn about the U.S. culture by traveling across the globe and immersing themselves in it.

The MISD Foreign Exchange Student Program provides teenagers from other countries the opportunity to learn about the history of the United States, see the workings of U.S. government and become more fluent in the written and spoken English language.

“There’s such hope and promise in what a foreign exchange student can glean from the year-long experience.” said Holly McCanlies, MISD director of guidance and counseling. “The purpose of the program is to gain a deep understanding of a culture that’s different from their own, to make life-long friendships and to experience an educational system that is truly great.”

Gregory (right) assists Dominguez (left) in computer technology class.
Federico Dominguez is originally from Spain and attends Timberview High School. He said the decision to come to America for a full year of learning was one he felt would set him up for a successful future.

“I want to learn English because it’s a global language. I will need it for my work and life,” said the 16-year-old. “I’ve learned that you can find a lot of people from different places.”

Dominguez said he loves soccer and is on the junior varsity team at Timberview. He keeps in touch with his family back in Spain weekly and is excited to be making friends here.

“He interacts a lot with the students,” said Timberview teacher and coach Duane Gregory. “I think he’s done a good job getting acclimated and familiar with how things work in our community and our culture.”

McCanlies said that students from all over the world have taken advantage of the MISD Foreign Exchange Student Program, and she has seen how the experience has helped them flourish into well-rounded individuals.

During their stay, foreign exchange students live with host families who reside within the district. MISD has space for five foreign exchange students at each of its traditional high schools. For more information about enrollment and eligibility, visit the guidance and counseling page.

Friday, October 14, 2016

MISD Students “Nail It” for Families in Need

A stage usually set up for musicals and performances was transformed into a construction workshop filled with tools and supplies to see which North Texas high school team would be named the best builders in the region.

“We were trying to come up with a fun preliminary contest prior to our SkillsUSA contest,” said Gene Schramme, construction technology teacher at Mansfield ISD’s Ben Barber Innovation Academy. “We brought the ‘Nailed It’ idea to the staff at the MISD Center for the Performing Arts, and they helped it all come together.”

Students used teamwork and skill to build their playhouses.
The teams of four from Ben Barber Innovation Academy, Birdville Center of Technology and Advanced Learning, Stephenville High School and Fort Worth’s Green B. Trimble Technical High School spent hours designing and building a playhouse that would be judged by a panel of industry professionals.

The inaugural contest wasn’t all about hands-on learning, though—it was also a way to give back to the community.

“I didn’t know these houses were going to Habitat for Humanity until two weeks ago,” said Jacob Dawson, high school junior and member of the Ben Barber Innovation Academy team. “It made it that much more important to do that job right.”

“The first thing I told [the teams] was, 'We want you to be safe, and we want you to have fun because we’re building these playhouses for kids.' At the end of the day, there are four families, and their kids are getting a playhouse,” said Schramme.

The MISD team was proud of their finished product.
After six intense hours of work, the judges made their final decision. MISD’s Jacob Dawson, Caleb Padgett, Logan Dawson and Hayden Zawodniak earned the coveted winner’s plaque. They were happy that their talents were recognized, but they were even happier to be helping a greater cause.

“About a month ago, we took a trip, and we helped Habitat for Humanity, and we got to meet a bunch of wonderful people,” said junior Caleb Padgett. “Now that we get to do these, it’s such an honor to be able to give those to families in need.”

DEWALT® Power Tools, Huckabee & Associates, Inc. and Upstage Center, Inc. were major sponsors of the Oct. 12 event.

Organizers hope the competition will expand to include even more area schools next year.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Military Dad Surprises Daughter with Homecoming

A late-night email from a kindergartner's mother caused staff from two Mansfield ISD elementary schools to pull together and give the five-year-old a surprise ending to her day.

The email stated that Brielle Garcia would not be in class on Friday because her dad came back from deployment. He had been gone for months and was going to spend some time with his daughter.

Wal-Mart donated small flags for the students to wave
during the impromptu assembly.
But employees at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School and Judy K. Miller Elementary School, who share the same campus, wanted to make the occasion a real hero's welcome.

"I came to school early this morning, sent out a couple emails, and everyone just got the urge and dedication to make something wonderful happen for Brielle and her dad," said Sheira Petty, principal at Charlotte Anderson Elementary School.

In an impromptu kindergarten assembly about heroes, students learned about the different branches of the military. Brielle was then called up to the front of the room because her dad is in the U.S. Air Force.

Brielle was shy but happy to finally see
her father after his deployment.
As the Air Force song played in the background, the curtains to the stage slowly opened to reveal Brielle's dad standing behind her.

She looked back in shock and gave her father a big hug and a kiss. The students who watched it all unfold waved their little American flags and cheered them on.

"I'm actually leaving again to Korea in either January or March; so any time I get to come home, I try to come back and see her," said Staff Sgt. George Garcia.

Brielle didn't have much to say, but her smile said it all. Her daddy was back, and she was going to cherish every moment of it for as long as she could.

Friday, September 30, 2016

A Soldier’s Surprise Return to His Mom

For a pre-kindergarten teacher at Alice Ponder Elementary School, her day of usual lessons and activities turned into the best surprise she could have asked for. Lynne Sluder had no idea that her son, who had been deployed overseas for months, would come home and surprise her in her classroom.

“I was gone for about seven months,” said Owen Thompson, a U.S. Marine and Mansfield High School graduate. “I was part of what’s called a Marine Expeditionary Unit. I went to Hong Kong and a few of the Middle Eastern countries. I know it’s not the easiest thing for a mom.”

Sluder (left) said she hasn't seen her son in almost two years,
and they only talked on the phone a few times.
Thompson, his wife and his two children walked into Sluder’s classroom for the big reveal. When Sluder turned around to see who was at the door, all she could do was scream with excitement.

“I saw him once in the last almost two years,” said Sluder as she fought to hold back tears. “[Surprising me] was such an incredible and thoughtful thing for him to do.”

Sluder added that she is proud of her son for the decision he made to serve our country, and she is actually welcoming back two heroes.

“[Owen’s wife Rashell] has blessed Owen’s life, and that’s all a mother-in-law could ever ask for. I’m proud of both of them because military life is hard for families."

The teacher said she can’t wait to catch up with her son and daughter-in-law and spend time with her grandchildren.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Vision 2020 Focus: Algebra I Mastery

Mansfield ISD's mission is to inspire and educate students to be productive citizens. In alignment with this mission, one of the guiding statements in the district's Vision 2020 Strategic Plan is that students will demonstrate mastery of Algebra I by the end of ninth grade.

"The reason I'm teaching is to help kids love math as much as I do," said first-year teacher Kate Gustafson from Della Icenhower Intermediate School.

Watch more on how MISD teachers are laying that groundwork for students.

To view Mansfield ISD's full Vision 2020 Strategic Plan, visit the MISD website.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Little-Known Resource for MISD High Schoolers

Smith (middle) and Spikes (right) walked a student through
the college application process.
For high schoolers who need some extra guidance with anything and everything related to college, free help is only a hallway or two away.

Mansfield ISD partners with The University of Texas at Arlington and inspirED to provide each high school with GO Centers. The centers connect high school students with college mentors who help them throughout the year with topics ranging from college admission, career choices and scholarships.

“Sometimes parents don’t have the time or knowledge to give their children what they need for college,” said Michelle Smith, counselor at Frontier High School. “Students come in who are first-generation college goers or who don’t have the means to help themselves. The Go Centers give them that extra one-on-one time.”

Smith said the centers have been a great extension to the counseling program.

At Frontier High School, former graduates are the ones manning the booths. Graduate Abigail Spikes said she was ready for college, but decided to come back and help other high schoolers when she realized everyone wasn’t as fortunate.

GO Centers are located near the counseling office.
“A lot of my friends didn’t have everything together for college,” said the Dallas Baptist University freshman. “I felt called to come back because college is incredibly scary if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Spikes wants each high school student to know that they are not alone.

“We are here to help. We can schedule college visits, register for the SAT/ACT, talk about dual credit—there’s so many ways to get you on the right track after graduation, and it’s right here on campus for free.”

Students can set up appointments to visit their school’s Go Center by visiting the campus website. After choosing a campus, select the “resources” option on the top menu and select “Counseling Center.”