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Friday, October 19, 2018

A Celebration of ‘Good Food, Real Food'

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A balanced diet is an important part of good health, and the Mansfield ISD Student Nutrition Team makes sure students and staff receive that nutritious foundation every day.

National School Lunch Week is a time to recognize school nutrition professionals around the country for their passion for food and education while bringing awareness to the federally-funded National School Lunch Program.

The federal program requires school meals to meet federal nutrition standards like offering fruits and vegetables every day, serving whole grain-rich foods, and limiting fat, calories and sodium.

Mansfield ISD has gone above and beyond those standards by adding a variety of scratch meals and fresh options on the menu. Some of the house-made items are chicken spaghetti, lasagna, taco meat, hot rolls, cinnamon rolls, various breads and sauces.
Harmon Elementary staff serve meals with a smile.

Rita Denton, director of student nutrition at MISD, said the weeklong celebration of National School Lunch Week is a great way to recognize the impact the kitchen staff has on their campuses.

“It’s a week that we get to celebrate our team and stakeholders. We get to give thanks to our food service professionals,” she explained. “They come in every day preparing fresh, healthy, delicious meals for our students.”

The theme for National School Lunch Week 2018 is “School Lunch: Lots 2 Love.” Some of the special celebrations at MISD included giveaways, highlighting student favorites on the menu, emphasizing locally sourced ingredients and providing free desserts for elementary students.

“For us, it’s just a celebration about ‘good food, real food’ and about our students,” Denton said.

She added that her team members are some of the best and most cheerful in the industry. They play a crucial role in starting the day off right with a breakfast and recharging the students at lunchtime.

MISD’s Student Nutrition Services served more than 5 million meals last year with a projection to serve even more this year. Glenn Harmon Elementary School has one of highest volumes in MISD of students served for breakfast and lunch daily. The campus café manager said being able to serve everyone who comes through the lines is truly her calling.

“It’s about kids first and then the food,” said Sydney Rogers. “I’m very passionate and very patient with them. I can understand them. I can relate to them because I’m a big kid at heart to be honest.”

National School Lunch Week 2018 is Oct. 15 through Oct. 19. The observance was started in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy.

For more information about MISD’s Student Nutrition Services, visit the department’s webpage.

Friday, October 12, 2018

AVID Prepares Students for the Next Stage in Life

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Mansfield ISD students in grades 7-12 have the opportunity to enroll in an elective that helps them learn vital educational skills so they can succeed in all levels of education.

Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, is a college-readiness system designed to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges or universities. The program is about setting high goals for the students and allowing them to rise to the challenge.

“We’re preparing students to be able to excel in school and be ready for the next level,” said LaKetra Robinson, an AVID teacher at James Coble Middle School. “In the middle school level, we’re preparing them for high school; and at the high school level, we’re preparing them for college and career.”

MISD also has an AVID Excel program for English language learners (ELL) in middle school to support those students with their academic success in hopes that they will continue the program in high school.

AVID students also go on college visits throughout the year.
Kimberly Peña, an AVID teacher at Timberview High School, said the needs for AVID students change as they progress in the system. The foundation is set in middle school, but organizational skills are stressed even more at the higher level.

“There’s a diversity in their classes. Some of them are taking AP courses where they’re allowed to get college credit,” she explained. “They have a lot more freedom with their time management, so they have to be accountable to themselves on how they spend that time.”

Students in the program noted that AVID classes have broadened their perspective on studying skills and goal setting.

“I need to put in the work myself. Nobody else is going to do that for me,” said Corbyn Wilde, a junior at Timberview High School. “It has also helped me plan by giving us time in class to really consider what we’re going to do with our futures.”

Although the students graduate from the program with a knowledge of test-taking strategies, organization, study skills, notetaking and public speaking, Robinson said her favorite part about teaching AVID is the holistic approach to educating a child.

“We’re teaching them about life skills, so I’m building them up to be prepared for society,” she added.

MISD classes are not designated for AVID until seventh grade. However, foundational AVID programs are available to MISD fifth- and sixth-graders to start them on the path of college readiness as well.

More information about the AVID program is available here.

Friday, October 5, 2018

MISD School in Running to Win $100K for Agriculture Program

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What would you do with $100,000? Staff members at Tarver-Rendon Elementary School hope to expand their agricultural leadership program with it.

They applied for Farmers Insurance's Dream Big Teacher Challenge. As part of the application process, educators nationwide submitted proposals explaining the impact the money would have on their community.

The proposal took four months to write, but staff members said it was all worth it because Tarver-Rendon Elementary School made it to the final round. Out of the 15 remaining finalists, five will win the grand prize.

“We figure we have a one in three chance, and we’re the only school district in Texas to be one of the finalists, so we’re very proud of that,” said Principal Jamie Norwood.

Tarver-Rendon students feed the hens while learning
about the egg-laying process.
Right now, the school provides students the opportunity to learn character skills by raising animals, growing their own food, using the food in their homegrown salad bar for lunch and giving some of the harvest to local food banks.

Winning $100,000 would open up even more doors.

“With the grant, we would be able to have an outdoor classroom with stadium-like seating, more stalls for more animals, raised garden beds, more pathways and more signage,” Norwood added.

Rita Denton, director of student nutrition for Mansfield ISD, said the kids would be exposed to more organic and homegrown foods as well.

“I think with that grant and the opportunity that this administration and teachers have at this school to get more equipment, I think that it would bring more ingredients to our garden bar,” she noted.

The grand prize winners will be chosen through online voting.

Cast your vote for Shaye Anne Atwood, agricultural leadership teacher at Tarver-Rendon Elementary School, here.

Voting is open until Nov. 3, and people are allowed to vote once a day.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Teacher Recently Diagnosed with Breast Cancer Finds Strength in Colors for Caring

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June 11, 2018 is a day that will be forever etched into DeAnna Garner’s memory. Along with her wedding planning, closing on a new house and enjoying the summer, she received devastating news from her doctor.

“I have triple negative breast cancer, and then it’s also in my lymph nodes, so I’m stage three,” explained the Martha Reid Leadership Academy art teacher. “It makes you feel kind of like poisoned or something. I wanted it out of me.”

Garner said breaking the news to her kids was probably the hardest part. She said it was also hard reliving the moment of her diagnosis with each person she told.

The mother of four began chemotherapy in the summertime, and shaved her head beforehand due to the hair loss it causes.

Garner (center) and her coworkers sport one of the shirts
that was made in her honor.
She was worried about how to introduce herself to her new students with her new look, so she turned to her best coping mechanism—humor.

“I wore a shirt that said, ‘Does this shirt make Ms. Dee’s head look bald?’” Garner said with a chuckle. “That’s how I want them to know that it’s okay.”

Apart from comedic relief and her strong faith, Garner noted that the love she receives from her school has been tremendous on her road to recovery. She said there have been fundraisers, shirts, gifts and an outpouring of kind words that have helped her make it through tough times.

The teacher also said Mansfield ISD’s Colors for Caring monthly initiative, which encourages the community to wear cancer awareness colors to show support for a loved one affected by cancer, took on a whole new meaning for her.

“I think Colors for Caring is amazing because coming to school on a day when people were wearing pink for me…it does make you feel better,” Garner added. “I think it’s really good.”

Garner underwent her most recent chemotherapy on Sept. 20. She has a few more rounds of chemotherapy to go before she undergoes surgery.

She hopes to transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor by August 2019. Learn more about MISD's Colors for Caring days here.

Friday, September 21, 2018

MISD Staff Rock Their School to Increase Student Engagement

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Student engagement and classroom rigor went to a whole new level at Donna Shepard Intermediate School.

Thousands of educators around the world took part in Rock Your School Day on Sept. 20. It’s an event with the goal of getting every student in every classroom to reignite their love for learning.

Participating educators are tasked with creating an outside-the-box educational experience for students, and Shepard Intermediate staff members were up for the challenge.

“As the kids were walking in, there were the electives teachers who were rocking music, and then the administrators [dressed in rock gear] were greeting students at the buses when they were coming in,” said Amalia Cervantes, the lead English language learners teacher at Shepard Intermediate.

The neon rock ‘n’ roll theme was just the beginning.

Dressed as a rockstar, Principal Matthew Brown
 high-fives students as they enter school.
When fifth-graders went into their classrooms, they discovered that each one had a different theme with several interactive activities. One class was decked out in Hollywood glam. Others featured camping, the beach or investigative gear.

Although organizers wanted the students to have fun, keeping the curriculum at a high level was equally important.

“Today, we were learning about fractions. And then in science, we were learning about solubility and stuff…seeing what happens when you mix salt and water,” explained fifth-grader Samuel Kleinjan.

Staff members said they stayed late, came early and received tons of help from parents to help transform their classrooms into a captivating learning experience; but it was all worth it in the end.

“The kids were super excited, and that’s what matters,” Cervantes continued. “They were engaged. They want to be here today and any day that we’re going to do these again...because we will be doing them again.”

School administrators plan to incorporate a Rock Your School Day at least once every six weeks. They said it is important to continually find a way to deliver ordinary content in an extraordinary way.

Friday, September 14, 2018

MISD Student Publications to be Inducted into National Hall of Fame

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The Hall of Fame is reserved for the best of the best in a particular industry, and Legacy High School’s journalism team is about to be added to the list of elite student publications in the country.

The National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA) inducts a student publication into its Hall of Fame if the publication has earned 10 All-American ratings, the organization’s highest distinction, within an 11-year span.

Legacy High’s yearbook and student newspaper, titled “The Arena” and “The Rider Online” respectively, met that criterion. The Hall of Fame induction is an accomplishment that journalism adviser Leland Mallett said came sooner than he realized.

“It’s a huge honor,” said Mallett. “It just goes by fast. You’re like, ‘Really? That’s where we are? We’ve been here long enough to do that?’”

The newspaper staff prepare to cover a
football game in Oklahoma.
Students who have had a part in the success of the publications were also excited to hear the news.

“I worked on this publication for three years, and I’ve seen us get these awards all the way through,” said editor-in-chief Kathryn Pedroza. “To be part of this 10-year process, it’s been really cool to see it evolve and then us get to this point.”

Mallett said he is proud of every student who has contributed to Legacy High’s body of work and appreciates the former students who still reach out to give their feedback.

“It’s fun, their ownership in it all these years,” Mallett continued. “It’s an honor to say, ‘Hey! We’re on that list.’ Pretty proud of what the kids have done.”

Hall of Fame inductees receive a special plaque and are added to the NSPA Hall of Fame plaques, which are displayed at the semiannual national convention.

Legacy High School journalism students and staff will travel to Chicago in November to be formally recognized at the convention.

Staff members said they hope the recognition will help grow Legacy High’s journalism program and cause more students to become involved in it.