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Friday, August 18, 2017

MISD Crews Prepare Down to the Bell

Anderson Elementary was rebuilt under the 2011 bond package.
In a matter of days, the newest MISD facilities transformed from looking like a construction site to being pristine buildings.

Charlotte Anderson Elementary School and The STEM Academy at Brooks Wester Middle School were ready to accept students and parents for the first day of school, but it took a lot of teamwork to reach to that point.

“It was amazing to see the construction workers, maintenance crews, custodial staff from different campuses, teachers and staff work together,” said Franklin Alvarenga, custodial supervisor for the Anderson Elementary School project. “We worked long nights and early mornings—even on the weekends—but we were so fortunate to have the resources and support needed to get the job done.”

Construction on the facilities were underway for months; however, the weather and earlier start of the school year made the completion schedule even tighter.

Alvarenga said Mansfield ISD staff had six days to move in and clean up at Anderson Elementary School. He said the reward was the look on the children's faces when they saw their newly rebuilt school.

“There’s a sense of satisfaction that your time and effort pays off and is recognized,” Alvarenga said.

The STEM Academy is currently housing 75 sixth-graders.
Over at the STEM Academy, the principal said she was overwhelmed by the amount of support she received to move into the building. Victoria Webster and her staff were given the “okay” to go inside on Monday, giving them only two days to get everything in place.

“The teamwork was absolutely phenomenal,” said Webster. “Everybody was checking up on us, and there was no complaining. The mentality was to get it done, and get it done right.”

Crews remained up until the wee hours of the morning putting the finishing touches on the building. Webster said she was surprised and grateful to see all the progress that was made in such a short amount of time.

“When everything was finally done, it was like a dream,” said Webster. “It was shocking to see something that you’ve been imagining actually come to life.”

Friday, August 4, 2017

MISD FFA Students Earn Nearly $57K at Showcase

MISD's FFA team prepared for the competition since January.
A group of 20 Mansfield ISD students who take great pride in their livestock can now say they have some of the best longhorns in the area, and they have the scholarship money to prove it.

The 2017 Autobahn Youth Scholarship Tour is an annual event in Fort Worth in which children and teens showcase their longhorn cattle. Organizers give out more than $400,000 in scholarship money to winners.

The five-day competition is much more than making sure the bovines have shiny coats. Contestants can also compete in various categories including public speaking, judging, agricultural mechanics, art and photography.

“I want my students to be really well-rounded individuals, so I tell them that they have to compete in certain categories,” said Kristi Chambliss, agricultural science teacher at Ben Barber Innovation Academy and sponsor for MISD’s FFA club. “If you want to be a pro in this industry, you have to be able to speak and write properly.”

Students from all over the Metroplex
showed off their cattle.
Diversifying the students’ talents paid off. The team raked in a club record of $56,998 in scholarships. In addition, three of the four all-around winners came from Mansfield ISD.

“My favorite part was seeing how happy the kids were when they heard their names being called for the awards,” Chambliss explained. “Our group also won the Herdsman Award for keeping our area the cleanest and working hard behind the scenes. It’s a big deal because showing is only a small part of what we do.”

This is the fourth year for MISD to compete in the Autobahn Youth Scholarship Tour. The students come for the competition, but leave with memories and lasting relationships.

“This is a major networking opportunity as well,” Chambliss continued. “They have common interests with other students and industry professionals. This can open the door to countless possibilities.”

View results of the 2017 Autobahn Youth Scholarship Tour here.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

MISD Camp Promotes Creativity and Collaboration

Campgoers worked together to bring their projects to life.
Mansfield ISD students entering grades 5-8 spent the week letting their imaginations run wild while building a spirit of teamwork. Create Camp is taking place July 24-28 at Legacy High School.

The summer camp is designed to allow the children to work with the four C’s—creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking. Camp coordinator Hope Hutchison said she decided to start the camp after working at the district’s science camp and seeing how excited the kids were to learn.

“I saw everyone’s enthusiasm, and I started thinking, ‘Maybe I should expand this idea to kids who like other subjects as well,’” said Hutchison. “Create Camp focuses more on STEAM, which incorporates the arts, as well as science, technology, engineering, and math. I’ve been doing Destination Imagination for more than 20 years, so this gives them a taste of that as well.”

MISD's Create Camp is in its second year. There are daily individual challenges and one comprehensive group challenge given to the children to teach them how to problem solve and think on their feet.

Students worked on their radio broadcast daily.
This year’s group project was a radio show. Students worked all week to create a comprehensive radio show, equipped with a story, live sound effects, cliffhanger and a breaking news bulletin. At the end of the week, the campers will perform the radio show for their parents.

“My favorite part is seeing the creative processes from the kids,” Hutchison continued. “These children didn’t know each other on the first day, but now they’re interacting and really working together to get this project done.”

Aaron Pradith was a radio announcer in his group. He noted that the camp helped him improve his social skills.

“This helped me break out of my shell more,” said the incoming fifth-grader at Della Icenhower Intermediate School. “It made me talk to my teammates more and make decisions together.”

More than 120 students participated in this year’s camp. Hutchison said she hopes her camp will inspire the students and teachers to start similar imagination clubs at their campuses.

“I know the district’s Vision 2020 plan states that students will participate in extracurricular or co-curricular activities, and this is another option they can choose,” she said.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

MISD Students with Special Needs Learn to Grow and Give

The group picked more than 20 pounds of produce in one day.
Every Tuesday and Thursday this summer, Mansfield ISD agricultural science teacher Keven Smith had two things on his mind—teaching life skills to students with special needs and giving back to the community.

Smith and the students went to the Ron Whitson Agricultural Science Center to feed the farm animals. He then took them over to a garden where they harvested produce to donate to local food pantries.

“I got together with MISD’s special education SUCCESS programs, and we started the SUCCESS garden three years ago. Students would come out and plant, and we would later harvest the food and give it to local food pantries,” said Smith. “We have harvested thousands of pounds of fresh foods like watermelon, okra, and squash so far.”

Smith said he loves instilling the knowledge of agriculture into the children’s lives. He wants them to know that fresh food does not magically appear in the stores.

“My goal is to teach them how important farming and ranching is,” he continued. “It’s not a career choice of the past. We need those jobs to sustain life. Also, people have the power to grow their own food, and they should learn how to.”

This year, the agricultural science teacher solicited the help of high school volunteers to provide another social element to the experience.

“I like that I get to help them,” said Kaitlyn Weitzman, incoming sophomore at Mansfield High School. “My brother has special needs too, and they don’t always get the chance to explore and do as much as they are out here.”

After a day of picking, the students got to fish in the local pond.
Smith will continue to instill the love of cultivation into young learners in the upcoming school year. He hosts pumpkin patch field trips, farm animal visits, and he is partnering with the new Tarver-Rendon School of Agricultural Leadership to teach core content and leadership skills through agricultural-based experiences.

Although his summer program has wrapped up, Smith said he is excited to start planting more crops for an even bigger harvest next year.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

New Early Literacy Center Designed for Interaction

A new facility that changes the way young students will learn is on the horizon at Mansfield ISD. The MISD Early Literacy Center, set to open in the fall of 2018, will be an innovative school for children ages three and four that takes learning beyond the four walls of a classroom.

“It’s basically structured in what early childhood research says is best for how students learn,” said Kristi Cobb, MISD’s director of early literacy. “Young students can come attend and learn through play, learn through unique experiences and learn through interacting with students.”

The focus of the learning center will be to promote literacy and numeracy development at an early age in an exploratory and engaging environment.

A rendering of a room dedicated to the study of Earth.
The facility will have 16 unique learning experiences, what people would typically call classrooms, that are structured into pods of learning: exploration, investigation, imagination and navigation. In each pod, children will be immersed in learning about different topics, such as the ocean, greenhouses, animals, construction and space.

“The building is very unique. It’s not like a traditional literacy center and not like a tradition school,” said Jeff Brogden, associate superintendent of facilities and bond programs. “For instance, one of the experiences is about the ocean, so there is an interactive submarine that is part of the experience. Students and teachers will be able to take an interactive field trip through the ocean to visit different mammals and learn all about that realm.”

The facility will be located near Della Icenhower Intermediate School off of South Collins Street. Each morning and afternoon session will consist of 15-17 students, a teacher and an instructional aide. Between 480-500 students will be able to enroll each year.

The school will also host field trips and other activities so that all Mansfield ISD students have the opportunity to benefit from the facility.

MISD's Early Literacy Center is aligned with the district's Vision 2020 guiding statement that indicates students will read on level or higher by the beginning of the third grade and will remain on level or higher as an MISD student.

View more details and renderings of the future school here.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Student Nutrition Cooking Up New Foods for Fall

Sturner prepared the chicken spaghetti in the test kitchen.
While students are out for the summer break, Mansfield ISD Student Nutrition Services is heating up their oven making sure everyone comes back to some new tasty, yet nutritious, meals.

Foods like chicken spaghetti, grilled chicken pesto subs, chicken and waffle paninis, hash brown casseroles, Asian chicken and rice bowls, and grilled stuffed burritos will be making their debut for certain grade levels in the fall.

Chef Isabella Sturner is charged with making new recipes for MISD schools. She said the process to get different foods on the menu is a collaborative one.

“I work closely with Denise Hayslip (MISD’s dietician) to make sure each recipe is compliant with USDA regulations,” said the district’s culinary trainer. “We try to keep our meals delicious, fresh and relevant—food that the students will actually eat.”

And MISD students have a say in what foods make the cut. When all the food guidelines are met, students taste them and provide their feedback.

“We recently had a taste testing for students at Summit High School. They really enjoyed the shrimp fajitas and jalapeno cornbread,” Sturner continued.

Sturner said the upcoming year’s meals will have a southern home flare to it, and nothing says homestyle better than making the food from scratch.

Fresher food, like this strawberry salsa, is the goal.
“The lasagna, zucchini bread, taco meat, fried rice, lo mein, ranch, spaghetti sauce—all of that is homemade. We have a good blend of scratch cooking, which is impressive since we have to serve 300 to 500 people within a 10-minute window,” she explained.

The nutrition workers try to accommodate all types of eaters, including vegetarians. That’s why they’re hosting a vegetarian item sample session on July 17 at 11 a.m. Anyone interested can go to the Student Nutrition office on 1151 Mansfield-Webb Road in Arlington.

With an average of more than 20,000 people being served each school day, the department certainly has its hands—and cafeterias—full, but workers said they wouldn’t have it any other way.

“My favorite part about food is the amount of enjoyment others get. We’re serving good food that’s real food,” Sturner added.

MISD Student Nutrition Services distributed more than 5 million meals last year. For more information about menus and pricing, visit the department website.