Friday, April 7, 2017

MISD Departments Work Together After Storm

Storms rolled through Mansfield ISD in the early morning hours on March 29. The damage caused by these storms forced MISD to close the district for the day while repairs were made to campuses.

Not all employees were free from work that day. In fact, many departments put in extra hours in order to make sure classes were ready to resume the following day.

To dealing with power outages and fallen trees, many employees found themselves doing jobs that may not fall in their respective duties.

Mark Williamson, MISD's director of maintenance, and his team were up early assessing and repairing the damage made.

"I had plumbers getting batting cages off backstops. I had electricians helping with the removal of trees," Williamson stated about the flexibility of his staff. "I had carpenters working with the grounds team collect and remove debris. It was all hands on deck."

The scoreboard at Timberview High School's
baseball field was damaged by the storm.
When the power goes out on a campus, it affects more than just the classroom environment. The Student Nutrition department has to immediately begin to implement a plan for their food inventory on campuses. Many of the campuses powered back up before the inventory could be affected; but for five campuses, plans had to be made to maintain the quality of the food.

Dr. Paul Cash, executive director of facilities and operations, was very pleased with the districtwide effort that was made to help these campuses.

"The distribution department rounded up their freezer trucks and arranged pick ups at the five campuses needing assistance," Cash said. "Student nutrition technicians, members of the MISD Energy Team and other district employees were on site to load these trucks in order to maintain quality of the food."

The ultimate goal on any weather-related school dismissal day is to get students back in the classroom as soon as possible. Through the efforts of numerous departments working together, MISD was able to return to class the next day.

"The majority of teachers returned to class the next day with lights on and food being served to students," Cash explained. "Not once during all the work that lead to that did one person make a negative comment about the job that had to be done. They got up and came to work committed to stay as long as they needed to stay in order to get kids back to school."

Friday, March 31, 2017

Industry Certifications Prepare Students for Future

Walking through the halls of Ben Barber Innovation Academy (BBIA) and Frontier High School, you may see students operating a hand-built robot, filming a short film about the effects of coffee or even working on a full engine rebuild for a classic car.

Principal Cathy Hudgins is proud of not only the numerous choices her students have, but also what opportunities those choices open up for them.

"We offer a wide range of career classes here, but what is more impressive is that we offer over 70 different industry-level certifications within those courses," Hudgins said.

The availability of industry certifications or certificates aligns directly with one of the guiding statements found in the Mansfield ISD’s strategic plan, Vision 2020. Vision 2020 states that all students will graduate with 24 or more college hours and/or an industry certification or certificate.

In support of Vision 2020, Hudgins and her staff have been investigating more certifications that could be offered through the current courses at BBIA and Frontier High. They are excited to add many new options in the 2017-18 school year that will help students become more career-ready upon leaving high school.

A culinary arts student prepares to cook an entree at Savvy's Bistro,
BBIA's student-run restaurant.
One such certification is the ProStart Certification in Culinary Arts. Students working in the culinary arts department are currently required to obtain their ServSafe certification in food handling, but the ProStart Certification will be the first skills-based certification in this program of study.

"This certification will allow our students to walk into any restaurant in the United States and immediately get a heads up on everyone else," Hudgins continued. "This is a proven industry certification that shows they are at the highest level of skills and ability."

The Arts and Audio/Visual (AV) Department will begin to offer students the opportunity to get a certification in the video editing software Adobe Premiere CC. This is an editing platform that is used at local news stations, large media companies and major Hollywood studios.

Hudgins is also excited about a new certification that will be coming to BBIA's marketing program.

"We are bringing a new certification to our marketing department that is called School-Based Enterprise Certification," Hudgins explained. "As the students work through the student store, they will learn the backend of store management, marketing, pricing and more. That is all included in this certification."

Also included in this guiding statement from Vision 2020, students will graduate with 24 or more college hours. Frontier High School offers a program that can help students interested in the area of health science to get a head start on their college education. The Health Science Academy through Tarrant County College Trinity River East Campus (TREC) allows students to earn up to 48 hours of college credit before graduating high school. Students who complete all 48 hours will earn their associate degree before they walk the stage and receive their diploma.

"Earning certifications is a great way for students to measure their achievement in classes," Hudgins said. "It also gives them a leg up as they are trying to get into colleges or go into the workforce."

For more information about MISD’s Vision 2020, visit the district website.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Elementary Schools Unite to Create Jr. Hoops Basketball Club

Sports fans around the country have been filling out brackets and following along with the NCAA basketball tournament, but a group of Mansfield ISD elementary schools are taking part in their own version of March Madness.

Early in the school year, Janet Brockett Elementary School principal, Tamara Liddell, was introduced to the district’s guiding statements for the newly introduced strategic plan Vision 2020. One of the guiding statements states that all students will be involved in at least one extra or co-curricular activity, Liddell immediately had an idea.

"My colleagues and I began talking about how we could support Vision 2020, I threw out starting a basketball league,” Liddell said about the creation of the league. "We started and he had six schools that wanted to be involved. Our children were ecstatic to now have, what they have asked for quite often, basketball."

The team from Imogene Gideon receives the trophy
after winning the championship game of the playoffs
For the first year of the MISD Elementary Basketball League, teams from Janet Brockett, Imogene Gideon, Louise Cabaniss, Thelma Jones, Erma Nash and Glenn Harmon elementary schools played weekly games against each other and concluded their season with a playoff tournament.
In order to give these elementary students the feel of the 'big leagues,' the games are played at James Coble Middle School. Coaches from within the school community volunteer their time to help these young hoop hopefuls hone their skills and prepare for each game.

These games are more than just basketball competition for the students on the team; many of the schools have started a cheerleading club to support the students on game nights, as well on campus. The cheer clubs are responsible for organizing pep rallies for the teams on game day, providing signs and spirit sticks to fans, but most importantly they are there to cheer their team on at the game.

By having so many students involved in various ways, this event is truly bringing the MISD community together. During these games, the stands in the middle school gyms are packed with parents, grandparents, and other students from their campuses.

The students are not only getting to play a sport they love, but also getting to learn teamwork, sportsmanship and also having the opportunity to make new friends. Juelz Harris, an Imogene Gideon fourth grader, is really enjoying this experience.

"We have built a lot of friendships and it has been very fun working with our coaches. It’s my favorite sport, I am glad we get to play now."

For the principals of these campuses, the league isn’t about a trophy or wins and loses. Shanee Charles, Principal at Imogene Gideon Elementary, appreciates what this league is teaching, not only her students, but the school community as a whole.

"I feel like this basketball league has not only given us a stronger sense of community, but also, a stronger sense of school pride. The other students that are not on the team come to school asking who we play this week and if we’ve won the game. Next year we would like to see this program grow to more campuses."

Friday, March 10, 2017

MISD Elementary School Trains Leaders of the Future

An eye-opening trip to the Ron Clark Academy inspired MISD principal Tameka Patton to bring a very special program back to Nancy Neal Elementary School.

"At the Ron Clark Academy, we were greeted by students who asked us questions and asked what was our mission there,” Patton said. “I’ve got students at Nancy Neal that can do this."

Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas spent time with the Neal
Ambassadors earlier in the year teaching them the importance
of being a life-long learner.
The Nancy Neal Ambassadors are the student body representatives that assist in campus community outreach efforts and serve as hosts for special guests to the campus.

They are a key component of telling the “Neal story” to guests who visit the campus.

"Students had to complete an application and meet an application deadline,” ambassador co-sponsor Erica Carswell stated about the selection process of the students who would become ambassadors. “They were then brought in for face to face interviews. We selected the top ten students and they became Neal Ambassadors."

For Turner Hawkins, applying to be an ambassador was an obvious choice.

"I chose to join because I thought I would do a great job because I love helping people. This has taught me that if you work together, you can get more done." Hawkins said.

Through the direction of their sponsors, school leadership and the many special guests they have welcomed into their meetings, the Neal Ambassadors are learning character, responsibility and the value of a heart for service.

The students have had the privilege of learning leadership traits from a number of guest speakers. Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas spent time with students early in the year talking about what it means to have a heart for service and the importance of being a life long learner. Recently, the ambassadors welcomed Leigh Collins, district director for Senator Konni Burton, who talked about the importance of goal setting. The students listened to her speak and ask questions about her educational path and her career.

Ultimately, the Neal Ambassador Program is about building leaders of the future in areas such as public speaking, responsibility or introductions; the possibilities are endless.

Co-sponsor Monique McGrew says it’s all about their character.

"The one thing we have really honed in this year, and tried to instill on each student is character, who are you when no one’s looking."

Friday, March 3, 2017

Teen Leadership Students Help Girls Battling Cancer

For the past two years, Mansfield ISD has been encouraging the community to take part in Colors for Caring. The initiative, started by Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas, is celebrated on the first Monday of every month in honor of those who have been affected or have had loved ones affected by cancer.

Summit High School seniors Elliot Adway, Lauren Blue, Dacion Tatum and Cierra Lockhart have taken part in many of the Colors for Caring days, but knew they could do more when they were given a special project for their Teen Leadership II class.

The students were asked to find a passion and come together to help a cause. The only stipulation on the project was it could not be a traditional money fundraiser. Senior Lauren Blue knew she wanted to do something to help children.

"In Teen Leadership II, Mrs. Cullen asked all of us to research non-profit organizations and see how we could meet their need. I was researching and I found Bow Dazzling," she said about how the group project started. "I thought it was the neatest one so I asked the members in my group if they wanted to do that one also they said yes."

Lauren and her group have reached out to each middle and high school campus' cheer sponsor in hopes of getting their programs involved in this project.

Their plan is for each middle and high school to have posters about the bow and ribbon drive displayed throughout the various campuses with information about how to get involved. Each campus will have a basket in their cheerleading room for students to drop off donated bows and ribbons.

Lauren understands the potential impact this project could have for the young girls involved.

"Helping little girls with cancer makes me feel amazing! Knowing that I can help someone going through something ten times harder than my life means the world to me."

Bows for Beauties is districtwide service project that is accepting new/unused bows that will be going to young girls of all ages. For more information on how you can contribute to this project, contact Cierra Lockhart ( or Lauren Blue (

For information and a photo gallery of MISD’s Colors for Caring Days, visit the district’s website.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mansfield Day at the Capitol

Representatives from Mansfield ISD, the City of Mansfield and the Mansfield Chamber of Commerce loaded up on buses and took a trip down Highway 35 to let their voices be heard.

Feb. 15 was Mansfield Day at the Capitol; and MISD had its students, staff and board trustees take part in the day of advocacy.

“I wanted our kids to interact with [state legislators] so they can continue to see what great kids we have in our district,” said MISD Superintendent Dr. Jim Vaszauskas. “I also wanted for the kids to meet our legislators who represent us in Austin and hear them speak.”

The group took a full tour of the State Capitol in Austin.
Students were grateful to be in attendance because it gave them the opportunity to take what they learn in their textbooks and bring it to life.

“It’s a blessing to be here because a lot of people don’t get to see what it’s like to really be in a position where you get to see how your say gets put in the Capitol. It’s a good experience to see for yourself,” said Cierra Lockhart, senior at Summit High School.

The trip to Austin also gave the MISD school board a chance to share all the great things happening within the district.

“We’re really a voice for our kids,” MISD Board President Raul Gonzalez explained. “We’re making sure state legislators put the political agendas aside and make public education a priority.”

The day at the Capitol was hosted by the Mansfield Chamber of Commerce. The organization holds advocacy days every two years, but 2017 marks the first year the three entities have gone together to show strength in numbers.