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The Official Blog of the Mansfield Independent School District.

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month; but at Mansfield ISD schools, the tools students need in order to prevent bullying on their campus are taught year-round.

Through social and emotional learning (SEL) activities, students are able to understand and manage their emotions in order to make meaningful relationships with others and make responsible decisions.

“From the time school starts, we start working on things to help students be more connected with each other,” said Michelle Sykes, counselor at Imogene Gideon Elementary School. “We know that when children are connected—and they find things in common with each other—they’re less likely to bully each other.”

Sykes said strategies like encouraging students to sit with different friends, start conversations and be kind to one another has made a huge difference in the school’s culture. She noted that students love coming to school more and behavior issues have reduced.

“It’s important to not be a bully because that shows everyone that you’re not happy with your own life, and you’re taking your anger out on somebody else,” said Fela Shoyemi, a fourth grader at Gideon Elementary. 

Along with lessons to prevent bullying, Sykes said staff members are also teaching students how to tell an adult if a bullying incident does occur. She added that it’s important to teach students these actions at a young age because they’ll be able to retain it and use it in adulthood.

“My goal is for the kids to be productive citizens as they grow up and in life,” the counselor added. “I tell them all the time that the things that happen in the kids’ world, they happen in the adult world too, so I think that it starts at the base.”

Learn more about MISD’s social and emotional learning here.


 

Mansfield ISD's strategic plan, Vision 2030, is a reflection of the great responsibility schools have—to ensure students are prepared for the real world.

The mission, vision, values and guiding statements of the plan were put into place to ensure that all MISD students graduate college, career and life ready.

An important component of Vision 2030 is the student scorecard. The scorecard is designed to take students of all grade levels on a journey of continuous development by combining technology and educator support to assist students with developing critical skills for success beyond high school.

The scorecards are scheduled to roll out to all students in October. Before then, high school student leaders from across the district met to brainstorm ways to spread the news of the scorecards to their peers.

“They’re actually going to design how this communication looks, and be a part of the communication, and really explain what the student scorecard is and means for students,” said Superintendent Dr. Kimberley Cantu. “Who better to do that than the student leaders themselves.”

During the Sept. 21 meeting, students learned about the sections of the scorecard, which include various research-based college readiness, career readiness and life readiness indicators. They are using the information they learned to inform others.

“I think it was a great way to see all the student leaders from all the student councils and MISD and collaborate ideas, be able to showcase what we know, and how to implement this idea into students minds in order for them to understand,” said Leah Richard, senior at Mansfield High School.

Richard added that she thinks the scorecard is a great way to measure where she is as a student and thinks it’s a great help in getting her prepared for her future.

“It allows me to see, ‘Hey! I’m lacking in this area. I can talk to my counselor about that. How do I apply for FAFSA? Where do I apply for FAFSA?’ I think it’s a really great way to reference the things I need to know,” she said.

No matter which path a student chooses to take after graduation, the student scorecard can help them prepare for it. Superintendent Dr. Cantu said it was exciting to see the students engaging in dialogue and taking ownership of their scorecard.

“I think it’s important for students to be a part of their scorecard, partly because of ownership and accountability,” said Dr. Cantu. “It’s also getting them prepared in tracking their own data and really seeing what it is that they need to be college, career and life ready; and then owning that, and then also being able to engage in dialogue with their parents, with their counselor, with their teachers about where they are in the process.”

Student scorecards are broken down into four levels—kindergarten through fourth grade, fifth through sixth grade, seventh through eighth grade, and ninth through 12th grade. More information about the readiness indicators in those scorecards is available here.


 

People across the country spent the week celebrating the transformative power of the arts in education.

National Arts in Education Week was passed by Congress in 2010 and is held annually during the week beginning with the second Sunday of September. The designation is meant to bring attention to the importance of the arts—dance, music, theatre, media arts, literature, design and visual arts— and highlight how it is essential to the balanced education of a child.

Mansfield ISD’s fine arts programs include art, band, choir, cheerleading, drill team, elementary music, orchestra and theatre arts. Dr. Darwert Johnson, director of fine arts, said through those programs, students are learning 21st century skills to prepare them for life beyond graduation.

“Arts promote that critical thinking skill and that creativity and collaboration that we want to see our students have when they leave our schools and go into college or the workforce,” he said.

This year, MISD added its fine arts academies to the list of its choice programs. The elementary and intermediate school students who are enrolled in those academies are able to engage in a rigorous academic environment while encouraging artistic exploration and integration.

“It gives them an outlet to express their emotions and really find their creativity, which are just things that they can use later down in life, and it helps find that self-expression as they grow up,” said Jessica McPherson, P.E. and dance teacher at Alma Martinez Intermediate School. “It gives students another way to show their knowledge. Instead of just standard assessments, they can show it through a creative outlet.”

As the students move on to upper grade levels, the hope is that they have been exposed to many disciplines of the arts and have a better understanding of whether they’d like to continue in more competitive levels of MISD’s award-winning fine arts programs.

“We want to be one of the leading districts in the state in all of our fine arts programs,” said. Dr. Johnson. “We want to see all of our students performing at the state level, and nationally, and be known for how amazing our fine arts programs are.”

MISD’s fine arts department thrives to make a valid and lasting contribution to the education of students through study, participation and performance in the arts. For more information about the programs offered, visit the fine arts webpage.


 

It was a sea of red, white and blue at the Dr. Sarah K. Jandrucko Academy of Early Learners as students and staff members took part in Patriot Day.

Patriot Day is observed every year on Sept. 11 to memorialize the deadliest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that occurred 20 years ago on that day.

Although the Mansfield ISD prekindergartners weren’t born when the events happened, staff members decided to commemorate the day by wearing patriotic colors and learning about good citizenship.

“As adults, we know that Patriot Day is due to the events of 9/11, and we’re not teaching our 4-year- olds all of the ins and outs of that. But we are teaching them how to be good citizen because that’s what makes our country so great,” said Ashton Oliver, dean of instruction at the school.

With such a diverse campus, Oliver said it’s important to teach about patriotism because it helps the students learn about cooperation and being a part of a greater whole.

Teachers helped the young learners identify the U.S. flag, recite The Pledge of Allegiance and learn about the national anthem. Oliver said it was a great way to introduce the country’s core concepts in an age-appropriate way.

“They may not always put their hand over their heart in the right hand. They may not say all the words right. They may not know the meaning of it, but we’re teaching them the foundation,” Oliver continued. “Just like reading, we can’t just hand a kid a book. You’ve got to start with the basics first, and so we’re providing them with that background knowledge.”

Along with a day of remembrance, 9/11 also serves as a day of service, inspired by the goodwill and compassion shown by first responders and other citizens in the moments that followed the attacks.

More information about the Sept. 11 National Day of Service and Remembrance is available here.


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