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The Official Blog of the Mansfield Independent School District

“It’s not the disability. It’s ability.”

Those are the words that retired Sgt. 1st Class Dana Bowman lives by.

Bowman was a member of the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army's official aerial parachute demonstration team. In 1994, he suffered a mid-air collision with one of his teammates. The teammate did not survive, and Bowman lost both of his legs as a result.

Despite that setback, Bowman never gave up on his dream. He went into rehab and worked even harder to continue his army career.

“I became the first double amputee to re-enlist back into the United States military; and now, it’s given me an opportunity to travel around to go to speak a message of hope,” he said.

Bowman shared that encouraging message to the employees of Mary Jo Sheppard Elementary School on Aug. 8. Staff members said it helped changed their perspective.

“It just showed that all of us have a disability that we are working towards becoming an ability,” said Kimberly Webb, the school’s math specialist. “Your disability doesn’t define you.”

Being able to push through during the hard times is a lesson that staff members said they will instill into their students as well.

“All of our students come to school with different baggage or different things affecting them in life,” said Principal Darrell LeJeune. “But our teachers, I wanted them to know that they can put a positive light on everything for our students to lift them up and motivate them to do the best that they can do at our school.”

LeJeune plans to invite Bowman back on his campus around Veterans Day to speak to the students. He said his story fits perfectly into MISD’s Vision 2020 value of resiliency.

Members of the Mansfield ISD Transportation Department already knew it, but now they have the awards to prove it—their mechanics are some of the best in the state.

In their first time competing at the Texas Association of Bus Technicians (TASBT) state competition, MISD master mechanics Joshua Hert and Kenneth Reaves took home the first and third place prize, respectively.

The competition consisted of a written exam and a portion in which technicians were timed as they diagnosed three separate broken-down buses.

Hert said he was ready for the competition, but he never imagined that he’d actually win.

“I was happy, excited, shocked,” he explained. “I really didn't know what to think because I didn't expect to come in first place.”

David Walker, director of transportation for the district, said one of his goals since coming to the district in 2018 has been for his employees to attend more professional development opportunities. So when his fleet manager asked if the mechanics could participate in the TASBT contest, it was a no brainer.

Walker said taking home two of the top three prizes is a major deal.

“We made a statement, and I think it's cool,” Walker said. “We all know that the district has incredible things going on. The district is stellar. There are parts to make it stellar, and we're one of those parts.”

The director said there are a lot of accomplishments from his department that the public may not know. For example, MISD is a Texas Department of Public Safety demonstration location, and the district's shop consistency receives the Blue Seal of Excellence from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).

Hert will move on to compete at the national competition for bus technicians. He said he's studying his ASE materials to prepare for it.

Reaves will serve as the alternate at nationals. He noted that being able to place at such a contest is a testament to the district as a whole.

“I never got these opportunities anywhere else that I’ve worked,” said Reaves. “Being able to better my skills, and even win and award for it, just tells you how great this district is.”

The Mansfield ISD Transportation Department services 15,000 students per school year using about 280 buses. Fourteen mechanics are on staff for the department.

For more information about MISD Transportation, visit its webpage.

No matter the level of expertise a child has in a sport, the Mansfield ISD Athletics Department hosted several camps this summer to take those skills to the next level.

The MISD athletic camps covered a vast array of sports, including baseball, soccer, football and diving. For some of the camps, no prior experience was necessary.

“Diving camp is an introduction to the sport of diving,” said Andy Serie, MISD diving coach. “It’s designed to bring kids in, teach them some of the introductory basics of the sport and to see if they’re interested in continuing on into some of the other programs we offer.”

There were nine diving camps held during the summer for students ages 6-18 at the MISD Natatorium, but diving lessons are held throughout the year.

“Our main focus are the skills and progressions of diving, but we also want them to have fun,” Serie continued.

In addition to the various summer sports camps the district hosts, two-hour strength and conditioning sessions are being held for middle and high school athletes. MISD student-athletes are able to participate in these sessions at no cost.

“We’re going to give you the conditioning so you don’t break down, and we’re going to give you strength that’s the foundation of power, speed and agility,” said Shane Trotter, Mansfield High School’s strength and conditioning coordinator. “But the most important benefit is injury reduction.”

The classes are on Monday through Thursday at the student-athlete’s home campus. The last day for those sessions will be July 27.

District officials said it is a great way to prepare students for their sport of choice.

“We look forward to how this hard work is going to pay off for all our student-athletes next season,” said Tammy Lusinger, MISD assistant athletics director. “This is why Mansfield ISD is a great place to live, learn, teach and compete.”

MISD offers a well-balanced, comprehensive athletic program consisting of five high school and six middle schools. Find out more information about MISD Athletics here.

Although it may look a little messy now, the construction going on across the district is a good sign that MISD Bond 2017 is making great progress.

Mansfield ISD voters passed a $275 million bond package in May 2017 to address district growth, equity, safety and aging infrastructure across the district. Development of the bond proposal involved an almost two-year, in-depth process of information gathering, research and community input.

Nearly every school and district facility benefited from the bond package, and three new schools will be built.

“The three biggies of this bond are Brenda Norwood Elementary School, Alma Martinez Intermediate School and Charlene McKinzey Middle School,” said Dr. Paul Cash, executive director of facilities and operations. “The design phase is complete, ground has been broken and walls are going up at the middle school as we speak.”

The new schools are expected to open by fall 2020, barring no additional weather delays.

Some of the completed projects under the bond package include an expansion of Ben Barber Innovation Academy to add more classrooms and a large space for orchestra classes. A major overhaul of elementary school playgrounds and the addition of playgrounds at every intermediate school is also almost finished.

Right now, the major renovations are happening at the high school level. Mansfield, Lake Ridge, Legacy, Summit and Timberview high schools will have a new multipurpose athletics complex on their sites.

For Mansfield High School and Summit High School, construction is also being done in the inside of the campuses. Mansfield High is getting a new kitchen and cafeteria area. The work at Summit High School will add new air conditioning units to every classroom, provide a better cafeteria area that allows for more nature lighting, and create a new entryway for the campus.

Construction crews at The Phoenix Academy, MISD’s alternative school, are working on a new entryway as well.

“I do want to say thank you to everyone who supported the bond because we as a school district couldn’t function without the support of the community and the voters,” said Dr. Cash.

Cash added that every penny of the bond package has been used for its intended purpose.

For a look at all the projects and construction timelines for MISD Bond 2017, visit the bond’s website.

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