Our Schools

2018-2019 District Blog

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Mansfield ISD held its third annual Innovation Conference on May 6-9 at the Dr. Sarah K. Jandrucko Academy for Early Learners.

The theme this year was focused on early childhood education and featured the research and plans that resulted in the Academy for Early Learners facility.

“We are very proud of what we do here in MISD and we want to share what we’ve learned,” said Mansfield ISD Associate Superintendent, Dr. Sean Scott. “Also, we grow incredibly from our visitors and colleagues from around the state and so we want to learn from them and make sure that we continue to stay on the cutting edge of education.”

The conference, which drew educators and leaders from across the state, included a tour of The Academy, history and research behind the creation of the unique facility and techniques/tips on how to provide experiential learning and instructional strategies for early learners. The conference featured four one-day seminars for participants to be immersed in the active explorative experiences.

“We first heard about the academy at the mid-winter conference and so we were very blessed to be able come and experience this opportunity for ourselves,” said Kelley Estes-Jones, assistant director of Region 10 for early childhood services. “To be able to see the young children engaging in their everyday learning through these wonderful experiences was magical.”

Over four days, the Innovation Conference served about 160 educators.

“We’ve gotten to learn from the staff here at Mansfield ISD,” said Estes-Jones. “I have enjoyed being here for the Innovation Conference because we are all about high-quality early childhood experiences, learning and anything that we can gain and take back to further the cause.”

The Dr. Sarah K. Jandrucko Academy for Early Learners, which opened in January, is the first prekindergarten campus of its kind in Mansfield ISD and throughout the state of Texas. It was designed for inquiring young minds using creative, hands-on, interactive experiences within a researched-based early childhood program.

For more information on The Academy for Early Learners, visit its website.

Mansfield ISD Ben Barber Innovation Academy students are working with the NASA HUNCH program to create secure packaging that will allow NASA to send objects to outer space.

The NASA program -- HUNCH, which stands for High schools United with NASA to Create Hardware -- is a STEM outreach effort designed to bring students new educational experiences with NASA projects.

“I saw an advertisement through Facebook and I just reached out to them to see if it was something we could get involved with,” said Tim Sherwood, the manufacturing teacher at Ben Barber. “They had us come down and take a look at their facility and here we are making parts for them now.”

The HUNCH partnership requires the students at Ben Barber to make lids for 40 storage boxes each year. Once completed, the boxes will be sent to space stations containing food, supplies and experiments.

“My favorite part of the project is probably just the challenge of doing it,” said Ryan Weisblatt, a Mansfield High School senior. “A lot of people don’t get this opportunity, so this part alone has really made me think and challenge myself.”

In preparation for making the lids, the students learned how to operate drawing files, manual coding and programmed software for machines.

“The students are really enjoying this type of work and to be able to see the parts and put them to real use, it really shows them what they can look forward to after high school,” said Sherwood. “A lot went into it and the kids were able to overcome it all."

After making the boxes, the students are allowed to sign their name onto the fixture.

“My name is going to be in space one day and that’s an amazing accomplishment that I can tell my friends,” said Weisblatt. “It’s an awesome experience all around.”

On April 26, Mansfield ISD held their annual Senior Clap Out for high school seniors all over the district to return to their elementary schools. The senior clap out allows high school seniors to walk through the halls of their former elementary school while the students and staff give them high fives and clap for them.

“It’s really nostalgic being able to come back to Annette Perry and see all my old teachers,” said Audra Slater, a Lake Ridge High School senior. “It’s so crazy just seeing all these kids supporting you not even knowing who you are but they still look up to you as if you’re their big sister or big brother.”

The teachers enjoy seeing their old students just as much as the graduates.

“There’s a couple emotions that you get,” said Kevin Dodge, a fourth grade teacher at D.P. Morris. “First you’re really jarred by how old they are which in turn makes you feel really old and you start contemplating how much longer you have left on this Earth. Then you think, but that’s okay because I was able to make an impact.”

When the students meet with their former teachers they often reminisce on memories from their time in elementary school.

“You get all these great memories back from when you were young,” said Lake Ridge High School senior, Omar Quinones. “Walking through the hallways, the school is so much smaller than it usually was because when you were a little kid you thought the school was humongous.”

The seniors also share what their plans for the future are.

“My heart fills just with pride to hear what their choices are and the decisions they’re making,” said Sondra Thomas, the principal of Annette Perry from 2009-2014. “I can’t wait to hear in five years what they’ve accomplished.”

The seniors wear their cap and gowns to show the current elementary students that they, too, will graduate one day.

“One day when I grow up I want to be just like one of those high schoolers,” said D.P. Morris fourth grader, Liliana Garcia.

Every year, the Fine Arts Program at Mansfield ISD hosts an Art Show at the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts. This year, student artwork was displayed from April 11th - 18th.

The art show is free and open to the public to view. Teachers from all campuses chose 10 pieces from each grade level or class to be entered into the showcase.

“We feel participation in a district-wide art show is very important so all of our kids can see the talent that we have across the district,” said Dr. Chuck Roe, MISD Assistant Director of Fine Arts. “They can see other students’ work. They can see other teachers’ styles of art. They get to show off their work and have a good time.”

The artwork includes drawings, paintings and sculptures created in art classes throughout the school year.

"I like art because I can express myself,” said Jazmine Johnson, an eighth-grader at Brooks Wester Middle School. “Art makes me feel great so I can fit in with my other classmates and other artists.”

The goal in hosting the event is for the district to be able to emphasize the importance of fine arts in schools.

"Fine Arts for our students whether its art, dance, theatre or music provides our students with the opportunity to express themselves creatively,” said Roe. “It also helps them really create connections to other curricular areas. Studies have shown that students that participate in Fine Arts score better in language arts, writing and math.”

For more information on the Mansfield ISD’s fine art program, visit the department's webpage.

The Empowering Girls Club, started by four Jerry Knight STEM Academy learners, held their kick off event on April 6 at the Mansfield ISD Center for the Performing Arts. The event was meant to help build middle school girls self-esteem.

The club began as a school project created by seventh-graders Erica Christenson, Lillian Osborne, Rebecca Peck and Anna Tomlinson, and is now blossoming into an ongoing resource for female students to be empowered and inspired for years to come.

“The purpose of creating Empowering Girls was to mainly help teenage girls with their self-esteem,” said Tomlinson. “We saw a problem with their social and emotional learning and we really just wanted to help them maintain a higher self-esteem throughout their education careers.”

The event was for moms and their students. It featured guest speakers, breakout sessions and the Debully Band.

“I loved seeing all the girls during it and seeing how interested they were in the actual event itself,” said Peck. “It made me very proud of all the work we did.”

The event stemmed from a project focusing on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a psychology theory that states that there are certain needs that must be met before becoming self-actualized.

“We tasked all of our learners with identifying a need in the community,” said Jeremy Beckwith, a designer at the STEM Academy. “This is a significant need with the young girls in our society right now. I’m very proud that they chose something that is near and dear to them.”

Using the engineering design process, the creators began planning for the event in the fall of 2018 and in December, Empowering Girls was awarded a grant from the MISD Education Foundation.

“The research part of this project was probably one of the longest stages,” said Tomlinson. “We needed a lot of information to try to make our club the best it can be.”

In the future, the creators hope to expand the event to make it more purposeful and impactful.

“I’m proud of the event and the work we’ve done,” said Osborne. “Overall it was a lot of work, but it was really great.”

Six students from Ben Barber Innovation Academy and Frontier High School placed in the top three for StudentCam, an annual C-SPAN documentary competition.

Students in grades 6-12 were asked to create a five to six minute video documentary on what it means to be American.

“I told them don’t just find something. Make sure it’s something that you believe in,” said Ryan Tuomey, arts and audio/visual teacher at Ben Barber. “All my students hit that note, but there were a couple that stood out that I thought did very well.”

The students competed in groups of three. One group from Ben Barber placed second, receiving a cash prize of $1,500. The other group placed third and received $750.

“They did an amazing job,” said Tuomey. “We’ve done this competition for a few years and each year it gets better and better. They really put thought into it and we tried to make sure the actual message is there and it’s not just coming from a film production aspect. We actually want that message to hit home.”

Jenae Green from C-SPAN awarded the StudentCam winners on April 4 at Ben Barber Invitation Academy and Frontier High School.

“We figured we would do well, but we didn’t think we would do this well,” DJ Elliott, Frontier High School senior. “We’re very proud. It was cool to see that email saying we got third and it was a cool experience.”

When making the documentaries, the students set up interviews to convey the stories they wanted to tell. One team landed an interview with Lupe Valdez, a 2018 democratic nominee for Governor of Texas. The other interviewed the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban.

“Our process was very unconventional to most people,” said Tanner Fenton, Frontier High School senior. “We reached out to many different interviewees and we actually got a response from a politician. That was the biggest surprise that they wanted to talk to us kids.”

The deadline for submissions was on January 20.

“We’d gotten the prompt around the first of December, but the problem is obviously winter break,” said Fenton. “The time constraint hurt, but it also helped because it helped us be efficient and helped us not to sit there and lull around.”

The second place video, “’Til We Reach That Day” will air on C-SPAN throughout the day on April 10.

“I believe that being an American means that you have the opportunity to make a difference,” said Elliott. “You live in a place where if you want to do something, you can go out and have lots of resources available to you to go out a make that possible.”

View the the second place winner, “’Til We Reach That Day” here. You can see the third place video, “America: The Land of Opportunity!” here.

The students and staff at Nancy Neal Elementary School invited the school’s namesake to the campus to celebrate her birthday.

“Today’s family time was extra special because Ms. Neal was here with us for her birthday celebration,” said Cheryl Ferrell, assistant principal at Nancy Neal Elementary.

All of the students signed a birthday card and sang Happy Birthday in the school’s gymnasium. The staff bought Ms. Neal balloons and flowers to honor her.

“They are all so loving and give me cards and give me hugs and they tell me how much they love my school,” said Nancy Neal, the school’s namesake. “I think they all think I own it, but it’s fun to hear them say they love being here.”

The students appreciate that Neal comes to spend time with them.

“My favorite part is when everyone was cheering for her and she was smiling, because I love when people have a smile on their faces,” said Neal Elementary fourth-grade student Evan Bedford.

Much like Bedford, Neal’s favorite part of visiting the campus is the smiles she sees on students’ faces and the high-fives they love to give her.

“Watching them laugh with me and just being there to say ‘Hi’ to me is the fun part,” said Neal.

Before retiring in 2003, Neal taught in MISD for 30 years. She now tutors at Roberta Tipps Elementary School, but she enjoys returning to Nancy Neal Elementary as often as she can.

“Any time we want her to come up and read to our students or do something special she’s always up for it,” said Ferrell. “She never says no. She’s always coming up to campus to be with us.”

Neal will turn 69 on Sunday and plans to spend the day with her family.

“My family will get together and they are going to take me somewhere,” said Neal. “I don’t know where because they won’t tell me, but we’re going somewhere.”

Mansfield ISD continues to prepare students to be more marketable in the real world and two-way dual language classes are preparing students for just that.

The classes are taught 50 percent in English and 50 percent in Spanish. The purpose is to produce a class of students that are able to read, write and speak in two languages.

“The dual language program in our district is based on a biliteracy model,” said Ana Munoz, dual language specialist for MISD. “The goal is for our students to be able to work in a global market and in order to do this they have to acquire all these skills in both languages.”

The program has been in effect for intermediate schools for seven years and for elementary students for two. Donna Sheppard Intermediate School is currently the only intermediate school with dual language classes.

“With our two-way program, we want to expand it as far as we can,” said Munoz. “It is set up to go through sixth grade and hopefully, if everything aligns, we are hoping to go past the intermediate level to middle school and perhaps high school.”

The program has benefits beyond learning two languages, students who participate in the program for five years are also eligible to receive one high school foreign language credit. In addition, the classes provide opportunities for small group work.

“It gives students the opportunity to collaborate,” said Rosalilia Vazquez, Donna Sheppard sixth grade bilingual teacher. “Students are paired with a strong English speaker and a strong Spanish speaker so when they have issues or they get to a word they don’t understand they can work with the partner to grow in both languages.”

According to Yanet Rubio, a fifth-grader at Donna Shepard, the teachers are what make the class more fun.

“My favorite part about class are probably the teachers,” said Rubio. “They are so sweet and when you need the help they will come to you and answer your questions. They have helped me control [my nerves]. The way that they support me, they say that I can do it and I don’t doubt myself.”

Because learning two language can sometimes be difficult, the teachers consistently tell the students “no te rindas” which means never give up.

For more information about the program, there will be an informational meeting on March 28 at 6 p.m. at D.P. Morris Elementary School or visit the district webpage.


El Distrito escolar de Mansfield continúa preparando a los estudiantes para que estén preparados para el mundo real y el Programa Bilingüe Dual están ayudando a que esto sea una realidad.

Las clases se imparten 50 por ciento en inglés y 50 por ciento en español. El propósito es producir una clase de estudiantes que puedan leer, escribir y hablar en dos idiomas.

"El programa de lenguaje dual en nuestro distrito se basa en un modelo de alfabetización bilingüe", dijo Ana Muñoz, especialista en lenguaje dual para MISD. "El objetivo es que nuestros estudiantes puedan trabajar en un mercado global y para ello tienen que adquirir todas estas habilidades en ambos idiomas".

El programa ha estado vigente para escuelas intermedias por más de siete años y para estudiantes de primaria durante dos años. La Escuela Intermedia Donna Sheppard es actualmente la única escuela intermedia con clases de lenguaje dual.

"Con nuestro programa bilingüe dual, queremos expandirlo lo más que podamos", dijo Muñoz. "Está configurado para pasar a sexto grado y, esperamos pasar del nivel intermedio a la escuela media y quizás a la secundaria".

El programa tiene beneficios más allá del aprendizaje de dos idiomas, los estudiantes que participan en el programa durante cinco años también son elegibles para recibir un crédito de idioma extranjero de escuela secundaria. Además, las clases ofrecen oportunidades para el trabajo en grupos pequeños.

“Les da a los estudiantes la oportunidad de colaborar”, dijo Rosalilia Vázquez, maestra bilingüe de sexto grado de Donna Sheppard. "Los estudiantes tiene una pareja bilingüe, un hablante de inglés y un hablante de español, por lo que cuando tienen problemas o llegan a una palabra, que no entienden pueden trabajar con el compañero para crecer en ambos idiomas".

Según Yanet Rubio, estudiante de quinto grado en Donna Shepard, los maestros son los que hacen que la clase sea más divertida.

"Mi parte favorita de la clase son probablemente los maestros", dijo Rubio. “Son muy dulces y cuando necesitas ayuda, ellos acuden a ti y responden tus preguntas. Me han ayudado a controlar [mis nervios]. Por la forma en que me apoyan, dicen que puedo hacerlo y no dudo de mí mismo".

Debido a que aprender dos idiomas a veces puede ser difícil, los maestros constantemente le dicen a los estudiantes "no te rindas".

Para obtener más información sobre el programa, habrá una reunión informativa el 28 de marzo a las 6 p.m. en D.P. Morris Elementary School o visite la página web del distrito.

For twelve years, Mansfield Timberview High School has hosted HOG Week, an annual week of giving that garnishes school spirit while giving back to the community.

HOG week, which stands for Helping Others through Giving, is a seven-day series of events that Timberview student council plans in order to give to charity.

“We started HOG week in 2007 because we wanted to reach out to the community,” said THS student council sponsor, Heather Colburn. “We thought what better way to do that than to make it fun.”

During this week, the various events include pep rallies, food nights, powder puff football, a male beauty pageant and a fine arts showcase.

“It’s a week where kids get to be kids,” said Colburn. “It’s all fun and games, but we also want them to understand how important it is to be a servant leader. If nothing else, when they leave high school, they got to give their time, their effort and their energy.”

At the end of HOG week, the total amount of earnings is donated to the charity chosen for the year. Timberview has raised over $250,000 since beginning the event.

This year’s selected charity is Cook Children’s Hospital. The student council’s goal is to raise at least $10,000. If the student body reaches that goal, Cook Children’s Hospital has a donor that will match their donation.

“We’ve made a big impact within the community,” said Dejardin Moffet, co-HOG head and student body president. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Although the week is all about giving, the battle between the classes is what brings out the school spirit. Each grade has a team of contestants that work on behalf of their class. When HOG week is over, the class that wins has bragging rights for the next year.

“When you put competition within a high school it can be really cut throat,” said Moffett. “At the end of it, it really is for a good cause. When you present the check you realize the battle of the classes is what really pushes HOG week.”

The week-long event has become a tradition for students and alumni often return to watch the fun.

“Giving should be a part of your life and HOG week has helped me to do that,” said Treyvian Bolton, 2017 Timberview graduate. “Whenever I do get the chance to return to my alma mater, I do so it can give me that boost I need to keep being a servant of my community.”

The total amount raised will be announced at the closing ceremony on Friday, March 8.

Many see community service as something to do during the holidays or to pad their resume, but Legacy High School ninth-grader Rylea Fields has made it a way of life.

Fields was selected to receive a bronze Distinguished Finalist medallion in the 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, an award based on volunteer work. Applicants must explain what inspired their work, describe the impact their volunteer activity had on the community and state what they learned from the experience.

“I’m very passionate about community service because I don’t want to see anybody who has a bad day and I just want to bring everyone up,” said Fields.

Based on her number of volunteer hours, Fields also qualifies for the President’s Volunteer Service Award. This will be her fourth time to receive this award.

In second grade, Fields started Rylea’s Ribbons, a community project where she makes bows and donates them to a variety of different organizations. Fields has donated her ribbons to Captain Hope’s Kids and has traveled to New York to give to the Harlem Boys and Girls Club. They have also been used to raise money for the National Brian Tumor Society and the North Texas Angels. A family in Alaska even used Rylea’s Ribbons to raise money for their daughter who lost her legs in a car accident.

“We have always taught Rylea that God gives us all special talents and we should use these talents to help others and make our world a better place,” said mom and Legacy High School counselor Lisa Fields.

Rylea’s Ribbons isn’t Fields’ only community service project. Fields has been the registration chair for the North Texas Angels Pageant for the past six years. The annual event is a pageant for those with special needs.

“She has a huge heart and has always been that girl who sees a need and does her best to try and meet it,” said Lisa Fields.

Outside of volunteer work Fields still finds time for gymnastics, student council and to be a cheerleader.

“Rylea is a student at Legacy that I know is a breath of fresh air,” said principal, Dr. Shelly Butler. “She has been a spark of goodness and positivity for Legacy High School.”
When Fields gets older she hopes to be a physical therapist.

“Gymnastics has actually helped me find out what I want to do when I get older,” said Fields. “I want to be a physical therapist so I can help other gymnasts like me when they’re hurt.”

Fields doesn’t see herself ever stopping her volunteer work.

“She certainly keeps us busy,” said Lisa Fields. “We never know what she will sign us up for next, but life is definitely good with her in it.”