District in Pictures

October 11, 2019

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Community Ambassador Program Begins at Monday School Board Meeting

Twenty-five community members began their service in the WFISD Community Ambassador Program Monday by attending the first half-hour of a WFISD board meeting focused on facilities. Then they exited the board meeting to attend their own introductory meeting. The group members volunteered for the deep-dive into WFISD and its operations, instructional services and administrative work. Graduates will have a fuller understanding of WFISD to act as its ambassadors and advocates. Pictured here, Superintendent Mike Kuhrt speaks to the group. Thanks go to program sponsors First Bank and Texas Roadhouse.

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Career Education Center House Sells at Auction

On October 6, the Career Education Center sold its student-built house at an auction coordinated by Zuber Auction house. The house sold to Donna Adams for $32,400. The auctioneer donated his 10 percent commission, raising the total sale proceeds to $35,640. The house, which was built to be moved to another location, will be moved to Coyote Creek. This completes the first two-year cycle of the CEC’s first home-build under the direction of construction teacher Scott Little and architecture teacher Amy Hughes. CEC students designed, built, plumbed, wired, roofed, and marketed the 1-bedroom, 1-bath, 900-square-foot house in a project that was launched at the opening of the CEC in 2017.

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Rider, Hirschi, Wichita Falls High School Bands Participate in 42nd Annual Marching Festival

The Rider High School, Hirschi High School and Wichita Falls High School bands were among 12 area bands that participated Monday in the 42nd Annual Marching Festival at Memorial Stadium. The Rider band drum major was Reili Schell; Wichita Falls High School drum major was Evan Gomillion; Hirschi drum majors were Summer Campbell and Miranda Dowdy. Pictured from top down: Rider band, Hirschi band, WFHS band.

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WFISD Foundation Receives $1,206 in Donations from ‘Texoma Gives,’ Then Awards Two Apple Watches

The WFISD Foundation received $6,461 in gifts this year from Wichita Falls’ annual giving campaign, Texoma Gives. The Foundation supports WFISD schools by awarding grants and scholarships for student achievement, classrooms of the future, and to reward teacher excellence. As is the WFISD Foundation tradition, donations of at least $2 per month qualify donors for entry into a drawing for an Apple watch or Apple air pods. This year, winners Mindy Graham, administrative assistant to the superintendent, and Joe Camacho, a technology specialist, were selected by a random online number generator.

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Kirby Middle School Student Draws Bohr Model of Uranium on His Own

Recently, Kirby 8th grade science teacher Laura Checki had her students practicing how to calculate subatomic particles and illustrating the atomic structure using a Bohr Model. A Bohr model is the theory of the atomic structure that the atom consists of a nucleus with electrons orbiting randomly around it. One student took a special interest in the activity. Christopher King enjoyed drawing the atomic structure so much that he decided to challenge himself further. On his own, he drew an atom with a large atomic number – 92. He is pictured here with his drawing of uranium, with its 92 protons. “He was so proud when he finished, he told me to take a picture of him with it,” said Ms. Checki.

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Rider High School Teacher Uses ClassCraft to Supercharge Lessons that Start with ‘Daily Random Event’

Rider English teacher Chris Preston has taken his love for gaming into his classroom. “I use a gamification website called ClassCraft to turn my classroom into a role-playing game for my students,” he said. “Each of my students are a character in my game. They all have a digital version of themselves, an online character or avatar. These characters have special powers, can level up, get gear, train pets, go on a quest and work with their teammates to achieve goals.” He launches the game each day by letting the game choose one “Daily Random Event” from scores of options. On this particular day, the game challenged students to have at least one team member stand throughout the entire class period to earn a reward. Many in his class, including his daughter, pictured here, did their standing on one foot. “The event is just meant to add a little excitement and build that team atmosphere,” said Mr. Preston. “Why they all decided to stand like flamingos is beyond my understanding. But one thing is certain: Even Advanced Placement high school students like to have fun.” Mr. Preston will be part of a ClassCraft training session hosted by Jamie Jo Morgan at the Google Garage at Carrigan on Nov. 5 at 4 p.m. for any teachers interested in learning more about using gamification techniques in the classroom.

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Jefferson Elementary Teacher Opens ‘Howard Hospital’ for Math Test Review

Jefferson Elementary teacher Kristin Howard turned her room into a hospital to energize her students in a review for an upcoming math test. She made each student a doctor and instructed them to work their way through 17 different patients. They attended to patients in the emergency room, surgery, walk-in clinic, medical records office, in radiology or at the pharmacy. “The pharmacy had prescriptions that had order-of-operations problems,” said Mrs. Howard. “The Radiology Department had X-rays that were algebraic tables. The Surgery Department focused on prime and composite numbers, and the Walk-In Clinic focused on solving for variables. The Medical Records Room and the Emergency Room were geared toward all the skills in STAAR-formatted questions.”

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Board Members Decide to Cost Out Two High School Facility Plans

In a work session Monday, WFISD board members asked administrators to cost out two high school facility plans: One plan that would pay for two new equal-sized high schools and one plan that would build one new large high school and one smaller, non-UIL high school located at the Career Education Center. The decision came after discussion that eventually centered on moving forward with a two high school model. Board members said they will pursue a two high school model unless costs eventually prove the model too expensive.

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Jefferson Elementary Students Study the Science Behind a Pancake

Third-graders in Diane Wachsman’s science class discovered there’s a surprising amount of science in the making of a simple pancake. First, they studied the states of matter: solid, liquid, gas. Then they learned about the mixing process of pancake ingredients that enables chemical reactions to occur.

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Haynes Northwest Academy Math Students Make Area Models with Crackers

Third-grade Haynes math teacher Billy Price used a few snack crackers to entice his students into a math project. He gave his students small bags of Cheez-It snack crackers with their perfect square shapes and asked them to construct an area model for a square with a side length of four. Students discussed at their tables that all four sides of a square are the same, then they built their model to correctly show it. “Then they drew a pictorial model in their math journal with the corresponding equation,” said Mr. Price. “We worked through five models, then the students were allowed to eat their Cheez-Its.”

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Kirby Middle School Students Build R2D2

Two students in Stacey Hohertz’s Kirby classroom spent three days assembling R2D2 from a littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit. “It comes in pieces, and both the circuits and body can be assembled,” said Ms. Hohertz. “Once it is built, there is a list of missions that students can go through with R2D2 to teach the droid new skills, all while practicing block coding.” The girls accomplished a lot to construct the robot with the “very limited instructions” that came with it, she said.

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West Foundation Elementary Students Assisted by Midwestern State University Crew

A group of Midwestern State University students and MSU Associate Professor Dr. Dittika Gupta provided West’s 5th grade students with special math breakout sessions. “Our 5th grade students had a blast,” said West Principal Kim Smith.

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Engineering Teacher Enables Translation with AI Translator Earbuds

Problem-solving is a specialty for Jeff Davis, who teaches Robotics 1, 2, and a ‘Design and Problem Solving’ class – and he recently solved a problem of his own. He is now using a special set of translator earbuds to communicate more effectively with one student who recently moved to the United States and is limited in English proficiency. The earbuds, made by TimeKettle, work with an app downloaded to the teacher’s cell phone and does not require the student to have a phone. “I wear one of the earpieces and so does my student, and they aren’t missing out on instruction,” said Mr. Davis. “They obviously aren’t perfect, but we are able to communicate, and that’s what is important.”

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Milam Principal Focuses on Student Growth by Goal Setting

What can you do with a bunch of colorful notepads that will lead to student growth? Milam Principal Gena Ayers has a plan. She encouraged her teachers to set individual, short-term goals with students, particularly in reading and math. When a student reaches his or her goal, the student or teacher can fill out a “Goal Getter Card” and drop it in the Celebration Station. Soon, Assistant Principal Willis Norton and Ms. Ayers will read the completed goals on Milam’s video announcements. Cards will be hung in the hallway, color-coded by grade level. “It’s going to be really neat to see all the different colored cards lining the hallway in a few weeks!” said Ms. Ayers.

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Kirby Middle School Students Study Watershed Biology at River Bend Nature Center

The 7th graders in Ana Dougherty’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program studied their watershed biology, chemistry and geographical makeup at the River Bend Nature Center. This special educational facility obtained a grant to host students from around Wichita Falls to study the TEKS-based curriculum in their own Wichita Falls environment. Secondary Science Curriculum Specialist Steve Henderson helped arrange the visit. Students tested the river water and learned about water filtration. “They absolutely loved it,” said Ms. Dougherty. “They got to create Texas with clay, paint fish, create a watershed, and learn about water cohesion – all before noon."

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Fowler 4th Graders Build Catapults

Fowler 4th grade math and science teacher Kristi Moffett launched her unit on mechanical energy by having students watch a video on how to make a simple catapult -- and then build one. The activity required that students adjust the rubber band (how tight or loose?) and position its cap (how high or low?). “It’s similar to a scientist doing his or her work. If it didn’t work or get the results they were looking for, then they fix it, and try it again until it does work,” she said.

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Brook Village Students Learn About Microchipping, Heartworms, during Vet's Visit

When Dr. Joe Wurster from Colonial Park Vet Hospital visited Brook Village during Pets Week, the students in Debbie Curry’s Head Start Pre-K class learned how to keep their pets safe and healthy. Dr. Joe demonstrated how vets microchip a pet and explained why it is important. He also talked about the damage heartworms do and how to prevent them. “The kids even asked if he would come back!” said Ms. Curry.

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Fain Elementary Celebrates National Custodial Day

When National Custodial Worker’s Recognition Day rolled around Oct. 2, Fain staff members were only too happy to celebrate their custodian, Mari Uribe. “She’s the best,” said Principal Clarisa Richie.

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Rider High School Nerd Club Does Fun Run

Thirty people participated in Rider’s Nerd Club Fun Run on Sept. 18, said Nerd Club Sponsor and Rider science teacher Bryce Henderson. To set the mood, participants dressed up for a costume contest. Then they completed a 1K or a 5K run. This was the Club’s own spin on the Area 51 Raid that became a viral sensation and was supposed to happen at the Area 51 gates in Nevada two days later. Area 51 is a unit of the Nellis Air Force Base, a secret military site long rumored to be the home of extraterrestrial life.

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Barwise 7th Graders Make 3D Cell Models

Students in Brittany Sralla’s 7th grade science class won’t quickly forget the parts of a cell after their recent project. Each made a 3D model of either a plant or animal cell. “They did amazingly with it!” said Ms. Sralla.

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Milam Elementary Principal Begins ‘The Milam Gem’ Weekly Honor

Milam Principal Gena Ayers started a new Milam tradition. She chose one teacher who became “The Milam Gem,” then asked that teacher to choose the next week’s Milam Gem, and so on. “It is an opportunity for teachers to recognize each other,” said Assistant Principal Willis Norton. The first Milam Gem is Ravenna Robinson, who then selected Julie Gilbert. Milam Gems park in Mrs. Ayers’ parking spot. The following poem is read at each weekly presentation: “You bring a smile to our school each and every day, seeing the best in others and being kind along the way; You support whenever needed, not asking who or why. So this week, the Gem is yours to display nice and high. Once this week is over, the duty lies on you to pass it on to someone else who shines as bright as you!”

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Jefferson Elementary Welcomes Parents on Literacy Night

Two Jefferson instructional coaches, Melissa Gound and Melissa Stidham, are pictured here dressed for Literacy Night to represent the book The Three Little Superpigs, by Claire Evans. Jefferson staff hosted the special night for families, inviting them into classrooms to play Book Bingo, read by a “fire” with s’mores and hot chocolate, perform a Literacy Breakout, and participate in a Book Scavenger Hunt. All teachers decorated their doors with a book theme and dressed up as a favorite book character.

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Fain Elementary Hosts Success Day

On Oct. 4, Fain Elementary welcomed three keynote speakers, asking them to talk about how to be successful. United Regional’s Charles Gurley (top right), Realtor Katherine McGregor (top left) and Midwestern State University’s Reagan Foster explained the importance of working hard, staying humble and being persistent. Then students scattered to their classrooms, where they enjoyed more visiting speakers who explained how they do their jobs. Classroom speakers included Rider High School Principal Dr. Cody Blair (center, left) and Ward Roberts (center, right), WFISD director of innovation and advanced academics.

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Read 2 Learn Remedial Reading Program Launches 7th Year This Week

The homegrown Read 2 Learn remedial reading program has proved to have staying power. It launched its 7th year this week. The program thrives on 15 WFISD campuses with 450 volunteers. Its mission is to help 2nd graders read on grade level by the time they enter 3rd grade. Pictured here, Lamar Elementary volunteer Carolyn Herzfeld meets with 2nd grader Armando Serna.

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Kirby Middle School Students Read in Character

When Shana Polk’s students said they wanted to read the short story, “Thank You Ma’am” in character, she gave them the OK. They got comfortable in the refurbished Kirby library for the reading. “They worked so collaboratively in the library Maker Space,” said Ms. Polk. The story tells about a boy who tries to steal an elderly lady’s purse but, ironically, she teaches him a lesson in respect. “The way the library is structured this year with a ‘Maker Space,’ students can read aloud, write and have room to work together in ways they learn best,” said Ms. Polk. “It’s an amazing addition to our campus!”

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#IAMWFISD

District in Pictures is a weekly publication developed by the WFISD Community Relations department. If you have events, recognitions or classroom activities taking place on your campus that you would like us to cover, please let us know by emailing Ashley Thomas at athomas@wfisd.net or Ann Work Goodrich at awork@wfisd.net. We would love to include you in our weekly district news. (Please know that we will do our best to cover every story idea submitted but it may not be possible to include everything every week due to time constraints.)