District in Pictures

October 18, 2019

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WFISD Foundation Donates Downtown Bike Sculpture at 8th and Indiana

WFISD Foundation supporters rallied around a new blue bike sculpture located on the corner of 8th and Indiana during its unveiling Friday, Oct. 11. The sculpture was donated by the WFISD Foundation, representing $1,250 in support for Downtown Wichita Falls Development. The WFISD Foundation contribution is the 12th donated bike sculpture erected downtown, according to Jana Schmader, executive director of Downtown Wichita Falls Development. Four more are on the way, she said. Pictured left to right: WFISD Foundation Board President Lance Spruiell, board member Ashley Parsons, Superintendent Mike Kuhrt, Jana Schmader, WFISD board member Bob Payton, WFISD Foundation Executive Director Cheryl Pappan.

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WFISD Board Member Elected to State Association Board

The Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) elected WFISD board member Mark Lukert to a three-year term on the TASB Board of Directors. He will represent TASB Region 9. Mr. Lukert joined WFISD’s school board in 2018 and has been an educator for more than 40 years. He logged 21 years as an elementary school principal. Currently, he is a national trainer, speaker and leadership coach for the John Maxwell Team. Mr. Lukert has served as president of the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association and the Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading. He is also a PTA Life Member.

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Community Advisory Boards Collaborate with Educators This Week

Community members continue to have their say in career programs conducted at the Career Education Center. Community advisory boards for 26 career pathways met this week at the CEC, an annual tradition that began when the CEC building was still in the planning stage. Michelle Wood, director of WFISD's career and technical education program, directs the meetings that link community experts in fields like welding, automotive, construction, culinary, cosmetology and criminal justice with educators. They update one another on trends, needs, resources and other highlights of their field. The regular collaboration insures that educators are grooming students with the specific skills the workforce needs. Pictured here: Automotive educators and business members convene Monday.

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Rider High School Student, 18, Currently Employed by NASA, Working on ‘Artemis’ Moon-to-Mars Mission

If you didn’t know her better, you would think the bubbly Katherine Parham, 18, is dreaming as she explains the astronautical analytical engineering projects she is working on for NASA. But it’s all true: Even as a high school student, she is part of NASA’s team working toward a 2024 goal to colonize the Moon and, in 2028, send the team to Mars. Since August, this high school senior has also been a paid NASA employee working from Wichita Falls on special research assignments and taking occasional trips to Houston for meetings and presentations. It all began with her participation in a Summer 2019 student program focused on the Mars mission, an elite opportunity she earned entry to after months of qualifying internet projects. She spent a week in Houston at the NASA Space Center doing a presentation with fellow students to the NASA board, and then they hired her in August. “It’s been the best couple months of my life!” she said. Now she is contributing research to the building of the Mars rover as part of the Artemis Mission. Read more about her NASA activities in an upcoming edition of WFISD’s newsletter, Community Insider.

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McNiel Middle School History Teacher Becomes Alexander Hamilton for a Day

McNiel Middle School US History teacher Melanie Wright spent one day this week portraying Alexander Hamilton, staying in character all day long. On the day before, the 8th grade US History teacher told her students she'd be out the following day and to expect a substitute teacher. The next day, she greeted them as Alexander Hamilton, using a British/West Indies accent. "I stayed in character all day, speaking very formally," she said. She had already given each student his/her own pocket-sized Constitution. They had highlighted important parts and talked about the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. "Alexander Hamilton spoke to my students about how he, James Madison and John Jay wrote the Federalist Papers to support the ratification of the Constitution. He had the students get out their Constitutions, and he read from Article 1, Section 8 and specifically talked about the 'necessary and proper' clause, and how he and Thomas Jefferson disagreed on the establishment of a national bank." The Wichita Theater costume department assisted Ms. Wright with her period costume. Several told her later they had talked at home about her performance. They also asked questions about her costume, particularly the wig. "I think attempting to personify a well-known historical figure helps many students have a depth of understanding of people and events in history," said Ms. Wright. Last year, she visited her classes as Abigail Adams.

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Kiosk Technology Captures Greater Accuracy in Volunteer Count

Partners In Education records show 10,000 more volunteer hours logged this year compared to last year as a result of campuses installing digital kiosks for volunteer hour log-ins. Even the count of volunteers is more accurate; it shot up from 1,467 last year to 2,958 volunteers in 2019, said January Cadotte, PIE coordinator. The number of volunteer hours logged rose from 53,640 hours to 63,011, an increase of 10,000 hours. Prior to using the kiosks, campuses relied on handwritten logs to capture the comings and goings of school volunteers. Pictured here, volunteer Jerry Dunn logs on to the kiosk at Ben Milam Elementary on Thursday. She has been volunteering for two weeks with the Read 2 Learn program at the school where her daughter-in-law, Stephanie Biggs, is the librarian.

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Haynes Northwest Academy Students – All of Them – Learn One Pledge

Think of the power of everyone at school knowing and living The Pledge of Kindness: “I pledge to myself, on this very day, to try to be kind, in every way. To every person, big or small, I will help them if they fall. When I love myself, and others, too, that is the best that I can do!” That’s what’s happening at Haynes Northwest Academy as part of a new curriculum used by counselors. “The Kindness Pledge comes from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, which calls for people to commit to a 14-week Kindness Challenge,” said Antoinette Turner. “I thought this pledge was perfect for our students to learn.” When Principal Lori Apple suggested that all students learn it, Mrs. Turner made it happen. “Everyone is learning this pledge with so much enthusiasm it gives me chill bumps,” she said. Students recite the pledge before each small group. “It sets up a positive environmental experience for the whole group,” she said.

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Fowler Elementary Teachers Set Up Bat Cave, Bat Challenges to Earn Bat Wings

Fowler teachers Heather Parker and Britney Prickett set up a Bat Cave Challenge to help students review reading skills. The excitement began on Sunday, when they sent messages to parents, asking them to have their students wear black on Monday. “We told them it was a surprise so not to ask questions,” said Mrs. Prickett. Almost every student arrived Monday wearing black and full of excitement to figure out what was going on, she said. Then students completed challenges to review main ideas, text features, the difference between fact and opinion and reviewed point-of-view. “They had the chance to earn two bat wings. Then in one challenge, they could 'save their teacher’s bat wing,'" said Mrs. Prickett. "Once they mastered all challenges, they were permitted to enter the cave and receive a treat: Bat poop (chocolate-covered raisins)." The kids loved the experience. “They wore their wings all day and strutted around the school like they were so proud of themselves,” she said. Pictured: (left) 4th grade ELAR teachers Heather Parker, Britney Prickett; (right) Amy Simmons and Fowler Principal Alex Martin.

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McNiel Middle School Students Make 3D Replicas of Cell Models

You remember the olden days, when students learned about the parts of a cell by drawing them. But in today’s tech-driven world, the 7th grade science students in Cheryl Nix’s class not only designed 3D models of plant and animal cells, but then they 3D-printed them, too. Students used a program called Tinkercad to create an animal or plant cell, including all its organelles, then create their unique 3D model. “Once they created their model, they downloaded it into my Google Classroom. From there it was sent to the 3D printer. They took home their own unique creation,” said Ms. Nix.

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Cunningham Elementary Kinders Join ‘The 100 Club’

Cunningham kinders in Jennifer Gillespie’s class are joining “The 100 Club” in droves. How do you join? You learn to count to 100. “We started working on this at the beginning of the year,” said Ms. Gillespie. “I am hoping all kids will reach this goal by Christmas.” Each 100 Club member earns a certificate and a star to post on the wall.

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Barwise Middle School Tech Apps Students Create with 3D Pens

Barwise Tech Apps teacher Christopher Freeman is helping his Tech Apps students get hands-on experience with the world of 3D printing by purchasing for them 20 3D pens. He made it happen by writing a Donors Choose project that was ultimately paired with a match donor: “Young Sheldon” Season 3 premiere CBS-TV show, matched by The Chuck Lorre Family Foundation CBS. The local news featured the story of the pairing, and the project was fully funded by the end of that day. “I want students to understand hands-on how the machine works and give greater insight into what the future holds for 3D printing,” said Mr. Freeman. With the Donors Choose windfall, he purchased 20 of the 3D pens that function as a fancy hot glue gun and allow students to create art, models and other items with plastic called PLA. “The pens melt the plastic at 200 degrees. The liquid is extruded, allowing students to finish a project cool to the touch in seconds,” he said. The 20 pens cost $800, with the “Young Sheldon” show paying half. In class, students will create widgets – small parts for machines – and a character of their choice, said Mr. Freeman.
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Kirby, Barwise Girls Benefit from HEART Mentoring Program

Girls in grades 6 to 8 at Barwise Middle School and Kirby Middle School took part in a new mentoring program called HEART. Each student was paired with an adult female mentor who will join them once a month on campus for a snack, games, art projects and visiting time. Barwise students enjoyed their first mentoring session Oct. 9; Kirby students met Oct. 10, participating in get-to-know-you games and team-building activities. The program is a collaborative effort between the Junior League of Wichita Falls and Communities in Schools. Pictured: Kirby students play the “Minute to Win It” Cookie Face Challenge.

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Scotland Park Elementary Bus Driver Gives Gloves to All Her Riders

Durham Bus Driver Michelle Gurrera, who shuttles children to and from Scotland Park Elementary, knows chilly weather is just around the corner. But she’s not waiting. She decided to do something special for each one of the children who ride her bus to keep them warm. She purchased a pair of gloves for each one.

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Fain Elementary Students Use Xylophone to Compose Melodies

Third-graders in Carissa Long’s music classroom at Fain Elementary use xylophones to practice each melodic element they learn. “It is a great way to solidify their ability to read notes on the staff,” said Ms. Long. Here, students write their own melodies, which they wrote down, then let their partner play. Students in each grade level did a similar activity, she said.

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Wichita Falls High School Biology Teacher Uses Special Probes for Science Labs

These Vernier probes may not be new, but they still do the job of teaching students. In this Honors Biology lab, students use temperature probes in experiments as if they were thermometers. “Students are amazed that sand is so bad at insulating, and I discuss with them that’s why it makes such a great ground surface for beaches and playgrounds, for example,” said WFHS Honors Biology teacher Mendy Davis. In other experiments, students use gas or pressure probes, among others.

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Wichita Falls High School PALS Help Crockett Elementary Students

That old saying, “The more, the merrier,” is true. Here, Wichita Falls High School students who participate in PALS visited Crockett 2nd graders to read with them in the Read 2 Learn program. The more reading practice the 2nd graders receive, the more likely it is that they will be reading on grade level by 3rd grade.

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Rider High School 50th Reunion Sparks ACAP Visit for 1969 ACAP President

Last weekend 1969 Rider graduate Alan Fyke returned to Wichita Falls from his home in Nashville. He came for his 50th high school reunion and decided to make the most of his visit. As the president of ACAP (A cappella -- a choir that sings without instrumental accompaniment) when he was a high school senior, he wanted to visit current ACAP students and called ahead to plan a visit. On Friday, he and his wife were greeted by Rider's ACAP students, who performed a mini concert for him. He joined the class in their presentation of “Beautiful Savior” and was moved to tears, said Melanie Coons. “It was a very meaningful morning for him and for our students,” said Ms. Coons. Pictured clockwise from top left: Rider's 2019 ACAP President Aaron Hawkins stands with 1969 ACAP President Alan Fyke; Mr. Fyke and his wife listen to the choir; the Rider ACAP choir.

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Kirby Middle School Students Use Flipgrid and Sound Like You-Tubers

Sixth-grade reading teacher Tameka Stanley-Pierre listened closely as her students recorded the final drafts of their personal narratives on Flipgrid, and she liked what she heard. “It was interesting to hear how much they sounded like YouTubers,” she said. “I loved listening to the way they introduced themselves. They’d say, ‘Hello, my name is ___, and I am about to tell you about when I visited OU for the first time,’ or ‘Please listen to my experience of almost breaking my left leg.’” She felt students’ voices were strong and confident, and they came alive as they told their stories. “I complimented one student about the power in her voice and her expression and told her I thought she sounded like a YouTuber. She told me that she and her friends actually have a YouTube channel.”

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Milam Elementary Teacher Uses Ten Frames to Teach Counting

Milam teacher Shaila Kossey simulated a pumpkin patch on her classroom’s colorful carpet, scattering pictures of pumpkins. Students used Ten Frames for help in counting them. A Ten Frame is a rectangular frame divided into 10 spaces, into which counters are placed. This visually helps children develop a strong understanding of numbers in relation to 5 and 10. “The Ten Frames are great for teaching addition and subtraction also,” said Ms. Kossey.

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Jefferson Elementary Students Use Notes to Spread Kindness

“Love the kindness being spread across campus today,” said Jefferson Principal Erica Adkins. It all began with National Stop Bullying Day and Positive Post-It Note Day. Teachers encouraged students to write five Post-It notes and give them to others. They encouraged students to write two positive notes to peers, two to adults and one to themselves. “We wanted to show them how far a little kindness can go,” said Ms. Adkins.

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Zundy Elementary Students Participate in 2nd & 7 Foundation Reading Program

Midwestern State University volleyball team members visited Zundy 2nd graders as part of the Second & 7 Foundation Reading Program. The student athletes read to the students, then gave them copies of the book to keep. They will make four visits, read a different book each visit from the Second and 7 Foundation’s series, and give each child a free copy of the book every time.

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Education Center Board Room Gets New Furniture

Chairs that date back at least 20 years have been replaced in the Education Center’s board room. With the new seating, the board room can be more heavily used for a variety of meetings. The board room now sports 60 new chairs (pictured in top photo) and 10 tables from the modular seating company Kruger International Inc. (KI) that furnished the comfort seating throughout the Career Education Center. The old chairs (pictured in bottom photo) had a cushioned seat with a fold-over writing surface.

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Rider High School Class Teaches Piano Fundamentals

The room is filled with about 25 pianos, but the classroom is quiet as students use head phones to practice their music. Pictured here, Rider guitar/piano teacher Dwight Ham teaches a Piano 2 class where students learn chord progressions and tackle advanced piano pieces. In Piano 1 classes, students learn piano fundamentals, he said. The class members don’t have any official recitals, but in class, they occasionally perform for one another and get a chance to be supportive of one another, he said. Students in the fall semester class often choose a holiday solo to play for classmates; in the spring semester, students “will play the hardest thing they’ve done well,” said Mr. Ham.

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WFISD’s Glazier Serves District with Practical Skills

Jim Ed Elms, a building tech II in the WFISD Maintenance department, spent a Monday morning putting together three shelving units for the Partners in Education office. Mr. Elms is a 15-year employee with the District and is also the district’s glazier, a specialist in fitting glass into doors and windows. He is certified by the National Glass Association as a glass installer. He replaces all broken windows in the district. Windows are often broken by weed eaters and lawn mower mishaps as well as student misconduct, he said.

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Franklin Elementary Teacher Gives Students Choices – Even in Her Greeting

Teachers at Franklin, who practice the Capturing Kids' Hearts program, greet students at the classroom doors with handshakes. That’s part of the routine. But Jamie Monroe expanded on the handshake greeting by giving her students a choice: Would they prefer a hug, a dab, a handshake or a high-five? “I knew this was a winner when I heard kids at 3 p.m. asking one another, ‘Did you pick “dab” today? Tomorrow I’m going to pick dab!’ Such small choices mean the world to them and keep them excited about learning,” said Ms. Monroe.

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Auto Tech Students Learn Technique of Soldering Wires

Pictured here, two automotive technology students watch a video demonstrating the steps to soldering wires. Instructor Larry Krugle (right) stands at their elbow, answering their questions.

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Cunningham Elementary’s Bathroom Stall Doors Transformed with Encouragements

Cunningham Elementary’s newest PIE Partner, Tonia Vineyard of Night Owl Crafts and Design, got busy fast. She painted the bathroom stall doors to the boys’ and girls’ bathrooms with encouraging words.

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Fain Elementary Adopts New Theme for the Year

Every year, Fain Elementary staff choose a new theme for the school and decorate around it. This year’s Dr. Seuss theme covers every classroom door and decorates every hallway.

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Crockett Students Enjoy New Gaga Pit

Crockett Elementary PIE Partner Axis Construction paid for and built a new Gaga Ball Pit for Crockett students in September. “The kids love it!” said Principal Jesse Thomas. Gaga Ball is a variation of Dodgeball, where students attempt to be the last person standing in the octagon pit where students hit the ball with their hands as others dodge, run and jump to avoid it. “Ga” means hit or touch in Hebrew.

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Zundy Elementary Students Use Reading University for Reading Mastery

Kindergarten students participating in Zundy’s Reading University program have already moved up one level by mastering a list of sight words. As they achieve, the LEGO with their picture glued to it moves up and up and up on a special LEGO wall, said librarian Abigail Potts. Older students who participate in the Reading University program now write their own quizzes to check their comprehension of the books they complete. As students progress in the Reading University program, they earn degrees, just like a college student.

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Kirby Middle School Garden Club Beautifies Courtyard

Under the direction of Coach K.E. Jackson, Kirby’s Garden Club has cleaned up the school’s courtyard and brought the flower beds to life with new plants. The courtyard has three new raised flower beds cascading with Lantana, Vinca, Zinnias, Petunias, Purslane and Purple Mums. “The students combined a mixture of potting soil, top soil and compost to fill each flower bed before planting the flowers,” said Coach Jackson. “The students also arranged a design of colorful painted rocks around one of the courtyard trees.” Future plans include filling smaller raised flower beds with flowering plants or bulbs that will sprout in the spring and using picture frames to create a picture frame wall with hanging flowers.

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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.)