Community Insider

Fall 2018

Superintendent's Spotlight by Mike Kuhrt

Hello Parents and WFISD Staff,

This year, one of my favorite new quotes is this one by William Pollard: “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

That’s the spirit that drove our decision to come up with a new strategic plan and take on some new ways to help children. We don’t want to rest on our laurels when we have so many children needing food, needing to feel safe, and needing a better life.

This need for social and emotional growth in WFISD children has been popping up over and over. So this past summer, I tapped Shonna Norton to help us sort out what we are doing to nurture children’s emotional growth. I’ve asked her to help us find new ways to recognize and support their physical, emotional and social needs in a more coordinated effort across the District.

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Prestigious Recognitions, Stellar Accomplishments

WFISD has plenty to be proud about from the 2017-2018 school year.

When the news of teacher, student and district accomplishments trickle in day by day, it's easy to miss the breadth of the stunning talents powering this high-achieving District. Here's a look at the many achievements of WFISD in the past year.

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WFISD's Secret Weapon: UPSTART Online Reading Program for 4-year-olds

Director of Early Learning Travis Armstrong is calling the first year of UPSTART a success. He was pleased to see that most of the 97 participating children devoted more than the required time to the program and mastered objectives as required.

As you recall, last year, WFISD was the first -- and only -- Texas school district to adopt UPSTART, the online reading program for 4-year-olds. The program was free to any family with a 4-year-old who wasn't already enrolled in a pre-K or Head Start Program.

UPSTART is unique because its program unfolds in the child's home, online, with a Chromebook that can become the child's very own if he completes the program with the asked-for participation.

So what's new with UPSTART as WFISD launches its second cohort? Communication Specialist Ann Work Goodrich talked to Travis Armstrong to find out.

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Two Culinary Teachers Share Unusual Bond; Mother and Daughter Team-teach at Career Education Center

WFISD's growing culinary program necessitated the hiring of a second teacher. But who could have guessed that the perfect addition would be the current teacher's own daughter? Culinary teacher Deliese Nusser was delighted to learn that she would be team teaching with daughter Deidra Stewart, also a culinary teacher for the past 13 years.

For the past 27 Years, Mrs. Nusser has been WFISD's one and only culinary teacher. Her program, which was headquartered at Rider High School until the opening of the Career Education Center last year, dates back even to the days her daughter was a student and defiantly declared, "I'll never be a teacher!"

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R is for Resilience; Leadership Cohort Studies Resiliency

The first lesson you learn about the quality of resiliency is that nobody does it perfectly. But it’s something that everybody can get better at when they put forth some effort.

WFISD’s Leadership Cohort, now in its 15th year, began afresh this fall with the mission of tackling the topic of “Resiliency.” The topic of resilience is of particular importance because it shows up in WFISD’s new Call to Action in its new Strategic Design, which says: “All WFISD learners are resilient problem-solvers equipped and excited to create and contribute to a successful future.”

The 2018 Leadership Cohort also features new director Ward Roberts, WFISD’s director of innovation and advanced academics. Under his leadership, the group will study the topic of resiliency along with the “ins and outs” of District protocol.

The Resiliency study is based on a book titled, “Onward,” by Elena Aguilar, which helps leaders look ''inward' to develop the 12 key characteristics of resilient people. The group will also look “outward” and “onward” by studying how the District works from the inside out.

“We call it ‘Inward,’ ‘Outward’ and ‘Onward,’” said Ward Roberts, who couldn’t resist the perfection of the topics that, he pointed out, each bear his name.

Communications Specialist Ann Work Goodrich talked inward-outward-onward with Ward to find out how all of us can benefit from the new Leadership Cohort study on Resiliency.

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Why Teachers Should Use Twitter, by Heather Preston

WFISD's 2018 Secondary Teacher of the Year, Heather Preston, explains why she's passionate about Twitter -- and why you should be, too

Teachers' lives are busy. I don't think anyone who knows anything about education will ever argue against this fact. Then why, with all of the demands a teacher has on his or her time, would I suggest adding one more thing?

Simply put, Twitter is a career changer.

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12 Things You Can Apply from Flip Flippen's Back-to-School Rally Presentation

Sometimes it's hard to remember the details of even the most extraordinary talk after a few weeks pass. Revisit the meat of Flip Flippen's address to WFISD staff members on August 10, and rethink how you can apply his advice.

From his compliment to WFISD's two Teachers of the Year who spoke first ("With these two teachers speaking, what the heck did you invite me for?") to his poignant story about his nighttime prayers for each of his children, Flip Flippen held WFISD educators spellbound when he addressed them in an hour-long talk as the 2018-2019 school year began. Here are 12 take-aways from his inspiring presentation.

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What I Learned By Rappelling Down Big Blue, by Linda Jones, RN

I participated in River Bend Nature Center's "Over the Edge" fundraiser for lots of reasons. As you probably know, this organization urges community members to raise $1,000 for River Bend and gives them the privilege of rappelling off the 12-story blue skyscraper in downtown Wichita Falls.

I did it because my husband and I like supporting River Bend Nature Center because they help educate the public about the roles of the creatures in our environment. I was an elementary school teacher for more than 20 years before I became a nurse for WFISD. We are also extremely fond of animals, and we like supporting some of the local rescue groups like the Humane Society, Wild Bird Rescue and others.

But I did this for other reasons, too. It gave me a chance to try something new. It let me get out of my comfort zone, even though rappelling is not entirely new to me.

(Click here to read full story.)

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Right You Are: Inspirational Quotes

If you want to be a world changer for people everywhere, be a day maker for the people right next to you. – Kid President

Two years ago, I was saying, “Do you have any questions?” Last year I switched to, “What questions do you have?” It made a difference. Today I tried, “Ask me two questions.” And they did! And those questions led to more questions. It amazes me that the littlest things have such a big impact. –Andre Sasser (a math teacher) @MrsSasser This tweet received 61,800 shares, 338,000 likes and 1,125 comments

Science is not worksheets. Science is not worksheets. Science is not worksheets. Science is not worksheets. Science is not worksheets. Science is not worksheets. Science is not worksheets.—Alice Keeler @alicekeeler

Teachers, when our kids come back to school, please don’t focus on "What did you do this summer?" Many kids didn’t leave town. They didn’t go on a cruise. They didn’t go camping or rider rollercoasters. They are simply thrilled to be back at school. Embrace that. – Helen Wilt @HelenWilt

I am grateful for people who never pull the experience card on newer teachers. Valuing newer teachers’ opinions makes them feel welcomed and empowered. Teacher Howie Hua @howie_hua

Homework? Some of my students don’t have a home. If I want them to learn it, I teach it! –Chris Lavold @Shakehitch

What makes books magic is that they only look like objects but really they're doors. You open it up, and you walk right through, and you go somewhere else. --Jenna Bush Hager

Some kids carry around with them the burden of a bad reputation. Be the teacher who gives them a fresh start. Be the teacher who sees in them the potential that their parents see. YOU can be the teacher who helps them "turn the corner." -- Danny Steele @SteeleThoughts

If you walk past a student in the hallway and don't say hello, what are you teaching that student? -- @twoguysde

Frame every so-called disaster with these words: In five years, will this matter?

WFISD Community Insider

The WFISD Community Insider is a quarterly publication developed by the WFISD Community Relations department. If you would like to submit story ideas for future publications, please email Ashley Thomas at or Ann Work Goodrich at