District in Pictures

April 24, 2020

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Lamar Elementary Selected as Capturing Kids' Hearts 'National Showcase Campus' for Third Consecutive Year

For the third consecutive year, Lamar Elementary has been named a Capturing Kids' Hearts National Showcase Campus. This honor is for the 2019-2020 school year and must be re-earned each year. There were 431 campuses nominated for this prestigious title at the beginning of the year. Lamar was among the 285 campuses selected nationwide and among only 69 selected in Texas. "Our staff continues to find ways to build relationships with our students and families," said Principal Amanda Garcia. "Each one builds a positive learning environment for our students, families and staff that inspires Lamar to be the school family that it is."
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Burgess, Haynes and Zundy Elementary Schools Each Named Capturing Kids’ Hearts ‘National Showcase Campus’

For the second consecutive year, Burgess Elementary and Haynes Northwest Academy received the honor of being named a Capturing Kids' Hearts National Showcase Campus. Zundy Elementary received the honor for the first time this year. The three WFISD schools -- in addition to third-year winner Lamar Elementary -- were recognized for their ability to create outstanding environments for students and staff to learn and grow together. “We have been working so hard to gain the recognition,” said first-time winner Zundy Principal Becky Hernandez. “I’m so very proud of my staff.” Principal Jeff Hill leads Burgess; Principal Lori Apple leads Haynes. Pictured top to bottom: Burgess staff, Haynes staff, Zundy staff.

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WFISD Virtual Art Museum Goes Live

Since spring is the season of art shows, WFISD's art teachers knew students would be missing the experience of being around other student artists and viewing their work. In response, they orchestrated the WFISD Virtual Art Museum, which went live this week. The first week's assignment, which is posted now, asked students to use whatever materials they had at home to draw or paint "something you can drink." Pictured: Rider junior Lauren Waters' drawing of a glass of iced tea. The Virtual Art Museum features work from students at all WFISD secondary schools. Technology support specialist Julie Yandell built the website and made an instructional video for teachers to help them use it.
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Wichita Falls High School Student Council Recognized with Six Awards

The Wichita Falls High School Student Council was honored by the Texas Association of Student Councils with six prestigious awards. The WFHS Student Council received the Outstanding Drugs, Alcohol, Safety & Health Award, the Energy & Environment Award, the Pride & Patriotism Award, the Community Service Award, and the Most Outstanding Student Council Award. The group also received the Sweepstakes Award for winning in every category. Pictured left to right, back row: Valeria Ruiz, Parliamentarian; Carter Milstead, Co-President; Maddison Parkey, Senior Representative; Shannon Perry, Secretary; Wendy Presson, Sponsor; (front row) Claire Perry, Treasurer; Raylee Darden, Co-President; and Lauren Anderson, Vice-President.
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ThoughtExchange Draws Community’s Online Participation

WFISD enlisted the help of the online ThoughtExchange platform to solicit comments from community members about WFISD’s response to the pandemic. The parent exchange counted 869 participants who provided 759 different thoughts and 17,769 ratings. The full results of the exchange will be available soon.

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McNiel Middle School Broadcasts School Spirit with Elaborate Sign

The McNiel Middle School family will get a jolt of encouragement the next time they drive by the school, even though it is closed for the remainder of the school year. The new sign proclaims, “Miss you Mustangs! We are one.”

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Sheppard Elementary Chicks Hatch During Shut-Down

Every spring, Sheppard teacher Lachandra Hooper hatches chicks in her classroom so her students can learn about and watch their 21-day life-cycle. Despite school closures due to COVID-19, students have watched the chicks hatch in Google Meets and ClassDojo. “They have been able to monitor the process and saw the first egg begin to break its shell during our Google Meet,” said Ms. Hooper. “I was able to share footage with them.” This week, students named the chicks during their Google Meet. Hooper’s children have been caring for the chicks at home during the quarantine. “Other life cycles we traditionally watch are the butterfly and ladybug,” said Ms. Hooper.

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Warehouse Manager Tracks Down 7,500 Zip-top Bags for School@Home Packets

It’s hard to imagine all the work that went on behind the scenes to pull off School@Home. An early problem: Our schools needed 7,500 2-gallon zip-top bags to use for packet distribution. Late one Saturday night, three WFISD employees – CFO Tim Sherrod, Purchasing Supervisor Joan Jimenez and Warehouse Manager Jason Reeder – decided Mr. Sherrod and Mr. Reeder should drive the next morning to the U-LINE Warehouse in Coppell, Texas, to secure 7,500 bags. If the bags had been shipped, packets would not have made it to campuses on time. The warehouse, under the direction of Mr. Reeder, then coordinated the pick-up and mailing of nearly 1,800 School@Home packets – a feat that will be repeated for the final weeks of school. “For the safety of the warehouse staff, they are working half-days, but the workload has definitely not been cut in half," said Mr. Reeder (pictured). "One silver lining is seeing unity across departments, pulling together for one purpose.”

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Kirby Middle School Teacher Snags Muppet Pro to Make Student Audio Greeting

When Kirby theater teacher Benjamin (Garrett) Henderson did a puppetry unit with students, he learned that one student – Emmanuel Singletary – was an avid Muppet fan, just like his teacher. So when the student’s birthday rolled around, Mr. Henderson reached out to his friend, who is one of the lead Muppet performers. He asked him to record a birthday gift audio message for his student. The friend recorded the birthday message, wishing him a happy birthday and speaking with the voices of Pepe the King Prawn and Rowlf the Dog. “It was absolutely incredible,” said Mr. Henderson, who then played it for Emmanuel and his family during a Google Meet with them. Pictured: Mr. Henderson listens to the recording from his computer.

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Mr. Roberts Posts New Video to Explain to Parents the School@Home Grading Procedures

On Tuesday, WFISD’s Director of Innovation Ward Roberts – otherwise known as WFISD’s very own Mr. (Fred Rogers) Roberts – posted a special video just for parents. In true Mr. Rogers’ style, he calmly explained how grades will be calculated for the last nine-week grading period of the year for elementary students and the final six-week grading period for secondary students. Mr. Roberts reminded parents that Mr. Rogers always told his viewers to, “Look for the helpers,” and they should consider each teacher a helper to whom they can go with their questions.

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WFISD Procures Comprehensive Property Insurance After 900 Emails

With the cost of property insurance on the rise for the past several years, it becomes a greater challenge each year for WFISD to secure adequate insurance for its buildings. In recent years, school districts like WFISD have had to layer insurance from several companies because no one company would cover it all. But this year, Risk and Contract Manager Betsi Morton used the help of a consultant to successfully locate a comprehensive policy for full coverage at an even better rate than last year. Still, the process was so complicated that 900 emails were exchanged before the contract was finalized. “I am very pleased with the outcome since it does save the District money and provides more coverage,” said Mrs. Morton. “We have seen other districts with 400 percent to 500 percent rate increases and a few that were unable to even secure wind/hail coverage.”

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Wichita Falls High School Senior ‘Adopted’ for Graduation

During the school shutdown of spring 2020, a new way to celebrate the Class of 2020 has emerged. Some seniors are adding their names to a Facebook group called, “Adopt a Senior 2020.” Community members can scroll through the posts of seniors and “adopt” one to surprise with a card or gift. When Scotland Park Principal Laura Scott added her daughter, Wichita Falls High School senior Kennedy Baker, to the site, she was adopted by WFHS alum Lana Diane Esparza Wilson from the Class of 1979. Ms. Esparza, who now lives in Indiana, graduated from Old High during the year of the Wichita Falls 1979 tornado. She said she understood the disruption today’s seniors are feeling. She went on to log 33 years as a respiratory therapist and adopted Kennedy to applaud her accomplishments and interests in medical care. She ordered two gifts and a yard sign to be shipped to Kennedy.

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Southern Hills Elementary Teacher Enjoys 147 Videos with 800 Views

As part of her Google classroom, Southern Hills 1st grade bilingual teacher Jessica Esteves set up a Flipgrid titled, “Felicidades a las maestras de la casa,” which means “Congratulations to the teachers of the house.” She asked her students to upload videos and take selfies of their work. In one week, her students recorded 149 videos, each one of them explaining their work using their academic vocabulary. “I’ve seen a boost of their self-confidence,” said Ms. Esteves. “I can actually know if they ‘got it’ or not, so I can reach out to my students who need the extra help. I’m amazed and proud of how parents are helping their kids with learning and making my job a little bit better.”

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Crockett Elementary Shares Cleaning Supplies, Food and Hygiene Items

On Fridays from noon to 6 p.m., Crockett Elementary is opening the front doors to its foyer to share items from the school’s Blessing Box. The cabinet is stocked with items that are doing no good sitting inside the cabinet but could be helpful to Crockett families. “We hope this helps even in the smallest way during this unique time,” said Principal Jesse Thomas.

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Milam Elementary Team Plays Self-Care Bingo

After John McGee from Capturing Kids’ Hearts spoke virtually with Milam staff on April 15, Milam Elementary Principal Gena Ayers started the Self-Care Bingo Challenge, with the Bingo card provided by Capturing Kids’ Hearts. Even though the Bingo card is filled with practical self-care ideas, Assistant Principal Willis Norton came up with an activity of his own to use his card's “free space.” As pictured here, he enjoyed an ice cream sundae for lunch.

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Education Center Administrator Thanks Her Administrative Assistant on Special Day

COVID-19 didn’t stop Student Services Director Linda Muehlberger from honoring her assistant, Cathy Uselton, with a special floral arrangement for Wednesday’s Administrative Professional’s Day. Ms. Uselton was in her office doing some organizing when the surprise delivery arrived.

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Hirschi Huskies Continue Mentoring Booker T. Washington Students

Thanks to community volunteer Terri Hensley, Booker T. Washington Elementary students received mentoring visits from Hirschi Huskies football and basketball team members during the 2019-2020 school year. Ms. Hensley didn’t want that to stop just because of the Coronavirus quarantine. So last week she found a way to gather up the second-graders involved in the school’s Read 2 Learn program and put them on a Google Meet video conference with the Hirschi Huskies athletes. They all met again Friday so the Huskies could read a book to the second-graders. “She is also making a coloring book with the football and basketball players to send to our students who don’t have internet so they know their Hirschi mentors are thinking about them,” said Principal Angela Rooney. “The coloring book has pictures of the Huskies and the Booker T students during the school year. It is amazing.”

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Sheppard Elementary Teachers ‘Sign Up’ Students

Sheppard 1st grade teachers showed their students how much they were thinking about them by delivering special signs for them to post in their front yards. “Cade loves his sign!” said one parent, who shared the photo here. “We are so fortunate to attend Sheppard Elementary!”

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Fain Elementary Second-Grade Artist Thanks Heroes

Even the children are thinking about the heroes who are helping them through this unusual pandemic that has closed their schools. A second-grader at Fain drew this respiratory therapist, complete with cape flying out behind. The drawing was posted to Twitter.

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Milam Elementary Principal Creates ‘Happy’ Video

Milam Principal Gena Ayers sought to encourage her staff by making a video using JibJab and the Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” soundtrack. She sent the video to staff members in a daily email and posted it on Twitter for students and parents. The video features Ms. Ayers, Assistant Principal Willis Norton, Counselor Debbie Compton and Instructional Coaches Jennifer Moser and Donna Burch.

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Lamar Family Receives Gift of Beds Delivered to their New Apartment -- and More

When a Lamar Elementary family moved into a new apartment, they expressed a need for beds. Jimmy Edwards from “Shallow The Bed Store” donated two twin beds and one king-sized bed to the family – and even delivered the beds to their apartment. In another act of generosity, three Lamar PIE Partners teamed up to provide the school with 162 milk cartons that were then donated to Lamar families. Melissa Dolan of Mobile Dental Care, Ali Topper of City Hope Church and Krystal Elmore of Warrior's Way Martial Arts made the generous donation.

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Zundy Elementary Staff Members Wear Hats to Meeting

Zundy Principal Becky Hernandez wanted to celebrate the hard work of her teachers, so she gave a special theme, “Hats off to you, Zundy,” to this week’s grade-level Professional Learning Community meetings. In honor of the theme, she asked each staff member to wear a hat to the meeting.

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Haynes Northwest Academy Parent Finds School@Home Fun, Too

One Haynes Elementary parent couldn’t resist joining her child in a drawing assignment for School@Home, and then she handed in her art work along with her child’s assignment. “This parent at Haynes is enjoying her time helping her kid with his School@Home work,” said Sheridan Woodward.

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Jefferson Students Receive Virtual Cards, Birthday Parade

Gone are the cupcakes at the end of the school day, said Jefferson 4th grade math teacher Nia Gonzales. Gone is the off-pitch singing of Happy Birthday, she said. But teachers like Ms. Gonzales are still celebrating the birthdays of their students in new ways. Ms. Gonzales even participated in a birthday parade for one of her students. “Birthday parades and virtual cards (pictured) will do for now,” she said.

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Sheppard Kindergartner Entertains Her Classmates

During her class’s virtual meeting on Google, Sheppard Elementary kinder Wimberly entertained her classmates by playing the bells.

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Lamar Elementary Family Treated to Pizza

One anonymous donor treated a Lamar family with three boys to a special dinner of pizza. During this unusual time, the donor expressed a desire to give the boys a treat.

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Rider Band Director Teaches Orchestra from the Front Porch

Now that Rider High School Band Director Loy Studer is working from home, he is making a point to follow his philosophy that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Since his home has a large front porch and faces a city park, he decided to take advantage of the spring weather, drag a table outside and set up there for prep meetings with his staff. “It worked out so well I decided I would be out there as much as possible,” he said. When he went outside to teach his second class of the morning, he saw a horse trot by carrying a young lady. “I’ve never seen a horse in the neighborhood,” he said. “Just a perk of being at home and outside. Not everything about quarantine is bad.”

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Sheppard Elementary Recognizes 'Military Child Appreciation Month' with Supplies

Since April is “Month of the Military Child,” Sheppard Elementary staff wore purple (and gloves and face masks) on April 15 and asked parents to drive through the school’s circle entry to pick up a package of school supplies. Students received notebooks, paper, construction paper, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, glue, coloring books, a jump rope, a bandana with instructions on how to make a face mask for safety, and more. “Teachers made signs and encouraged families as they drove through,” said Principal Cindy Waddell. “We had a bunny mascot and music. Kids loved it, and parents were appreciative.”

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PIE Partner Donates Food to Lamar Families

The giving hasn’t stopped just because school doors are closed. Lamar PIE Partner Los Cuates continues giving back to Lamar families. Lamar second-grade teacher, Brenda Sigala, and her husband, Jesus Sigala, continue to help families who need food assistance through Los Cuates Meat Market.

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West Foundation Elementary Teachers Create ‘Miss You’ Video

West Foundation music teacher Zack Brasfield combined the good wishes of all West teachers into a special video for students. He posted the video to the school’s Facebook page to encourage students and parents during this unusual era of School@Home.

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Cunningham Elementary Staff Do ‘Stop! Drop! And Parade’ – with Kites

When the news came out that school would be officially closed for the remainder of the school year, Cunningham staff scheduled a pick-me-up: They scheduled a “Stop! Drop! And Parade!” drive-by parade through their students’ neighborhoods. Since April is also Kite Month, the staff asked families and students to show off a kite when the parade rolled by.

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'Goodnight Wichita Falls' Bedtime Reading Program Continues with Celebrity Readers

The WFISD Facebook page featured short videos of Celebrity Readers reading Scholastic books to the district's children. Featured readers were (pictured clockwise from top left) West Foundation music teacher Zack Brasfield, Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce President Henry Florsheim, Milam Principal Gena Ayers and WFISD Athletic Director Scot Hafley.
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Southern Hills Elementary Teacher Sends Chalk, Solicits Chalk Drawings

Southern Hills teacher Lisa Estrada bought the students in her ESL class some chalk – ordered and mailed from Amazon – so they could do some chalk drawings on sidewalks and driveways and send them to her. “They are doing such a good job,” she said. Pictured: Some of the chalk drawings sent from students.

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Barwise Middle School Teacher Hosts ‘Google Meets’ with Guest Celebrities

Barwise Special Education teacher Amber Drake wants to help her students find some normalcy during the pandemic, so she schedules a Google Meet session every day at 10 a.m. She invites guest celebrities to read books or chat with students. Recently, Barwise Girls Athletic Coordinator Christen Carroll joined the class to read a book. Then Mrs. Carroll’s husband, firefighter John Carroll, paid them a visit. He demonstrated how to put on his gear, explained what his equipment is designed to do, and he answered student questions, like, “What happens if your oxygen tank runs out of air?” and “What if your tank catches on fire?” Christen and John Carroll’s son, Jeter (a Franklin 1st grader), assisted his dad during the demonstration. “Even though we are teaching in different times through technology, learning and instruction are still taking place in WFISD!” said Ms. Drake.

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West Foundation Elementary Teacher Challenges Students to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day was Wednesday, and West Foundation teacher Catherine Norton didn’t let it pass without encouraging West students to celebrate it somehow. Her suggestion: Paint a rock for Earth Day. She got busy painting her own rock, pictured here.

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Crockett Elementary Parent Sews Masks for Teacher Gift

Here, 4th grade Crockett teacher Jayme Beckham and her son model the masks sewn for them as gifts from a Crockett parent. The parent wanted to thank Mrs. Beckham for all she is doing for her students during School@Home and wanted her and her family to stay safe, explained Lydia Coyle, Crockett assistant principal. “This mom sewed masks for each one of Mrs. Beckham’s family members, including her husband, and sent them to her.”

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Fowler Elementary Teacher Participates in Evaluation Wearing Bathing Suit Against Beach Background

Just how creative can you get when all your meetings are conducted online? Fowler Elementary teacher Michelle McBride (also the school’s Teacher of the Year) decided to try something new when it came time for her End of the Year conference. She showed up to her online evaluation in her bathing suit and added a virtual beach background to her screen. “I decided not to waste the opportunity to dress up!” she said.

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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.)