Community Insider

Winter 2019

Superintendent's Spotlight, by Mike Kuhrt

Hello Parents and WFISD Staff,

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin once said, “If we can conquer space, we can conquer childhood hunger.”

However, hunger seems to be a mission that just won’t end. We are still working on it.

In fact, this year we, along with our food service provider Chartwells, started something new. We not only provide nutritious breakfasts – some of them actually served in classrooms to make sure everyone gets one – and hearty lunches, we now serve suppers at eight of our schools.

This is called our “Supper Program.” It’s a federally funded program that helps bring more nutritious and balanced meals to the children within our community.

(Click here to read full story.)

The $1 Million Shopping List: Sheppard Elementary bulks up on globally competitive resources in math, reading and science

Since 2015, Sheppard Elementary has received two grants totaling $1 million. The two grants, each worth $500,000, are in the process of injecting $1 million in supplies and equipment into the school to better serve its military children in math, reading and science.

$1 million -- That’s some shopping list. In fact, it’s so intense that the first year of each grant is set aside as a “planning year” so research can be done on how to match school needs with appropriate equipment.

The school is getting great results from the money it’s already spent. For example, Sheppard spent money to bring in more classroom tutors, then 100 percent of 5th grade students passed their reading and math STAAR tests. Nobody thinks that’s a coincidence!

Lauryn Taylor is DoDEA Project Director. She oversees the research and the outlay of funds from both grants given to Sheppard. She wrote the second grant. Here, she tells us what it’s like to spend $1 million over a period of eight years from 2015-2022.

How did this money come to town?

A: In 2015, we received a grant titled, “Sheppard Jets Aim High in Math.” It focused on math achievement of military dependent students in grades 3-6. It will improve students’ math achievement by giving them the chance to use BOXLIGHT Television Panels and Qwizdom OKTOPUS Software as new instructional tools.

Teachers are using these tools to implement the WFISD elementary math curriculum. The goal is to help students meet or exceed standard on the STAAR tests.

Each grant is incorporated into the school over a period of five years. With the first grant, we’re in Year 4 now.

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Eighth-Grade CEC Tours Help Facilitate Career Planning: CTE Director Michelle Wood is finding new ways to make sure students graduate with a specific plan

One of the biggest events on Michelle Wood’s calendar every year is introducing 1,000 WFISD eighth-graders to the Career Education Center and its 26 programs – yes, every single student to every single program. Her philosophy: Students don’t know what they don’t know, so they need to see everything. Her goal: Help them find something they never knew they always wanted. And by the time they get to their senior year, she wants something else: She wants each one to have formulated a specific plan for the day after graduation. This year, she wants proof of that plan and is asking for it in a specific way.

We talked to Mrs. Wood to find out what’s new at the Career Education Center in its second year of operation and how the Career and Technology Education field is evolving.

Q: When did eighth-graders tour the CEC this year?

A: During the week of Nov. 30, we had all the students come and tour. Students spent about seven minutes learning about each program, then rotated to the next program – 25 rotations. Oftentimes they were introduced to the program by the teacher or by students enrolled in the program who explained what they do and answered students’ questions. We kept groups small – about 16 per group. They are here all day, with Chartwells catering lunch at a food truck outside.

Q: Was this the first visit to the CEC for many students?

A: Yes, for almost all of them. They commented on how much they didn’t know we had. Eighth-grade teachers also went through the tours and now have a better grasp of what’s here.

(Click here to read full story.)

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It's Always Veterans Day Somewhere: The military mindset never left these veterans, now WFISD employees, who share how the military influenced the way they teach now

Angela Rooney, Booker T. Washington

I'm not active duty any more but I still serve in the Air Force Reserves.

I have over 21 years of service. I've worked with people from all walks of life, cultures, beliefs, and religions. I've been all over the world and seen war-torn locations. I hope these experiences have made me more accepting of people and situations. I understand there is more than one way to the right answer, and I understand there are different leadership styles that work.

I love all kids. No matter where in the world you are, all kids are the same. They love to laugh, play, learn, and their smiles energize you!

Amaris Wise, Kirby Middle School:

I enlisted in December of 2007 into the Army National Guard as a medic. I decided to join the military because I was bored with what I was doing and wanted something interesting to get into, which actually is how I met my husband. I was called to duty to help for Hurricane Ike in 2008 and then again in 2009 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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'Quick, High-Dose Shot of Brilliance and Collaboration': Twitter Chat devotees describe the allure of Monday night chats

WFISD’s Monday night Twitter Chats provide a roundtable of discussion on pre-decided, specified topics that are conducted –tweet by tweet -- via the Twitter app. Twitter Chat leaders have included WFISD teachers Lexi Law, Amy Janjgava, Heather Preston, Amy Yeary, Dr. Cody Blair, among others. Even Superintendent Mike Kuhrt –avid Twitter fan that he is – jumped in and led a November chat.

So what’s the appeal? Why work a Twitter Chat into your already busy schedule? Some of WFISD’s Twitter Chat leaders explain.

(And just remember: The beauty of a Twitter Chat is that it’s not all in the past, over and done. Log onto Twitter at #wfisdchat and –even now -- read the stream of tweets submitted.)

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State-of-the-Art Camera System Installed in WFISD Buses: The Lytx DriveCam nurtures new level of safe driving

Durham School Services has been in the school bus industry for more than 100 years, so the company knows what it takes to make students and bus drivers safe, said Brian Gibson, who directs WFISD’s fleet of Durham buses.

Durham School Services has already added GPS systems to its buses. The company also uses a text alert system that notifies Gibson when a bus driver speeds. Durham also has pre- and post-trip electronic tracking.

Now the company will add one new safety enhancement to all WFISD buses, including all route and activity buses, but it won’t cost WFISD a dime.

“We are equipping our entire North American fleet with Lytx DriveCam,” said Mr. Gibson, showing off a black, camera-like device. The system focuses on improving safe driving skills for drivers by capturing unusual driving events that allow directors to provide additional coaching.

(Click here to read full story.)

RIGHT YOU ARE: Inspirational Quotes

Think about THIS....with an average life expectancy at 79, our kinder kid will be going to school for the next 12 years to live in a world until the 2090s. What are we doing in education to get them ready for THAT world? — Peter E. Griffiths, WFISD associate superintendent @PeterEGriffiths

Love the concept of teacher as Lead Learner! –Tami Davis @curlytechlady

After an all-day professional development of learning, do you want to go home and do more work or go get a drink? (I know my vote.) Remember, the kids do an all-day of learning every day. It’s exhausting. We all need a break. -Alice Keeler

Practice the pause. When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.

Differentiation means every student has a different perspective and a different way of thinking. And all of those are valuable. – Shannon Lauffer

It is okay to be offended. Nothing wrong with that. The first amendment provides the opportunity for everyone to be offended and to offend others. Half the country is offended every four years when someone is elected President. So what? You suck it up and get on with your life.— Mark Cahill

Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow. – William Pollard

Let’s remember to treat every single student like the kindest, smartest, most amazing human being on earth. The truth is that what they believe is what they’ll become. — Dr. Jessica Stephens

If students are allowed to talk like that at home and disrespect their families, they are going to have to be rewired at school. Don’t get mad—it’s what they know. Show them a better way to communicate and interact with others. @TeacherGoals

The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspective. – Robert John Meehan

“Tweet others as you wish to be tweeted.”—Broad Ripple United Methodist Church sign

Be the teacher who, when given the “hard” class, says, “These aren’t hard kids. These are my kids." – Teresa Kwant

Just wondering, why are social skills an afterthought? An elective? A support? They drive our economy, why not our core curriculum? – Matt Foster @mafost


The WFISD Community Insider is a 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