November/December 2015
Right You Are
"Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed passage with you?"
         --Walt Whitman
         --Neil Armstrong
"One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn't pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself."
         --Lucille Ball
"I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework."
         --Lily Tomlin
Every child is one competent and caring teacher away from being a success story.

"The future of the world is in my classroom today."
--Ivan Welton Fitzwater

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Upcoming Events

Nov. 10

Board of Trustees Work Session, Noon 


Nov. 11

Veterans Day Ceremony, Memorial Stadium, 11 a.m.


Nov. 16

Board of Trustees Meeting, 6 p.m.


Nov. 25-27


Thanksgiving Break  
Staff/Student Holiday



Dec. 7-11 

STAAR EOC testing 


Dec. 8

Board of Trustees Work Session, 12 p.m.


Dec. 14 

Board of Trustees Meeting, 6 p.m.


Dec. 18

Last day of 1st Semester; Early Release


Dec. 21-Jan. 4, 2015 

Winter Break


Yes, It Does!

Read2Learn still needs volunteers. This is your chance to help a second-grader practice reading. Meet him or her once a week for 30 minutes. It's a simple routine and satisfying. To volunteer, call January Jones (940-235-1000, ext. 10019)


Superintendent's Spotlight 
by Mike Kuhrt

Hello Parents and WFISD staff:
Try this little exercise:  Ra ise your right hand  as high as you can raise it.
Okay, now raise it a little higher.
Were you able to? Recently I put this same challen ge before a group of community members, and every one of them was able to try a little harder and  reach a lit tle higher the second time around.
"Why didn't you raise your hand as high as you could the first time?" I asked them. Everyone looked a little sheepish, but we all know why. We all need a little encouragement - and sometimes a second effort - to put out our best work.
Publishing to the world
That's precisely why we're asking some of our students to publish their work before a worldwide audience as one part of our digital initiative. They're interacting through Skype and the Internet with students and classrooms from other Texas school districts. Even from other countries.
Read full story here.

The Top 10 Things You Should Know About WFISD Accountability Performance in 2015

1. The state measures Texas schools and gives one of two ratings: "Met Standard" and "Improvement Required."
2 . In 2015, all but two of WFISD's 27 campuses earned "Met Standard" by fulfilling all state requirements.
3. Only two elementary schools - Washington/Jackson and Burgess - earned "Improvement Required." The district's three schools that received "Improvement Required" last year - Lamar, Sheppard and Scotland Park - achieved "Met Standard" this year.
4 . The state also creates comparison groups of schools that share similar sizes and enrollment composition. When a school scores in the top 25 percent of its comparison group, they earn a distinction.
5. In 2015, 13 WFISD schools posted scores in the top 25 percent of their comparison group and earned 35 distinctions from the state.
6. All WFISD secondary schools earned "Met Standard."
7. Elementary distinctions went to Crockett (2), Cunningham (2), Fain (2), Fowler (1), Franklin (1), Haynes (2), Jefferson (3), and Lamar (3).
8. Secondary distinctions went to Hirschi High School (5), Rider High School (5), Wichita Falls High School (5), Barwise (2), and Kirby (2).
9. The state also evaluated WFISD as a district. WFISD earned the 2015 rating, "Met Standard."
10. WFISD will provide more professional development and require written targeted improvement plans for its two "Improvement Required" campuses.

National Merit Winners
Prestigious program taps four WFISD scholars this year
The 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program tapped one WFISD student as a National Merit Semifinalist and three students as National Merit Commended scholars.

One Semifinalist
Rider High School senior Jacob Schrass is the district's only National Merit Semifinalist for the past two years. He is the son of Lt. Col. Bryan and Rebecca Schrass of Wichita Falls.

Read full story here.

You Should Get to Know...Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths and Ben Milam Principal Ana Griffiths
Peter Griffiths has developed a variety of leadership programs during his 18 years in administration. He serves as WFISD's associate superintendent. 

Q: What's your educational soapbox?
A: Every kid deserves the best education we can give him. We must always do what's best for the kids. I remember giving a kindergarten teacher a second evaluation because of the way he was treating kids. I stressed with him that this is the first time those children are experiencing school. He needed to be at the top of his game.
At the same time, we have to provide the tools and training to help teachers get to the top of their games.

Read full story here
Ana Griffiths worked for seven years as a financial trader before she veered into education 13 years ago. She is married to Peter and now serves as Ben Milam principal.

Q: You were a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter and a treasury marketing manager/trader with Citigroup in Guatemala before you transitioned into teaching. Why did you make the switch?
A: I pursued a financial career from 1994 through 2001 because I had a talent for finance and found the career challenging and exciting. Yet, when I had my first child, I felt that I needed to make a change. During the summer of 2002, I helped with a Pre K Bilingual Summer Program in Alvin ISD. I discovered I had a passion for teaching and really enjoyed making a difference in these kids' lives.
Read full story here.

Five Minutes With WFISD
Check here for a fall round-up of WFISD's latest headlines A s leaves fall and the air cools, the Wichita Falls ISD is operating in h i gh gear on all 29 campuses. Here are news highlights from the first 12 weeks of the school year.
WFISD Enrollment Rises
Enrollment is up. After enrollment fell by 600 students last year, enrollment is up for Fall 2015 by 115 students.
Robust Enrollment Prompts Waivers
Slight overages in 20 elementary classrooms - just a child or two above the state-imposed limit of 22 students per class in grades K-4 - prompted district leaders to request 20 class-size exception waivers. Officials expect these classes to shrink to the 22-student limit with time.
Two Junior High Renovation Plans Approved
WFISD board members approved renovation plans for both McNiel Junior High and Barwise Leadership Academy. All plans fit the agreed-upon budget. Architects with Secord & Lebow are fast-tracking both projects (McNiel at $10.3 million; Barwise at $11.8 million).
WFISD Breaks Ground at McNiel and Barwise
WFISD hosted official groundbreaking ceremonies for McNiel and Barwise on Oct. 13.
Twenty Prestigious West Teaching Excellence Award Winners Named
WFISD honors 20 teachers each fall with the West Teaching Excellence Award, which comes with $5,000 for each winner given by the West Foundation. 2015 Winners are: Renee Blackwell, Paige Box, Jennifer Briscoe, Jessica Crosby, Tami Davis, Imelda Garza, Allen Glenn, Deborah Gonzales, Jayne Gregg, Miranda Havins, Melissa Horn, Shelly Hutchins, Ashley Lamb, Datra Lonon, Jennifer Parker, Kristen Sarafis, Lynn Seman, Lauryn Taylor, Loring Vinson and Cole Woodward.
Kirby Student Competes as Finalist in National Science Contest
Kirby Junior High student Krishna Reddy competed as one of 10 finalists in the nation's premier science competition, the 2015 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge. He invented a pupillary reflex computer program and apparatus that measures pupil dilation. He created his device using a toilet paper tube, a gooseneck light and other humble parts. As a finalist, he won $1,000 and a trip to Minnesota to present his invention at the competition's final event in St. Paul on Oct. 13.
Rider High School Website Applauded
The Rider Chronicle website earned the highest possible critique from the National Scholastic Press Association: Four marks of distinction.
Wichita Falls High School Girls Soccer Team Makes Top Grade in Texas
For the 10th year, Wichita Falls High School's Lady Coyotes Soccer Team received national accolades for its academics from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. The team earned the highest grade point average of the 12 Texas girls soccer teams and tied nationally for the 11th highest GPA.

Blessed, Pure and Simple
Statistics reflect generosity that will blow you away
When you have as many backers as WFISD does, you can't help but thrive. Try to wrap your mind around these statistics that portray generosity at its finest.
* In 2014-2015, the West Foundation gave WFISD more than $433,000 in awards, stipends, scholarships and program funding. The West family members gave:
         * $100,000 for the West Foundation Teaching Excellence Awards
         * $10,000 for the Superintendent's Scholars Program
         * $28,000 for the West Foundation Summer Fine Arts Program
         * $41,745 for the Quickstep Academy expansion
         * $60,000 in faculty scholarships
         * $60,000 for the WFISD/MSU/Vernon College Collaborative
         * $60,000 for the MSU/UNT Doctoral Cohort
         * $30,000 for classroom mini-grants
         * $23,255 for Bus and Admission Funds
* For 2015-2016, the Midwestern State University partnership with WFISD awarded $190,250 in scholarships to 150 WFISD scholars. This includes $18,000 given to nine International Baccalaureate graduates. In this three-year partnership, WFISD students have received $351,625 in total scholarships.

Read full story here.

What Tutors Know That You Don't
A tutor divulges teaching secrets you can use at home
Jeannine Morris never realized that she would be a career tutor when she took her first tutoring position at Franklin Elementary in 1996. Nineteen years later, she still regularly tutors reading and math classes there at all grade levels, all year long. She also fills in as a substitute teacher when needed. Long ago she earned a valued spot in the Franklin family, said Principal Angie Betts.
What has Mrs. Morris learned from her 19 years of tutoring that can help you? Find out in this interview with WFISD Communication Specialist Ann Work Goodrich.
Q: What are you able to do that a teacher can't?
A:  I get an opportunity to listen. So much has been given to the homeroom or subject teacher to accomplish that the window of time for them to listen in a regular day is very limited.
I'm able to have an extra pair of ears to really hear and an extra pair of eyes to catch some things - body language, whatever -- that might be a clue to what the child needs to learn at his highest level. That's what it's all about. Removing barriers so we can get to that teachable moment.
Also, I've been here 19 years. I know the families of many of these children and their siblings who have gone before them.  I've known these children through all the grade levels. We've already established a rapport and trust.
Read full story here.

Guarding Your Plimsoll Line
How to face a crazy year and survive smiling
by Rider High School journalism teacher Mary Beth Lee

Recently, I learned about something called the Plimsoll Line.
The Plimsoll Line is a reference mark located on a ship's hull. It marks the maximum depth the vessel may be safely immersed when loaded with cargo.
Before Samuel Plimsoll found the line that was named after him, ships were sent from England loaded down with so much merchandise that if they hit any tumultuous water, the ships turned on to their sides, and sailors died.
The Plimsoll Line helped loaders know how heavy they could pack a ship and keep its sailors safe.
That made me think about educators. It's easy to overload us, too. And the consequences can be just as dire.

Read full story here.

What You Really Want to Know
Community members recently put these questions to Superintendent Mike Kuhrt

Q: Beyond the construction the district is doing now, what's on your wish list?
A: We have done a study that shows us we have $400 million in building needs. When we finish this bond project, I just want to do what the community wants to do. But here's what I know: Continuing to maintain our 100-plus-year-old buildings takes money away from instruction and our ability to recruit and hire.

Read full story here.

How I Got My Twins
CTE Coordinator Michelle Wood reveals the  heartbreaking story behind the adoption of her two little boys

Editor's Note: Michelle Wood is WFISD's CTE coordinator. She is orchestrating the curriculum and building design of the new Career and Technical Education Center that will open in August 2017.
I have four children, and people are surprised when I tell them that having my twins was the easiest pregnancy of all.
Of course, that's because the twins are adopted. While I didn't struggle with a pregnancy, I did lose sleep over the adoption.
The story of how our twin boys joined our family is a story about God's faithfulness to fulfill the plan He had for us, even when it was not the plan we drew out in the beginning. 

Read full story here.