November/December 2016
Right You Are
If the purpose of school is to prepare kids for the future, and the future is changing faster and faster, then schools need to change faster and faster. 
- Max Ventilla, AltSchool

"Almost daily you will find me asking students, 'WHY do you need this diploma? What were you meant to do? How will you use the diploma to get there?' If they know the 'why,' they will come to school, they will fight through the hardships, and they will value the necessity of their education as a means to a successful end."
Deborah Campbell, San Angelo ISD

"I am not a teacher, but an awakener."
- Robert Frost

"There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent." 
-Mahatma Ghandi

"Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent."
-Anonymous

"Every next level of your life will demand a different you."
-Anonymous

"You are under no obligation to be the same person you were a year, a month, or even 15 minutes ago. You have the right to grow. No apologies."
- Anonymous

"Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation. It will do both of you good."
- Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

"If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow." 
- John Dewey

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Upcoming Events
November 1
Public Hearing for District of Innovation, Education Center, 6 p.m.
Board of Trustees Special Session, Education Center, 6:30 p.m.
School transfer window opens

November 8
Election Day
Board of Trustees Work session, Education Center, noon

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

November 14
Board of Trustees Meeting, Education Center, 6 p.m. 

November 21
School transfer window closes

November 23-25
Thanksgiving Break  
 
November 24  
Thanksgiving Day
 
December 5-9
STAAR End of  Course Testing 
 
December 6
Board of Trustees Work session, Education Center, noon

December 12  
Board of Trustees Meeting, Education Center, 6 p.m.

December 16
Last day of 1st semester; Early release for Winter Break: 12 p.m. for secondary; 1 p.m. for elementary

December 19-January 2  
Winter Break

January 3, 2017 
Classes begin; First Day of 2nd Semester 

 

Make Your Athletic Hall of Fame Nomination now 
Nominate WFISD former standouts in three categories: former athletes, former coaches and former teams. Use the online nomination form here. Read more about the new Hall of Fame here.



Superintendent's Spotlight
By Mike Kuhrt
Mike Kuhrt
Hello parents and WFISD staff,
Living in a household with four teenagers, I can tell you one thing: Communication matters. At our house, I cook breakfast most mornings to facilitate some early morning conversation with my wife and our four daughters that might not happen any other way.  

In the same way, getting some conversation going about our schools is important to me, too. 

News Headlines
Keep up with a busy season of achievements

  The Texas Education Agency bestowed 32 special state "distinctions," or kudos, to 16 WFISD schools for meeting the state's expectations. In this case, they performed favorably compared to a group of 40 campuses of similar type, size and student demographics. Jefferson Elementary earned the most - 5 of a possible 6.  Both Hirschi and Rider High Schools took five out of a possible seven distinctions.

National Merit Success
WFISD celebrates two Semifinalists and five Commendeds
Carlston, Baker

Two WFISD students earned the prestigious title of 2017 National Merit Semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program, scoring in the contest's top one percent. Wichita Falls High School senior Clara Baker (right) and Rider High School senior Madison Carlston (left)  scored in the top 16,000 on their PSAT tests taken when they were juniors to earn this prestigious honor. They will continue to compete for 7,500 National Merit scholarships worth $33 million that will be offered next spring.


Five Rider High School students nabbed the title of 2017 National Merit Commended in the National Merit Scholarship Program, scoring in the top five percent of more than 1.6 million students who entered the 2017 competition. Congratulations to Syler Dotson, Greyson Fitzwater, Pranav Kamath, James Scales, and Par Wilkinson. 



The West Winners
20 WFISD teachers win West Teaching Excellence Award 
Superintendent Mike Kuhrt and Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths visited 16 schools on Sept. 30, balloons in hand, to greet 20 teachers who were named the 2016 West Teaching Excellence Award winners.
 
The coveted West Teaching Excellence Awards have been a district tradition since 1983. The honor is provided by the West Foundation. The 20 teachers selected this year are considered tops in the field of WFISD's 1,200 teachers.
 
Mr. Kuhrt and Mr. Griffiths announced each win by striding into the winner's classroom, interrupting the teaching, and telling the students that their teacher had won one of the district's most prestigious awards. 

Winners received checks of $5,000 apiece from the West Foundation, making this a $100,000 gift from the Foundation directly to WFISD teachers. 

What's New in P.E.?
Standardization hits the gym
Julie Henderson
Wichita Falls ISD physical education teachers are playing ball with a new curriculum this year, adapted by local teachers from one used by Austin ISD.
 
The new material, implemented districtwide, will bring a new standardization to the district's P.E. classes.
 
What? We weren't standardized before? WFISD Health and Wellness Coordinator Julie Henderson explains the District's new approach.
 
 She will also let us in on one all-new pilot program currently underway at all three high school campuses.   
The Comfy Factor
Teachers rally around a growing movement to make learning fun - and cozy 
Crockett students sit on bouncy balls in class
When is the last time you reached for a hard, wood library-type chair to sit in and read a book?
 
We sit in comfortable seating - like couches and upholstered chairs - to do almost everything at home. So why not sink into something plush in the classroom to learn? Now that electronic devices have gone wireless, students don't need to be tethered to desks and plastic seating. 

The Happy Phone Call
One teacher says placing positive phone calls to parents is more important now than ever 

Gwen Hilliard in her Wichita Falls High School classroom 
Wichita Falls High School teacher Gwen Hilliard started making "happy" phone calls to her students' parents early in her 17-year education career.
 
The "happy" phone call - a call home to tell parents about something positive their child did - was Mrs. Hilliard's way of trying to put an end to the other type of call: the unhappy ones.
 
If she could get each student and his family on her side early in the school year, everything went better from then on, she decided.
 
And so her tradition began. WFISD Communications Specialist Ann Work Goodrich visited Mrs. Hilliard's Wichita Falls High School classroom to ask her exactly how she did it.  

Master Electrician Sparks Learning 
Instructor Chris Wilbur brings 16 years experience - and a surprise lesson - to his Career and Technical Education teaching post
Carrigan teacher Chris Wilbur illustrates the math involved in Ohm's Law and Watt's Law, two formulas used routinely by electricians


CTE teacher Chris Wilbur didn't become a master electrician overnight.  His  impressive  title required him to work five years in an apprenticeship through the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, then work hundreds of hours and pass a journeyman test.
 
With his journeyman's license, he worked four more years as an electrician, doing the kind of service work that would have brought him out to your house to fix a plug; or he could have worked as part of a construction crew, such as the one currently building the Career Education Center.
 
While the journeyman status is the end-point for most electricians, Mr. Wilbur continued pursuing his master electrician title so that he could start his own business.
 
It took a total of nine years before Mr. Wilbur was eligible to sit, in 2008, for the master's test. Since then, he has logged thousands of work hours as a master electrician, only to show up at Carrigan Career Center in Fall 2015 to train WFISD students in electrical basics.
 
WFISD Communication Specialist Ann Work Goodrich visited his Carrigan classroom to find out the surprising reason he transitioned into teaching - and dig into the wealth of experience he brings to students.

Read 2 Learn Starts 4th Year
Come play a part in changing students' lives

Now in its fourth year, Read 2 Learn serves 15 WFISD campuses. Since its inception, more than 19,000 volunteers have helped 846 students read on grade level by third grade. 

Studies show children are three times less likely to graduate from high school if they can't read on grade level by third grade; if economically disadvantaged, they are 13 times less likely to graduate. Come join us and help change children's lives.


To volunteer, call January Jones, (940) 235-1000, ext. 10019.

The Simulcast Solution 
Forget the two-hour drive to the big city. Living in Wichita Falls doesn't have to deter you -- or your children -- from experiencing a world premiere 


On November 4, all Wichita Falls families may participate in a big-city event without driving any farther than to Kay Yeager Coliseum.
 
The Priddy Foundation is bringing a world-premiere production of Moby-Dick to Wichita Falls, and all WFISD children and their parents are invited.
 
It's free, so mark the date on your calendar.
 
This opera production of Moby-Dick comes to Wichita Falls as a free live simulcast, broadcast from the Winspear Opera House in Dallas.



Now, That's Why I Teach!
Three success stories from the front lines
Dylla, Wilson, Cook 

Fowler Elementary kindergarten teacher Penny Dylla, West Foundation kindergarten teacher Katie Wilson and Zundy second-grade teacher Cassie Cook recount stories about students' changed lives that make the difficult work of teaching worthwhile. 



Ode to Opera
"America's Got Talent" contestants visit Kirby Middle, Hirschi High School

A duo who paired up to perform on America's Got Talent, Season 9, and received a standing ovation by the celebrity judges shared some of their performance secrets recently with WFISD choral students at Kirby Middle School and Hirschi High School.

Here, singers Ashley Renee Watkins and Olanna Gouda sing for Hirschi High School choir teacher Mineasa Nesbit, introducing her students to their special soprano niche: opera. 



Employees in the News
Congratulations to Dee Palmore, Cody Blair, Kristin Howard and Tania Rushing 

Clockwise from top left: Dee Palmore, Cody Blair, Kristin Howard, Tania Rushing
Rider High School Principal Dee Palmore was named by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals as its Region 9 Principal of the Year.

Barwise Middle School Principal Cody Blair was named by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals as its Region 9 Assistant Principal of the Year, a nod to his previous service at Rider High School.

Jefferson fifth-grade teacher Kristin Howard was named Texoma's Best Teacher by the Times Record News in its annual Texoma's Best contest.

McNiel Middle School Principal Tania Rushing was named Texoma's Best Principal --for the second consecutive year --  by the Times Record News in its annual Texoma's Best contest.


Homework for You: Download WFISD App
You won't believe how much you'll like it until you have it


WFISD now offers its own free smartphone app through Apple's App Store or Google Play.
 
But you may be asking yourself, "Why do I need a WFISD app?"
 
Here's why: The app will conveniently put everything you use from WFISD in the palm of your hand, mobile and ready to go.