The hardest part about getting started is getting started.
None of us is as smart as all of us.
Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community.
--Anthony J. D'Angelo
We are all different, but there's something kind of fantastic about that, isn't there?
Never bend your head. Hold it high. Look the world in the eye.
To ascend to the level of greatness, you have to be on fire with passion and enthusiasm. Mediocrity is incapable of motivating. You just can't be on fire about mediocrity. There's no energy, no juice, and no fuel to ignite action. How could anyone be fired up about creating a lukewarm classroom environment where kids punch the clock, mostly behave, and then file out the door to the next class?
WFISD Marching Festival, Memorial Stadium, 5:30 p.m.
Rider/WFHS Football game
Board of Education Noon Work Session, Education Center; Empty Bowls fundraiser, Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University, 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Board of Education Meeting, Education Center, 6 p.m.
Texoma Regional College Night, Region 9, 6 p.m - 8 p.m.
Teens Make a Difference Day
Student Holiday; Elementary Parent/Teacher Conferences
Secondary Staff Development
Principal for a Day, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Election Day; Board of Education Work session, Education Center, Room 302, Noon
Veterans Day Ceremony, Memorial Stadium, 11 a.m.
Board of Education Meeting, Education Center, 6 p.m.
November 22 - 24
Staff/student holiday for Thanksgiving break
STAAR EOC Testing
Board of Education Work Session, Education Center,
Board of Education Meeting, Education Center, 6 p.m.
Last Day of 1st Semester; Early Release at noon for secondary, at 1 p.m. for elementary
December 18-Jan. 3
January 4, 2018
Students return; First Day of 2nd Semester
Read 2 Learn Volunteers Needed!
Every year, WFISD's homegrown remedial reading program, Read 2 Learn, needs hundreds of volunteers to read with second-graders. The goal is to bring each child's reading skill up to grade level by the time he reaches the all-important third-grade. Please consider joining us. This 30-minute weekly commitment to help a child can make a world of difference! Sign up here.
By Mike Kuhrt
Hello Parents and WFISD staff,
For most of us, America is a land of plenty, and when tragedy strikes, we find ways to help those who suffer. We are quick to rally around those pummeled by disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
But it's easy to forget that there is another urgent, online need in every city, including ours. It also needs our attention, but it is easy overlooked.
It is hunger. In our area, for every four children, one is hungry.
Our city has some wonderful programs in place to help children, something I'm learning about now from my spot on the board of the Wichita Falls Area Food Bank.
With WFISD's economically disadvantaged rate sitting at 66 percent, we know right there that hunger is a pervasive problem in our schools. But in some of our schools, the number of economically disadvantaged children runs as high as 99 percent. That means that at some of our schools, nearly everybody qualifies as "food insecure."
Thankfully, they will get a hot breakfast free of charge at school every morning - something the state provides for all Texas school children, disadvantaged or not. Because everyone agrees: It's a no-brainer that a hungry child can't concentrate on learning.
In recent years, as many as 23,000 children in our area also received a free or reduced-priced lunch to relieve their hunger needs during the day.
But the problem of hunger still shows up at nights, on weekends and on school vacations, when food is unavailable at home.
Scientific Learning Program Offers New Hope to WFISD Strugglers
A groundbreaking new reading intervention program launched in late September
Scientists no longer describe your brain as an inanimate vessel that must be filled with knowledge. "Rather it is more like a living creature with an appetite, one that can grow and change itself with proper nourishment and exercise," writes Norman Doidge, M.D., in his book, "The Brain That Changes Itself."
And the best part: It's never too late to feed it well.
possibilities are at the core of Scientific Learning, a new program priced at $600,000 that was generously purchased for Wichita Falls ISD through a grant funded by The McCoy Foundation.
The program helps students rewire their brains through specific brain exercises. It exercises every basic brain function involved in language: decoding sounds to comprehension. It's like CrossFit for brains.
The average child improved by 1.8 years of language development in six weeks -- fast by all standards.
This program is now in all WFISD elementary schools and at Kirby Middle School. It's also being used by all kindergarteners and many students in grades 1-5.
Curriculum Director Misti Spear discovered the program and wrote the grant that brought it to our students. Why is she pinning the District's hopes to this program? What results does she expect to see? Communications Specialist Ann Work Goodrich sat down with her to find out.
Lessons From "Teach Like a Pirate"
Hot motivational book by Dave Burgess stresses teaching with enthusiasm
When Grades K-2 Curriculum Specialist Stephanie Parsons searched for a book to lead her teachers through last spring, she decided to choose one that bypassed the usual content areas -- math, science, reading or writing - and focused instead on motivation. So many people were blogging about Dave Burgess' "Teach Like a Pirate," that she chose that one, even though she had never seen him at a conference or met him in person.
But she solved that dilemma quickly. When the book study was done, she set up a Google Hangout for her team in April with Mr. Burgess himself. He sent ahead some complimentary books and then spoke to 34 WFISD teachers, who were festively dressed in pirate hats, patches and scarves. He spoke via video cam from his car while driving in California.
So what did they learn from Mr. Burgess' book that will benefit her K-2 teachers -- or any teacher? Interviewer is Communicatio
ns Specialist Ann Work Goodrich.
Keep up with a busy season of achievements
New Fiscal Year, New Salaries
WFISD began its new fiscal year Sept. 1. This year, each step to the Teacher Hiring Schedule rose by $200, and teachers received another $200 for salary increases. The rest of WFISD employees received a 1 percent pay raise.
WFISD enrollment is holding steady at around 14,150 students.
2015 Bond Projects Nearly Done
With the completion of the Career Education Center in August, the only remaining bond projects that remain from the $59.6 million school bond passed in May 2015 are second phase Safety and Security enhancements to existing schools.
Barwise Weight Room Funded
In mid-July, WFISD board members kept a promise to Barwise Middle School parents and students by funding a weight room at the school for $170,000. The metal building will be built by Gary Baker Construction; it will have no rest rooms. Mr. Baker estimated it will take 150 calendar days to build the facility after contracts are signed.
An Easy Way to Find Lost Money
Anyone who worked for WFISD for the past 25 years as a substitute teacher or as temp help during the summer may have racked up retirement money that they don't know about or have lost track of. It will be easier to retrieve that money from a 457(b) Plan now that WFISD has adopted a different FICA Alternative Plan through TCG Administrators. For current participants, fees will be reduced. All inactive employees - some of your friends or family members, perhaps - will be contacted and given instructions on how to withdraw any funds they contributed while employed with WFISD.
Twenty-three WFISD Schools Rated "Met Standard"
Burgess Elementary emerges from Improvement Required status; four remain
This year, 23 WFISD schools delivered the academic performance in all subjects and subgroups asked for by the state and were rated "Met Standard."
The state also designated four WFISD schools as "Improvement Required," and they are now operating with carefully crafted remediation plans. The two schools that are new to the IR classification: Franklin Elementary and Hirschi High School. Two other schools remain on the list from previous years: Kirby Middle School (which is in Year 2 of IR) and Booker T. Washington, which is in Year 3.
The best news of all: Burgess Elementary emerged from its "Improvement Required" status. The school's performance on STAAR tests caused the state to rank them "Met Standard" this year.
Ratings assess a school in four areas: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness. To meet a standard, a school must meet the state's target for either student achievement or student progress, plus meet targets in the "gaps" and "readiness" categories.
Rider High School Senior Aces ACT, Then Becomes the District's Only National Merit Semifinalist
Rider's Caleigh Studer is the daughter of Loy and Jessica Studer
The funny thing is, Caleigh Studer didn't even want to take the ACT test. She'd already made a score she was comfortable with on the SAT college entrance exam. But her mother, as mothers do, urged her to take it, just to see how she would do.
And she did perfectly. Her perfect score of 36 put her among the 1/10th of 1 percent of ACT test takers.
Then, to top it all off, she learned that she is WFISD's only National Merit Semifinalist in the 2018 National Merit Scholarship Contest. She is one of about 16,000 Semifinalists nationwide in the 63rd annual National Merit Scholarship Program.
She has had many other high school accomplishments, such as six gold medals earned at state solo and ensemble contests, and is the product of four WFISD schools: McGaha Elementary, Cunningham Elementary, Zundy Junior High and Rider High School.
She is considering attending Stanford University, Princeton University or University of Alabama and is currently undecided about a college major.
Career Education Center Opens On Time, Under Budget, with Surging Enrollment
Enrollment -- and enthusiasm -- at the District's new career training hub is high
Ever since the community said "Yes!" to the 2015 school bond that funded the dream of the Career Education Center, administrators hoped and planned that the new building would serve 500 students at any point during the school day.
When the Career Education Center finally opened August 17 on the first day of the 2017-2018 school year, it served 1,242 students on its first day.
"It's more than we ever imagined," said Superintendent Mike Kuhrt. "It's awesome that students are utilizing everything it has to offer."
Enthusiasm for the state-of-the-art building and its 26 career programs has been high.
"I don't have a day that goes by that a kid doesn't say, 'I like being over here,' or 'It makes me feel so good being over here,'" said Jennifer Spurgers, CEC assistant principal.
Students tell her they wish they could have all their classes at the CEC. "Kids say, 'This is like college,'" she said. "Students are so appreciative of it. They sit and relax and then they go to their classes."
Here's What $1 Million Can Do
Sheppard Elementary puts two grants totaling $1 million to work on its campus
You may have dreamed about having $1 million to spend to improve your life, but Sheppard Elementary is living that dream. The little WFISD campus that sits on Sheppard Air Force Base and serves 325 children has been the recipient of two $500,000 grants from the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA)-one grant that came two years ago and another that came in September. This civilian agency of the United States Department of Defense manages all schools for military children and seeks to provide the best opportunities for them with its funding.
- the one bestowed on the school two years ago and the new one received in September -- will infuse the school with its $500,000 over a period of five years. Ultimately, the two grants will bring $1 million in new technology and opportunities to the campus that serves military children.
We asked Lauryn Taylor, now in the full-time DoDEA project director role at Sheppard, to describe the impact that the first grant - which came two years ago - has had and what she expects the new grant of another $500,000 will do.
Q: How unusual is it for a WFISD school to receive two $500,000 grants from DoDEA?
In a webinar with DoDEA last week, we learned there were 73 applications submitted this year. Thirty were accepted as grant awards. Of those, only 13 had already been awarded money. So we were one of the top 13 applications for this DoDEA grant opportunity.
Meet (Some of) the Teachers of the WFISD Career
and Technical Education Program
Here, two of WFISD's many CTE teachers talk about the skills, passion and specific expertise they bring to our students in the District's newest building in 50 years
Styling the Perfect Career
Cosmetology instructor Jessica Crosby Kenner decided in high school that she not only wanted to earn a cosmetology license to be a hair stylist, but she also wanted to teach cosmetology in a high school program. Now, 14 years into her career, she has been teaching Cosmetology classes in WFISD's CTE program for five years -- a gig that is literally her dream come true.
Q: How did you know cosmetology was the career for you?
It was always an internal motivation and an interest. I would sit in front of the mirror as a little girl and do my hair. Friends would want their hair done, and I would braid their hair. I always had an interest in art. In cosmetology, you're not drawing or painting, but it's a form of art. I like working with people and helping them feel better about themselves.
Q: How did you get started in it?
My parents instilled in my brother and me that we needed to develop a skill. So I finished high school in Iowa Park with my cosmetology license.
I knew I wanted to go to college, and I had always wanted to be a teacher. In high school, I thought, "It might be cool to be a cosmetology instructor." I wasn't sure about the chances of that working out, since there were just a handful of cosmetology teaching jobs in this area. But I decided that could be my long-term goal.
I got my Cosmetology Operator License in high school just like our students are doing. Then I went to Austin in my senior year to take the state boards. I worked in the cosmetology field as a hair stylist full time to put myself through college. I went to Vernon College for two years to get my basics. I recommend this to students.
Former WFISD Collision Repair Student -- Now a Master Collision Technician -- Teaches WFISD's Collision Repair Class
David Boller came to WFISD to teach the class that once launched his own interest in auto body repair.
Years ago, David Boller took Carrigan's collision repair class as a student. Almost immediately, he knew collision repair was the career for him. Even though he temporarily went on to Midwestern State University to major in engineering, he missed the hands-on work of refinishing and painting. Yes, he liked the problem-solving of his engineering classes. But he decided to go back to the field where he could do what he most enjoyed: work his projects through from start to finish. He is a master collision technician -- certified in every collision area -- and is master certified in Automotive Service Excellence.
Mr. Boller spent seven years working in a local repair shop and running his own repair shop before joining the WFISD staff 11 years ago. He came to Carrigan to teach the class that once launched his own interest in auto body repair. He is a 2014 winner of the prestigious West Teaching Excellence Award. He recently trained a team of students who won first place in collision estimation at the state's most competitive Skills USA Texas contest.
Q: Is it true that just about every auto repair shop in town has a former Carrigan student in it?
Yes. Most shops in town are owned by individuals whose training originated at Carrigan. And most of them have at least one or multiple employees who started out at Carrigan. At one point at the auto body shop run by owner Greg Ciuba (Greg Ciuba's Paint and Body at 2010 Allen Road), everyone - from the owner on down - originated at Carrigan.
There is a lot of turnover in this field. They come, they go. But to me most of the better shops in town have at least one person that even I have specifically taught.
What's New In Your World?
Four specialists shine light on their new strategies for the year. Learn what Amy Janjgava, David Shipley, Betsy Hamilton and Marisa Herold are doing differently this year
Amy Janjgava, Dyslexia, Ben Milam Elementary
One thing I am doing differently is focusing on giving students more confidence in areas that sometimes cause anxiety for students with dyslexia.
In previous years, I really worked on students' internal dialogue - helping them understand what dyslexia really is and what it means for them. I wanted to change any negative self-concepts and help them become confident in who they are.
This year, I am branching out farther to build confidence and skills in their "real world." For example, students mentioned they didn't feel confident about reading aloud in class, speaking in front of peers about literature/readings, and having classwork displayed in the halls. This year I decided to work on those areas, starting with helping them have the confidence to speak in front of their peers.
Britany Schmidt's journey into her specialty of respiratory therapy was convoluted, and she admits she would have saved time and money if she had taken the class she teaches now when she was in high school.
The biggest surprise for her has been how similar teaching high school is to working in the high stress field of health care.
Talented WFISD Staff Members Receive Accolades
Letitia Willis was named by Texas Elementary Principals & Supervisors Association (TEPSA) as Region 9 Assistant Principal of the Year. She is the
Dr. Cody Blair
Dr. Cody Blair was named by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) as the Region 9 Outstanding Assistant Principal of the Year. He is the former associate principal at Rider High School and the current Barwise Middle School principal.
Dee Palmore was named by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals (TASSP) as Region 9 Outstanding Principal of the Year. Mr. Palmore is a 21-year administrator who has headed the leadership team at Rider High School since 2014.
Frank Murray received the Digital Leadership Award by the Texas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Mr. Murray is the assistant director of technology and was honored for his extraordinary effectiveness. He has trained teachers for 11 years.
Shannon Kuhrt was recognized for serving as the 2017 Texas Statewide Network of Assessment Professionals (TSNAP) President. She is serving a one-year term. It is her fifth year in statewide service. Mrs. Kuhrt is WFISD's assessment director.
Dr. Travis Armstrong
Dr. Travis Armstrong was honored for serving as the Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA) President-elect. He will help set and lead the association's strategic direction. Dr. Armstrong was recently promoted to the position of Director of Early Learning for WFISD from his prior position as assistant director of special education.
Rider High School geoscience teacher Bryce Henderson was named by the Texas OnRamps program at the University of Texas at Austin as one of its six outstanding teachers to win the OnRamps Instructor of the Year Award. The OnRamps program partners with 70 school districts and 350 UT faculty members statewide to provide college-level courses to high school students.
Wichita Falls High School Principal Christy Nash received the highest honor from the office of Gov. Greg Abbott: She was commissioned a Yellow Rose of Texas. The award is given only through the Office of the Governor to recognize outstanding Texas women for significant contributions to their communities.
Go Online to Purchase Rider/WFHS Varsity Football Game Tickets Until October 6
Tickets for the biggest game of the 2017 WFISD varsity football season are available online this year.
Purchase your tickets for the October 6 match-up of Rider High School and Wichita Falls High School at the
website until Oct. 6. For more details on prices, check