Spring/Summer 2018
Right You Are

By lighting yourself on fire with enthusiasm, you can become a beacon of bliss amidst a bastion of boredom and banality. Your attitude carries with it your single most powerful tool to influence your classroom.
--Dave Burgess, Teach Like a Pirate

An excuse is a defense mechanism. It's a justification for giving up.
--Hope and Wade King, The Wild Card

Our kids need every teacher they have to teach literacy. The days of teaching one content have come to an end. We teach kids, and we teach them to read like historians, scientists, mathematicians, and for pure enjoyment. We owe it to them.
--Bethany Hill

Leave your problems in the car. Take a deep breath and focus on the positive. Find hope. Kids need the best you. Step out and be your single best every single day. Be awesome! The kids deserve it!
--Todd Nesloney, Adam Welcome, Kids Deserve It

In the game of life, children have no control over the hand they are dealt. You, as a teacher, are the wild card that can make a difference in your students' lives.
--Hope and Wade King, The Wild Card

When teachers think about professional development, they often forget the teacher next door. #observeme #pineapplepd
--Heather Preston @Mrs_Preston_RHS

There is no room for negativity in education. We should compete with Disneyland for the Happiest Place on Earth.
--@adamsteaching

Yup, teaching isn't baseball. It's not three strikes and you're out. It's not free walks either. High expectations, with support and many second chances. Also: If we/our students aren't failing sometimes, the bar is set too low.
--David Truss @datruss

I'm happy that I'm embarrassed. The reality is that if I'm embarrassed about how I used to teach, it probably means I've improved.
--Robert Kaplinsky

Right now is the best time of your life. After all, the only place in time that you actually occupy is now.
--Ken Keis, CEO, Consulting Resource Group Intl

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
--Mark Twain

Hate it. Love it. Be scared of it. Embrace it. Fear it. Just don't IGNORE it. Social media is the water our kids swim in. It would be malpractice to not teach them how to swim and empower them to make a positive difference there.
--Dave Burgess

Today (May 26, 2018) I got the letter that I wrote to myself at New Teacher Orientation.  Thank you @WFISDschools for having us do this! #firstyeardown #living the dream #iamwfisd
--Meghan Myracle

All you need to do is move inch by inch toward the person you want to become. That is enough. You are enough.
--Allyson Apsey, The Path to Serendipity

All of my early memories of school include being warned to stay in my seat and not talk to my neighbors. But I had one teacher who understood my uniqueness and overabundance of energy, which I now attribute to ADHD. I wanted to become a teacher so I could help kids like me understand their own uniqueness.
--Gwenna Gallenberger, Kirby Middle School

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Upcoming Events

  June 12
Board of Education Noon Work Session, Education Center

June 18
Board of Education Meeting, Education Center, 6 p.m.

June 25-28
STAAR retests

July 4
Independence Day, Staff Holiday

July 10
Board of Education Noon Work Session, Education Center

July 16
Board of Education Meeting, Education Center, 6 p.m.

August 6 - 8
New Teacher Orientation

August 7
FanFest, Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.

August 16
First Day of School



Superintendent's Spotlight
By Mike Kuhrt
Mike Kuhrt

Hello Parents and WFISD staff:

Can you believe it? Another school year is in the rear view mirror. What an awesome year it was! Now we have a short time to catch our breath, do a little planning, and prepare for an even better experience next year.

Recently I learned that one of our Rider High School graduates from the Class of 2014, Michelle Ingle, graduated as No. 2 in her class at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

What an accomplishment for a former WFISD student!
2nd Lieutenant Michelle Ingle is the daughter of Wichita Falls community member and former City Councilor Lt. Col. Tim Ingle. Her mother is Linda Kemp.

Let me tell you her story. 

She was an early stand-out at the Air Force Academy. As a freshman, she was selected as a glider instructor pilot and was No. 1 of 28 freshmen in her squadron. She even made the Superintendent's List in that difficult first year, which means she made the academic, military and athletic honor roll.

She also lettered in fencing!


The Bilingual Secret
WFISD Foreign Language Director turns to technology to enhance District's bilingual achievements
Greta Benavides
Greta Benavides, WFISD's Foreign Language Director, has worked hard to have a bilingual family. When her family lived in Monterrey, Mexico, she insisted her children speak English at home, since they got Spanish everywhere else. But when they moved to Giddings, Texas, in 2004, and then to Wichita Falls in 2015, she insisted they speak only Spanish at home, since they were speaking English everywhere else.

"My kids were not happy," she said. "They said, 'Mom, make up your mind!'"

Today, Greta oversees WFISD's foreign language program that serves children in Wichita Falls who speak 40 different languages. You probably aren't surprised to learn that after English, Spanish is the No. 1 language, but what's your guess as to No. 2 and No. 3? Would you believe Arabic and Vietnamese?

WFISD now uses an online program for its English Language Learners called i-Lit, which scaffolds learning for children at all ability levels. The program has been so successful in WFISD's elementary grades that this is the first year it has been promoted for use in the high schools. 

"And we're getting very, very good results," she said.

At last, technology is saving teachers the herculean task of creating a flurry of different 45-minute daily lesson plans to match the needs of several students in a classroom with different languages or with the same language but who are speaking at different ability levels.

But some things never change. In the world of language learning, technology can only do so much.  You have to want to learn and believe you can learn, she said.

Ann Work Goodrich talked to Greta Benavides, who is also the author of two books, about her atypical life in Mexico, the very specific reason she and her husband moved to the United States, and what she prioritizes now after 34 years in education and nearly three years with WFISD.

Q: You grew up in Mexico. But your experience was not what we typically picture of life in Mexico.

A: 
My father was the Director of the Library at the Technological Institute in Monterrey, Mexico, a university that was founded on the MIT model and was the most prestigious university in Latin America. He spoke five languages. He was a historian and a journalist. He wrote seven books. My father earned his master's degree in Paris, France. At our dining table, he didn't ask, "How was your day?" He asked, "What did you learn today?" To the day my father passed away, when he would call, he didn't greet me with, "How are you?" but he said, "Turn around, look at your night table, and tell me what book you are reading." And I better have had a good answer for that.
    
News Clips
A round-up of WFISD's latest headlines

Engage to Learn Partners with WFISD
WFISD is partnering with Engage2Learn, a company that specializes in facilitating communication between educators and their communities. The partnership will launch an extensive project of community meetings, goal setting, strategy formation and facility discussion. All efforts are aimed at refocusing WFISD's efforts to serve students in the next decade and provide them with the skills they need.
 
Chartwells Links Up With Local Growers
Chartwells has completed its first year as the District's food service provider. The company has linked up with local growers like Moraths, Blaze Star Urban Farms and Steve Young to provide healthy options in school cafeterias. Chartwells has also introduced unique promotions, catering services, and a food truck. Records show cafeteria use by children is trending up at all grade levels.
 
Teacher Hiring Schedule Unchanged
The Hiring Teacher Salary Schedule, which brings on a first-year teacher at $43,200, will remain the same as last year. This is not the District's teacher salary schedule that determines teacher wages or pay increases but a special 20-step hiring schedule used specifically by the WFISD Human Resources Department at its hiring events. WFISD will hire about 100 teachers this season.


Thousands of Chromebooks Purchased for 1:1 Initiative
The recent purchase and leasing of 4,500 Chromebooks will allow WFISD to fully implement its one-to-one initiative throughout secondary schools. This brings the District's current count of devices up to 6,900.


Pay Hikes for Bus Monitors, Drivers
Bus monitors and bus drivers received pay hikes as part of the Durham School Service contract. Bus monitors' starting wage increased from $9 per hour to $9.50 per hour. Bus drivers' starting wage increased from $11.40 per hour to $14 per hour.
 
District Adopts AP Capstone Program
The District has adopted the AP Capstone Program that will go into effect at Rider High School and Wichita Falls High School. The program features challenging, innovative courses. Specifically, the two high schools will offer courses titled "AP Seminar" to honors students in grades 10 and 11 and "AP Research" to honors students the following year in grades 11 and 12.
 
Transportation Changes for Transfer Students
Board members updated Policy FDB (Local) to require a student to provide his own transportation when he chooses a campus outside his attendance zone. The policy's two exceptions: If students attend WFISD's International Baccalaureate magnet program at either Kirby Middle School or Hirschi High School, they may continue to receive free busing. Also, a family must now present any appeal in a written petition.
 
New Buses Feature Air Conditioning, Seat Belts
WFISD purchased two student route buses and six student activity buses. All buses include air conditioning and (state-required) three-point seat belts.
 
District Students Place in 32 UIL Contests
The annual UIL meet for WFISD at the elementary level singled out 126 elementary student winners for places 1 through 6 in intense competition in 15 contests. At the middle school level, 68 students won No. 1 through No. 6 places in 17 contest areas.
 
Accelerated Instruction Now Delivered at Beginning of School Year
WFISD will now offer accelerated instruction at the beginning of the school year instead of after the third administration of the 5th and 8th grade STAAR Reading and Math tests, according to a three-year Texas Education Agency waiver approved by board members. 

The third administration was June 17, with results coming in July 17.
 
Changes Made to 2018-2019 WFISD School Calendar
WFISD board members approved a waiver that allowed the District to reduce its instructional days in the 2018-2019 school year to include four days of staff development for educators.
 
The 2018-2019 WFISD School Calendar eliminates several of the current year's early release days, which created inconveniences for parents. The new calendar features 172 student instruction days and four staff development days from August 16, 2018 through May 23, 2019. There are five more staff development days from August 9 through August 15, 2018. The school start date is Thursday, August 16. The last day of school is Friday, May 24. Graduation is May 25. Students will have a Thanksgiving break from Nov. 19-23 and a Christmas break from Dec. 24, 2018 - January 4, 2019.
 
Businesses: Now's Your Chance!
Get your foot in the door at the Career Education Center with three-year sponsorships

PHCC Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors of Texas sponsored the Career Education Center's plumbing program. From left: Brian and Diane Walser, Frank Schmidt, and plumbing instructor Danny Cozby. Not pictured: Cody Moore
Now there's a way to link your business name and influence with the cutting-edge educational programs at the Career Education Center.
 
The CEC is now asking businesses to sponsor one or more of its 46 programs, classrooms or labs, creating a three-year partnership between the two. Sponsorships are available at three price points: $4,500, $5,000, and $6,000.
 
Sponsors receive a plaque with business logo and name posted at the classroom door of the sponsored program. The easy-to-see plaque will be visible to all students and building visitors. Sponsors also receive a one-time use of the CEC's flex-space meeting room for an event and a one-time use of the CEC conference room for a special meeting. The business will also receive a flower arrangement on Secretary's Day from the CEC's Floral Design class.
 
No more than two sponsors may sponsor each room.
 
Sponsorships span the breadth of CEC education offerings. From culinary to criminal justice to computer classrooms, a business can target a program that complements its own business focus.
 
Eighty percent of all sponsorship money received will directly support the associated program to buy needed equipment and to underwrite student lab fees and certifications. Twenty percent of the sponsorship money will be funneled toward CEC events, equipment and other items for the facility, students and staff.
 
A Robot for Riley
The most amazing use of technology this year was the robot that went to class for a high school student

Riley Pruit's face appears on the screen of robot Vegos, whom Riley nicknamed Evie
In January, Rider High School sophomore Riley Pruit found herself homebound because of an injury. But the injury didn't keep her isolated at home for long thanks to a creative solution: She programmed a robotic "self" that could go to her classes for her.
 
The robot, called Vegos, is a slim, nearly four-foot-tall white robot on wheels that looks like some sort of Dyson fan. Riley's face is projected live on the robot's TV-like screen. With a little help, the robot wheels into each of her classrooms and positions itself among the other students. From home, Riley can move and position the robot to face the teacher or classmates. She can hear all that's going on in her class, and she can participate, too.
 
How did Riley come up with such a great solution? Actually, it was her mother's doing. Here, Communications Specialist Ann Work Goodrich talks to Riley's mother, Xochitl Pruit, about this unique fix.

 
Q: How did you know about the availability of this robot?
A: One day I was at Region 9 Education Center, where I work as the College and Career Pathway Navigator for Adult Education. It was a Saturday. I was working on a project, and I saw Vegos stroll by. It was just going down the hallway. I followed Vegos into Mike Campbell's office. I learned that Region 9 has two of them. We loan them out to families who need them. The last family who used it was a boy who couldn't attend his classes because he had an autoimmune disorder.
 
I asked if one of the robots would be available for my daughter to use. They said yes. There is no cost. It's part of the Education Service agreement that WFISD has with Region 9.
First, the House Plans 
Career Education Center's first home-build is already underway

 Students' house plans are posted in the Career Education Center hallway near the architecture teacher Amy Hughes' classroom
One of the most ambitious projects of the new Career Education Center came from an idea proposed by construction teacher Scott Little.
 
He wanted to include a space at the CEC where his students - and those of other trades such as electrical and plumbing - could build a real house on the school premises every couple of years.
 
That dream is already becoming a reality, even though the Career Education Center is just finishing its first year of operation. Already, architecture students have completed the plans for the house and now construction students are breaking ground to begin construction.
 
Construction of the small house will continue into the 2018-2019 school year.
 
First Things First
 
From the beginning, the project was designed to include students from a variety of endorsement areas. Architecture students would design the house; construction students would build it; electrical students would wire it; plumbing students would plumb it; and marketing students would sell it.
 
That meant the project would start in the architecture lab. During the 2017-2018 school year, each of Amy Hughes' architecture students proposed a design for the house.

'2018 Teachers of the Year' Honors Go to Lexi Law, Heather Preston

Left to right: 2018 Secondary Teacher of the Year Heather Preston, Superintendent Mike Kuhrt, 2018 Elementary Teacher of the Year Lexi Law
For the third year, WFISD chose two of its finest educators - one for elementary, one for secondary -- to represent the District in the state's 2018 Teacher of the Year competition.
 
Superintendent Mike Kuhrt named Lexi Law, a 5th grade science teacher at Ben Franklin Elementary, as WFISD's 2018 Elementary Teacher of the Year. He also named Heather Preston, an honors English teacher at Rider High School, as the District's Secondary Teacher of the Year.
 
Learn more about them here.
 
Lexi Law, 5th grade Ben Franklin Elementary science teacher
Mrs. Law was a latchkey kid in elementary school. By first grade, she learned how to fix herself  Ramen Noodles. By age 16, she had her own apartment and drove herself to high school every day. Her first job was at the Boys and Girls Club, a job that fulfilled her and steered her away from the trouble that was finding one of her siblings. Students loved her so much that they cried if she left early. That convinced her she needed a career in education.
 
How IDEA Grants Help Change the WFISD World
Eleven 2017 IDEA Grant winners tell how their classrooms benefited from these special gifts

Caili Knecht's 1st graders use the Osmo
Lacey Davis, Booker T. Washington Elementary, Kindergarten
 
I received money to purchase the interactive tech tool called Osmo. I had seen Osmo in another school, so I did some research online. It aligned with many of our District priority standards, so I was sold. I wrote a grant last year but didn't win so my advice to others is to keep trying. Sometimes you just get lucky!

I have used all three of the Osmo components. We use tangrams for problem-solving, letter tiles for building words and number tiles for composing and decomposing numbers. We use Osmo Words for Balanced Literacy.  We use Osmo Numbers and Osmo Tangrams for our Guided Math rotations. The students are so engaged; they cheer when it's their turn! 
 
The Osmo grant increased my students' opportunities to engage in interactive technology applications. Having Osmos to use with our classroom iPads during math centers and Balanced Literacy has increased the number of children developed on TPRI and increased the number of students passing the District math tests. I have seen huge gains in the objectives of number identification, problem-solving, letter and sound identification and word-building. 

Caili Knecht, Booker T. Washington Elementary, 1st grade
 
I received 10 iPads through the IDEA Grant. We started using them around January 22, 2018. Now my students use them daily. We use them for several activities throughout the day.

For our English block, the students used the iPads to develop their own short-story books. We also used them that same week to research information about George Washington Carver. The students use the Epic app to read from a library of children's books or 
to have an informational text read to them. Then they searched for specific facts about Mr. Carver.
What I Learned About Teaching From My Mom
At the 2018 Retirement Breakfast, Burgess Elementary Principal Jeff Hill reflected on the influence of his mother, Pam Hill. She inspired him and his two siblings -- all three of her children -- to go into education careers. She retired in May.

Caili Knecht's 1st graders use the Osmo
By Jeff Hill

This is a very special year for me because, in addition to the fine teachers at Burgess Elementary who are retiring, I also get the chance to speak about my mother, Pam Hill, who is also retiring this year. My brother and I actually flipped a coin to see who would speak about her today at the Retirement Breakfast. I got Retirement Breakfast, and he got the eulogy.

My mom retires from WFISD this year with 30 years of experience. She taught at Jefferson and Crockett. 

Being the child of a teacher is a unique experience. I remember spending hot summer un-air-conditioned days in her classroom pretending to organize things. In school, my homework got checked every night. If I got in trouble at school, the teacher was always right. A far cry from how it is today.

My mom is the reason I love education. I used to love grading papers with her at night. She has always said she must have done something wrong for all three of her children to end up in education. My sister teaches sophomore English and coaches soccer in Pflugerville. My brother "teaches" business classes and coaches soccer in Dripping Springs. And you can imagine how annoying we are together. Any time you get teachers all in one room together, teaching is all they can talk about.

But being a teacher's kid also has its advantages. Who else better to learn from than your very own, live-in teacher? My mom has definitely taught me a few things over the years. For starters, she taught me about consistency. She showed that throughout her entire career, even into her last year. 
I would call her on my way home from work this year around 6 p.m. and many times find her still in her classroom at Crockett working on her next day's lesson.

My mom also taught me about balance. She raised three kids and never once missed any of our activities. 

During my first year of teaching, she took me for margaritas the afternoon after my STAAR test because she knew I would need them and that I didn't even have a clue.

Finally, she taught me selflessness. Whether it was from buying things for the kids in her class or working late on a creative lesson or attending her students' sporting events, she showed me that teaching -- and life, for that matter-- is all about people. My mom invested in so many lives in her 30 years of teaching. She invested in her students, her fellow teachers and -- probably what I'm most grateful for -- in the lives of my brother, my sister and me. 

We love you, Mom. 
Thank you for all you have done, and we wish you nothing but happiness in your retirement. Sorry, Dad! Looks like you have some company at home now!