Schools - www.garlandisd.net
Herfurth ES student receives special birthday gift
Posted November 30, 2013
Herfurth Elementary student Taiden Conner received a special birthday gift Nov. 14. But it was not anything money could buy. His mother surprised him at school, on leave from a deployment in Afghanistan.
Sharmella Andrews is a Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
“I have a year deployment, so we get 15 days [leave],” she said. “My unit asked me, ‘what 15 days do you want to take?’ I said, ‘I just want to make it home for my son’s birthday to surprise him.’”
While Andrews’ unit worked out the scheduling, she worked out the surprise with Principal Sherri Perkins. A school assembly already planned for that day provided the perfect opportunity. Conner was called to the stage as his mom and brother walked into the cafeteria.
"I was excited and almost cried,” he said. “I was crying on the inside."
After an emotional embrace, Andrews addressed the audience to explain a second purpose for her visit. She presented Perkins with a flag that was flown in an aircraft over Afghanistan Sept. 11. The token represented her appreciation to Herfurth ES for taking care of her son.
“I want to say thank you so much,” Andrews said. “It means a lot to me to know that, me being taken away from him, he still has his school family.”
And that family also includes Andrews’ oldest son, Tai-Sean. The Army ROTC student at Prairie View A&M University attended Herfurth ES as well.
Now that the reunion to celebrate Conner’s birthday is over, Andrews must return to service overseas but her presence will remain in Rowlett.
“We will proudly display her flag in the front foyer of our building,” Perkins said. “I am honored that she would choose to dedicate this to Herfurth.”
Rowlett ES student leads GSO
Posted November 29, 2013
From concert-goer to conductor, Rowlett Elementary School student Michael Hildebrandt will surely remember a recent field trip to see the Garland Symphony Orchestra. He was invited onstage to lead the GSO in a performance of John Phillip Sousa’s Washington Post March.
“It was an exciting and educational morning and a highlight of the year for Rowlett Elementary,” said music teacher Denise Holland.
Every year, the GSO hosts Young People’s Concerts for Garland ISD students. On Oct. 29, several elementary schools traveled to the Curtis Culwell Center to learn more about the components of music and to be introduced to a live performance. In addition to Sousa’s march, this year’s repertoire included The Waltzing Cat by Leroy Anderson, Hoe-Down by Aaron Copland, Waltz from Sleeping Beauty by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns.
“The symphony played wonderfully captivating music for our elementary students and taught us about the families of the orchestra as well as letting us hear each group play alone,” Holland said.
The Garland Symphony Orchestra is under the direction of Maestro Robert Carter Austin.
Photo courtesy of Denise Holland.
GISD chosen for Japanese technology tour
Posted November 25, 2013
The quality of education in Garland ISD is attracting international visitors. This month, the district hosted Japanese teachers and administrators who are touring the U.S. to see how school districts use technology.
“The main purpose of this group is to see how students and teachers are using it in the classroom and how districts manage and maintain it,” said visitor Ari Murakami.
In general, Japan’s educational IT programs are about five years behind the United States. Schools have non-networked computer labs and have just recently installed projectors and document cameras in a few classrooms. But the Japanese central government aims to implement digital textbooks and a 1:1 student to computer tablet environment by 2020.
GISD’s global network, math, science and technology magnets campuses and technology support system led it to be chosen as one of only three districts on the tour. Mansfield ISD and the San Diego Unified School District were also chosen.
“Your technology department supports teachers and the equipment,” commented Murakami. “It also designs the network and backup systems. Japan doesn’t have any of that. The way students and teachers implement technology into learning is also impressive. In my opinion, Garland ISD is the best.”
In addition to touring GISD’s Technology Department, the Japanese educators also visited Beaver, Jackson and Watson technology centers for math and science, as well as North Garland and Sachse high schools. The insight they gained will help create technology plans for their own campuses.
Watson MST students to perform
Posted November 25, 2013
Three Garland ISD students helped bring holiday spirit to life in Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker. Watson Technology Center for Math and Science’s Emily Lawrence, Isabella Lucido and Makayla Mathis are among a select group of local ballerinas chosen to perform this weekend at Southern Methodist University’s McFarlin Auditorium.
In September, nearly 100 local ballet students auditioned for minor roles in the renowned holiday show. Lucido and Mathis took the stage Nov. 17 as snowflakes while Lawrence performed as a Spanish sentinel.
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker boasts Olympic-worthy leaps, lifts and pirouettes, as well as a tribute to world peace in which two dancers become one “Dove of Peace” with a 20-foot wingspan.
Public forums provide feedback for future planning
Posted November 24, 2013
Garland ISD is known for being a tradition-rich district. But staff, students, parents and community members are looking ahead to the future. GISD launched a strategic planning process this month to outline long-term goals and the means of achieving them. The first step involves community input from three Education Summits and an online survey. Superintendent Bob Morrison hopes to hear from every district and community family.
“The more feedback we receive, the better educational experience we can provide,” he said. “Our goal is for GISD to reflect the needs, wants and interest of its tri-cities.”
Available through Dec. 4, the eight-question survey asks what skills students need to thrive and how learning may need to be transformed to prepare students for the future. Visit www.garlandisd.net/futureready to share your opinions.
GISD’s Education Summits kicked off Nov. 14 at the Curtis Culwell Center with more than 125 attendees. District stakeholders were asked to discuss what GISD is doing well, what could be improved and what should be implemented in the future. Their answers were recorded and will be used to create the district’s Strategic Plan. The second Education Summit was held Nov. 18 at Lakeview Centennial High School with more than 125 attendees as well.
GISD’s third and final Education Summit will be held Dec. 3 at Rowlett High School. The public is invited to attend this open forum, beginning at 6 p.m.
Additional steps in the strategic planning process include focus groups, a design team and an action team. The focus groups will enlist students, teachers, administrators, parents and the business community to provide more targeted feedback. Representatives from all of those groups will then collaborate as a team to design a framework for decision-making. A second team will create an action plan aligned to state and district objectives that can lead GISD through a manageable and sustainable transformation process. The result will be a cohesive vision between the district and its stakeholders, as well as clear goals and objectives for the future, a profile of the learner and accountability measures.
Posted November 25, 2013
Lister Elementary School has 5,000 reasons to be thankful this holiday season. The campus received a check for that amount from Best Buy Oct. 29.
Garland Best Buy employees earned donation money through a contest sponsored by Intel. The Score with Intel Core competition invites more than 1,000 stores nationwide to expand sales representatives’ knowledge about Intel technology and the devices they sell. Those who completed the most training sessions won a portion of nearly $300,000 given to 42 schools across the U.S.
Garland’s Best Buy took second place in the contest.
“Our store did not originally set out to win this, however it just started to snow ball as we started having success,” said General Manager Craig Brown. “As employees completed e-learnings and duels against other stores, we found ourselves at the top of the pack. I feel so excited and satisfied that my employees went above and beyond to help the kids at Lister Elementary.”
According to Principal Deborah Wilkerson, Best Buy’s donation of $5,000 will be used to purchase additional technology such as tablet computers. On Oct. 29, Brown and a representative from Intel presented Wilkerson with an oversized check during a staff meeting. The donors were then presented with several thank you cards and posters created by Lister students.
“Our goal has always been to help engage the public in using technology in their daily life,” commented Brown. “The fact that this will help Lister purchase additional tablets for the classrooms is very exciting for me and my team at the Garland store. The school is our next door neighbor, and we would like to have a great relationship with its students and staff.”
How do you GISD?
Posted November 25, 2013
How do you GISD? On a Smartphone? Tablet? Computer? Gaming console? The district wants to know how students, staff, parents and community members use—or would like to use—technology for learning.
Garland ISD has partnered with Project Tomorrow to poll its audience through their Speak Up 2013 survey. Taking 20 minutes to complete, question topics include learning and teaching with technology, 21st century skills, games, STEM career exploration, online and blended learning, flipped classrooms, mobile devices, digital and online textbooks, writing with technology, professional development, school-to-home communications, digital citizenship and common core assessments.
Why speak up? GISD will use the data collected for curriculum planning and future technology purchases. Project Tomorrow also shares national data with the U.S. Congress and Department of Education.
“Like the district’s strategic planning process, Speak Up 2013 allows us to see what is important to our stakeholders,” said Jovan Wells, associate superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. “We hope to incorporate the devices our students are already using into their education. We also want to provide teachers the opportunity to enhance instruction. And, we want GISD graduates to have the skills that parents and community members identify as necessary for success.”
To participate, follow these five steps:
1. Visit www.speakup4schools.org/speakup2013
2. Click on the appropriate survey button
3. Follow the given instructions to access the survey. Begin by clicking on the drop-down button and selecting Texas. Then go to the next line and type in your school name (community members can select a local school).
4. Students will be required to enter in the survey password "gisd.” Educators, parents and community members are not required to enter in a survey password.
5. Complete the survey by Dec. 20
For information about Speak Up 2013, or help completing the survey, visit Project Tomorrow’s website.
Air Force simulator visits NGHS
Posted November 23, 2013
The U.S. Air Force landed at North Garland High School Nov. 6 for an interactive lesson in math, science and technology. Bringing its Rapid Strike simulator, students experienced some of the careers their education at NGHS could lead to.
"I grew up in Garland, and there was not much information about the United States Air Force out there at that time," said Technical Sergeant Robert Auten, recruiter and North Garland alumnus. "My main priority as a recruiter is to inform the community of the great career options that are available. I am thrilled to be able to bring such a prestigious event to my home town."
Throughout the day, NGHS students embarked on five-minute missions simulating life downrange. This included an F-22 flight, C-17 cargo drop, CCT ground surveillance, satellite communications and a Reaper missile strike. North Garland was one of only two North Texas locations chosen for this exclusive, national tour. The simulator was also set up at a Cowboys game.
GISD students medal at martial arts competition
Posted November 19, 2013
Proving their martial arts skills, several Garland ISD students scored medals at a recent competition. The district’s after-school Martial Arts Knights Order program took 15 competitors to the Fort Worth International Taekwondo Championships Oct. 19. Out of 21 possible medals in sparring and form events, GISD walked away with 16 medals, eight gold, three silver and five bronze.
“All of the participants did a fantastic job and represented MAKO and GISD with great honor and respect,” Master Rusty Truelock said. “We are so proud of them all.”
The Martial Arts Knights Order program teaches Taekwondo to students at Freeman and Abbett Elementary Schools, as well as Sachse High School. For more information, visit www.makoamerica.com.
Photo courtesy of Rusty Truelock.
NFHS collects items for donation
Posted November 18, 2013
Naaman Forest High School has been chosen as the official school for Trucks for Tots event December 7 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Shops at Park Lane. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the festivities. It is an official Toys for Tots drop off location!
Anyone who’d like to help NFHS clubs with holiday community service may bring:
RHS hosts students from across the pond
Posted November 18, 2013
Bringing two worlds together under one roof, Rowlett High School hosted German exchange students for three weeks in October and November. This marks the third partnership between RHS and Fürstenberg-Gymnasium, a school for grades 5-12 in Germany. Both belong to the German American Partnership Program.
RHS teacher Kristeane Benavides applied in 2010 to give her students experiences they could not receive in the classroom.
“I wanted them to experience what it was like to truly be in another culture, mastering the language through immersion,” she said. “You just cannot learn day-to-day activities, subtle differences in culture and family life from a book.”
After applying, RHS was immediately partnered with Fürstenberg-Gymnasium, which had been waiting three years to connect with an American school. The first exchange took place in 2012, with a group of German students traveling to Rowlett. Garland ISD students then visited Germany this summer.
“We were there June 10-July 2,” Benavides said. “It was thrilling to give my students the same exchange opportunity I had in high school. The ones I brought with me had been in my German classes for 2-3 years.”
RHS students lived with Fürstenberg-Gymnasium families while overseas. They also explored the country’s tourist, historical and educational sites.
Paying it forward this fall, Rowlett High School once again hosted the German campus. Six students and two teachers traveled to Texas Oct. 18-Nov. 8. During their visit, they lived with Rowlett families, attended RHS classes and experienced several Lone Star State staples, including Austin, Houston, San Antonio, a Dallas Cowboys game and the State Fair. Students from both sides of the pond were paired together based on personalities.
“I had two of the girls staying with me,” RHS junior Brittany Leuschner said. “It is great to get to meet new people and stay in touch. I now have friends to visit if I go to Germany.”
“This trip has made me consider moving to America to continue my studies after graduation,” added her overseas peer, Patrick Teubert.
Upon returning home to Fürstenberg-Gymnasium, Teubert and his classmates will complete a project recapping what they learned in the U.S. They will, no doubt, also share their experiences with family and friends.
“Everything is much bigger in America—schools, cars, food,” Maria Behringer said.
“Our project will focus on immigration, so it was interesting to see the different communities represented across the state,” Rebecca Fronius said.
“The difference in age limits for driving and buying certain video games interests me,” Daniele Stefanelli said.
“This trip gave me an appreciation for things in Germany,” Jakob Teubert added. “I can also tell people that American high schools are exactly like what you see in films.”
“I am grateful that I got to experience daily life here rather than just coming on vacation,” Laura Guckelberger said.
SGHS one of North Texas’ most spirited high schools
Posted November 18, 2013
In search of the most spirited high school in Dallas-Fort Worth, Spanish television station UniMás named South Garland as one of its four finalists. Competition included South Hills HS, Moises E. Molina HS and Irving HS. An online poll determined the contest’s winner. Voting concluded Friday, Oct. 25, at midnight.
Unimás captured SGHS spirit during a pep rally Oct. 18. The station’s Vive La Mañana morning show also broadcast live from South Garland Oct. 10, featuring the school’s mariachi estrellas, cheerleaders, football players, marching band, drill team and principal.
GISD schools recognized for safety
Posted November 17, 2013
Observing fire prevention week Oct. 6-12, several Garland ISD schools were recognized last month for safety efforts.
The Garland Fire Marshal’s Office inspects GISD schools within Garland city limits twice per year—once in the fall and again in the spring. Awards are issued every October to campuses that correct all identified hazards between visits. A traveling trophy is also given to the elementary, middle and high school campuses with the fewest initial violations.
The following schools were recognized by the Garland Fire Marshal’s Office this year:
· Abbett Elementary School
· Austin Academy for Excellence
· Bradfield Elementary School
· Centerville Elementary School
· Cisneros Prekindergarten School
· Club Hill Elementary School
· Cooper Elementary School
· Handley Elementary School
· Hillside Academy for Excellence
· Lakeview Centennial High School
· Pathfinder Achievement Center
· Roach Elementary School
· Shorehaven Elementary School
· Shugart Elementary School
· Toler Elementary School
· Walnut Glen Academy for Excellence
· Watson Technology Center for Math and Science
GISD superintendent puckers up to pig
Posted November 16, 2013
What would you do to support a friend, colleague or loved one? Garland ISD Superintendent Bob Morrison, along with staff members at Abbett Elementary School, puckered up to a pig Nov. 4.
The special smooches were part of a fundraiser for P.E. teacher Kevin Jolicoeur, whose nine month-old son was diagnosed with Peroxisome Biogenesis Disorder in August.
“It is a rare and terminal disease,” said Christy Elms, fifth grade teacher and fundraiser coordinator. “The purpose of this event was not only to help with medical expenses. We wanted Gideon to make a difference during his lifetime, to bring people together.”
Throughout October, Abbett ES teamed up for Gideon, donating money to nominate a teacher from each grade level to kiss Ellie Mae the pig. Elms also enlisted Morrison, who pledged to pucker up if students and staff raised $5,000. Elms reached out to district schools and the GISD community to make that happen.
On Nov. 4, Principal Janine Fields revealed the fundraising total at a school assembly—more than $10,000. She, Morrison and ten teachers then planted one on Ellie Mae. GRS-TV and Fox 4 news caught the kisses on camera.
“We love in big ways here,” Elms said. “I hope this money helps the Jolicoeur family at least a little bit. The way they face challenges with faith and positivity is so inspiring.”
“It’s amazing,” Jolicoeur said. “My family and I are very overwhelmed and fortunate to have coworkers and friends that support us this way.”
For more information about Gideon, you can visit the Jolicoeur family’s blog at lifewithahappyheart.com. To donate additional funding, contact Abbett ES at 972-675-3000.
Music students strike winning chord
Posted November 13, 2013
Fine arts students at three Garland ISD high schools have performed their way to the top of local competition. Rowlett’s Mighty Eagle Band won best music, best marching, best general effect, best drum majors, best in class and overall grand champion awards at the Plano East Marching Invitational this month. The group also scored the same awards at the Carrollton Tournament of Champions.
Four Sachse High School band students earned spots in the Texas Music Educators Association All Region Jazz Band after auditioning this month. Chris Cavalier, Chase Davis, Geoffrey Driggers and Luke Forthman will perform with the ensemble Nov. 22 at Rockwall High School. Davis and Forthman will also advance to the Area round of competition.
And, Garland High School placed 30 students in the Texas Music Educators Association All Region Choir. Twenty-two students will advance to Area competition.
“We have never placed this many,” said Cheryl Wilson, director of choirs at GHS. “I was stunned. The kids just knocked it out of the ballpark.”
Local teacher studies with distinguished scholars
Posted November 13, 2013
In October, a Garland teacher participated in a one-day workshop focused on teaching critical events from early U.S. History.
Michael Bryant, who teaches U.S. history at Lakeview Centennial High School, attended the workshop, which offered teachers the opportunity to work closely with leading scholars, studying events that shaped America between 1776 and 1836 while also reflecting on their lasting significance. Topics included James Madison, the Constitution, the Second Great Awakening and Jacksonian Democracy.
During the morning, participants attended lectures and presentations. In the afternoon, they joined faculty in workshops to examine primary sources and develop effective strategies for classroom instruction.
Faculty members included Jack N. Rakove of Stanford University, Daniel Walker Howe of the University of California at Los Angeles, Daniel Feller of the University of Tennessee and Thomas L. Pangle of The University of Texas at Austin.
Rakove received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution. Howe received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848.
Pangle is a distinguished scholar who has also recorded popular lectures for the Teaching Company, which creates and distributes college-level courses and materials. Feller is the editor and director of the Papers of Andrew Jackson.
The workshop, which was held at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, was sponsored by Humanities Texas.
“Humanities Texas is delighted to include an exceptional teacher from Garland in this educational endeavor,” Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette said. “Bringing teachers together to learn from leading scholars and from each other is an effective way to ensure that Texas students continue to receive the best possible educational opportunities.”
The workshop was made possible with support from the State of Texas, as well as from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Parsons Pre-K doubles as dentist office for a day
Posted November 11, 2013
Adding to the three Rs of education, students at Parsons Prekindergarten School are learning the right way to brush their teeth. The campus received a visit from Colgate’s Bright Smiles, Bright Futures mobile dentist office Oct. 11. Throughout the day, students toured the office and learned proper brushing techniques from a licensed dentist. Several also received free dental screenings.
“For many, this was their first-ever encounter with a dentist,” school nurse Donna Bolden said. “Our goal is to provide students and parents with as many community resources as possible, and this was an excellent opportunity to promote preventive dental care. Tooth decay is one of the most common and most preventable childhood diseases.”
At the end of the tour, each student left with a sticker and goody bag, along with knowledge of healthy food and beverage choices and the need for routine dental visits.
GISD superintendent seeks collaboration with community
Posted November 11, 2013
As Garland ISD’s new superintendent, I often get asked what my vision is for the district. But I do not want the future of GISD to only reflect my vision. The interests and expectations of district students, staff, parents and community members are more important.
How can GISD prepare students for whatever college and career path they choose? How can we encourage and equip staff members to achieve their full potential? How can the district partner with parents to enhance their child’s education? And how can we all work together to make our tri-cities the best communities in North Texas?
Your answers to those questions can help GISD create its Strategic Plan, outlining a vision for the district and how to achieve it. I would like to personally invite you to share them with me at one of two upcoming Education Summits. These community forums will address curriculum, technology, school facilities and more.
The Education Summits will be held Nov. 14, Nov. 18 and Dec. 3, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Curtis Culwell Center, Lakeview Centennial High School and Rowlett High School, respectively. An online survey will also be available through Dec. 4. Please visit www.garlandisd.net/futureready to share your opinions.
I appreciate your support of Garland ISD and look forward to hearing from you.
O’Banion MS hosts international visitor
Posted November 11, 2013
The influence of one Garland ISD school has reached an international level. O’Banion Middle School received a visit from Australia’s 2012 Principal of the Year, Shayne Player, in September.
Player is on a one-year sabbatical from the Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College Tumbi Umbi Campus. Sponsored by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, she will travel across the U.S. and as far away as Finland to research aboriginal education, college readiness in underserved populations and outdoor education. O’Banion was the only middle school chosen for the Texas leg of Player’s world tour.
“It was an honor to host someone of such distinction at our campus,” said teacher Jean Greenidge. “Mike Mozingo, an AVID program manager for the state, contacted us about the visit and we jumped at the chance to showcase our amazing students.”
An AVID campus since 2007, O’Banion received a three-year National Demonstration School distinction in 2012. Only one out of 100 AVID schools receives this elite title. GISD is one of just five districts
in Texas to have two National Demonstration schools. Sellers MS also shares the distinction.
AVID stands for Advanced Via Individual Determination and empowers students to achieve their potential.
“Having AVID at O’Banion has revolutionized the way we teach, the expectations that we have for our students and the passion all of us have for learning,” Greenidge said. “We are deliberate in our teaching of AVID foundations like organization, note-taking and time management. We want students to be ready for any choices they might make for their futures.”
As a National Demonstration School, O’Banion serves as a model for campuses looking to implement AVID or improve their programs. According to Greenidge, the school has hosted more than 100 visitors since receiving its distinction. Adding to that list, Player witnessed AVID in action through collaboration in an algebra class and writing and inquiry in an eighth-grade science class.
“This visit was truly extraordinary,” Greenidge said. “When someone comes to see O’Banion AVID, students and faculty truly rise to the occasion. Ms. Player’s mere presence suggests that someone cares for them from beyond our own halls.”
Before leaving, Player thanked O’Banion with pins and clap sticks from Australia.
Park Crest ES brings community together through after-school program
Posted November 11, 2013
At Park Crest Elementary School, education goes beyond what is taught in the classroom. The campus hopes to also teach healthy behaviors and lifestyles through a new after-school martial arts program.
“Jiu Jitsu teaches students discipline, self-confidence, how to stay healthy and active, and gives them a sense of belonging,” Principal Raelyn Scroggin said.
Park Crest began partnering with RCJ Machado Jiu Jitsu this summer after the company contacted Scroggin looking to give back.
“We try to develop students to become better versions of themselves,” the company said. “Since schools want the same thing, it only makes sense that we work together. The more consistently a good message is given to students, the more likely they are to hear it and make positive choices in their lives.”
Since that initial interaction, RCJ Machado Jiu Jitsu has sponsored a staff breakfast at Park Crest, provided an anti-bullying workshop and organized two special presentations featuring martial artists from across the globe. The elite group performed at a PTA meeting and school assembly in September, where they demonstrated the art of Capoeira.
“I liked the flips,” said fifth-grader Danny Moreno. “Everything was pretty cool."
“It was just incredible,” added classmate Katherine Besser. “I thought it was really cool that little kids were also able to do it.”
All Park Crest students now have the opportunity to learn those incredible moves. RCJ Machado Jiu Jitsu will soon launch a four-week after-school program at the academy for $20, with all proceeds donated back to Park Crest’s PTA.
“That money will pay the dues of the parents whose children enrolled in the program,” Scroggin said. “It will also be used for fun and enriching projects and programs throughout the school.”
“Helping parents get more involved with their children's education is always better for the child,” said RCJ Machado Jiu Jitsu. “That's why we are doing so much to boost PTA enrollment and involvement.”
RCJ Machado Jiu Jitsu will also award two Park Crest students with a free six-month course at the academy later this year.
Award-winning author visits Austin Academy
Posted November 10, 2013
Off the page and into the halls of Austin Academy for Excellence, author Gary Schmidt visited the campus in October.
“We invite authors to Austin Academy to promote interest and enthusiasm for reading and to support our summer reading program,” said school librarian Janice Borland. “Each summer, students are asked to read one or more books written by our upcoming guest author. We then kick off the new school year with lessons and discussions based on those books. We chose Gary Schmidt because he is a fabulous writer, his books are some of the most popular ones in our library, and the stories he tells have relevance to students' lives.”
Two of Schmidt’s works, “Okay for Now” and “The Wednesday Wars,” have been recognized on the Texas Lone Star Reading List—a compilation of young adult books recommended by public and school librarians. He is also a two-time winner of the prestigious Newberry Honor award.
During his visit to Austin Academy, Schmidt shared stories with students at three assemblies and signed copies of his books. He also held a writer’s workshop for 30 students, working one-on-one with them and sharing the secret to good storytelling.
“Gary is a master of character development,” Borland said. “By the end of his books, students have felt the struggles, pains, and rewards of growing up and have learned a lesson or two about life and how to be ‘good people.’ At the workshop, Gary began by telling students that stories begin with characters, not with a plot. He then handed each student an envelope which contained a portrait photograph of a person from the late 1800s. As the students moved from general descriptions of their characters to discussion about their mannerisms and desires, stories began to evolve without the students really realizing what was happening. It was an awesome exercise that helped students gain confidence in their abilities to become storytellers.”
According to Borland, almost all of Schmidt’s books are now checked out of the Austin Academy library.
Posted November 10, 2013
Garland ISD has named a new Jupiter Chevrolet Teacher of the Month, and that honor belongs to Christie Creel from the Classical Center at Brandenburg Middle School. The sixth grade reading teacher was surprised Oct. 30 with a new car to drive for the month of November.
“My students and I found out about the Teacher of the Month competition and decided we would try to win the car so we could see it parked in the Brandenburg parking lot for a month,” said Creel. “The reaction of my students when the car was presented is by far the best part of this honor.”
Jupiter Chevrolet’s Teacher of the Month contest recognizes the important work of GISD educators and rewards them for their hard work and dedication. Winners are chosen through a Facebook vote. Creel’s coworkers, as well as friends, family and students helped secure her win.
“I showed my students how to vote and they not only did it themselves, but also got their family members involved,” Creel commented. “My students are the best of the best.”
"I wasn't flabbergasted because I knew you would win since you're an awesome teacher,” sixth-grader Kenia Vasquez told Creel. “But the joy it gave me was great."
Would you like to see your campus represented and your favorite educator named Teacher of the Month? Vote for the December winner on Jupiter Chevrolet’s Facebook page. You can either choose from GISD’s 2012-13 Campus Teachers of the Year or write-in your own entry.
District seniors among nation’s top performers
Posted November 9, 2013
Several Garland ISD students rank among the nation’s top academic performers, recently receiving recognition for high scores on the PSAT.
Each year, approximately 1.5 million high school juniors take the preliminary college entrance exam. Just 16,000 then receive semifinalist recognition in the National Merit Scholarship Program as a senior. Four GISD students now hold that title. Alysa Hopkins, Austin Paterson, Laura Toler and Sierra Brune will continue in the competition for some 8,000 National Merit Scholarships worth about $35 million.
Three more GISD seniors received semifinalist recognition in the National Achievement Scholarship Program. Keshawn Ivory, Monica Ogbonnaya and Olatunde Badejo are among just 1,600 students nationwide to earn this distinction. They will be considered for some 800 Achievement Scholarships worth about $2.5 million.
Finalists in the National Merit and National Achievement Programs will be announced at the beginning of 2014, and scholarships will be awarded next spring. Nearly 40 other GISD seniors received National Hispanic Scholar and National Merit Commended Student status. They will be referred to universities for consideration in admission and financial assistance.
National Hispanic Scholars
Alan Velazquez, Rowlett
National Merit Commended Students
Arlie Coles, Garland High
College, career planning increases at GISD high schools
Posted November 8, 2013
In an effort to better prepare students for the future, Garland ISD has increased its college and career planning initiatives at district high schools. Beginning this school year, the PSAT will be offered to sophomores in addition to juniors. All students will take the exam Oct. 16 during school.
The PSAT not only provides practice for college entrance exams, but also qualifies students for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Every year, approximately 8,000 U.S. seniors receive National Merit Scholarships based on their junior year PSAT scores.
On Oct. 16, all freshmen will take the EXPLORE test, which helps to plan high school courses, prepare for the ACT and choose a career direction. Seniors will take the ASVAB test, which helps assess interests and abilities, matching them with possible careers.
“The more practice that students have for important tests like the PSAT, SAT and ACT, the higher their scores will be,” said Jovan Wells, associate superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.
“This impacts what colleges they are accepted to and what scholarships they receive. GISD also believes that it is important for students to have an idea of the career path they would like to pursue, as well as the skills necessary to succeed in it, before they leave the district.”
Help Club Hill ES students brighten holidays for military members
Posted November 5, 2013
Club Hill Elementary School hopes to make this holiday season extra special for military troops deployed overseas. But the campus needs help from the Garland ISD community.
Club Hill is participating in Project Rudolph, a national initiative to send thousands of gift bags to Germany for service men and women transitioning through Ramstein Airport, hospitalized at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and deployed downrange.
“October and November are great times to talk about gratitude and offer opportunities for students to show it to others,” said Oliva Hester, Club Hill counselor. “Coupled with Veteran's Day, those are perfect tie-ins to Project Rudolph. As a former service member who was deployed to a hazardous-duty zone, I know first-hand the impact a small care package from a stranger can make.”
Club Hill’s care packages will be hand-decorated bags containing handwritten letters from children and adults. A holiday ornament and candy will also accompany the personalized messages. With a goal of 150 bags, Club Hill is seeking donations of non-melting, individually-wrapped candy as well as plain, brown lunch sacks and decorations. Monetary donations will also be accepted. But most importantly, the campus is seeking handwritten letters from adults. Per Project Rudolph guidelines, the letters cannot be dated, ask questions about war or injuries, mention politics or be sealed in an envelope. Additionally, letters must be signed and include a return address.
All donations should be delivered to Club Hill by Friday, Nov. 7.
“These gift bags are sure to brighten a day and bring a smile,” commented Hester. “When I was deployed, it felt great to know the folks back home were thinking about me and cared what I was doing.
And this project benefits more than just our military. It also teaches students about service and gives adults an opportunity to show their support to our troops.”
For more information, contact the campus at 972-926-2520.
GISD to launch strategic planning process
Posted November 5, 2013
A district with more than 100 years of history, Garland ISD is filled with tradition, trophies, legends and legacies. Because GISD would like to extend that excellence for another 100+ years, the district will launch a strategic planning process to help guide its future.
By definition, a Strategic Plan is a document that outlines long-term goals and the means of achieving them. GISD has partnered with a company called Engage! Learning Inc. to facilitate its creation. More importantly, the district would like to partner with students, staff, parents and community members to develop the document’s content. Public participation will be encouraged through community forums, focus groups, design teams and surveys.
Kicking off its strategic planning process in November, GISD has scheduled three Education Summits for Nov. 14, Nov. 18 and Dec. 3. These community forums will invite opinions about current district operations, as well as what the public would like to see in the future. Topics of discussion can include curriculum, course offerings, technology, college and career planning, school facilities, safety, etc. Mark your calendars to attend one of these events from 6-8 p.m. at the Curtis Culwell Center, Lakeview Centennial High School and Rowlett High School, respectively.
“We want to make sure that Garland ISD is not only preparing our students with the knowledge and skills needed for success, but that we are also meeting the needs of our tri-cities,” said Bob Morrison, superintendent of schools. “This Strategic Plan will unite Garland, Rowlett and Sachse in collaboration of a shared educational vision—one that defines the characteristics and experiences a GISD graduate should have, incorporating what has worked well in the past and what is best for students moving forward.”
Stay tuned to the district website and Twitter for more Strategic Plan information, as well as survey links, videos and event announcements.
GHS theatre program benefits local food pantry
Kim Everett | November 2, 2013
The students in the Garland High School Theatre Department are having a great time with their production of “Dracula” and helping others at the same time.
The production dates, Oct. 31 – Nov. 2, coincided with the International Thespian Society’s service project called Trick or Treat So Tots Can Eat so the students decided to make the most of the situation by collecting food for Garland’s Friendship House.
They distributed flyers throughout Garland neighborhoods asking residents to put out canned goods for collection on a later date. In addition, discounts to the show were offered for those who brought food donations. This is the first time the group has done a food drive in conjunction with the production and they are optimistic about the amount they will gather.
They chose Friendship House because it has participated in a Trick or Treat So Tots Can Eat program for several years.
“It’s a good cause and it has always been a fun experience for the students participating,” theatre student Lauren Metzinger said.
Local teacher brushes up on Texas history
Posted November 1, 2013
Earlier this month, a Garland teacher was selected to participate in a one-day workshop focused on teaching critical events from early Texas history.
Eric White, who teaches Texas history and world culture at Lyles Middle School, attended the workshop, which offered teachers the opportunity to work closely with several of the state’s leading historians, studying events that shaped Texas history before 1845. Topics included Native Americans in Texas, the Spanish Colonial Period, slavery in Texas, the Texas Revolution and the Republic of Texas.
During the morning, participants attended dynamic lectures and presentations. In the afternoon, they joined faculty in small workshops to examine primary sources and develop effective strategies for classroom instruction.
Faculty members included former state historian Frank de la Teja of Texas State University, Juliana Barr of the University of Florida, Raúl A. Ramos of the University of Houston and Randolph B. Campbell and Andrew Torget, both of the University of North Texas.
The workshop, which was held at the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, was organized by Humanities Texas.
“Humanities Texas is delighted to include an exceptional teacher from Garland in this educational endeavor,” said Humanities Texas Executive Director Michael L. Gillette. “Bringing teachers together to learn from leading scholars and from each other is an effective way to ensure that Texas students continue to receive the best possible educational opportunities.”
The workshop was made possible with support from the State of Texas, as well as from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, sponsors programs promoting heritage, culture and education throughout the state.
GHS coach wins Sonic Limeades for Learning grant
Posted October 29, 2013
Deba Douglas, Garland High School’s head volleyball coach, assistant coach of the girls’ track and field team and physical education teacher recently entered Sonic’s Limeades for Learning competition in an effort to get a sound system and iPod for her students.
Below is her contest application letter:
My students need a sound system and iPod to motivate them to MOVE!
Do you love to exercise? Most people do not. I have to find ways to make
my high school physical education students love it. The easiest
way--have music as a distraction. Most of us that do exercise, listen to
something. This grant would give all of my students a way to have fun
Douglas recently learned that her grant was 100 percent funded and she wasted no time in thanking her colleagues and friends who voted. The project received more than 7,000 votes and was one of the top 100 projects in the country and the top project in the area. It was funded by a Sonic in Oklahoma City and one of Douglas’ former volleyball players.
“My Partner PE students are thrilled about having a portable sound system that we can take anywhere,” Douglas said. “I am truly blessed to be on a campus that is so supportive and willing to help in any way for our kids.”
SGHS assistant principal named Educator of the Year
Posed October 26, 2013
South Garland High School Assistant Principal Kimberly Thomas recently received an award 18 years in the making. She was named Educator of the Year by the Garland branch of the NAACP.
“I feel extremely honored to hold this prestigious title,” Thomas said. “It is the biggest award that I’ve received in all my years of education.”
Beginning her career in 1995 at Dallas ISD, Thomas taught algebra I and II for 10 years. She then joined GISD in 2005 as a teacher at Sachse High School before becoming an administrator at SGHS one year later. Though Thomas is no longer in the classroom, she has not lost her passion for teaching. In addition to her day job, she also instructs an online algebra class at the University of Phoenix.
“I just love math,” Thomas said. “I did not want to lose that passion because I was no longer in the classroom.”
Keeping her fire for education alive, Thomas also remains passionate about her students.
“They are the reason I am here,” she said. “I want to make sure they graduate from high school and have a successful future. I always tell the kids that the biggest gift they can give me is to come back several years after graduating to show me successful they have become.”
Thomas received her Educator of the Year award at the NAACP Garland’s Freedom Fund brunch Sept. 14. She was recognized by President Ricky McNeal with a commemorative trophy.
Photo courtesy of the Garland branch of the NAACP.
ES staff, students
Posted October 25, 2013
Opened in 1968, Shorehaven Elementary School is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. On Sept. 20, former principals, staff members and students joined current ones to commemorate the campus’ rich history.
Shorehaven fourth-graders kicked off the event with a performance, which included original songs by the campus’ 23-year music teacher, Laura Bolin Beeman. Former students, principals and other distinguished guests then shared fond memories and hopes for the future.
“I went to Shorehaven Elementary School in the early 1990s,” wrote Michael Flores, U.S. Army staff sergeant, in a letter read during the celebration. “I really just want to express my gratitude for what the staff and school itself did for me. Shorehaven gave me a solid jump start in life. I remember feeling safe there and have always thought back when I compare it to my daughter’s schools. She has been to four schools in two states—none compare to Shorehaven.”
Following a slideshow of campus staff throughout the years, a giant cake was wheeled onto the stage to end Shorehaven’s commemorative event. Principal Patricia Tremmel then addressed the crowd, and school mascot Eduardo the Eagle jumped out of the cake to thunderous applause.
“My years at Shorehaven have been very rewarding,” Tremmel said “Smiling students and a love of learning are everyday norms. Our teachers are so caring and motivating. I am proud to be a part of Shorehaven’s history.”
Shorehaven opened in 1968 as a 16-classroom campus under the direction of Herman Salter. Tremmel became the campus’ seventh principal in 2006.
RHS club takes science out of the classroom, into everyday life
Posted October 26, 2013
Calling all cell connoisseurs, atom enthusiasts and gravity seekers, Rowlett High School’s new science club wants you. The after-school organization formed last year under the direction of chemistry teacher Binta Thomas.
“When I started at RHS, I noticed that the campus had a strong science staff, but no club or after-school program,” she said. “There were so many gifted, curious students that I decided, why not? I try to show them how the concepts they learn in the classroom can translate into the real world.”
Starting with just six members its first year, Rowlett’s science club has now grown to 35. And many of the original members still remain, including 2013-14 President Jessica Su.
“I am passionate about biology, and this club allows me to experience things I would not normally get to at school,” Su said.
One of those unique experiences includes the club’s Sept. 19 field trip to the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in Seagoville. While there, students saw the source of Dallas-Fort Worth’s water supply first-hand. The North Texas Municipal Water District uses Seagoville’s wetlands to cleanse river water before human consumption.
In addition to learning about ecology and conservation, students also conducted water quality experiments and observed indigenous animals and organisms.
“This was a really important field trip for me,” RHS junior Lindsey Cumbie said. “It exposed me to different aspects of science that might help me later in life. I want to become a radiologist, which requires a lot of biology and chemistry.”
That correlation to future careers is exactly what Thomas had in mind when she created the club. It is also what brought junior Steven Conely back for a second year.
“I plan on being an engineer, and that takes a lot of applied science and math,” he said. “My favorite science club activity is the forensic competition. It really builds problem-solving skills.”
Rowlett’s science club meets every Friday, reinforcing current classroom lessons with interactive activities. A field trip to UT Southwestern Medical Center has also been planned for later this year.
Superheroes spotted around GISD
Posted October 25, 2013
Being a hero does not require a mask or cape. At Garland ISD, heroes Help Everyone Respect Others. The district held its annual HERO week Sept. 23-27.
“Schools should be a safe environment where everyone can be themselves,” GISD Superintendent Bob Morrison said. “HERO week teaches students how to support one another, as well as their teachers, and how to prevent bullying. We want everything about the Garland ISD experience to be positive and successful.”
Campuses throughout the district observed HERO week with morning announcements, special assemblies and dress up days that encouraged self-confidence and respectful behavior toward others. At Stephens Elementary School, students wore red, white and blue to celebrate United, We Stand Day and mismatched clothes to celebrate We Appreciate Our Differences Day. They also spent one day complimenting others and another day identifying someone they look up to. Park Crest Elementary School invited martial artists to demonstrate the art of Capoeira. Additionally, several schools held a superhero day where students wore capes and dressed as their favorite action figure.
Superintendent seeks student input
Posted October 25, 2013
Garland ISD Superintendent Bob Morrison is asking students to weigh in on what the district is doing right and what could be done better. The 2013-14 Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee held its first meeting Sept. 25. Topics of discussion included STAAR testing, grade point averages, course credit and college planning.
“GISD exists to prepare students for the future, giving them the skills they need for success,” Morrison said. “What better way to assess if we are accomplishing our goals than to speak with those we serve?”
The Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee consists of juniors and seniors from each of GISD’s eight high schools. Students are nominated based on academic achievement, leadership abilities and extracurricular participation.
This year’s members include:
Alicia Fernandez - Garland High School
Amy Nguyen - North Garland High School
Chris Charles - Sachse High School
Destanique Gadson - Memorial Pathway Academy
Emily Nguyen - Lakeview Centennial High School
Gabby Reed - Naaman Forest High School
Hunter Wright - Rowlett High School
Huy Nguyen - Naaman Forest High School
Jonathan Cabrera - South Garland High School
Julia Matthew - Garland High School
Kristen Trevino - Sachse High School
Kristi Catacutan - Lakeview Centennial High School
Leyli Flores - South Garland High School
Madison Duran - Rowlett High School
Priya Patel - North Garland High School
GISD urges students to make life-saving call
Posted October 25, 2013
Cell phones can be used for socialization and to stay in touch. But Garland ISD hopes its students will also use them for support. The district recently launched a campaign encouraging everyone to save the number for Contact’s crisis help line.
Contact is an organization that GISD has partnered with for several years to provide students comfort, a connection to resources, education and emergency assistance in times of need. Contact offers its confidential help line 24/7 and free of charge.
“We want students to know that there is always someone out there willing to help, even when they feel alone,” Ruby Armstrong, GISD’s director of Guidance and Counseling, said.
The district’s Put it in your Phone! campaign kicked off with a rally Sept. 10. Approximately 300 high school students attended the event, which featured Brian Cuban. He spoke about being bullied in high school and how that led to drugs, alcohol and a suicide attempt.
“Many students said thank you as they left because they felt the presentation was relevant to what they are facing today,” Armstrong said. “We see the numbers of students seeking help increase yearly. Whether it is stress, depression, alcohol or suicidal thoughts, unhealthy behaviors are more prevalent in society.”
At the end of the rally, students received post cards advertising Contact’s crisis help line. They were encouraged to take the information back to their campus and spread it among classmates. GISD will also partner with Contact this year to offer free family counseling after-school for secondary students. Answering a need for additional support outside of the school day, appointments will be scheduled through campus counselors as needed.
“Students need a support system in place to help when they are in vulnerable situations,” Armstrong said. “It is my hope that students and parents will receive assistance to function more successfully and with more self-confidence.”
For Contact’s crisis help line, please call 972-233-8336.
Photo courtesy of Lara Bierner Photography.
GISD teachers’ day made better by OfficeMax
Posted October 21, 2013
A typical Tuesday turned memorable for two Garland ISD teachers when OfficeMax visited their campuses Oct. 1. Jennifer Knudsen and Susan Hagins were surprised with $1,000 in school supplies as part of the company’s A Day Made Better campaign.
In its seventh year, A Day Made Better aims to end teacher-funded classrooms. According to OfficeMax, the average American teacher spends approximately $1,000 on essential classroom supplies each year.
“We very much believe in education and understand the hardships that many schools face,” said Robert Hutchinson, production center manager. “Our hope is to ease the financial burden for teachers and, in turn, benefit students.”
Hutchinson, along with three of his co-workers, surprised Knudsen at Watson Technology Center for Math and Science. The fine arts teacher’s family also made a special appearance. As the unexpected entourage entered her classroom, Knudsen exclaimed, “Oh my stars!” Those expressions of excitement continued as she removed a Kindle tablet and digital camera from the box of goodies she received.
“I am completely overwhelmed by the generosity of OfficeMax,” Knudsen said. “I feel validated as a teacher, appreciated and grateful that someone would even think to nominate me. This is definitely one of the coolest things I have experienced. It is like Christmas in October.”
A second OfficeMax crew surprised Hagins at Weaver Elementary School. The fourth grade teacher received her own box of goodies as a nomination letter from her principal was read.
“Ms. Hagins is a remarkable teacher,” the letter stated. “She inspires students to reach their full potential. She takes kids further than they believe they can go themselves. I witness her working individually with students to close the achievement gaps in order for them to feel success and pride in their academic potential.”
School spirit abounds in GISD
Posted October 21, 2013
The Big Ten, SEC and PAC-12 all converged on Garland ISD Sept. 17. Students and staff across the district wore T-shirts from their favorite colleges and universities during College Day 2013.
GISD’s annual event encourages support of higher education.
“Everything we do is preparing students to be college ready,” Teresa McCutcheon, principal at Back Elementary School, said. “The importance of College Day is to create awareness that all students can and will be prepared for postsecondary success.”
And College Day did not end when school let out. At night, the district hosted one of the largest education fairs in North Texas. Representatives from more than 120 colleges, universities, trade schools and the military attended this year’s event. Financial aid seminars, SAT and ACT prep, and information about academic distinctions were also offered to help prospective students start planning their future.
Learn more about how GISD is preparing its students for success by visiting the district’s college and career readiness website.
SGHS student leads school to statewide recognition
As Student Council president and Class of 2014 vice president, South Garland High School student Isaiah Harris can be called a leader among his peers. And those peers reach beyond just the walls of SGHS to all of Texas. Harris recently received one of six outstanding leader awards at a statewide conference.
His claim to fame began last spring when he was anonymously nominated to interview with the Military Order of the World Wars organization—a group of active, retired or former military officers that sponsors events intended to help America’s youth become upstanding citizens and future leaders.
“My counselor told me I was among just 20 students recommended by our teachers,” Harris said. “I was ecstatic and grateful for the opportunity. I knew it would be great for my future.”
“I have had the pleasure of teaching Isaiah since he was a sophomore,” Paula Schmidt said. “I wish I had a classroom full of students just like him. He is a wonderful young man—polite, positive, hard-working and very ambitious.”
After the interview, MOWW chose Harris and one other SGHS student to attend its Youth Leadership Conference free of charge. Traveling to Corpus Christi this summer, he spent five days with military veterans and business men and women learning about the qualities needed for a successful future.
“I learned how to work better with others,” Harris said. “At South, people look up to me because of my leadership positions. But at the conference, we were all leaders and had to work as one to accomplish a goal.”
Working together with hundreds of students from across the state, conference attendees were broken up into six groups. At the end of the event, each group nominated one person to receive an award for outstanding leadership. Harris was once again chosen. He received the Bronze Patrick Henry medallion and trophy at a ceremony in September, making SGHS history as its first student to earn the elite honor.
“Being selected to attend this conference will give me an edge on college applications, I think,” said Harris. “And winning this award will just increase it. I think it speaks to my ambition.”
That ambition drives Harris to not only serve as an officer in Student Council and the Class of 2014, but also play quarterback on the Colonel football team and belong to several clubs, including National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. Once he graduates from SGHS, Harris says he plans to pursue a career in sports medicine. While his future is yet uncertain, one thing is clear.
“I get excited when I think about the experiences that are waiting for me,” Harris said. “I will do whatever it takes to be successful.”
“I think there are unlimited opportunities out there for Isaiah,” Schmidt said. “When he sets his mind to something, he achieves it.”
Harris also received an award from the Garland branch of the NAACP in September, honoring him for having the highest grade-point average of all GISD African-American seniors.
Photo courtesy of South Garland High School.
Help Rachel’s Challenge group help others
The Naaman Forest High School Rachel’s Challenge group has been making a difference in the lives of others for five years. Now they need the public’s help to help raise funds for some of its programs. Everyone can help by attending the Mad Run or Treat Fest Saturday, Oct. 26, which is a part of the USA Weekend Points of Light Newman’s Own Make a Difference Day. The event is at Naaman Forest High School and will begin at 6 p.m.
Rachel’s Challenge was set up in memory of Rachel Scott, the first person killed at Columbine High School. The students in the RC group at NFHS have done community service projects for Jonathan’s Place, Mosaic, New Beginning Center, Refuge House and various senior living communities. They organize and fund monthly activities for displaced children, baby-sit special needs children so that parents can enjoy a night out, take needy children on an annual shopping spree and much more. Each of the members has a spirit of giving and all consider it a privilege to serve the community.
The RC students virtually run the organization as a nonprofit which provides experience in volunteer opportunities, builds a broader understanding of the community and helps others grow and be a part of a chain reaction that impacts lives. They raise most of the money through fundraising events but need help from the community as well. Discounted or free services and items from area businesses as well as donations of holiday gifts and cash are needed.
GISD food patrol coming to a campus near you
Posted October 18, 2013
Forget Ed McMahon and the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol, Garland ISD Superintendent Bob Morrison has organized a food patrol to visit district schools. Launched in September, Morrison and other members of his leadership team will visit all 71 campuses to serve breakfast and lunch to teachers, administrators and school support staff.
“These are the people who have a direct impact on our students,” Morrison said. “I wanted to show them my profound appreciation. This also allows me to continue to get to know people. I think it is important to be out in the district as much as possible.”
The first stop of 2013-14, Abbett Elementary School received a pancake breakfast Sept. 10, complete with bacon, fruit, yogurt, juice and coffee.
“I can't imagine a better way to start the year,” Principal Janine Fields said. “Having the Superintendent's Executive Council serve us breakfast was such a treat. The food was great, and most notably, the presence of so many district administrators made us feel so special. We are grateful.”
Morrison’s Executive Council consists of Deputy Superintendents Linda Chance and Rene Barajas, Associate Superintendents Gary Reeves and Jovan Wells, Assistant Superintendent John Washington, District Demographer Marvin Roden, and Executive Directors Chris Moore, Jess Hudson, Jim Hysaw and Teresa Williams. The GISD food patrol will visit 2-3 schools a week, serving breakfast at elementary schools and lunch at middle and high schools.
But that is not the only free food campus staff will receive this year. Bahama Buck’s will also visit each school in 2013-14, treating employees to a refreshing shaved ice treat.
Photo taken at Back Elementary School.
Culwell Center to host UIL wrestling state championships
Posted October 18, 2013
The state’s best high school wrestlers will soon be crowned in Garland. The University Interscholastic League announced a change in venues for its 2014 wrestling state championships, and GISD’s Curtis Culwell Center has been named the new host.
“The Curtis Culwell Center has the capability to hold more mats, so boys and girls in both conferences will be able to compete in a two-day wrestling state championship,” said Mark Cousins, UIL athletic director, in a press release. “As wrestling continues to grow in popularity and participation, we are excited to accommodate that growth with a first-class venue in Garland. The UIL would also like to sincerely thank Austin ISD for hosting the wrestling state championships for the past eight years.”
A UIL-sanctioned sport since 1999, state champions in wrestling were only crowned from Conference 5A until last school year. The 2013 wrestling state championships expanded to three days at Austin ISD’s Delco Center and Burger Center to accommodate the addition of Conference 4A. Before Austin ISD, the Austin Convention Center hosted UIL wrestling state championships from 1999 to 2005.
This year’s championship matches will be held Feb. 14-15, 2014.
RHS band wins another competition
Safety precaution prompts high school ID requirement
Posted October 15, 2013
Garland ISD wants its students, staff and parents to know the district is serious about safety. Precautionary measures already in place include 24/7 surveillance by GISD Security, controlled access to all facilities and 31 School Resource Officers at district campuses. Adding to those efforts, GISD Trustees recently approved new Student Identification Card guidelines.
Beginning this school year, all high school students will be required to wear a SIC while on campus.
“This new policy is another way we are trying to ensure that only the appropriate people are on our campuses,” Superintendent Bob Morrison said. “If someone does not have an ID, we know they should not be there.”
Throughout the school day, students must clearly display SICs around the neck with a lanyard. Additionally, anytime they are on GISD property—after-school activities, school-sponsored events, etc., students may be asked to produce their SIC as proof of identity. Some campuses also use the cards for cafeteria purchases, library and text book checkout, and access to districtwide events/activities. All high schools are expected to implement those practices in the near future.
RHS Mighty Eagle Band wins competition
The Rowlett High School Mighty Eagle Band competed at the Plano Marching Invitational Saturday, Oct. 5 at Plano’s John Clark Stadium. The band won the following awards: Best in Class 5A Band; Best Drum Majors; Best Winds; Best Marching; Best General Effect.
The Garland High School cheerleaders helped kick off the 2013 Healthy Living Expo Saturday, Sept. 21 at the Curtis Culwell Center. The squads arrived early to help participants get warmed up and stretch before the H2O 5K race.
The ladies lined up to encourage the runners at the starting point, helped to hand out bottles of water at the midway point, and were at the end to cheer and high-five participants as they crossed the finish line.
They also handed out medals to
support for healthy living
Attempting to put Garland, Rowlett and Sachse on the map as some of the fittest cities in Texas, GISD has pledged its support for this year’s Healthy at H-E-B Community Challenge. During September and October, H-E-B is pitting every community in the state against one another to see which can demonstrate the greatest commitment to healthy living.
Cities earn points through participation by mayors, schools, organizations and individual residents. Ways that you can participate include registering at www.hebcommunitychallenge.com and tracking your exercise online. Pledges of support, community activities, photos and video are also awarded points.
“We recognize that a healthy lifestyle is important to a child’s education,” said Bob Morrison, GISD superintendent. “When students are active and eat right, they are more alert and focused in the classroom.”
H-E-B’s challenge ends the last day of October.
Semifinalists named in National Achievement® Scholarship Program
More than 1,600 Black American high school seniors who have been designated semifinalists in the 50th annual National Achievement Scholarship Program were announced today by National Merit Scholarship Corporation officials. These scholastically talented young men and women now have an opportunity to continue in the competition for approximately 800 Achievement Scholarship® awards worth about $2.5 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a National Achievement Scholarship, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. About 80 percent of semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the finalists will win an Achievement Scholarship award.
The National Achievement Scholarship Program, conducted by NMSC, is a privately financed academic competition that operates without government assistance. It was initiated in 1964 to recognize academically promising black students throughout the nation and to provide scholarships to a substantial number of the most outstanding program participants. To date, approximately 32,700 young men and women have received Achievement Scholarship awards worth about $103 million.
GISD students who are semifinalists include:
Garland High School – Keshawn M. Ivory and Monica O. Ogbonnaya
North Garland High School – Olatunde A. Badejo
About the 2014 Competition: More than 160,000 high school juniors from all parts of the United States requested consideration in the 2014 National Achievement Scholarship Program when they took the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. Semifinalists are designated within geographic regions and are the highest-scoring program entrants in the states that make up each region.
To advance to the finalist level in the competition, the semifinalists
and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship
From the approximately 1,600 semifinalists, about 1,300 are expected to advance to the finalist level, and in January they will be notified of this designation. All Achievement Scholar® awardees will be selected from the finalist group on the basis of their abilities, accomplishments, and potential for success in rigorous college studies.
GISD ACT scores show college-ready graduates
According to the Texas Education Agency, students across the state are graduating high school more prepared for college. New data shows a 20.9 ACT composite score for the Class of 2013—a 0.1 increase over last year and an all-time high.
“The ACT data shows that we continue to make steady progress in college and career readiness, validating our efforts to improve rigor in Texas public schools,” said Texas Commissioner of Higher Education Raymund Paredes in a recent press release.
“In the coming years, the challenge will be in maintaining this momentum which has provided a strong foundation of success for all students, while also offering all students greater flexibility to make course choices,” added Texas Commissioner of Education Michael Williams.
Three Garland ISD campuses not only achieved the state’s record composite score, but exceeded it. Students at Garland, Rowlett and Sachse high schools outperformed their Texas peers by up to 2.2 points.
"We are very pleased with the district's ACT results and how they mirror state trends,” said Kimberly Klakamp, director of Research, Assessment and Accountability. “We are also encouraged by the steady increase of students taking the assessment—a growth of 43-percent over the past five years. We want to continue to focus on increasing student readiness for postsecondary opportunities."
A complete list of GISD scores, broken down by English, math, reading and science categories, is below.
Kimberlin Academy students train with Troy Aikman
Students at Kimberlin Academy for Excellence received a once in a lifetime opportunity Sept. 10. They had the chance to train with famed former Dallas Cowboys football player Troy Aikman.
Aikman came to Garland ISD to help announce 2013-14 Healthy Zone schools. Developed by the Cooper Institute, in partnership with United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the Texas Education Agency, the Healthy Zone Schools Recognition Program honors campuses that are changing the health of students, parents and teachers.
“Physically fit students perform well on standardized tests, have better attendance and encounter fewer disciplinary actions,” said Dr. Kenneth Cooper. “Through the Healthy Zone Schools program, we have increased the FITNESSGRAM student physical fitness assessment measurements by 31 percent. These numbers clearly demonstrate that we are making a difference toward reducing a child’s long-term risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.”
Fifty-one schools will participate in this year’s Healthy Zone Schools program. Over its six-year period, United Way and The Cooper Institute anticipate they will provide assistance to 70 campuses, reaching more than 40,000 students.
Chosen through an
GISD’s first school to participate, Kimberlin Academy was named a Healthy Zone School-In Training during 2012-13. That campus received a promotion this year, and Daugherty Elementary joined the program, training for its Healthy Zone status.
The Sept. 10 announcement event kicked off this year’s Healthy Zone Schools program. Aikman, along with Morrison, Cooper, UWMD CEO Jennifer Sampson and Garland Mayor Douglas Athas, spoke to participating principals, teachers and coaches at the Gale Fields Recreation Center. They then joined hundreds of Kimberlin students for a fun run/walk.
Photos courtesy of UWMD.
Ecolab awards GISD educators nearly $50,000
Continuing a longstanding tradition of generosity toward Garland ISD, the local Ecolab plant recently awarded grants to district teachers totaling $49,140.
Ecolab, a global leader in cleaning, sanitizing, food safety, and infection-prevention products and services, recognizes that today’s youth is tomorrow’s future. The Garland-based plant has partnered with GISD’s BEST Education Foundation since 1987 to offer a Visions for Learning program.
Every fall, grants are awarded to provide curriculum-enhancing materials for teachers and their classrooms. They range from $100-$3,000 and fund books, robotics kits, pedometers, school gardens, an after-school taekwondo program and much more.
Over the past 26 years, Ecolab has donated more than $760,000 to district educators. Contributions are collected entirely from company employees.
“GISD is extremely fortunate to have a community partner like Ecolab,” said Keith Reimer, BEST program specialist. “They want to encourage and reward our teachers for innovation and creativity in the classroom. They are committed, not only to their own children in the district, but to all 58,000 students in GISD.”
A list of this year’s Visions for Learning grant recipients is below.
Alaina Bell, Herfurth Elementary School - $1,747
Amy Spencer, Webb Middle School - $535
Berenice Rangel, Roach Elementary School - $630
Chad Bryan, Naaman Forest High School - $2,400
Charlotte Scivicque, Keeley Elementary School - $250
Cheighton Bryan, South Garland High School - $2,393
Corey Bankston, Austin Academy for Excellence - $3,000
Daniel Garner, Weaver Elementary School - $252
David Downing, South Garland High School - $340
Donna Zuniga, Cooper Elementary School - $198
Eileen Parvin, Dorsey Elementary School - $424
Georgina Flores, Montclair Elementary School - $732
Gina King, Daugherty Elementary School - $2,761
Gye Kraemer, Hudson Middle School - $3,000
Jim Hysaw, Abbett Elementary School - $1,000
Jim Manley, Coyle Middle School - $818
Jorge Sanchez, Sachse High School - $1,000
Julie Utecht, Webb Middle School - $1,508
Kelsey Garner, Handley Elementary School - $248
Krystle Shepherd, Webb Middle School - $1,584
Kurt Ortley, North Garland High School - $3,000
Leah Allen, Armstrong Elementary School - $1,100
Lisa Clark, Montclair Elementary School - $838
Lori Malone, Weaver Elementary School - $495
Louise Gartrell, Dorsey Elementary School - $1,176
Michael Floyd, Lister Elementary School - $2,145
Narda Flores, Lister Elementary School - $787
Nichole Chick, Couch Elementary School - $2,991
Nichole Waggoner, Garland High School - $2,260
Patrick Fontenette, Bradfield Elementary School - $576
Paula Corbett, Keeley Elementary School- $231
Rachel Littrell, Kimberlin Academy for Excellence - $537
Renita Williams, Keeley Elementary School - $704
Robyn Webb, Naaman Forest High School - $1,386
Rusty Truelock, Freeman Elementary School - $1,000
Samantha Cruz, Montclair Elementary School - $670
Sandra Davila, Carver Elementary School - $1,524
Sandra Davila, Lister Elementary School - $593
Susan Garner, Weaver Elementary School - $274
Tamecia Drain, Steadham Elementary School - $1,100
Teresa Fontenette, Roach Elementary School - $933
GHS students create sculpture for Daugherty ES
In fall 2012, a team from the Garland High School Art Department was asked to create a sculpture for the lobby of the newly reconstructed Daugherty Elementary School. Members of the group included sculpture designer and current GHS student Erin Nguyen, GHS alum Tori Baker (who is currently pursuing an art degree with a focus in sculpture), and GHS Art Department faculty.
The design team, with the generous help of several other volunteers, collaborated to achieve this vision laid out by the Daugherty principal, Deborah Henson, and school architect, Sangeetha Karthlik. Investing over 400 hours of work throughout the summer, the team completed a piece which, hopefully, will bring delight to all who enter the campus doors for years to come.
Elementary Elements: In the creation of this piece, the goal was to incorporate the fundamental art elements prominently. Starting with the classic shapes of squares and circles, forms were constructed and entwined to utilize and push the spacial dimension. The line of each strand is united with a repeated, yet varied, color palette and complimented with subtle texture. Even the values cast by the sculpture's shadows engage the space of the room and wall around it. I hope my piece inspires the next generation to learn and experiment with manipulating the art elements. -- Erin Nguyen
The design team included:
Erin Nguyen, Designer & Sculptor, Garland High School, 2014 Graduate
Tori Baker, Consultant & Sculptor, Garland High School Alumnus
Jessica Thompson, Art Teacher & Sculptor, Garland High School
Paula Lawson, Art Teacher & Consultant, Garland High School
Karen Hatten, Art Teacher & Consultant, Garland High School
Garland ISD Trustees approve
2013-14 budget and tax rate
Garland ISD Trustees approved the district’s proposed 2013-14 budget and tax rate at their Aug. 27 meeting in the Harris Hill Administration Building. A public hearing was held prior to the board’s vote, with no comments or questions from the community. GISD’s new fiscal year began Sept. 1.
The 2013-14 total tax rate remains at $1.2533, with Trustees approving a $1.0400 Maintenance and Operations tax rate for the seventh-consecutive year. The $0.2133 Insurance and Sinking Fund tax rate marks nine years with no increase. GISD’s total tax rate ranks among the lowest of all school districts in Dallas-Fort Worth.
Trustees also approved a $424.7 million operating budget for 2013-14. Provisions include a three-percent raise for all district staff—assessed on an employee’s base salary—that will begin to be reflected in September paychecks. This marks the fifth raise for GISD employees since 2008 and the second three-percent raise during that time.
This year’s budget also
View the complete adopted budget on Garland ISD’s website.
Liberty Grove ES celebrates Grandparent’s Day
While the nation commemorated Grandparent’s Day Sept. 8, Liberty Grove Elementary School started celebrating a little early. The campus honored its special guests last Friday, inviting them to the school for snacks, socializing, photos and other fun activities.
“Grandparent’s Day is a special one at Liberty Grove,” said Principal Leigh Anne Stockdale. “We want grandparents to come to school and reminisce about the good old days. We also want them to be able to bond with their grandchildren. I know our students enjoy all the projects and activities. Just the sharing of time between grandparents and grandchildren brings a smile to everyone’s face.”
Walnut Glen Academy wins reading award
A common saying states, “third time’s a charm.” But seven is the lucky number at Walnut Glen Academy for Excellence. The school recently won its seventh-consecutive Nicholson Cup.
Since 2007, the Nicholson Memorial Library System has challenged GISD
students to spend their summer reading. Awarding a trophy to whichever
school shows the highest percentage of participation in the City of
“I am filled with pride and joy that our students and their families value reading even when it is not for a grade,” Principal Alex Rivera said.
More than 35 percent of WGA students frequented local libraries over the break. Second place finished with 18 percent.
Rivera received the first place prize from Garland Mayor Douglas Athas at a school assembly Sept. 11. The City’s Director of Libraries, Claire Bausch, and State Representative Angie Chen Button were also in attendance.
“Mayor Athas was excited to present us the award,” Rivera said. “His son attended Walnut Glen Academy from first through fifth grades.”
After a seventh-straight win, the Nicholson Memorial Library System has decided to retire its Cup at WGA, where it will reside in the school’s library. Bausch says the City of Garland will offer a new contest, but no details have been divulged.
Photo courtesy of Walnut Glen Academy for Excellence.