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Inside FWISD January 14, 2021

In this edition:

Fort Worth ISD, Tarleton Celebrate Pact to Admit Students: Distinguished High School Partnership Program | FWISD Gold Seal Notifications Go Out This Week | COVID-Positive or COVID-Suspected Reporting Procedures | FWISD Issues National Events Resource Guide For Teachers | Attention Aspiring Principal and Assistant Principal Candidates | FWISD MLK Day of Service Volunteer Sign-Up Officially Open | FWISD Closed Monday To Observe MLK Holiday: Staff To Observe Day Participating In Service Event | Self-Care Café Debuts January 20 | District Adopts Standard Response Protocol Revisions | Election Filing for School Board Seats Underway | Stop Six Choice Neighborhood Development to Honor Legendary Basketball Coach: 210-unit ‘Hughes House’ to be Named for Famed Dunbar High School Mentor | INA Teacher Introduces Children To Herbaria In New Book | Mayor Betsy Price Pops In For Surprise Visit with Harlean Beal First Graders | Opal Lee To Be Recognized By Visit Fort Worth | Annual Fort Worth Technology Conference Aims To Innovate, Integrate, Motivate Educators | FWISD Announces 2020-2021 SafeSchools Training Requirements | FWISD Stakeholders’ Survey Underway!: Surveys Extended Until Friday | FWISD Announces Recent Retirees | Food Available At Multiple Sites Through January | Inside FWISD News Briefs | Community Resources | Calendar | View more stories throughout the week on the Inside FWISD Blog

Fort Worth ISD, Tarleton Celebrate Pact to Admit Students

Distinguished High School Partnership Program

Beginning with the 2021-22 school year, Fort Worth ISD seniors who graduate in the top 25% of their class will be eligible for guaranteed admission and annual scholarships to Tarleton State University. The icing on the cake is that Tarleton will also select one FWISD graduating senior each year to receive a $10,000 annual scholarship, renewable for up to four years. The award will result in an annual commitment of $40,000 to the school district.

The announcement was made at the January 12, 2021 FWISD Board of Education meeting and follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Fort Worth ISD and Tarleton in March of 2020.

“Tarleton State University has really stepped up to the plate with the Distinguished High School Partnership Program,” said Superintendent Kent P. Scribner. “Their efforts truly recognize the academic success our graduates bring to any educational setting. This long-term partnership offers promise and opportunity for so many students and their families who thought post-secondary education out of reach.”

As part of the Distinguished High School Partnership, created by Tarleton President James Hurley in 2019, the university will waive ACT (American College Test) and SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) requirements and application fees for qualifying FWISD seniors.

“We are excited to be partners with Tarleton State University in the Distinguished High School Partnership Program,” said Board of Education President Jacinto Ramos. Jr. “This effort is designed to celebrate the achievements of our graduates and furthers the mission of both Tarleton and the Fort Worth ISD. This generous program will offer our students many more opportunities as they prepare themselves for career success and community leadership.”

Students graduating in the top 10 percent of their class can expect a minimum $3,000 award as part of the President’s Guaranteed Award Program (GAP). Those in the top 25 percent are guaranteed a minimum of $1,500.

Board member Carin “CJ” Evans, representing District 5 expressed her gratitude to Tarleton when she said, “We are so happy to partner with such a strong public university. Our students and the entire Fort Worth community will benefit from it.”

Calling FWISD the backbone of freshman enrollment, Dr. Hurley said the partnership “raises a high tide,” enhancing opportunity, access and financial assistance for all students who want a university degree.

And Board member Tobi Jackson, representing District 2 joined her collegues in voicing the considerable impact this will have on students.

“The enthusiasm of this effort, coupled with the ingenuity of Dr. Hurley, and Tarleton State University is a significant win for our students.”

As a bonus, qualifying FWISD seniors enrolled at Tarleton for spring 2021 can expect a bump in their financial aid. Admitted FWISD freshmen must submit a general scholarship application to determine eligibility.

For more information, go to www.tarleton.edu/scholarships. To learn about the President’s GAP, visit www.tarletonstate.us/gap.

FWISD Gold Seal Notifications Go Out This Week

Fort Worth ISD students who submitted a 2021-2022 Gold Seal Schools and Programs of Choice application will receive status notifications via email, Thursday, January 14.

In the email are instructions for accessing Gold Seal lottery results. Admission into Gold Seal programs and schools is based on a computer-generated lottery selection process conducted earlier this month. Parents are encouraged to check their Spam and Junk mail if the notification does not appear in the email account used to apply.

Students assigned to a Program/School of Choice will also receive details for how to complete registration documents virtually for the program via Google Docs. Applicants have until January 25 to complete and submit their registration documents. Failure to complete all registration documents forfeits the child’s space in the program, according to Program of Choice officials.

Students not selected to their first choice will be placed on a waiting list for that choice unless the choice is Arlington Heights Dance, Young Women’s Leadership Academy or I.M. Terrell Academy Visual and Performing Arts. Applicants not identified as eligible through the screening process for the three programs will be placed on a waiting list for their second choice.

The District will accept late applications to programs and schools with available spaces beginning next month.

Gold Seal Programs of Choice and Schools of Choice appeal to student interests and passions and equip students with skills to thrive in college and the workforce. The rigorous program categories include aviation, cybersecurity, cosmetology, fine arts, STEM, Early College High School, P-TECH (Pathways in Technology) and much more. The programs allow students to complete high school college-and-career-ready and with opportunities to obtain multiple college credits, professional licenses and certifications.

Learn more about FWISD’s Gold Seal Programs and Schools of Choice at www.fwisd.org/choice and direct all questions the regarding Programs of Choice to Let’s Talk.

COVID-Positive or COVID-Suspected Reporting Procedures

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage especially close to home. Tarrant County is currently reporting over 2,000 new cases each day. And the Community Spread Level is listed as SUBSTANTIAL.

As a reminder to all Fort Worth ISD employees, regardless of your job title, there are certain protocols which, if followed properly, will greatly help diminish the potential for infection in our own workplace.

First, remember you could be infected and transmitting the disease while not experiencing any of the symptoms yourself. Generally, however, the main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • Fever above 99 degrees F.
  • Cough
  • Sore Throat
  • Fatigue
  • Symptoms that seem to improve but then become worse

COVID testing is offered by Tarrant County, Fort Worth and the Fort Worth ISD. Click on the links for locations and times.

District employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are advised not to arrive at a designated FWISD testing location and to contact their doctor or visit www.virtualcarefamilies.com to be connected with a provider.

Employees who have been confirmed with a positive COVID test must notify their supervisor or campus administrator as soon as possible. A specific COVID Report Form must be initiated by the supervisor. A QR code is available before accessing the form.

Positive individuals with symptoms must remain at home until the following three conditions are met:

1. They are fever free for 24-hours (one day) without the use of a fever-reduction medication

2. Improved symptoms (cough, difficulty breathing)

3. 10 days have passed since symptoms began

Positive individuals without symptoms are directed to remain at home until the following two conditions are met:

1. No symptom development

2. 10 days have passed since the COVID-19 test date

Fort Worth ISD employees who suspect they may have been exposed to a positive case by close contact with another person should consider the following:

  • “Close Contact” is defined as living in the same household, caring for a sick person with the virus, being within six feet of a sick person with the virus for at least 15 minutes, or being in direct contact with secretions from the sick person
  • Contagion – COVID 19 positive individuals are considered contagious 48 hours prior to their first symptom (or test date if asymptomatic. Anyone in “close contact” during this period will be asked to quarantine for 10 days from date of contact.

As mentioned earlier, timely communication with your direct supervisor or campus administrator is very important. COVID-related absences must be reported according to campus or department procedure and Board Policy DEC (LOCAL, REGULATION).

There are two key absence scenarios:

1. Employees quarantined and/or sick, working from home requires supervisor approval and entry. This would equal Code 50 (remote work pullout)

2. Employees quarantined and/or sick at home but not working remotely must report the absence.

Questions about COVID-related absences and leave can be directed to HCM Employee Services, Emp.Services@fwisd.org, 817-814-2790.

COVID Report Form QR Code

FWISD Issues National Events Resource Guide For Teachers

Over the past year, we have faced many challenges as a nation.

The past week presented us with new challenges and our children, once again, are watching. Therefore, one of the roles of the Teaching and Learning Department is to provide our educators with resources to support them as they work with our students to discuss current events that impact and disrupt our daily lives. Often, these events can be challenging and can prove to be difficult to discuss with students if we are unprepared or uncomfortable with the topics and issues before us - as a community and as a nation. Therefore, we have put together a list of resources to assist our educators in the navigation of these discussions and most valuable lessons. As educators, it is important that we do not shy away from difficult discussions, but rather learn from them and from the events and experiences of all that has happened and from all that are impacted.

Attached, you will find a list of resources for teachers that will support discussions around national level events. These resources will also be shared with our Social Studies lead teachers, but please take a few minutes to review this information. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Teaching and Learning team.

General Resources

We have to prepare students—and ourselves—to communicate, question and work our way through a disconnect when the outside world spills into the classroom.

Elementary Resources

  • EDSITEment -- Help your students reflect on what the Presidential inauguration has become and what it has been, while they meet a host of memorable historical figures and uncover a sense of America's past through archival materials. In these challenging times, we are committed to leaning into our mission to serve as a resource to all educators.
  • Education World -- Dear Mr. President - Students write letters to the president. Ask them to include goals they would like to see the administration achieve and good wishes to the president and his family.
  • Law Related Education -- Duties of the President - Students will learn about the duties and responsibilities of the President as outlined in the Constitution.
  • Law Related Education -- Celebrate the U.S. Constitution - Students will learn about purposes of the U.S. Constitution as identified in the Preamble.

January 6th, 2021 Resources for Middle and High School

  • Mikva Challenge -- Attack on the US Capitol lessons that provide students an opportunity to share their reactions, thoughts, and feelings about the events of January 6th in Washington, DC and make connections to recent current and historical events in the United States.
  • Facing History -- Resources intended to guide student reflection on the election of 2020.

Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter? This resource was part of our Election 2020 collection, designed to help you teach about voting rights, media literacy, and civic participation, in remote and in-person settings.

Explainer: Political Polarization in the United States - This guide explores: How is polarization influencing decision-making and civic life in the United States? Can Americans still find common ground?

Explainer: Free and Fair Elections - This guide describes the standards that governments need to meet before, during, and after an election to ensure that the election is "free and fair."

  • Constitution Center -- A list of statutes about the January 6th joint meeting of Congress, sections of the Constitution related to the Electoral College, and extensive resources from the National Constitution Center about the Electoral College.
  • Teaching Tolerance -- Leading Conversations After Crisis - Our Advisory Board shared ideas for starting discussions the day after the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
  • National Constitution Center -- An interactive resource for looking at the text, history, and meaning of the U.S. Constitution from leading scholars of diverse legal and philosophical perspectives.

Teachers can provide this as a resource if the class needs to access sections of the U.S. Constitution to discuss events in Washington as they apply to Constitutional rules and framing.

Inauguration 2021 Resources for Middle and High School

Students will investigate how the Constitution outlines the presidential inauguration and how the inauguration symbolizes the transition of power in a democracy. Relate the elements of the inauguration to the powers of the president listed in the Constitution.

Instead of focusing on who won the election and who didn’t, consider teaching about the inauguration itself with a critical literacy lens. This non-partisan approach acknowledges history in the making while also acknowledging the history that led up to this point.

  • Sharp School Pennsylvania -- The Inauguration of a President - a collection of mini inquiry lessons with primary and secondary sources, for students to analyze various aspects of the inauguration, such as the 12th Amendment, inaugural address, security, and celebrations.
  • Adapted from EDSITEment -- Presidential Inaugurations: I Do Solemnly Swear Students will reflect on what the Presidential inauguration has become and what it has been, while they meet a host of memorable historical figures and uncover a sense of America's past through archival materials.
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum -- Comparing and Contrasting Inaugural Addresses Students will read some inaugural addresses. As they are reading, they will pick 2 to compare and contrast by using a VennDiagram and identify overarching categories of similarities and differences in their analysis.
  • iCivics -- Even presidents have to worry about making the grade! Discover the history behind the “First 100 Days” and its impact on the American presidency with this new lesson plan that includes extension ideas and media literacy moments. Students will evaluate the fairness of judging presidents based on this somewhat arbitrary time period.

iCivics: The First 100 Days

  • Civics Renewal Network/C-Span Classroom (teachers can override initial FWISD block as entertainment) -- This Presidential Transitions lesson for grades 9-12 has students explore the challenges that incoming administrations face during presidential transitions.

Students will hear from historians and from White House staff to learn about previous presidential transitions and how the administrations worked together. With this information, students will develop a list of best practices that can be used during these transitions.

This message is sent on behalf of:

Jerry Moore, Chief Academic Officer

Raúl Peña, Chief of Student and School Support

Cherie Washington, Chief of Student and School Support

David Saenz, Chief Innovation Officer

click images to enlarge

Attention Aspiring Principal and Assistant Principal Candidates

Dear Colleagues:

If you are interested in being a campus leader next school year NOW is the time to apply!

Now is the time for all qualified individuals to apply for the 2021-2022 campus school principal and assistant principal pools.

The following postings are open until Friday, January 29:

All eligible principal and assistant principal applicants must complete the Assessment Center Screening Process on Saturday, February 20 in order to be considered for the pool. Be sure to reserve the date on your calendar today!

If you previously completed the Assessment Center Screening Process in spring 2020, you do not need to reapply. Your continued eligibility was confirmed via your response to the survey link sent to you on Friday, November 20.

We look forward to reviewing your application soon! In the meantime, if you have any questions please contact Sammy Monge at smonge@fwisd.org.

FWISD MLK Day of Service Volunteer Sign-Up Officially Open

The Fort Worth ISD’s third annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service volunteer sign-up is officially open to District employees. A few volunteer spaces remain to participate.

The District’s Equity and Excellence Department will need 20 volunteers for two-hour morning and afternoon shifts. Ten volunteers will assemble the care packages from 8-10 a.m. at the Central Administration Building, and 10 volunteers will distribute the care packages and meals from 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. to approximately 200 people in the West Lancaster corridor. All volunteers will be adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) safety protocols.

To sign up, please click here.

The 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, Monday, January 18, marks the third year FWISD employees will observe the MLK federal holiday in service to others. The day generally begins with employees assembling care packages consisting of food, winter accessories and toiletries. Once the packages are filled, employees take them to Fort Worth’s West Lancaster corridor where they are distributed to the homeless along with a boxed lunch. The service event is one of two FWISD employees and students participate in during the school year. Students in years past have participated in service projects during the spring to observe the District’s Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta Day of Service.

“People always say that they wish we had more days like this. They enjoy the opportunity to give back and to meet other colleagues,” said Mia Hall, a FWISD Equity and Excellence executive director and organizer for the employee service day. “Everyone just likes rallying together for a common cause for our community. It’s a great opportunity to give back.”

In-kind nonperishable food, toiletries, gloves, winter hats and drawstring backpacks are being accepted through Tuesday via Amazon wish list. All FWISD stakeholders may also contribute in-kind monetary donations that will fund care packages for the homeless. For more information, contact Mrs. Hall at 817-814-2339 or email mia.hall@fwisd.org.

FWISD Closed Monday To Observe MLK Holiday

Staff To Observe Day Participating In Service Event

The Fort Worth ISD will join the nation in observing the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, Monday January 18. District facilities are closed Monday, and there are no classes.

Normal business and class schedules will resume Tuesday, January 19. Meals To Go curbside pickup service, originally scheduled for Monday, will be moved to Tuesday, January 19 because of the holiday. Free COVID-19 testing for employees will be suspended Monday but will resume Tuesday January 19 for Maintenance and Operations on Tillar Street. Employees are encouraged to visit https://virtualcarefamilies.com/fwisd-abbott/ for additional details.

On Monday, FWISD employees and officials will take part in the District’s third annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, sponsored by the Equity and Excellence Department. Approximately 200 care packages consisting of food, winter accessories and toiletries, along with a boxed lunch will be distributed to the homeless in the city’s West Lancaster corridor. All volunteers will adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) safety protocols.

The service event is one of two FWISD employees and students participate in during the school year. Students in years past have participated in service projects during the spring to observe the District’s Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta Day of Service.

For additional details, contact Mia Hall, a FWISD Equity and Excellence executive director and organizer for the employee service day, at 817-814-2339 or email mia.hall@fwisd.org.

Annually on the third Monday in January, the nation observes Martin Luther King Jr. Day, established to honor the birth of the late preacher, author, civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner who was assassinated in 1968. He is most notably known for his “I Have a Dream” speech delivered at the 1963 March on Washington in Washington, D.C. and leading a nonviolent movement in the fight for racial equality. Learn more about Dr. King at http://thekingcenter.org.

Since 1994, the U.S. Congress has commemorated the holiday as a national day of service, encouraging Americans to participate in service projects within their communities.

Self-Care Café Debuts January 20

Fort Worth ISD’s Restorative Practices program is launching Self-Care Café, Wednesday January 20. The programming offers District stakeholders live Facebook and Zoom events monthly and online self-care resources.

Self-Care Café online programming focuses on four pillars:

  • Mental wellbeing
  • Physical activity
  • Healthy eating
  • Knowledge and health literacy

Live 30-minute Self-Care Café sessions hosted via Zoom and simulcast on Facebook Live will challenge participants to practice activities with a focus on the self-care pillars, including meditation, exercise, crafts, healthy eating and journaling discussions. Sessions are monthly at 7:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to form accountability partners or tribes to join them in the monthly self-care challenge activities.

Additional self-care resources and other programming offered by the District will be available through a website being built to complement the monthly sessions.

Following months of students attending classes virtually last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became evident the stressful toll taken on by the District’s teachers and other employees. Self-Care Café offers additional support for the District’s adults, organizers say.

In a recent teaser for Self-Care Café Dr. Nikki Chamblee, Restorative Practices coordinator, likened the importance of self-care to flight attendants who urge passengers put on their own mask before helping other. Taking care of one’s mental, emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing first is equally as important before helping others, she added.

“Before we even came back, we were concerned about the students and how safely to bring back the students, and their teachers were really suffering,” Dr. Chamblee said. “That’s the common theme that we find as we go out to service schools is that teachers really need to feel taken care of. And so, this has kind of been something we’ve been thinking about how best to put it in place.”

On December 16 Restorative Practices hosted a 15-minute Facebook teaser of what to expect from the Self-Care Café, and just this week, a Facebook Live program focused on self-care’s importance to one’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

“I think the overall hope is that they’ll walk away with new ways and strategies to help take care of themselves but also have some intentionality behind it because we can talk about it all day long,” said Dr. Dorene Benavidez, Equity and Professional Learning executive director. “That’s why we thought it would be great to have the tribe accountability piece where they could [connect with someone.]”

Restorative Practices is an extension of FWISD’s Division of Equity and Excellence. View additional Self-Care Café details on the Restorative Practices and Division of Equity and Excellence Facebook pages.

District Adopts Standard Response Protocol Revisions

Editor's Note: The following memorandum from Safety and Security is regarding a change in terminology regarding Standard Response Protocol

Election Filing for School Board Seats Underway

Filing for the Fort Worth ISD School Board May 1 elections officially opened Wednesday.

Five Board terms are on the May 1 ballot – 1,4,7,8 and 9.

Currently serving in those five seats are:

  • Jacinto Ramos Jr. – District 1
  • Daphne Brookins—District 4
  • Norman Robbins – District 7
  • Anael Luebanos – District 8
  • Ashley Paz – District 9

Last month, Mrs. Paz announced via a Facebook Live and Zoom event that she will not seek another term.

Incumbents and prospective candidates have until 5 p.m. February 12, 2021, to file for office.

Early voting for the May 1 election is April 19-27. People interested in registering in the May 1 election have until Thursday, April 1, 2021.

For additional details about the upcoming election, visit www.fwisd.org/Page/448.

Stop Six Choice Neighborhood Development to Honor Legendary Basketball Coach

210-unit ‘Hughes House’ to be Named for Famed Dunbar High School Mentor

Editor's Note: The following content is from Fort Worth Housing Solutions

Fort Worth Housing Solutions will name the second mixed-income, multifamily development in the Stop Six Choice Neighborhood Initiative “Hughes House” in honor of Robert Hughes Sr., the winningest coach in the history of boys’ high school basketball.

Hughes, a former Stop Six resident, led the boys’ basketball program at Dunbar High School on Ramey Avenue from 1973 to 2005 and at the historic I. M. Terrell High School from 1958 to 1973, before the previously segregated campus closed.

Over his 47-year career, Hughes accumulated a 1,333-265 record, five state championships and 35 district championships. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. The 2019 documentary “5700 Ramey Ave.: The Story of Robert Hughes” memorialized his story.

Hughes House will be a 210-unit, mixed-use, mixed-income community at 4830 and 4908 E. Rosedale Street, east and west of Amanda Avenue, and on a portion of the former Cavile Place public housing site. Fort Worth Housing Solutions is seeking 9% low-income housing tax credits to help finance the development. The complex will include 166 units offered at reduced rents to qualified residents; 44 units would be available at market rates.

“Fort Worth Housing Solutions is thrilled to be able to honor Coach Hughes and his positive impact on generations of student-athletes who grew up in Stop Six and their families,” President Mary-Margaret Lemons said. “The Stop Six Choice Neighborhood Initiative builds on the cohesiveness and rich history of this southeast Fort Worth community. Hughes House will be a lasting reminder of Coach Hughes’ commitment to hard work and perseverance.”

Robert “Bob” Hughes Jr., Dunbar’s head basketball coach since 2005, said his family is ecstatic to learn that the next phase of Stop Six housing will honor his father’s legacy. In addition to Robert Jr., the senior Coach Hughes has two daughters: Carlye J. Hughes, the Episcopal Bishop of Newark; and Robin L. Hughes, dean of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Education, Health and Human Behavior.

“My dad believed in a strong work ethic, pushing yourself to the limit and self-discipline – that’s all he knew. And that’s what I stress with my players,” Hughes Jr. said. “When you think of Stop Six, you think of my dad. He really put Stop Six, and Fort Worth, on the map, and it’s important to preserve that history.”

Hughes House is Phase II of the landmark Stop Six Choice Neighborhood effort that launched in 2020 when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded FWHS and the City of Fort Worth a $35 million Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant. Former Cavile Place residents who relocated as part of the redevelopment process have the right to return to the community as new FWHS properties come online.

The HUD grant will be spread across six phases of development and is expected to leverage $345 million in investment for the neighborhood. In all, Fort Worth Housing Solutions will develop more than 1,000 new units of mixed-income rental housing across the community. The City of Fort Worth plans additional infrastructure improvements, including a new community hub and aquatics center.

Construction of Cowan Place, a 174-unit senior living community called for in Phase I, is scheduled to begin in late spring or early summer at East Rosedale and Stalcup Road.

Fort Worth City Councilwoman Gyna Bivens, whose district includes Stop Six, added: “Coach Hughes is arguably the most nationally-recognized figure to come from Stop Six. His leadership, dedication to his students and investment in their future is worthy of this recognition. We’re indebted to his family and so pleased that his contributions will be etched into the bright future of our community.”

About Fort Worth Housing Solutions

Fort Worth Housing Solutions is changing the face of affordable housing by providing mixed-income rental and home ownership opportunities that provide the foundation to improve lives. The agency was established by the City of Fort Worth in 1938 to provide decent, safe housing for low- to moderate-income residents. Today, the FWHS portfolio includes 40 properties with almost 6,700 affordable units. The agency manages Housing Choice Vouchers that help families and individuals cover rental costs. FWHS works closely with numerous partners to promote economic independence and positive change in the lives of the more than 28,000 individuals we touch on a daily basis. Learn more at www.fwhs.org.

INA Teacher Introduces Children To Herbaria In New Book

Editor’s Note: The following Question-and-Answer was edited for clarity and spacing.

Kelly McDaniel LaFarge, a high school art teacher at Fort Worth ISD’s International Newcomer Academy, will soon make her children’s book debut.

Pre-order sales are currently underway for “Herbaria: A Guide For Young People,” a more than 30-page nonfiction picture book for students in grades 1-8, written and illustrated by Ms. LaFarge. It introduces students to herbariums, a place that houses a collection of dried plant specimens.

Growing up in rural Indiana, Ms. LaFarge said that she enjoyed reading STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) books as a girl. She said that she’s hopeful children who read her book are fascinated about what it takes to gather and preserve the world’s plant specimens.

While this is the first published book for Ms. LaFarge, it’s not her first published work. With a background in advertising, copy writing and illustration, her work has appeared in Good Housekeeping, SchoolArts, Glow, and Red River Children’s magazines, national newspapers, trade publications and on book covers, she said. She’s currently working on future stories about unsung female botanist heroes.

Pictured from left are the first pages of Ms. LaFarge's new book and Ms. LaFarge (far left) at an editorial meeting with Missouri Botanical Gardens Press.

Recently, Inside FWISD caught up with Ms. LaFarge for details about her new book and what inspired her to write it.

Enjoy!

Q: What inspired you to write “Herbaria: A Guide for Young People,” and why do you feel this was an important story to tell?

A: Curiosity. I did not know my city, Fort Worth, had one of the 10 largest herbarium in the [United States]. I consider myself a nature lover, but when I learned this fact, I was disturbed I did not know about the herbarium. I thought, “This is a great topic for kids!” After a few visits back to the herbarium to satisfy my curiosity, I searched book listings (WorldCat, Library of Congress, etc.). I could not find a single book on the topic for children. A void needed filling.

Q: What is “Herbaria: A Guide for Young People” about?

A. HERBARIA: A GUIDE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE is a 3,400-word, 32-page, nonfiction picture book for grades 1-8. The book builds knowledge about early plant collectors, how plants are gathered, the steps for preservation, and where major herbaria are located. For curriculum alignment, there is a comprehensive glossary. It is a combination of illustrations, and photos. Interactive features include lift-a-flaps, overlays, and turn dials. It has been edited and vetted by the Botanic Research Institute of Texas (BRIT).

It leads children on a discovery of who loves dead plants. They will learn about famous historical plant collectors and the paths they established investigating plants. Students can join in with today’s field botanists as they go far and wide to discover new species, observe in the herbarium how specimens are mounted and organized for everyone to use and enjoy, locate herbarium museums around the globe and visualize being a botanist gathering, preserving, and unlocking the mysteries of plants.

Q: How did you become interested in botany and what made you want to write about it?

A. I was born and grew up in rural Indiana. My family farmhouse was next to agriculture fields, thick woods, and a big muddy river. It was the perfect location to observe all nature had to offer- texture, light, and vivid colors. As a personal mission for my writing, I use those important experiences and focus on lessoning the disconnect between today’s children and Mother Nature.

Q: What research went into writing the book?

A. I worked with BRIT for a year using their library, consulting with their academic editor, and having my book copy vetted by him. And lots of reading botany books!

Q: What are some things you hope children in grades 1-8 take away from reading this book?

A. Hopefully, children will return again and again to this fascinating science process book to explore and wonder about the extremes it takes to gather and preserve plant specimens from around the world. I want to answer students’ questions about herbariums. I want to explain their mission to deepen knowledge of the plant world and increase people’s understanding of the value plants bring to life. When I could not find such a book, I decided one needed to be written. And it needed to be interactive to support understanding of the concept. The systematic research process needed to be accessible in a fun format for any type of young learner. The interconnectedness of all living things is an important message all children should be exposed to. After all, if we do not have plants in the world, we will not have humans.

Q. What educational materials are part of the book and how might they be utilized in classrooms or with parents reading along with their children at home?

A. Due to COVID-19 we are restricted in so many ways but going outside is still available. This book could help parents have a direction and focus for outdoor study. Schools are hard pressed to give hands-on experiences so this can help bridge that gap.

Learn more about Ms. LaFarge’s “Herbaria: A Guide For Young People” here.

Mayor Betsy Price Pops In For Surprise Visit with Harlean Beal First Graders

Mayor Betsy Price recently surprised Harlean Beal first graders with a virtual reading of New York Times bestseller “Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin.

Approximately 30 students tuned in for the surprise reading via Zoom from their in-person classrooms, Friday, January 8. Learn more about the book at dragonslovetacos.com.

The reading closed out a big week for Mayor Price which included her January 5 announcement that she will not seek a fifth term. A Fort Worth native, Mayor Price is an alumna of Fort Worth ISD’s South Hi Mount Elementary, Stripling Middle and Arlington Heights High schools.

In 2011, voters elected Mrs. Price as the city’s 44th mayor. Among the things she’s advocated for as mayor is strengthening education in Fort Worth. Mayor Price partnered with FWISD Superintendent Kent Scribner and former BNSF executive chairman Matt Rose to lead the community-wide Read Fort Worth initiative. This collective impact strategy engages parents, grandparents, and caregivers as well as volunteers from the city’s business sector, higher education, non-profit organizations, and the faith-based community. It complements FWISD’s 100X25 FWTX initiative which strives to have 100% of third graders reading on or above grade level. By 2025.

Mayor Price also supports the Mayor’s Summer reading Challenge which encourages readers of all ages to track the time they spend reading during the summer months. Readers earn badges and prizes for their participation.

Opal Lee To Be Recognized By Visit Fort Worth

Visit Fort Worth, the city’s tourism marketing organization, will recognize Fort Worth ISD alumna Opal Lee with its Hospitality Award this February.

Ms. Lee is being recognized February 5 for “her efforts to make Fort Worth a more welcoming community,” according to a recent statement issued by the City of Fort Worth. The award is being presented at Visit Fort Worth breakfast being hosted at the Omni Hotel.

Ms. Lee is a former Fort Worth ISD teacher and counselor and 2019 Wall of fame honoree. For more than four decades, she’s advocated for Juneteenth becoming a federal holiday. Juneteenth, annually celebrated June 19 in African American communities, commemorates the day slaves were officially emancipated in Texas. On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordan Granger arrived on the shores of Galveston with news that the Civil War had ended and that all slaves were freed. The order was announced more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, declaring an end to slavery throughout the United States.

In 2020, Ms. Lee’s fight to have Juneteenth recognized nationally was shared across social media and resulted in 1.4 million joining her campaign signing an online petition to see that the date is recognized federally. Her story was shared by celebrities including Usher, Diddy and Lupita Nyong’o.

“Opal Lee’s positive message about freedom captured national attention this year. In honoring her, we want to emphasize that everyone is welcome in Fort Worth, Texas,” said Mark Nurdin, chairman of the Visit Fort Worth board of directors in the city’s recent statement.

Learn more about the Hospitality Award and the upcoming breakfast here.

Annual Fort Worth Technology Conference Aims To Innovate, Integrate, Motivate Educators

Get ready for a full day of more than 70 sessions aimed to Innovate, Integrate and Motivate you all from the comfort of your home. Fort Worth ISD’s Educational Technology Department will host an all-virtual Fort Worth Technology Conference (FWTC), Saturday, January 23, 2021.

This is the first time the 16th annual event is being hosted 100% online via the Google Meet video conferencing platform. The free conference kicks off at 9 a.m. with the keynote session featuring Jake Miller, host of the Educational Duct Tape Podcast. Through the podcast Mr. Miller answers teacher questions and addresses how duct tape is used as a tool for solving life’s problems. Like duct tape, education technology is utilized in the classroom. Sessions will continue through 3 p.m.

“The Fort Worth Technology Conference isn't about the technology. It's about teachers and classroom transformation,” said Becky Navarre, Assistant Superintendent of Technology. “There's a session for everyone at FWTC to meet you where you are in the technology integration journey. There's no hidden agenda here; the objective is to learn and grow in our craft to make a better tomorrow for our students.”

Fort Worth ISD teachers and staff and national digital-instruction innovators will lead curriculum-based and digital driven instructional sessions that offer attendees a myriad of tools for engaging students, leveraging digital technology for student success and increasing productivity in a hybrid educational environment. Annually, FWTC offers practical technology tools that educators can immediately implement in lesson plans and administrative tasks.

Visit www.fwisd.org/fwtc to register and for additional session details. Have additional questions? Contact Shana Ellason, Technology Learning Integration Director, at 817-814-3100 or email shana.ellason@fwisd.org.

FWISD Announces 2020-2021 Safe Schools Training Requirements

Editor's Note: The following memorandum from Classified Learning refers to upcoming SafeSchool training deadlines. This year employees will be able to test out and not have to view all courses with the exception of the Employee Handbook, Title IX Compliance Overview, Texas Cybersecurity and two coronavirus videos. Employees who decide to test out of a module and who pass will not receive a certificate, but their training will meet District compliance requirements for 2020-2021. Employees who opt to test out of a training and who do not pass with 80% must watch the module and retake the test.

  • Employees will receive generated SafeSchools emails that contain three modules that were assigned in May. These modules were not assigned for the 2020-2021 school year because of the pandemic but are required by state and federal laws. Cybersecurity is two hours because of Texas HB 3834. Title IX Compliance is a new federal requirement.
  • This year employees may test out of select courses. Courses exempt from the test out include the Employee Handbook, Title IX Compliance Overview, Texas Cybersecurity and the two Coronavirus videos. Additionally, this functionality is not available in District created modules like the Active Shooter module.
  • Employees may test out of any of the other modules by clicking "Test Out." Employees who decide to test out of any modules but who do not pass with an 80%, will have to watch the module and retake the test.
  • Please note that employees who decide to use the "Test Out" functionality will not receive a certificate, but their training plan will state “Tested Out”. This is still meeting the District's compliance requirements for this 2020-2021 school year.

All remaining courses are due by February 15, 2021.

For additional FAQs and information please click here.

FWISD STAKEHOLDERS’ SURVEY UNDERWAY!

Surveys Extended Until Friday

There's still time to complete the 2020-2021 Annual Stakeholders’ Surveys. The surveys are extended through Friday, January 15, 2021.

This year there are two surveys for different stakeholder groups.

The first survey is for all Students (3rd grade to 12th grade) and all Teachers. They are taking the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) survey from Panorama.

Students can access their survey through the Panorama icon in Classlink using their Student ID.

Teachers have already received an email in the fwisd.org account with their unique survey link. If you have not received that link be sure to check clutter or junk mail for “Panorama Education Team support+fwisd@panoramaed.com. "

The second survey is for principals, assistant principals, non-instructional school staff, district staff, and parents who are taking the historic FWISD Stakeholders’ Climate Survey.

FWISD Stakeholders’ Climate Survey for Principals, Assistant Principals, Non-instructional school staff, District staff, and parents can access the 2021-2020 FWISD Stakeholders’ Climate Survey here.

WHAT’S INVOLVED?

Each school has the autonomy to administer the survey to students according to its own schedule anytime during the survey administration time period. The survey format will automatically adjust to most electronic devices (computers, iPads, and cell phones).

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

All responses are anonymous. FWISD students and employees will be asked to enter their student or employee ID to authenticate their association with the District however, names and other individual identifiers will not be included in the data set.

In addition, FWISD employees (including all teachers) who have students attending our schools can take the FWISD Climate survey as a parent without using the authenticator.

Thank you for your cooperation and participation in administrating the 2020-2021 stakeholders’ surveys. If you have any questions, please contact the Grants Compliance and Monitoring department at 817-814-1850 or via email at Askeval@fwisd.org.

FWISD Announces Recent Retirees

The following are Fort Worth ISD employees that have recently retired, according to Human Capital Management:

  • Donna Passon, elementary nutrition services manager, Mitchell Boulevard- 26 years
  • John Hearon, bus driver, Transportation Central- 7 years

FOOD AVAILABLE AT MULTIPLE SITES THROUGH JANUARY 2021

Multiple organizations across Fort Worth are offering food to help families through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March, the Fort Worth ISD has partnered with multiple organizations to share information and organize food distribution events for families.

Curbside Meals To Go breakfast and lunch service is available at 28 designated FWISD locations for FWISD virtual learners. Twice weekly on Monday and Thursday mornings, FWISD students participating in virtual learning may pick up a combination of breakfast and lunch meals at any of the 28 designated meal pickup sites. For more information, contact the FWISD Child Nutrition Department at 817-814-3500. Meals To Go curbside pickup service, originally scheduled for Monday, January 18, will be moved to Tuesday, January 19 because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Beginning February 8, 2021 free Meals To Go Service will be available on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Friday meal distribution provides students with meals for the weekend.

The Fort Worth ISD has compiled a list of locations to find free and nutritious food here.

Food is available at these locations throughout January 2021:

Food Distribution

1. Every Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to noon

LVTRISE

8201 Calmont Ave.

Every Tuesday and Thursday LVTRise, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living in the Las Vegas Trail area, distributes nonperishable food items to the community. For additional details, email Amortimer@lvtrise.org.

2. Friday, January 15, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.

Herman Clark Stadium

5201 CA Roberson Blvd.

Fort Worth ISD is partnering with Tarrant Area Food Bank to host a Mega Mobile Market food distribution event. Approximately 1,000 boxes of nonperishable food will be provided to families on a first-come, first-served basis. Each family will receive 100 pounds of high-quality produce, meat dairy and groceries. For additional information, visit https://tafb.org/megamobilemarkets/

3. Wednesday, January 20, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Bethlehem Baptist Church

1188 W. Broad St., Mansfield

Free, drive-thru food distribution open to everyone

For additional information, call 817-473-1236

4. Friday, January 22, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.

Herman Clark Stadium

5201 CA Roberson Blvd.

Fort Worth ISD is partnering with Tarrant Area Food Bank to host a Mega Mobile Market food distribution event. Approximately 1,000 boxes of nonperishable food will be provided to families on a first-come, first-served basis. Each family will receive 100 pounds of high-quality produce, meat dairy and groceries. For additional information, visit https://tafb.org/megamobilemarkets/

5. Saturday, January 23,2021, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church

4301 Meadowbrook Drive

St. Luke’s in the Meadow will host a Mobile Food Pantry. For additional details, call 817-534-4925.

6. Wednesday, January 27, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Bethlehem Baptist Church

1188 W. Broad St., Mansfield

Free, drive-thru food distribution open to everyone

For additional information, call 817-473-1236

7. Friday, January 29, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.

Herman Clark Stadium

5201 CA Roberson Blvd.

Fort Worth ISD is partnering with Tarrant Area Food Bank to host a Mega Mobile Market food distribution event. Approximately 1,000 boxes of nonperishable food will be provided to families on a first-come, first-served basis. Each family will receive 100 pounds of high-quality produce, meat dairy and groceries. For additional information, visit https://tafb.org/megamobilemarkets/

For the complete Tarrant Area Mobile Food Pantry Schedule, visit https://www.tafb.org/wp-content/uploads/mobile/mobile-pantry-schedule.pdf. Need food delivered? Call 817-534-0814 to speak with a live representative about how to access nutritious food.

Other food resources are also available:

INSIDE FWISD NEWS BRIEFS

Editor's Note: Inside FWISD Briefs are quick-hit stories of activities and events happening locally and nationally.

Donation Funds Equipment, Clothing, More for DHJ Tennis

The Diamond Hill-Jarvis tennis team is the recipient of new equipment, clothing and $1,000, thanks to generous donors, Julia and Hayden Flowers.

Recently, the Flowers family donated $4,500 in equipment and clothing and a $1,000 to the DHJ Tennis program. Hayden Flowers of Westlake, who plays tennis, established The Cub, a nonprofit to popularize tennis. The last few years the nonprofit has hosted a fundraiser benefitting the DHJ tennis program.

This donation will have a huge impact on our program just by increasing the availability/quality of equipment and allowing us to expand and grow the tennis program,” said DHJ Head Tennis Coach Amberly Wright.

Kronos Mobile App Name and Logo Change

The Kronos mobile application has a new name and logo.

On January 21, the Kronos mobile app will automatically transition to UKG. No action is required. The change occurs once the end user logs in.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES

FinPath Offers Financial Coaching Services

The holidays can be stressful, but we are here for you. FinPath provides complimentary access to financial experts available at the click of a button.

Financial Coaches assist you with the day-to-day money management questions

  • How do I optimize my paycheck?
  • How do I improve my credit score?
  • How can I identify extra cash flow to put toward saving or debt management?
  • What is the best way to pay off my credit cards?

Financial Coaches help you become more efficient in your day-to-day money management. We provide structure to get you to your desired goal. If we have an area in our life that we truly want to master; we seek out experts in the specific subject.

Schedule your 1-to-1 meeting with a coach now by clicking the link or using the link https://financialpathway.com/coaching/

Register for your FREE FinPath account at FinPathWellness.com

No-cost COVID-19 Testing

Wear A Mask

CDC Tips on Properly Wearing A Cloth Mask

FWISD Partners With Virtual Care For Kids To Offer Students Telehealth Services

In efforts to reduce COVID-19 spread, the Fort Worth ISD has partnered with Virtual Care for Kids to offer students and their families telehealth services. Free COVID-19 testing is also available for select FWISD employees by visiting www.virtualcarefamilies.com/fwisd-abbott.

Students can see a Texas-based pediatrician within minutes from home virtually via computer, smartphone or tablet for urgent care services including minor colds, the flu, sore throat, cough, ear concerns, headaches, sinus or allergy issues or pink eye. Additionally, Virtual Care for Kids is offering coronavirus screening and testing in English and Spanish. Visit https://urgentcarekids.com/fwisd/ to register for services.

FWISD is partnering with Virtual Care for Families to offer select employees with free Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 testing. All eligible employees must preregister to receive the test.

The following employees/departments are eligible for testing:

  • Teachers
  • Transportation
  • Maintenance and Operations
  • Custodians
  • Child Nutrition Services
  • Special Education personnel

District employees experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are advised not to arrive at a designated FWISD testing location and to contact their doctor or visit www.virtualcarefamilies.com to be connected with a provider.

Employees are encouraged to follow the instructions below to register for the free COVID-19 testing.

Employee Assistance Program Resources for FWISD Employees

Follow COVID-19 updates from the City of Fort Worth at fortworthtexas.gov/COVID-19/

Winter Trainings For Teachers, Continue through January 31

Martin Luther King Jr. holiday/ Day of Service activities, January 18

Registration for February 19 Youth Mental Health First Aid Training Ends, January 19

Equity and Excellence Self-Care Café kickoff, January 20

Fort Worth Technology Conference, January 23

Board of Education Meeting, January 26

End of Fall Semester, January 29

African American History Month Begins, February 1

Staff Day (Student holiday), February 1

Spring Semester starts for traditional schools, February 2

Registration for March 6 Youth Mental Health First Aid Training Ends, February 6

Share your story ideas, successes, calendar items, photos, questions and feedback with us at Inside@FWISD.org. Check the Inside FWISD blog, www.fwisd.org/insidefwisd, regularly updated throughout the week with additional content and features.

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