Inside FWISD February 6, 2020

17 FWISD Students Officially Commit To Play College Sports

By Art Garcia

Inside FWISD Contributor

National Signing Day might as well be a holiday for college fans and alums, as their dreams of championships to come are tied to teenage signatures. What’s often lost in the tide of recruiting rankings and the persuasive abilities of college coaches is who the day is really about.

It’s a day for student-athletes. Many young women and men are making one of the biggest decisions of their lives, taking the first steps towards their futures while living out their dreams.

Seventeen student-athletes representing six high schools took part in Fort Worth ISD’s National Signing Day Ceremony on Wednesday, February 5 at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.

“This really and truly is a fabulous day,” FWISD Director of Athletics Dr. Lisa Langston said. “These are my kids. They’re like my own children. To see them take their athletic abilities, along with their classroom success, and parlay that to the next level is amazing.

“The thing about sports is what kids get out of it. The intangibles that people can’t see. You’re not going to see it on a checklist. It’s what’s inside a person. It’s what they become. It’s doing something they didn’t think they could. It’s being part of team. All that helps you become successful in whatever career they choose.”

Parents, family and friends helped fill the gym floor for the celebration, along with school administrators and high school coaches. Each student-athlete was honored and signed his or her National Letter of Intent surrounded by loved ones.

Like many of those taking their place at the signing table, Arlington Heights High School softball standout Jalee Rae McDonald reflected on her journey. The All-American and two-time district Most Valuable Player signed with Texas Woman’s University.

“I’ve been playing since I was 4, and basically my parents have pushed me my whole life to get to this point and reach this goal,” Jalee Rae said. “To finally get it over with and accomplish my goal has been great.”

Benbrook, Eastern Hills, Paschal, Southwest and Trimble Tech high schools were also represented. Southwest quarterback C’ing Blanton was one of six student-athletes to earn football scholarships.

“It means a lot,” said C’ing, who signed with Texas Southern University. “All the hard work paid off. I’m excited. It’s not too far away from home. It felt like home when I was there.

“The future is bright. I want to achieve my ultimate dream and play in the NFL. That’s something I can achieve by working at it every day.”

FWISD student-athletes signing letters of intent February 5 were:

Arlington Heights

Emily Andress, softball, University of Texas Permian Basin

Jalee Rae McDonald, softball, Texas Woman's University

Brandon Massey, golf, Texas Christian University

Ismail Nasir, football, Texas Wesleyan University


Emily Fowlkes, volleyball, Western Texas College

Mallory Gossett, volleyball, Central Baptist College

Camryn McGriff, volleyball, Shepherd University (not pictured above)

Abigail Bramlett, track and field, Hardin-Simmons University

Eastern Hills

Malik Darden, football, Navarro College

Elyja Harper, football, Cisco College


Jackson Whit Dennis, cross country and track, University of Mississippi

Isaac Garcia, football, Texas Southern University


Zekiah Price-Taylor, volleyball, Jarvis Christian College

C’ing Blanton, football, Texas Southern University

Adreanna Waddle, basketball, Tarleton State University

Trimble Tech

Bre'auna, basketball, Huston–Tillotson University

Trejian Morgan, football, Lyon College

‘Giving Honor Where Honor Is Due’

Walton ES Celebrates FWISD’s Oldest Full-Time Employee With 90th Birthday Program

Gertrude Mitchell, a pre-kindergarten teacher’s assistant at Fort Worth ISD’s Walton Elementary School and the District's oldest full-time employee, had no idea the surprise waiting for her in the school auditorium, Friday, January 31.

Along with her colleagues, she made her way to what she believed was a school assembly. Upon entering the school auditorium, she was greeted with large banners. One with paper red roses read “Happy Birthday, Mrs. Gertrude Mitchell.” Another made up of pink and red puzzle pieces in the shape of a heart read “We love you to pieces, Mrs. Mitchell.” In the audience were students, staff, friends, family, former colleagues and students and church members who had all gathered to celebrate Mrs. Mitchell’s 90th birthday .(View more photos from the celebration here.)

The display of love was shocking, Mrs. Mitchell said.

“I didn’t know they were planning to do this, but I feel very humble about all of it,” she said. “It just makes me feel good to know that I’m loved that much. It’s a great feeling. It’s amazing.”

Mrs. Mitchell joined the District in 1968. Throughout her career in Fort Worth, she’s worked with pre-K and special education students.

“Every year she tells me she’s going to retire, but every year she comes back,” said Marilyn Hollie Woods, Mrs. Mitchell’s daughter. “She enjoys it.”

Mrs. Mitchell said that she’s a person who likes to stay busy and working with pre-K students is “wonderful.”

“It’s a joy for me to come in and work with the children,” she said.

The January 31 program in Mrs. Mitchell’s honor was fit for a queen. The music department prepared a performance in which students sang thanking Mrs. Mitchell for her kindness, being “a wonderful teacher” and an inspiration. The students presented her with handmade cards prior to the song.

“Thank you. You’re the best it’s true,” students sung. “Take a bow. We thank you now for everything you do.”

Pre-kindergarten students, who Mrs. Mitchell works with daily,” sang “Happy Birthday” to her. Following the performance, each student presented her with more than two dozen long-stemmed red roses. A reception with friends and family followed the ceremony.

“At Walton, we have cultivated a culture of giving honor where honor is due and giving flowers while we still can,” said Dr. Christina Hanson, principal at Walton Elementary.

Mrs. Mitchell celebrated a milestone birthday, and Dr. Hanson said the campus didn’t want to miss it. It was important to bring together everyone to celebrate and honor Mrs. Mitchell, an employee who has worked at Walton Elementary more than four decades.

“She’s everything to us, and as many years as she wants to come back, we would enjoy to have her,” Dr. Hanson said. “There are so many things that she does for our students. I call it the grandma effect.

“There are students that need love; they need support; they need a hug; they need to be held in a rocking chair and rocked; they need to be confident in coming to school and knowing that it’s okay to carry whatever they’re carrying here and that there’s somebody here that will help them make it through, and when we can, fix it. Mrs. Mitchell is all that to not only the students in her classroom but to our students across the campus and to adults.”


Sarah Branch, a senior at Fort Worth ISD’s Arlington Heights High School is a 2020 National YoungArts Foundation honorable mention winner.

She submitted 10 mixed-media pieces to the YoungArts program – a series exhibiting humanity, illness, relationships, loss and “other situations people encounter in their lives,” she said.

To celebrate her artistic achievement, Sarah received a medallion and an all-expense paid trip to participate in the prestigious YoungArts regional program, February 25- March 1 in Miami, which offers emerging artists “master classes, workshops and mentorship from leading artists in their fields,” according to officials with the organization. Her mixed-media photography will also be exhibited at the event.

“It is an honor. I did not expect to win anything and was completely shocked,” Sarah said. “Having placed as honorable mention puts me in the top 9% of the thousands of artists who submitted work across the nation.

“It was an incredible moment of validation to be recognized on a national stage. It wasn’t my mom or my favorite teacher being nice. My work was noticed and admired by a nationally recognized organization that had no vested interest in my success. Nonetheless, it saw something in me that was worth investing in and supporting.”

Click here to read more of Sarah's story.


Fort Worth ISD students that applied for the District’s Gold Seal Programs and Schools of Choice last December will receive email notifications about their application status this week!

Email notifications go out to families the week of February 3 with instructions for accessing their child’s results in the Gold Seal lottery.

Parents must log onto choice.fwisd.org/Account/Login using the email account and password connected with their child’s Choice application to view results and any registration information.

Students assigned to a Program/School of Choice will receive a time and date their parent must register them by for the program. Failure to register by the date and time indicated in the email notification 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 their first choice.

Admission into Gold Seal programs and schools is based on a computer-generated lottery selection process.

At the December 13, 2019 deadline, 5,175 applications were received for Gold Seal Programs and Schools of Choice, said Karen Ponder, coordinator for FWISD’s Choice programming.

Beginning March 16, students may submit late applications to programs and schools with available spaces. Choice programming will begin “assigning students from the on-time and late waiting lists beginning March 16,” to vacant program spaces, Ms. Ponder said.

“Schools/programs that filled their program and have an extensive waiting list will not be offered on the late application,” she said.

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 engineering, agriculture, business administration, fine arts, government and law, health science, hospitality, marketing, public safety, technology, visual and graphic arts just to list a few. The programs allow students to finish high school college-and-career-ready and with opportunities to obtain multiple college credits, professional licensures and certifications.

For more details, visit fwisd.org/choice or call 817-814-1540.


By Art Garcia

Inside FWISD Contributor

Fort Worth ISD athletic officials learned the fate of District schools with Monday’s UIL Reclassification and Realignment announcement. There weren’t any big surprises with district or region placement, according to FWISD Director of Athletics Dr. Lisa Langston.

“Overall, it’s a good day,” she said. “We’re very pleased.”

Langston pointed out that Class 6A Paschal, which was placed in District 3, moved out of a district composed primarily of Arlington schools.

“I’m excited for Paschal, our one 6A,” she said. “If nothing else, it’s almost like a renewed spirit, a new beginning with new faces. That part is very pleasing. In volleyball, Paschal competed well in the current district, but I can foresee some district championships.”

The 5A divisions for football came out better than FWISD officials anticipated, Langston said. Any potential travel issues, which were a concern, were largely avoided.

Arlington Heights football is in a district comprised of area schools except for Abilene Cooper. FWISD is well represented in 5A Division 2, District 4 with North Side, Polytechnic, South Hills, Southwest, Trimble Tech and Wyatt.

Several districts at the 5A and 4A level in basketball and volleyball are completely made up of FWISD schools. The reconfigured classifications and districts are set for two years, going through 2021-22 academic year.

“Regardless of where we’re placed, our coaches and student-athletes have to be ready to compete,” Langston said. “We’re pleased with how things lined up. Now we have to get prepared to face some new challenges.”

UIL Realignment (FWISD schools in bold)

Conference 6A (Football and Basketball)

District 3: Euless Trinity, Boswell, Paschal, Chisholm Trail, Haltom City Haltom, Hurst Bell, North Crowley, Weatherford

Conference 6A (Volleyball)

District 3: Euless Trinity, Boswell, Paschal, Chisholm Trail, Haltom City Haltom, Hurst Bell, North Crowley, Weatherford

Conference 5A, Division 1 (Football)

District 3: Abilene Cooper, Azle, Crowley, Arlington Heights, Granbury, Northwest, Saginaw, White Settlement Brewer

Conference 5A, Division 2 (Football)

District 4: Carrollton Creekview, North Side, Polytechnic, South Hills, Southwest, Trimble Tech, Wyatt, Grapevine

Conference 5A (Volleyball)

District 7: Arlington Heights, North Side, Polytechnic, South Hills, Southwest, Trimble Tech, Wyatt

Conference 4A, Division 1 (Football)

District 6: Benbrook, Carter-Riverside, Dunbar, Eastern Hills, Western Hills, Diamond Hill-Jarvis, Kennedale, River Oaks Castleberry

Conference 4A (Basketball)

District 8: Benbrook, Carter-Riverside, Dunbar, Eastern Hills, Western Hills, Diamond Hill-Jarvis, Young Men’s Leadership Academy*, Young Women’s Leadership Academy*

Conference 4A (Volleyball)

District 8: Benbrook, Carter-Riverside, Dunbar, Eastern Hills, Western Hills, Diamond Hill-Jarvis, Young Women’s Leadership Academy


Fort Worth ISD students enrolled in the Gold Seal Public Service Program at Eastern Hills High School are getting some hands-on training from Fort Worth firefighters.

Fort Worth Fire Department representatives now come into the Eastern Hills classrooms once a month – and Eastern Hills students go to the Fire Academy at the Bob Bolen Safety Complex on Felix Street –also once a month – to receive training.

These juniors and seniors are learning firefighting skills while simultaneously completing coursework that allows them to sit for their First Responder and EMT certifications.

The Gold Seal Public Service Program at Eastern Hills HS provides students exciting, hands-on learning focused on law enforcement, legal services, EMT training. The program not only partners with the Fort Worth Fire Department, but with MedStar, Acadian Ambulance, and Texas Health Resources, as well.

This video captures the students’ excitement and dedication.


Kids Vision Fest Offers 400 FWISD Students Free Eye Exams, Glasses

Fort Worth ISD students wrote what’s great about wearing glasses on medium-sized sheets of poster paper this week.

The ability to see clearer, farther, read, write, watch TV or movies, play more games and find small objects were just a few of the benefits of eyeglasses students wrote on their poster boards.

The exercise was one of the activities at the eighth annual Kids Vision Fest, hosted by Essilor Vision Foundation and Alcon, Monday, February 3 at the Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus. The event offered approximately 400 Fort Worth ISD students free vision exams and eyeglasses. View more photos from the event here.

“This is a powerful program,” said FWISD Superintendent Kent P. Scribner

Dr. Scribner and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price joined representatives from the Essilor Vision Foundation, Alcon and TCC-Trinity River in a brief program with a select group of fourth and fifth grade students reinforcing the connection between vision care and literacy.

“When you consider the fact that 80%of learning is through sight, I think everyone would agree that good vision is essential to success of a child in their school years,” said Dr. Rick Weisbarth, vice president of U.S. Vision Care at Alcon.

Click here to read more about the 2020 Kids Vision Fest.

Equity and Excellence Accepting Racial Equity Summit Proposals

Fort Worth ISD’s Equity and Excellence Department is accepting presentation proposals for its third annual Racial Equity Summit.

The summit’s overarching goal is advancing racial equity in Fort Worth through raising awareness, stimulating courageous conversations and forging actionable practices with students, parents, teachers, administrators, higher education and community members.

This year’s summit will focus on sessions in which students collaborate with adults to present various topics including biases, micro aggressions, racism and much more. Student presenters with adult facilitators is not a requirement for presentation proposals but is encouraged. Breakout sessions will be 65 minutes and should include time for questions

Proposals for student-led presentations with adult co-facilitation are being accepted through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, February 9. If accepted the presentation will become part of the sessions slated for the FWISD Racial Equity Summit III (RES), Saturday, March 21 at Texas Wesleyan University.

The summit’s 2020 theme is “Changing the Narrative,” and organizers are preparing for engaging conversations in which attendees learn how differences are not a source of discord or division but a source of strength and recognition.

To submit a proposal for this year’s Racial Equity Summit, click here.

FWISD Celebrates Black History Month

Fort Worth ISD is highlighting inspiring people, schools, and moments in #FWISD for #BlackHistoryMonth2020. Watch the past, present, and future of the I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA in this video.


About 230 educators from across Texas gathered for discussions on culturally responsive instruction at the FWISD Multicultural Education Institute (MEI) Volume 3, Saturday, February 1 at Texas Christian University.

The one-day event, hosted by FWISD’s Social Studies Department in partnership with TCU’s Department of Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies and TCU's College of Education ANSER Institute, included an opening and closing keynote address and 34 breakout sessions focusing on four strands --- community connections, culturally relevant instruction, social emotional learning, and literacy, language and sociolinguistics. Learn more about each strand here.

Rickie Clark, Executive Director of FWISD’s My Brother’s Keeper Program, and Dr. Francyne M. Huckaby, professor of Curriculum Studies at TCU’s College of Education were the opening and closing keynote speakers for the event.

Educators represented at this year’s event were from FWISD, TCU, Dallas-Fort Worth area, Round Rock, Southern Methodist University, University of Texas Arlington and Tarrant County College.

Sessions were presented by the Amon Carter Museum, Tarrant County Black History and Genealogical Society, Decolonizing the Music Room, and My Brother’s Keeper, FWISD Equity and Excellence and ESL/Bilingual Departments and various content area staff from FWISD’s Teaching and Learning Department. Fourteen sessions were led by TCU faculty and graduate students from the Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies Department and TCU College of Education.

“This year’s institute embodied the MEI mission. It’s about creating a learning space where attendees can bring their authentic selves, learning is done in community, and the single story of teaching and learning is challenged,” said Joseph Niedziela, FWISD’s director of Social Studies. “It’s a place for educators to reconnect with their ‘why’ they teach, engage in productive struggle, and be inspired to facilitate instruction where every student can see themselves in what they are learning. Our District and community partners were instrumental in making this year’s institute a success.”

An Expo Room with community organizations and resources -- such as Fort Worth Sister Cities and Fort Worth Capoiera, African drums from Baba Kwasi, Decolonizing the Music Curriculum and more – was available to attendees.

MEI organizers say the event advances teaching and learning with an understanding of history, race culture and identity; unity among diverse cultures and history; individual pride; self-confidence and respect for all.


The Fort Worth ISD Special Academic Support Services Department, formerly Special Education, has been renamed and restructured to better meet the needs of students and parents. One very visible change is its website, which has been redesigned and new content added to be more parent-friendly.

The Department has also partnered with the recently formed Fort Worth ISD Special Education PTA (SEPTA) by placing links to this parent resource on all campus homepages, the Special Populations website, and District Families PTA information page.

The FWISD SEPTA brings together families with children who have special needs and often bring together families of students who attend different schools under one PTA umbrella. FWISD SEPTA provides families with an organizational structure, resources and the opportunity to be a collective voice for their child and for all children.

Learn more about FWISD SEPTA at www.fwisdsepta.org.


By Blue Zones Project Fort Worth

Inside FWISD Contributor

Clever. Innovative. And sometimes downright adorable.

That’s how competition judges described the Shark Tank- style pitches from eight area school teams competing January 25 for grant funding to support proposed student-led, campus-based health and well-being initiatives inspired by Blue Zones Project.

Four Fort Worth ISD schools—Daggett Montessori, Applied Learning Academy, Leadership Academy at Como Elementary and Westcliff Elementary made top grades, with each campus earning a $5,000 Wellness Innovation grant.

Students strutted their creativity before a selection committee of local educators and wellness experts—and an enthusiastic fan base—to earn top honors. From dance videos and newscasts, to yoga poses and skits, each team made its case for the grant funding, provided by R4 Foundation, which funds local programs supporting education, community, wellness and the arts.

“Implementing better health practices sometimes comes down to resources,” said Blue Zones Project Vice President Matt Dufrene. “This grant opportunity provides Blue Zones Project schools with necessary funding to make these fantastic projects come to life.”

Read more about the winning teams here.

Social Studies To Host Elementary History Fair Feb. 10-11

The Fort Worth ISD Social Studies Department will host its annual Elementary History Fair, February 10 and 11, 2020.

The following events are scheduled at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary - Riley Center, 1701 W. Boyce Ave. in Fort Worth:

February 10

On-site registration and delivery of projects, 3-5 p.m.

February 11

District competition, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., project judging, campuses with winners will be notified between 3 and 4 p.m.

Project view begins at 5 p.m.

Awards ceremony begins at 6:15 p.m.

Students in the third through fifth grades are encouraged to complete research projects relating to the 2020 theme: “Breaking Barriers In History.” The FWISD elementary History Fair aligns with National History Day program in Texas.

The event encourages students to research a topic of their choosing, act as historians, discovering primary sources, building historical context and forming historical interpretations. Their research projects, both individual and group, are then presented to teachers, students and others.

Social Studies Department officials say the fair helps students develop critical attributes for future success including:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Project management skills
  • Research and reading skills
  • Teamwork
  • Oral and written communication and presentation skills
  • Self-esteem and confidence

For additional Elementary History Fair guidelines and resources, click here.


Celebrate 100-plus years of child advocacy and family engagement at the Fort Worth ISD Council of PTAs annual Founders Day Luncheon.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price will give the keynote address at the event, slated for 11:30 a.m. Thursday, February 13, 2020 at the Lena Pope Amon Carter Center. FWISD Superintendent Kent Scribner is also expected to give remarks.

Click here to purchase your tickets for $20 today.

The Founders Day Luncheon not only celebrates Parent Teacher Association (PTA) founders but the more than 100 years of dedication to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. Network with PTA members from across the District as well as school and community leaders. A brief delegate meeting will follow the luncheon.

Founded in 1897 at the National Congress of Mothers, the National PTA is a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. PTA is the largest volunteer child advocacy organization in the nation.


What: National Hispanic College Fair

When: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, February 14, 2020,

Where: Game On Sports Complex, 2600 Alemeda St., Fort Worth

Summary: The National Hispanic College Fair will visit Fort Worth on Friday, February 14 for its Spring College and Career Fair at Game On Sports Complex. This event brings representatives from as many as 50 colleges, universities and vocational training institutions to meet with Fort Worth ISD students.

Unlike previous years, students must register to attend. The quick registration form can be found at www.StriveFair.com. Upon completion, a confirmation barcode will be sent to students by email and text message.

Students can either print out the barcode or show it from their phones on the day of the event.

Click here to read more about this event.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The following are recent photos from across the Fort Worth ISD.

Inside FWISD: Take a look back at January 2020 in the Fort Worth ISD

February Is African American History Month

Go Red Day, February 7

Professional Development Opportunity

Elementary History Fair, February 10-11

Board Meeting, February 11

Fort Worth Council of PTAs Founders Day Luncheon, February 13

National Hispanic College Fair, February 14

End of Fourth Six Weeks, February 14

Bad Weather Make-up Day (Student Holiday), February 17

Dance Showcase, February 18

Start of Fifth Six Weeks, February 18

Cowtown MarathonFebruary 22-24

Youth Mental Health First Aid Course, February 22

Board Meeting, February 25

Fort Worth ISD Council of PTAs will live stream the first-ever Straight Talk at the Capitol: A Matter of Life and Breath, a discussion on vaping from Austin, February 25

Southwest Classic Unified Basketball Tournament, February 26

Report Cards Issued, February 26

District Teacher of the Year applications are due, February 28

Save the date for the Racial Equity Summit

Save the date for Summer Professional Learning

Girls and Boys Basketball Schedules

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.