Inside FWISD August 23, 2018

FWISD Students Return to Class

Fort Worth ISD opened its doors to thousands of students for the 2018-2019 year, Monday August 20.

With the start of a new year, the District implemented new school start and end times and made changes to curriculum at the elementary and secondary levels.

Fort Worth ISD also opened the I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA and three other schools relocated. World Languages Institute now resides at 4921 Benbrook Highway, formerly Middle Level Learning Center. The former TABS campus, located at 3813 Valentine St., is occupied by the Middle Level Learning Center. TABS moved to a new facility at the Tarrant County College Trinity Campus at 300 Trinity Campus Circle.

Read more about some of the changes and new additions across the District in this edition of Inside FWISD.

Online registration continues for students who have not yet enrolled for the 2018-2019 year. In July, a District-wide system was established for registering students online for the current year. Both new and returning students must complete the online process.

Families who have not yet registered for this school year may do so by visiting www.fwisd.org/registration.

They are also encouraged to contact their child’s campus for Snapcode assistance and general registration questions.

View the District's first-day photo galleries here.

Brown: ‘The first day was better than we had ever dreamed’

FWISD Opens I.M. Terrell Academy

Fort Worth Independent School District officially opened the I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA for its inaugural school year, Monday, August 20.

The academy beautifully blends the historic Terrell school, which originally opened in 1882 as the first black school in the city, with a new state-of-the-art STEM and VPA academy. The newly constructed portion of the campus alone is a 65,000- square-foot, two-story facility with a 901-seat performance hall that will host its first event later this fall.

This week, we asked Principal Baldwin Brown to sum up his first few days leading this new yet iconic academy:

"Opening up a new/iconic school has been not only a blessing but also a big responsibility. We are all embracing the legacy that comes with being part of I.M. Terrell Academy. The first day was better than we had ever dreamed. The culture and climate that we worked on with the staff at teacher retreat and with our students at Panther Camp really paid off. It showed in our ease of transition between classes, our students were comfortable moving between buildings, and interacting with each other and their teachers.

Our teachers were able to navigate the challenges that come with opening up a brand-new school and work through any difficulties. If you walked in our building on the first day, you would have thought we were two months into the school year. Our students and staff are excited to be on this monumental journey.

My hope is that every graduate of I.M. Terrell Academy will be able to develop their artistic talent, become creative thinkers and innovative problem solvers who will change the global landscape for generations to come."

District voters gave the green light to the VPA/STEM concept in a 2013 bond package. In this the school’s inaugural year, I.M. Terrell welcomed approximately 160 high school freshman its first week. Grade levels will be added each school year. At capacity, the I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA will serve approximately 800 students.

For more details about the academy visit www.fwisd.org/IMTerrell. View first-day photos here.

dADS OF dunbar Welcome Students To New School Year

More than a dozen dads and male educators lined Dunbar High School’s entryway, some with open arms, others with fist bumps or hands raised in the air awaiting high-fives.

“They’ve got A’s in there. Go get ‘em,” one man called out to students making their way through the school’s front doors.

“It’s going to be a great year,” another chimed in.

Dads of Dunbar returned for yet another first day of school to welcome the more than 1,000 students to campus for a new year. The group was joined by Christene Moss, District 3 Board of Education trustee.

“It just shows how involved our Dads of Dunbar are, how they support the school and create a presence which is warm, welcoming and supporting,” said Principal Oscar Adams. “I’m excited about the school year and look forward to the exciting things in store for Dunbar.”

Established in 2015, Dads of Dunbar comprises fathers and male role models who actively engage with the student population. In recent years, they’ve greeted students as they arrived at school and the group has passed out turkeys during the Thanksgiving holiday to families in the Stop Six Neighborhood. More than a couple hundred men are active participants in Dads of Dunbar.

John Platt, a Dunbar Class of 1964 alumnus, has welcomed students back to school with Dads of Dunbar for two years. On Monday, August 20, he presented students with donated backpacks filled with supplies.

“It’s a joy to see all the students return and new students getting acquainted with the staff,” Mr. Platt said. “My hope is that they start and finish their year here at Dunbar. That’s our hope is to give them a good start and give them the incentive to keep coming throughout the whole year.”

Dads of Dunbar gather on campus for morning meetings the second Friday of the month.

View the entire photo gallery here.


Teachers, do you remember your very first day teaching? Did you start the day eager only to end it wondering what the heck you were thinking!?

Then you will get a kick out of watching – or watching again – this video that was shown Friday, August 17, during Convocation 2018. In it, Sammy Monge, Fort Worth ISD Chief of Policy and Planning, revisits a humorous, less-than-stellar start to a long, successful career.

Mr. Monge is retiring after 35 years devoted to Fort Worth ISD students. We thank him for all his work and for his advice at the end of the video.

Open Enrollment for Insurance Benefits Closes Friday

Fort Worth ISD employees have one day left to sign up for medical, dental and other insurance coverage through the District.

FWISD staff must either enroll or decline health coverage benefits for the 2018-2019 year by Friday, August 24. New benefits will take effect September 1.

Because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), ALL employees must either enroll, opt to keep the same coverage or decline health coverage by Friday, August 24.

Benefit open enrollment deadlines DO NOT apply to new employees. New employees have 31 calendar days after their date of employment to complete benefit enrollment.

“We would like to stress the importance of logging into the enrollment system and completing the benefits enrollment,” said Max Ates, Senior Officer of Payroll, Benefits and Risk Management. “Every employee should take the time to complete their enrollment. By visiting an enrollment session, employees can learn more about the benefits and how to utilize those benefits they are enrolled in.

“If an employee does not need coverage with the plans offered through the District, a declination must be on file if the enrollment is requested during the plan year due to a special enrollment event.”

The District will host one final enrollment session Friday where employees can ask benefits questions and enroll for coverage onsite. The come-and-go session is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Rooms 240 and 243 at the Professional Development Center, 3150 McCart Ave.

Employees planning to enroll onsite will need their active directory username and password to access the online benefits portal. District staff are also encouraged to bring information for any dependents they’re intending to enroll for coverage such as name, birthdate and Social Security number.

There is a slight increase to health premiums only. Accidental injury and emergency transportation are among new benefit offerings this year.

Visit www.myhealthbenefitshub.com/fortworthisd or call the Benefits office at 817-814-2240 for additional details. The Benefits office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Webby Awards to Celebrate Engaging Campus Websites

Get ready for the return of Fort Worth ISD’s Webby Awards.

Distributed monthly, the award recognizes campus websites that engage families, students, alumni and the community at large. This year, District campuses are encouraged to participate in monthly online challenges that highlight their schools.

Elementary and secondary campus websites that best meet the monthly challenge will be presented with the Webby Award at principals meetings.

“Experience has taught us that an up-to-date campus website with lots of new and dynamic content is an effective way to engage parents,” said Barbara Griffith, senior communications officer. “Our data show the websites that post new items on a regular basis have the highest number of visits and page views from our stakeholders. We want to recognize campuses when they make that a priority.”

Beginning Friday, August 24, and continuing through Friday, September 28, the FWISD Communications Department is offering website open lab and training sessions. This week’s open lab session is scheduled from 1 to 4 p.m.

Open lab and training sessions, which will take place in the Board Conference Room at 2903 Shotts St., are open to campus Web managers appointed by school principals. Attendees must bring their own laptop.

Web managers will be trained on use of the Blackboard content management system, how to update faculty pages and calendar items and upload pictures to campus webpages.

Those planning to attend a session or open lab must email Thomas Ketchersid, Web communications coordinator, at thomas.ketchersid@fwisd.org no later than one day prior to the scheduled training to reserve a seat.

For more details, visit www.fwisd.org/websitetraining. Email web@fwisd.org for assistance with your campus website.

By FWISD Teachers For FWISD Teachers

This year Fort Worth ISD is implementing curriculum changes that impact all content areas in prekindergarten through eighth grade and high school English and mathematics.

Teachers were recently introduced to the curriculum changes at Curriculum Innovation Lab previews hosted just prior to school starting. Recently, 1,300 teachers attended the three-hour preview sessions, said Khechara Bradford, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

More than 200 teachers, 10 directors, 39 coordinators and 12 instructional coaches participated in writing the new curriculum.

“We followed the Understanding by Design curriculum approach,” she said. “Teacher and principal feedback was instrumental in the core documents that are being provided.

“We’ve written the curriculum in units of study with longer periods of time for teachers to guide deeper learning and have more flexibility based on student learning needs/differentiation.”

The curriculum has been designed in Its Learning and aligns with the Fort Worth ISD Learning Model. Achieve 3000 expectations and lessons are embedded into all curriculum. Electronic resources will be posted throughout the year to support teachers.

Core documents include:

• Year at a glance

• Curriculum Map

• Unit Guide

• Assessment and assessment blueprints

• Technology applications

• Social emotional learning guides

Per board policy, teachers are required to follow District curriculum.

Teachers, Update Your Eduphoria Profile

Teachers and administrators must update their Eduphoria profiles at the beginning of a new school year. This information is needed to start the Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System (T-TESS) process. Click here for more details on how to update your profile.

New Year, nEW times

A new year brings new changes.

This fall, the Fort Worth ISD implemented a new daily class schedule. While it means 10 to 15 more minutes in class for students, there’s many benefits both instructionally and operationally. The District is joining many other districts in aligning with a new state law based on minutes, not days.

The Texas Legislature changed the way school districts account for student instructional time in 2015. Instead of the old 180-day calendar, lawmakers decided that students must be in class at least 75,600 minutes each year.

Under our ongoing campaign of Attendance Adds Up, the District unveiled the following schedule:

• Fort Worth ISD’s traditional high schools will now begin at 8:25 a.m. and end at 3:40 p.m.

Middle schools will begin at 9:15 a.m. and end their day at 4:30 p.m.

• And, traditional elementary school students in the Fort Worth ISD will begin at 7:50 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m.

The District’s Schools of Choice, early college high schools, and other specialty schools will also extend their instructional day but some with different beginning and ending times.

Under the new state law, teachers will work the same number of hours as they did under the 180-day calendar.

Read more about the daily class schedule changes here.

Meal Prices

With the start of a new school year families and employees alike may wonder about the costs for breakfast and lunch served on campus.

The following is a complete list of meal prices for the 2018-2019 year:


More than 100 students from 14 Fort Worth ISD high schools received their diplomas at the District’s 2018 Summer Graduation Ceremony, hosted August 17.

Adorned in graduation caps and gowns from their home schools, students walked the stage at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center to the cheers of family and friends. District administrators and Board of Education trustees were in attendance for the momentous occasion.

The 2018 summer school graduating class is a representation of grit, resilience and perseverance, said Melissa Rincon, summer school principal.

“They put their nose to the grindstone and did what they had to do, and we were excited to celebrate with them [August 17],” she said.

The 104 graduating seniors are from: Amon Carter-Riverside, Arlington Heights, Dunbar, Diamond Hill-Jarvis, North Side, Eastern Hills, O.D. Wyatt, Polytechnic, R.L. Paschal, South Hills, Southwest, Success, Trimble Technical and Western Hills high schools.

Students who were unable to walk with their class in June had an opportunity to either earn the credits needed or retake state standardized tests to graduate high school during the District’s Summer Semester session.

“They persevered and completed all the requirements to graduate,” said Shannon Hernandez, summer school director. “The excitement on their faces shows that they’re ready for a new chapter in life.
“It took a little bit longer, but they persevered. I’m very proud.”

View the entire photo gallery here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ask Elsie is a column where Chief Financial Officer Elsie Schiro tackles employee queries, or in areas outside her purview, asks other District leaders to answer them.

Dear Elsie,

Do FWISD high schools participate in the High School Deputy Voter Registrar program for seniors in high school? This is a program by the Texas Civil Rights Project that tries to help high school seniors get ready to vote per the Texas law.

Thank you for any information you can give me.

Have a great day,

M. Petrosino

Dear Ms. Petrosino,

Thank you for your question. I reached out to Cherie Washington, chief of secondary schools, for help with this question. The answer is yes. Per the Texas Election Code, high schools are required to have a campus principal or designee who shall serve as a deputy registrar and who twice a year distributes a registration application to each student who is or will be 18 years old or older that year, subject to rules put in place by the Texas secretary of state. The following graphic details District expectations as well as the high school implementation plan for the voter registration program.

Thanks again for your question,


Direct your questions to Inside@fwisd.org and put the words “Ask Elsie” in the subject line. Please close your letter with your preferred signature as you wish it to appear in the column. When there are multiple queries on the same subject, we will select the one that is most representative of the subject. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.

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

Paschal Presents Research on the Trinity River Turtle Survey:

R.L. Paschal High School students and teachers presented research on the Trinity River Turtle Survey last week at the 16th annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles hosted at the Hilton Fort Worth. Launched in October 2017, the three-year project traps, weighs, measures and tags turtles for tracking before releasing them back into the Trinity River. The survey is funded with a grant from the Texas Christian University College of Education Andrews Institute.

Follow the survey's progress at www.facebook.com/phsturtlesurvey/.

I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA Piano Delivery

A Steinway and Sons Model D concert grand piano was rolled into The I.M. Terrell Academy for STEM and VPA, Friday, August 17. The instrument will be utilized by piano students, musical accompanists and possibly some visiting musicians. Last fall, District administrators, Buddy Bray of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Principal Baldwin Brown and Maite Herrera, who was a senior at the time at South Hills High School, traveled to New York to hand pick the 990-pound instrument. Christina Walk, executive director of the District’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts, said last fall that they looked for “an instrument with warmth but also the brilliancy to really be able to speak through the music of any genre that’s being played.”
File photo

FWISD Takes Lead In Mandatory Tackling Training

Fort Worth ISD coaches have completed state mandated tackling training.

All Texas high school and junior high school coaches must be certified to teach tackling, per a University Interscholastic League Legislative Council mandate which took effect this school year. The required certification is “part of the official UIL Coaches Certification Program,” according to the UIL.

The mandatory tackling certification is a joint initiative of the UIL and the Texas High School Coaches Association.

“Texas is the first in the country to implement a mandatory statewide tackling certification for all football coaches,” said Todd Vesely, the District’s executive director of athletics. “Fort Worth is among the leaders; one of four multi- school districts in Texas [McKinney, Plano and Northside] to train its coaches in this effective and methodical tackling system. The purpose of this training was to help keep our athletes safer and improve FWISD football by showing best practices in tackling.”

Fort Worth coaches participated in tackling certification Saturday, August 18 at Paschal High School. Seattle-based Atavus Sports is the “exclusive provider to oversee and administer the certification process statewide,” according to a UIL press release.

For more details on the mandated certification, click here.

Employees Get Moving with Blue Zones Parking Spaces

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is brought to you by Blue Zones Project Fort Worth, which is regularly providing fresh content to Inside FWISD on health and wellness and their work on Fort Worth ISD campuses.

When Dr. Lisa Langston pulls into the parking lot at Fort Worth ISD’s Professional Development Center, she heads straight for her favorite space. For many people, that’s the closest possible spot. Dr. Langston, Fort Worth ISD’s director of athletics, has something different in mind: the Blue Zones parking spaces at the edge of the lot.

“I always look for the Blue Zones parking spaces first,” Dr. Langston said. “It’s an easy way to get in extra steps as I come to the Professional Development Center for meetings and trainings.”

In addition to the Professional Development Center, Blue Zones parking spots can be found at M.L. Phillips, W.J. Turner, North Hi Mount and Carter Park elementary schools. Each location designates two to four spots, marked with a Blue Zones Project icon. They are proving popular, getting used daily, and plans call for designating spaces at additional Fort Worth ISD locations in the future.

Blue Zones Project is a community-led well-being improvement initiative. The effort’s key tenets, known as the Power 9 principles, are based on the lifestyles of the world’s longest living people. By adopting those principles, including moving naturally, living with purpose, and eating with a plant slant, healthy choices can become easier. Fort Worth ISD is on board with the movement, with campuses incorporating movement into lessons throughout the day, adding more fresh produce to the lunch menu, and teaching children mindfulness, such as yoga and breathing techniques. District employees, meanwhile, have participated in cooking demonstrations, purpose workshops and mindfulness activities. Now, employees are encouraged to move naturally by using specially-designated parking spaces, located farthest from the entrance.

Since Blue Zones Project kicked off in February 2015, more than 83,500 people who live and work in Fort Worth have become involved in the effort, and some 280 organizations and businesses have optimized their environments to support well-being. For more information on Blue Zones Project, visit LiveLongFortWorth.com.

Nearly 200 Fidelity Cares volunteers participate in Transformation Day, a makeover of school facilities, March 24, 2018 at Dunbar High School.

Governor’s Volunteer Award Recognizes FWISD Partner Fidelity Investments

Fort Worth ISD partner, Fidelity Investments is a 2018 Governor’s Volunteer Award honoree.

The District nominated the company for the award because of the thousands of community service hours it contributed to the District and other service projects in the North Texas region through its employee volunteer program, Fidelity Cares.

The finance services company is being presented with the Partners In Education Award at the 35th annual Governor’s Volunteer Award reception scheduled for later this fall at the Texas Governor’s Mansion. The annual Governor’s Volunteer Award is administered by OneStar Foundation, a Texas nonprofit that promotes volunteer efforts and community service across the state.

Fidelity Investments has supported the Fort Worth ISD and nonprofit organizations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by teaching students financial literacy, serving as reading tutors to elementary students and mentoring children in the areas of college and career readiness and STEM initiatives, and leading School Transformation Day beautification/campus makeover events. Additionally, Fidelity has sponsored field trips to museums, contributed to teacher recognition days and donated computers and school supplies.

“Fidelity Investments is first and foremost a powerful partner in education … and a leader in the community that inspires other organizations to join in solving the challenges faced by educators,” wrote Jennifer Perez, FWISD family communications director, in her nomination letter. “Fidelity Investments and their employees’ approach is professional, strategic, innovative, collaborative and inspiring.”

Since 2011, Fidelity employees have contributed an estimated 60,000 service hours to Dallas-Fort Worth communities.

“Our employee volunteers are passionate about supporting teachers, students and their families,” said Jennifer Gray, community relations manager, Fidelity Investments. “We are proud to have developed a deep, multi-year partnership with the Fort Worth ISD. The district’s strong leadership, combined with Fidelity Investments’ approach of thinking differently, are keys to the success of this partnership and ultimately yield the greatest impact year round.”

Bush Institute Team Visits FWISD

The School Leadership Initiative team from the George W. Bush Institute recently visited Fort Worth to meet with District leadership officials and campus principals. District staff gave members of the team a six-month update on what’s being done to attract and retain effective school leaders through the George Bush School Leadership District Cohort, a pilot program which includes four school districts nationwide.

For more details on the recent visit from the George W. Bush Institute School Leadership Initiative team, click here.

City Adds Safe Routes to FWISD Schools

Multiple Fort Worth ISD schools now have safer routes to campus, according to the City of Fort Worth.

Four FWISD elementary campuses are among nine area schools the city announced that its completed safe routes to school for. Street changes are being implemented to improve safety near two other FWISD schools and safe routes projects are tentatively planned for three additional schools.

For more details, visit click here.

Campus Back to School events, August 7- September 28

Website Training for Web managers, Friday, August 24- Friday, September 28

College Colors Day, Friday, August 31

Labor Day, Monday, September 3

Education Go Get It Week, September 10-14

Board of Education meeting, Tuesday, September 11

Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15-October 15

Billy W. Sills Lecture Series: “Nancy "Mame" Russell: Charlie's Muse and Love," Saturday, September 15

Trinity Trash Bash, Saturday, September 15

College Night 2018, Monday, September 17

Board of Education meeting, Tuesday, September 25

Save the Date: Fort Worth Technology Conference Coming January 2019

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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