Garland ISD news: April 13-17


New college and career-planning resource available to students
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Garland ISD is proud to announce its new partnership with college and career readiness solution, Naviance Family Connection. Focused on student success, this comprehensive resource will help middle and high schoolers better prepare for higher education and the workforce.
“We are excited to introduce Naviance Family Connection,” said Director of Guidance and Counseling Ruby Armstrong. “Students will be able to conduct college, career and scholarship searches, and even build a resume with this tool. It is a great one-stop, future-planning shop the whole family can enjoy.”
Designed to connect learning and life, Naviance’s various features help students learn about their strengths and interests, possible professions and top university choices. Parents, teachers and school counselors can collaborate with students to help them create a four-year plan, manage the college application process, and make informed decisions regarding career paths.
Because Naviance is a web-based program, students can access it from home or school on a computer or personal device. Every secondary student is encouraged to log into this beneficial system and begin developing their post-secondary goals.
To learn how to log in, contact your campus’ counselor. For more information regarding Naviance, visit the Guidance and Counseling website.

GISD celebrates nationally recognized music program
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Proving the excellent Fine Arts education offered in Garland ISD, the district earned its sixth Best Communities for Music Education (BCME) title at the end of March. The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Foundation awarded GISD and 387 others with this distinction.
“We are incredibly honored to continually receive this recognition,” said George Jones, director of Fine Arts. “It not only speaks to the talent of our students and staff, but also to the importance our district places on music education.”
According to the NAMM Foundation, more than 2,000 schools and districts applied for a 2015 BCME award. Applicants were required to complete a detailed survey about funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support and community programs.
In its 16th year, BCME recognizes school districts that have demonstrated exceptional efforts toward maintaining music education as part of schools’ core curriculum. The designation is an important part of the NAMM Foundation’s efforts to advocate for school-based music education. Numerous studies have demonstrated that learning to play music can boost other academic and social skills.

Project-based, field trip-focused lesson receives Target grant

PBL grant winners

Students at Beaver Technology Center for Math & Science are learning that hands-on lessons can yield real-life results. The entire fifth-grade class will visit the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden April 16, thanks to a Target-sponsored grant stemming from a creative project-based lesson (PBL).

In the fall, students were given the opportunity to pitch a field trip destination. Divided into groups, the fifth-graders worked up comprehensive reports and presentations, complete with educational impacts and financial costs.
“It was pretty exciting just to know that we could get to take the whole fifth grade on a field trip. That would feel kind of awesome,” said student Jude Avery. “It was confusing to work on the PBL because there were a lot of numbers. We had to figure out how far it was, how much gas would cost, and how many buses we needed to take.”
Avery and his fellow group members—Ava Raymond, Angie Nguyen, Sydney Newman and Yoel Yonas—selected the Arboretum as their destination due to its potential of enhancing a future science lesson.
“We were given different topics we would learn further in the year, and we picked one. We chose how plants and animals adapt to their environment,” Newman said. “Ava and I had the idea of the Arboretum because the first-graders had gone in years past.”
After concluding their research and completing their reports, the team and their counterparts presented all PBLs for judging.  A panel of Garland ISD staff then selected two finalists, whose proposals were submitted for a $700 Target grant.
“I was very impressed with all of the presentations,” said Campus Technology Facilitator and judge Stacey Payton. “The winning team’s presentation stood out because they were able to answer my questions about how this trip would benefit all of fifth grade. This kind of project gives students the opportunity to defend their findings, teach others about what they have learned and continue their own learning process to improve their products.”
Beaver students and teachers learned that Target chose to sponsor one of the pitches right before Winter Break—which came as a complete surprise to the triumphant quintet.
“I actually thought we were not going to get it,” Newman revealed. “There were so many other schools trying to get the grant, we actually thought someone with more experience would win. But when I found out we got it, I felt so excited that I was going to cry.”
Fifth-grade teachers were also shocked and thrilled.
“I was really excited but kind of surprised because there were thousands of schools across the country that applied for this grant,” said teacher Mary Katherine Marston. “But they really took ownership of their learning because they wanted to get it funded—that was their end goal. And they did it.”
But a field trip was not all the fifth-graders gained from this lesson.
“This PBL unit provided a fantastic opportunity for our kids to have greater control over what and how they learned the math, reading and writing skills involved,” said teacher Angie Ariza. “Our kids felt more invested and responsible for their product. They really learned that they are little, but they can make a difference.”
Story photo courtesy of Kat Spencer.

RHS earns Dallas Summer Musicals award nominations third-consecutive year

RHS Eagle theatre Co.

For the third-straight year, Rowlett High School’s Eagle Theatre Company has been named a finalist in the Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) High School Musical Theatre Awards. The talented theater group is up for nine Best of Category honors for its production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.”

“It feels humbling to be a three-time finalist. It speaks volumes of not only our students’ dedication and talent, but also the Fine Arts faculty’s commitment to our students,” said theater director Brandon Tijerina. “We have entered the past three years and have been very blessed to have an amazing group of students each year. We train our students to have a great work ethic, and that never fails, regardless of talent.”
The Company went head-to-head with 68 other high school shows from across North Texas to become a finalist in nine out of 15 categories—which is four more nods than the group collected last year.
“It feels great and reassuring to have an increase in nominations,” Tijerina commented. “I attribute that to the collective efforts of everyone involved: our administration, teachers, students and parents.”
“I think this accomplishment is such a wonderful example of the collaboration of our theater, choir, band and dance departments,” added Principal Michelle Bounds. “Each of those groups meld into one huge effort of hard work and talent, and it is so rewarding to see each of them garner nominations.”
RHS is in the running for best all-student orchestra, choreography, direction, ensemble or chorus, lighting design, musical direction, musical and scenic design. Senior Sarah Manns is also up for best supporting actress for her rendition of Princess Puffer in the melodic play.
The High School Musical Theatre Awards contest features DSM judges who assess a production’s overall quality. Rowlett’s gifted fine arts students will find out if they receive top honors at an awards ceremony April 29 at the Music Hall at Fair Park.
For a full list of finalists, visit the competition’s website. To learn more about the Eagle Theatre Company, visit Rowlett High School’s website.
Story photo courtesy of Brandon Tijerina.

GISD hosts 11th-annual Hispanic Parent FAFSA Workshop
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For more than a decade, Garland ISD’s Hispanic Community Liaison, Javier Solis, has helped students whose home language is not English complete an important college document—the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Keeping that tradition alive, 200 parents attended the 11th-annual Hispanic Parent FAFSA Workshop March 28 at Naaman Forest High School, giving their students a leg up on tuition assistance.
“I am proud to announce that this was the first time the workshop was held in GISD,” Solis said. “We had a great turnout, and 80 FAFSA forms were successfully filed. The FAFSA is difficult to complete if parents have no Internet access, are missing or have difficult circumstances with tax documentation, or have no knowledge of how to navigate through this process. Assistance was also provided in Spanish, which is of great importance to many of our parents.”
During the event, financial aid officers from the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) and Texas A&M University-Commerce volunteered their time to help parents file the FAFSA. But applying for financial aid was not the only action addressed.
“In addition to filing FAFSA forms, students also had the opportunity to submit their Apply Texas College Admission and DCCCD applications,” Solis explained. “Furthermore, representatives from DCCCD and A&M-Commerce were present to meet with parents and highlight their respective programs.”
Those who were interested in Commerce’s offerings will also be given the chance to attend University Preview Day April 25, which features free transportation to and from the college.
For more information on how to prepare for higher education, visit the district’s college readiness website. And, learn more about GISD’s Community Liaisons here.

Ana Rodriguez named Jupiter Chevrolet’s Teacher of the Month

Ana Rodriguez Jupiter Chevrolet teacher of the month

Jupiter Chevrolet’s Teacher of the Month SUV made its way back to Shorehaven Elementary School for the third time this year, surprising Ana Rodriguez with the honor April 6. Principal Patty Tremmel lured the third-grade bilingual teacher to the school’s parking lot to present the gift.

“I was surprised and shocked when I walked out here. I was not expecting this at all,” Rodriguez said. “I just want to say thank you so much to everybody who voted for me. Words cannot explain how I feel right now.”
Rodriguez collected more than 400 Facebook votes, granting her a landslide win.
“I think this is amazing. Teachers work so hard across the district. This is something cool that teachers deserve,” she commented.
“Yes, thank you Jupiter Chevrolet. I am so happy that you are able to honor all of the teachers in GISD,” Tremmel added.
Want to see your campus represented and your favorite educator named Teacher of the Month? Vote for the next winner on Jupiter Chevrolet’s Facebook page.

Garland ISD Education Foundation’s 13th-annual Golf Tournament a success

GEF Golf Tournament

Nearly 200 community and staff members gathered to celebrate learning at the Garland ISD Education Foundation Golf Tournament April 10 at Firewheel Golf Park. Lucky year No. 13 featured fellowship, friendly competition and high spirits.

“This year’s Golf Tournament was a true success. Thanks to our supportive community partners, we raised a record $61,575 for GISD’s teachers and students,” said Education Foundation President Lisa Cox. “All of that money will help fund grants and scholarships for innovative teaching and learning.”
During the charitable affair, 140 players on 35 teams enjoyed a Chick-fil-A and RaceTrac-sponsored breakfast and received a tournament T-shirt, as well as an Atmos Energy-embellished goodie bag, before hitting the green in hopes of a grand prize. While teams vied for first-place, Superintendent Bob Morrison cooked hamburgers and hot dogs in preparation for their lunch. Executive Council members then served golfers after they hit their last tee shots.
In the end, 80 door prizes, which included everything from a Master Hatters cowboy hat to a Spring Creek Barbecue gift basket, were presented. First, second and third-place teams, as well as three individuals, also received shining crystal trophies.
“We had a wonderful time, and cannot wait to do it again next year,” Cox commented. “I want to thank title sponsor Pogue Construction, presenting sponsor Gay, McCall, Isaacks, Gordon & Roberts, Firewheel Golf Park, Dr. Morrison and his Executive Council, and all of our volunteers. Without all of them, we would have not been able to pull off this amazing event.”