Checking in on Frisco ISD schools the old-fashioned way

In Frisco, the wheels on the bus went round and round, but instead of students, the school buses transported senior citizens who visited three Frisco ISD campuses to observe teachers and students at work.

Approximately 40 Frisco ISD residents aged 55 and older took part in the second annual Senior Adult Bus Tour offered by the school district on Tuesday, April 14. The event is one of several FISD has instituted to reach out to members of the community who may no longer have direct contact with schools through their own children.

“If you haven’t been in a school for a while, all you may know is what you see on TV,” said tour leader Audie Adkins, FISD Community Outreach Liaison. “Our teachers and students are doing great things and we want people to see it.”

The group started their tour at Tadlock Elementary, where Principal Kellie Rapp explained various aspects of elementary school life. She also introduced school namesake, retired teacher Polly Tadlock, who is very involved at the school. Barbara Gallegos, longtime Frisco resident, reported that Mrs. Tadlock had taught all five of her children.

Guests enjoyed touring classrooms and observing teachers and students. Grandparent Sandra Hajek was very interested to learn that fourth grade students at Tadlock had the same “tough” spelling words as her grandson, who is a fourth grade student at Boals. She said she enjoys working with her grandson on homework because it “refreshes my memory.”

Several participants gathered around veteran teacher Shannon Keller’s claw foot bathtub, curious as to its purpose. Keller, who taught kindergarten for many years, used the antique tub as a “Reading Pond” to encourage young readers by using tub time as an incentive. Recently moved to fourth grade, Keller was assigned to math and science.

“I didn’t think I would get to bring my tub,” she said, but school leaders encouraged her to keep it in her classroom. She repurposed it as a place for math and science activities. “The fourth graders love it just as much,” she said.

School Board members Renée Ehmke and John Hoxie were both on the tour to field questions. They assured the seniors that teachers, while using FISD’s highly-specialized curriculum, are still allowed to use their creativity in the classroom.

Hoxie commented that teaching and encouraging creativity is very important in the new world of technology and preparing students for the work world. He explained the term STEAM, which stands for science, technology, engineering, art and math, and noted its importance in industry and education.

“Creativity is a big part of that,” he said, sharing examples of recent FISD students who have gone into careers that combine technology and the arts.

A visit to the new Independence High School had several tour guests in awe. The tour was conducted by students who explained their experience of being rezoned from other high schools such as Liberty and Heritage. They were very positive about being included in meetings to help shape the school atmosphere and mascot. The home of the Independence Knights is filled with reminders of the attitudes and traits of knights of old.

In addition to touring the facility and seeing performances by the school’s drill team, the IHS Royals, IHS theatre students, and the school’s award-winning choir, the guests enjoyed lunch provided by catering staff from FISD’s Child Nutrition Department.

The tour ended at Stafford Middle School on the west side of Frisco. Principal Robin Scott broke the ice with a rousing game of Stafford Bingo and many winners went off with prizes bearing the name of the Stafford Spartans.

The tour broke into teams to visit science, language arts and broadcasting classes, as well as a Skills for Living class (once called home economics) where girls and boys were in the first stages of learning to sew on a sewing machine. Scott later encouraged any experienced sewing enthusiasts to feel free to volunteer to help with the class, where most students encounter needles, bobbins and sewing a straight seam for the first time.

The tour ended with a concert by the award-winning Stafford Sound Machine that brought a standing ovation from participants.

“Where can we find out about plays and concerts,” was a constant question during the tour.

Alan Waligura, principal of Independence High School, encouraged senior citizens to check the Frisco ISD website calendars and to look at individual school websites for the campuses near their home on a regular basis for opportunities. The community is welcome at all FISD performances and a calendar of events is posted on the Fine Arts Department website.

Tour guests were also offered the Senior Citizen Gold Card that Frisco ISD provides in appreciation for seniors’ support of the community. It enables senior citizens to attend most school district activities free of charge. These school activities include home athletic games or meets and most plays, musicals and concerts.

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Frisco ISD speeding up construction on new elementary

The Frisco ISD Board of Trustees voted Monday evening to accelerate construction of a new elementary school to relieve Ashley Elementary in the northeast portion of the District.

Construction will now begin to ensure the campus is complete for the first day of school next fall.

The new school will be built on a site along Independence Parkway, across the street and just south of Independence High School, situated at 10555 Independence in Frisco.

Frisco ISD capped new student enrollment at Ashley Elementary School last month for the second straight year. Ashley is about 100 students above capacity.

The new school, previously known only as elementary No. 38, can now also be referred to by name.

Trustees approved naming the school for Armetha Norris, a respected parent and nurse who launched FISD’s school nurse system and school health program in 1978. She is a life-time member of PTA and was once nominated for School Nurse of the Year with the National Association of School Nurses.

School Board members also approved names for three other new schools:

    • Lebanon High School – Frisco ISD’s ninth high school was named for the community of Lebanon, which predates Frisco by about 50 years. Lebanon grew as settlers moved to Texas looking for land and opportunity, but was abandoned by many residents after the railroad was established further north. Still others stayed in the area and sent their children to Lebanon School until it closed in 1947, at which time they became Frisco ISD students.

      Lebanon High School, currently under construction near Lebanon Road and Ohio Drive, will open in 2016 with ninth graders only. Without high school #9, two of the high schools on the east side of Preston Road will be over capacity in 2016, with the other two pushing capacity.

    • Pearson Middle School – Frisco ISD’s 15th middle school was named for Charles Bishop Pearson, a member of the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees from 1960-1972. Mr. Pearson served as Board president for ten years and led the District and voters through several important decisions, including passing a bond to build Z.T. Acker Elementary, supporting a school band program and the vote to desegregate.

      Pearson Middle School is under construction near Stonebrook Parkway and Teel Parkway. It will open in 2015 to relieve Pioneer Heritage Middle School.

  •  Lawler Middle School – Frisco ISD’s 16th middle school honors the William Robert Lawler family for its long history of service to their country and contributions to the community. In 2014, son Roger Lawler donated $1 million to the Frisco Education Foundation to fund scholarships for graduating FISD seniors.

    Lawler Middle School will be built at the southeast corner of Coit Road and County Road 68 (CR 68), on land Mr. Lawler owned adjacent to his original farm in Frisco. The school will open in 2016 to relieve middle schools east of Preston Road.

Read more about the school namesakes.

Two other schools are also under construction that were named previously.

Reedy High School, named for former FISD Superintendent Dr. Rick Reedy, will open in 2015 at 3003 Stonebrook Parkway. It will serve students in ninth and tenth grade its first year. Reedy will primarily relieve overcrowding at Frisco High School, but Wakeland High School will need relief as well.

Trent Middle School, named for former FISD Fine Arts Director Dr. Daryl Trent, will open in 2015 at 13131 Coleto Creek Drive. Trent will relieve Stafford Middle School.

The process to create attendance boundaries for the schools opening next year will begin next month, with a final decision expected in December. Other needed zone adjustments will be made at this time as well.

Click here to learn more about the rezoning process and timeline.

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