Record-breaking Superintendent’s Fun Run continues to grow

Growing from a simple idea to bring CFISD employees together and raise money for the Cy-Fair Educational Foundation (CFEF), the Superintendent’s Fun Run and Festival has grown into a community event that even Dr. Mark Henry, CFISD superintendent of schools, couldn’t imagine.

Now in its fifth year, the Fun Run and Festival has exceeded most – if not all – expectations. In addition to the 5K and 1-mile races, event organizers and support staff have been able to lean on numerous school, community and business partners, who have reciprocated through participation, sponsorships and support, helping turn races into a carnival-like atmosphere featuring on-site vendor booths, food trucks, bounce houses and student performance groups.

And the fifth edition, held March 24 at the Berry Center, was historic – representatives from CFISD and Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital, the event’s underwriter, presented the CFEF with a check worth $100,000, a total nearly doubling any of the Fun Run and Festival predecessors.


“That was my goal five years ago,” Dr. Henry said. “To eventually get to $100,000, but I thought it would take longer than this. But I will say that number is significant because that endows a scholarship for a student – $100,000 is a very, very nice scholarship for a student and that goes on into perpetuity. It never ends because we just take the interest and investment earnings off of that $100,000 and create a new scholarship every year so I’m really excited about that.”

The Fun Run and Festival featured a 5K and a 1-mile run that took place in and around the Berry Center and Lone Star College–CyFair. An added addition this year was the sleep-in pass, giving those who couldn’t attend an opportunity to still contribute.

Helping start the 5K was Arnstar from GoNoodle’s Blazer Fresh, who led race participants in stretching exercises before Dr. Henry signaled the official start. Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital, the event’s underwriter, sponsored GoNoodle Plus for CFISD K-6 teachers, students and parents for the 2017-2018 school year. A classroom movement program aimed to fuel learning through the power of movement, GoNoodle is used in 80 percent of U.S. elementary schools.

“The energy, the electricity – it was impactful,” Arnstar said. “And just to know that Blazer Fresh is making a difference in the way it is, I’m super grateful.”


In all, 60 sponsors helped make 2018’s Fun Run and Festival the biggest to date. That included Memorial Hermann Cypress, which has firmly entrenched itself as an ally of CFISD in just its first year. Hospital representatives were among the 80 vendor booths that helped give the event a carnival-like feel.

“Cy-Fair ISD knows how to do it right and knows how to put on an event,” said Heath Rushing, Memorial Hermann Cypress and Katy senior vice president and CEO. “We’re just proud to be a part of it.”

And while the Fun Run and Festival supports CFISD students through helping fund CFEF scholarships and other opportunities, the event also prominently featured hundreds of students of all ages.

More than 1,400 registered for the two races. More than 500 participated as volunteers. The 17 performances featured groups from a number of schools, including the Jersey Village High School cheerleaders, Andre’ Elementary School Leopard Steppers, Rennell Elementary School Redhawk Dance team, Cypress Ridge High School Dazzlers, Anthony Middle School Glee Club and Cypress Lakes High School R.E.D. Storm.


“One of the things I take great pride in is the adults that work and live in this district have great relationships with the students that go to school in this district,” Dr. Henry said. “That’s a culmination of great parenting, great school system and instilling in students the idea of giving back for the things they have so much to be thankful for. I just really appreciate all the parents, the teachers and the employees, and of course our students for making this a success.”


GoNoodle stimulates active learning in CFISD

Thanks in part to a sponsorship from community partner Memorial Hermann Cypress Hospital, CFISD educators and students have been able to take their teaching and learning to another level during the 2017-2018 school year with GoNoodle.

A movement program used in approximately 80 percent of U.S. public elementary schools, GoNoodle aims to fuel learning through the power of movement. Using short, interactive videos and games, GoNoodle incorporates movement (dancing, stretching, running and other activities) that can be used in the classroom and at home.

Memorial Hermann Cypress sponsored the Plus version of GoNoodle for CFISD for the 2017-2018 school year at a value of $165,000. The hospital was recognized for its giving and the sponsorship during the Board of Trustees meeting in October.

1020 Memorial Hermann Cypress 3Students throughout CFISD are getting moving thanks to the brain-based classroom movement program, GoNoodle. District partner Memorial Hermann–Cypress funded GoNoodle Plus in CFISD for 2017-2018. 

“We know that creating healthy habits in young people puts them on the right track to maintain healthy lifestyles as adults,” said Heath Rushing, Memorial Hermann Cypress senior vice president and CEO. “We are thankful that our community partners like Cypress-Fairbanks ISD also place a high priority on instilling healthy habits in the young people they impact every day.”

Memorial Hermann Cypress also sponsored professional development for teachers to go with GoNoodle Plus for the district.

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Dawn Tryon (left), Keith Elementary School principal, and Dr. Linda Macias, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction and accountability, move alongside students to a learning activity on GoNoodle Plus during a media event on Nov. 14 at Keith Elementary School. Memorial Herman Cypress Hospital sponsored GoNoodle Plus technology and professional development for teachers for CFISD for the 2017-2018 school year at a value of $165,000.

Launched in 2014, GoNoodle allows teachers and students to use “brain breaks” and other movement activities to not only break the mantra of stationary learning from a desk, but instead continue the learning process with academic-incorporated games while also promoting physical activity. A number of the learning activities have game-like attributes, helping keep a student’s attention even more during the day as levels are earned or characters successfully complete challenges.

“When we get kids moving and learning, they retain information longer,” said Erika Sanchez, a preschool programs for children with disabilities (PPCD) teacher at Copeland Elementary School and GoNoodle ambassador. “Our whole goal is to want kids to have fun in the class and GoNoodle is one of the ways we can utilize technology in a platform that gets the kids up and moving, and learning the different content areas.”

Da Vinci Day a showcase event for young GT students

Just as a number of departments within CFISD have events and programs highlighting the opportunities they offer students, staff, families and community partners, the same can be said for the HORIZONS Program, which serves the needs and interests of academically gifted and talented students.

One of those showcase events is Da Vinci Day, which brought together more than 2,350 CFISD elementary and middle school HORIZONS students on Feb. 24 at Cypress Ridge High School for a morning of activities that challenged their critical thinking and allowed them to demonstrate skills in science, STEM and fine arts.

0305 Da Vinci Day 1Volunteers from the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Alley Theater, Space Center Houston and Play-well (Legos) of Dallas brought their equipment for hands-on learning and excitement to more than 2,350 CFISD elementary and middle school HORIZONS students during Da Vinci Day, held Feb. 24 at Cypress Ridge High School. The Houston Zoo also served as a partner, bringing animals to the showcase event.

“Da Vinci Day is such a wonderful opportunity for our HORIZONS students to gather and participate in activities designed and differentiated to challenge and engage them,” said Katrina Nelson, CFISD director of advanced academics.

For the 2018 event, community partners that came in to help challenge the HORIZONS students included the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Alley Theater, Space Center Houston, Houston Zoo and Play-well (Legos) of Dallas. They brought their equipment for hands-on learning stations.

The Houston Zoo even brought animals.

0305 Da Vinci Day 2Da Vinci Day is a showcase event for CFISD elementary and middle school HORIZONS students, which serves the needs and interests of academically gifted and talented students. The morning of activities challenges students and their critical thinking and allowed them to demonstrate skills in science, STEM and fine arts.

Other community partners who have been a part of Da Vinci Day activities include Little Breakers Science Lab and Color Me Mine, a paint-it-yourself ceramics studio.

But it’s not just CFISD community and business partners engaging and working with HORIZONS students at Da Vinci Day. The 2018 event saw more than 200 CFISD elementary and middle school staff and administrators lead participants through sessions like coding, robotic challenges, science labs, art activities and escape rooms.

In addition, over 200 students from Bridgeland, Cy-Fair, Cypress Falls, Cypress Lakes, Cypress Ranch, Cypress Ridge, Cypress Woods and Langham Creek high schools volunteered in helping the event be a success.

“There were sessions for everyone at all different interest levels,” said Dr. Linda Macias, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction and accountability. “Certainly, it’s an opportunity for us to highlight our gifted and talented students and continue supporting them in this district.”

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In addition to a number of community and business partners helping put together Da Vinci Day, the 2018 event had more than 200 CFISD elementary and middle school staff and administrators participanted in sessions like coding, robotic challenges, science labs, art activities and escape rooms.

JA Inspire models career awareness to eighth-grade students

Connecting nearly 9,000 eight-grade students across CFISD’s 18 middle school with potential career opportunities and industry personnel was just one of the many benefits afforded to attendees at the Junior Achievement of Southeast Texas (JASET)’s annual job awareness fair, JA Inspire.

Held over three days (Feb. 5-7) at the Berry Center, JA Inspire is in its fifth year. Each day was filled with sessions, presentations, hands-on product displays and demonstrations with experts from more than 50 Houston-area businesses in a variety of industries.

To help streamline the process for students and better their experience, attendees selected one of four endorsement tracks (STEM, business and industry, public services and arts and humanities) beforehand.

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KPRC Channel 2 anchor Rachel McNeill, a 1992 Cypress Creek High School graduate, spoke to eighth graders to end the second day of the three-day JA Inspire, held Feb. 5-7 at the Berry Center.

“The kids are just so well-prepared,” said Rick Franke, JASET president. “They’re well-focused. They’re respectful to our speakers. And they engage, and that’s the most important aspect of this.”

Each day began with a welcome session for all students in the Berry Center arena, as they filled the seats with color-coded shirts. They were then divided into three groups, rotating between presentations in the conference center, a soft-skills demonstration in the arena and exhibitors in the second-flood concourse.

While exploring in the concourse, students could visit with company employees and industry experts in a variety of fields, ranging from law enforcement to banking, and engineering to electrical.

“People think banking is only banking,” said Brenda Oehlke, an assistant vice president for commercial lending at Plains Capital Bank who represented the Texas Bankers Association at JA Inspire. “We need IT people. We need security people. It’s endless.”

Speakers also closed each day. They included KPRC Channel 2 anchor Rachel McNeill, a Cypress Creek High School graduate, and Heritage Texas Properties realtor associate Lily Jang, a Langham Creek High School graduate.

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“We have so many kids who don’t have the exposure to what’s out there for them” said Dr. Linda Macias, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction and accountability. “(There are) so many resources for so they can truly be knowledgeable about what types of careers are out there, what types of courses they need to be looking at and taking in school, but also what type of skills – soft skills – they need to refine or acquire to be successful through an interview or through a job.”

Students were divided up by four endorsement tracks (STEM, business and industry, public services and arts and humanities) that they selected beforehand to receive a more specialized experience.

While exploring career stations on the concourse, students spoke with company employees and industry representatives to learn more about their businesses.

Speakers in different career fields closed each day. They included KPRC Channel 2 anchor Rachel McNeill, a Cypress Creek High School graduate, and Heritage Texas Properties realtor associate Lily Jang, a Langham Creek High School graduate.

“Our eighth-grade students are fortunate to be able to participate in an interactive experience that provides them with information on a variety of careers and local employers from the greater Houston area,” said Dr. Linda Macias, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction and accountability. “This will assist them in making informed decisions when selecting an endorsement and course selections for high school.”

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Campbell Middle School eighth-grade student Cameron Rice explores a virtual reality simulator during JA Inspire. As part of the three-day job awareness fair, students visited career stations, which included hands-on products to show what the career entails.

HORIZONS program meets needs of gifted and talented students

Livestock Show and Sale an exclamation mark for FFA students

The program’s highlight came to a finish with a live premium auction Feb. 10, but the CFISD Livestock Show Association’s 24th annual Show and Sale is just part of what CFISD students and community members can experience through FFA and Agriculture Science education.

It’s still a topic that can open one’s eyes, said Corey Taylor, a Cypress Falls High School FFA adviser and Agriculture Science teacher, thanks in large part to Houston’s enormous urban footprint and the overall lack of exposure.

Sometimes, it’s just as simple as getting past that first question.

“We hear, ‘Does a student have to raise an animal to be a member of take the class?’” said Katie Dale, a Cypress Woods High School FFA adviser and Agriculture science teacher. “And we start off by saying you do not have to raise an animal to become involved.”

FFA Panorama 2

The CFISD Livestock Show and Sale – like FFA – is way beyond animals in the show ring at the CFISD Exhibit Center during the Premium Sale during the show’s final day. Every aspect, which includes agriculture science certifications, showing livestock, agriculture mechanics and horticulture, can offer lifelong skills for students. The program can prepare them for careers and become confident in the decision-making process.

“Beyond this, it allows students to get a hands-on feeling for what it takes to become dedicated, responsible and invested in something that will make them grow as young people in both humble wins as well as defeat,” Taylor said. I like to tell my students involved in the program that ‘You either win or you learn.’ Either way, you aren’t losing.”

The three-day CFISD Livestock Show and Sale is the peak for most students involved in the program, as they are able to showcase their work to the CFISD community and business partners. Now in its 24th edition, the 2018 show and sale saw approximately 800 students combine for nearly 900 entries.

The first two days are the shows and judging to determine champions in 11 separate divisions (Broiler, Turkey, Ag Mechanics, Horticulture, Goat, Lamb, Steer, Heifer, Market Rabbits, Breeding Rabbits and Swine).

The final day brings the sales, with first the silent auction and freezer sale before the Premium Sale (live auction) ends the showcase event. A final amount for total sales generated is not yet available, but the Premium Sale unofficially raised nearly $340,000.

Students are expected to seek out buyers and donations, tying those marketing and social skills back to what the learn in the classroom. Sales, pledges and donations to show entries are used to help fund higher education or further a student’s experience in the program. The 2017 Volume Buyer Award went to Mike and Darlene Jarrar of Jarrar & Company, Inc., which contributed $93,600 to the nearly $800,000 in sale generated at last year’s event.

“You can see the passion in the students’ eyes and all their hard work surface, and it is a privilege to cheer for them on the side lines,” Dale said. “To watch my students in their big moment makes every late night and early morning worth it. I believe that FFA helps grow students into the best version of themselves. It teaches them responsibility, manners, sportsmanship, and financial responsibility. Watching a student transform into the best version of themselves through their livestock project and through everything else our chapter has to offer has been a major blessing and the best feeling in the world.”

Carlton Center prepares students for future success

The top of the school’s stationery states “Carlton Center…Opportunity is Here” and that’s what is available for students at the campus named for a former educator instrumental in CFISD’s development of a comprehensive program for students with disabilities.

The Carlton Center provides its students with two distinct programs:

  • LIFE Skills classes and programming for students primarily middle school age through 21 years old requiring a highly structured setting; and
  • four specialized vocational programs focusing on pre-vocational, training and social skills to promote independence and readiness for paid employment. The programs are for students in their later high school years, providing both campus- and community-based instruction.

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Cypress Falls High School senior Andrea Mendieta measures out ingredients during Commercial Foods Service at the Carlton Center, which provides vocational programs focusing on pre-vocational, training and social skills to promote independence and readiness for paid employment.

The campus currently serves 71 students, with attendance varying annually based on the recommendations from their home campuses. Of those, 37 students are in the vocational training programs, which include Commercial Foods Service, Business Media Production and VITAL (Vocational Independence and Training for Adult Living).

“In CFISD, we can meet the diverse needs of all of our learners,” said Leigh Ann Crank, an instructional specialist at the Carlton Center. “Carlton Center provides a specific pathway for that. For our students with disabilities, particularly those that are adults with disabilities, we can offer them specialized training to grow their independence within their preferred job field.”

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Jersey Village High School senior Lamon Hanna organizes place settings during VITAL (Vocational Independence and Training for Adult Living) at the Carlton Center. The program helps students develop skills for after graduation, which may include readiness for employment or independence in their home.

Vocational programs are for students who have completed all their course requirements for graduation and continue to need vocational training. Commercial Foods Service and Business Media Production serve as two-period block classes, while VITAL is a full-day program.

In the vocational training, students go out and work with community partners, using skills learned in the classroom and using them as they transition closer to independence. It could be job readiness skills for potential employment or simply becoming more independent in one’s home.

“It’s such a great feeling to see our students you’ve seen for so many years go through some of those classes and progress and have that paid job and a paycheck,” said Heather Browarek, Carlton Center vocational team leader. “It’s very rewarding. A lot of hard work, a lot of teachers, a lot of influential people have helped these students and it’s amazing to see the end product, which is a happy working young man or young lady.”

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Cypress Creek High School senior David Granados uses a jig saw to cut out an outline of Texas during Business Media Production at the Carlton Center, which provides vocational programs focusing on pre-vocational, training and social skills to promote independence and readiness for paid employment.

The center is named for Mrs. Dorothy Carlton, who was hired by CFISD in 1957 as the district’s first and only teacher for special education. Carlton helped shape the program, serving as supervisor and director of special education before retiring in 1977.

Originally dedicated in 1980 at the Cy-Fair Annex, the Carlton Center has been at its present home adjacent to Cypress Woods High School since 2006.

“I did a tour and just fell in love,” Browarek said. “I said the first year I feel like I hit the lottery.”

Board governs school district through servant leadership

In three sentences read aloud at the beginning of its meetings, the CFISD Board of Trustees expresses its roles and function as it relates to the district and its operations.

“As the Cypress-Fairbanks Board of Trustees, we are here to set goals, listen to reports, approve budgets, contracts and personnel appointments, and make policy for the district,” reads the president, which is currently Dr. John Ogletree following the two-year term of fellow trustee Darcy Mingoia. “It is not the role of the board to make day-to-day operational decisions. The management and day-to-day operations of the district are the responsibility of the superintendent.”

But for the seven Board members, all who have lived within the district’s boundaries for at least 20 years and in some cases, have more longstanding ties, their duties as trustees go deeper than just those three sentences.

“We are there to oversee the big picture,” said Christine Hartley, a trustee since 2011. “There are normal things like we can hire the superintendent and those types of things, but I really see it as being a voice for people in our community – they can come to me, I can ask the question maybe that they don’t always get to ask and I can represent them.

“But I also do the opposite where I can share information with the people in the community that might help them understand why the district made a certain decision.”

DSC_5791The current Board of Trustees includes, from left, Debbie Blackshear, Tom Jackson, Hartley, Dr. Ogletree, Bob Covey, Don Ryan and Mingoia.

To be eligible to serve on the Board of Trustees, candidates must be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years old and be a registered voter who resides within CFISD for at least six months prior to the regular filing deadline.

Members of the seven-member Board serve three-year terms, with elections held annually. The terms of approximately one-third of Board members expire each year. Members serve without compensation, though travel for Board business may be reimbursed.

Trustees attend orientation and receive training and continuing education, as well as also participating in team-building sessions.

The Board of Trustees has final authority to determine and interpret policies that govern the schools and district, doing so only by a majority vote of members present at a committee-of-the-whole meeting, which are held every month from August through June.

But there are numerous other occasions where CFISD students and community members will see trustees, who pride themselves on being representatives of the district and being out at events and functions. Members routinely visit campuses and attend district events ranging from athletic contests to graduations to musical and theatrical performances.

“And we don’t have to do that – we’re not required to do that and I don’t know of very many school boards that do the campus visits like we do,” Hartley said. “That’s just something that we wanted to do to get to know each school and let them see that we care and we’re invested in them.”

Ryan, a trustee for 17 years, credits the board’s at-large model in helping public education be the great equalizer for students. And while every board has deep ties to CFISD, Ryan and Hartley are both graduates of CFISD, making their service even more personal.

“It may sound cheesy but I take it personal to protect the legacy and tradition of Cy-Fair ISD,” Ryan said. “We’ve had people who served who had no desire to protect the students or protect the tradition that we have here in Cy-Fair ISD. That infuriated me.

“I’ll continue to serve as long as we continue to do what’s best for every student in the district.”

Senior citizen discounts for residents 60 and over

In keeping with its slogan “Opportunity for All,” CFISD offers a senior discount program, aka the “Super Senior” Card, which is made available to CFISD residents and former district employees who are 60 years and older as a show of appreciation for their support to the district.

The Super Senior Card offers services within CFISD at no charge to the cardholder and one adult guest, and is good for life. Among the services available are:

  • free admission to any CFISD athletic event at any district facility, excluding the postseason;
  • free admission to student fine arts performances at any district facility, excluding fundraisers;
  • access to high school libraries for book check-out only;
  • eligible participation in “Seniors and Technology” (SAT) classes;
  • access to automotive technology education program services; and
  • access to cosmetology program discounts.

“It was a no-brainer,” said Carrie Bowman, a community member with generational ties to Cy-Fair High School. “I go to the football games. I get to go see the plays. My grandson is wrestling at Cy-Fair. Why not get in for free?”


To obtain a Super Senior Card, eligible candidates can visit the communication office (10300 Jones Road, Suite 428) during business hours (7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) to fill out a brief application form. A valid identification card and proof of address indicating residency within CFISD is required. Former employees will also need to bring proof of employment in CFISD.

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity and I’ve been telling my friends who have retired all about it,” said Diana Henderson, a former employee who retired from Langham Creek High School in 2017. “I came right over and got my Super Senior Card and here we go.”

Call 281-897-4053 or email for more information. A link for the program is also available on the CFISD homepage ( under the “Community Involvement” link.

CFISD Classroom Cheerleader Spotlight: Tim Goode

Tim Goode-cheerleader-horz
As the third-largest school district in Texas and the largest employer in Northwest Harris County, Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District impacts the lives of far more than the 115,000 students and thousands of teachers, employees and administrators across 88 elementary, middle and high school campuses and special program facilities that study and work within our walls. In fact, we’re proud that as a top-rated school district, the work we do within our school system extends beyond the schools and permeates within our neighborhoods and businesses, making the greater Cypress-Fairbanks community a better place to work, live, study and play. The Cypress-Fairbanks community excels because of our CFISD cheerleaders; the individuals and businesses that invest in and support our students and community at large.

Today, we highlight Tim Goode, a licensed irrigator in Texas who has worked in maintenance for CFISD’s grounds department since March 2010.

How long have you lived/worked in Cypress-Fairbanks?

My wife and I decided to move to Cypress from Kerrville, Texas, in March of 2010 to be close to our family.

Why are you so passionate about being a part of the Cypress-Fairbanks community?

I enjoy doing what I do for CFISD and particularly I value the relationships with CFISD people. For me, carrying out my responsibilities as an irrigator as best as I can for the CFISD community at large and specifically with those I work with daily is a personal requirement.

How has Cypress-Fairbanks ISD impacted you, your family or your business?

My wife and I have benefited by being a part of CFISD in two areas. First, directly, I am employed by CFISD. Secondly, indirectly, our two grandchildren attend CFISD schools — Ryan Andrew at Cypress Woods High School and Tyler Matthew at Spillane Middle School.

What piece of advice would you like to give to Cypress-Fairbanks ISD students?

Do not forget to be kind and polite, say “thank you,” “yes sir” and “no sir,” “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.” Respect your teachers and yourself, read the Bible daily, put others before yourself, pick up after yourself and spend less time with your electronic devices and more time with your parents.

What’s your favorite thing to do, see, eat or experience in our community?

Without any doubt, my most enjoyable activity is centered with my wife and family while (to mention a few) worshiping, eating together and after-school activities with our grandsons. Being with family makes the most important memories.

Interested in getting involved, being featured as an upcoming Cheerleader (or featuring someone who you think makes our district great) or in learning more about how Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District makes the larger Cypress-Fairbanks community a better place to work, live, study and play for all of us? Visit to cheer along with our team!