Science Resource Center offers support outside the classroom

Part of ever-evolving education, curriculum and instruction is learning and delivering new methods to students that may go beyond the four walls of a classroom and the pages of a textbook.

CFISD offers a number of opportunities just like this in many subject areas. When it comes to science, one such opportunity is the Charlotte Davis Burns Science Resource Center (SRC) located across the street from Arnold Middle School at 11206 Telge Road. Established to provide support to science teachers and students at all grade levels, the SRC offers demonstrations and training, as well as hands-on activities and field trip opportunities among other things.

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The Charlotte Davis Burns Science Resource Center provides support to CFISD science teachers and students at all grade levels, offering demonstrations and training, as well as hands-on activities and field trip opportunities.

The facility houses hundreds of animals, many which were donated. There’s also an adjacent “pocket prairie,” which is a part of the Prairie Builders Schools & Parks program designed to form a bridge between the classroom and prairie science, culture, economics and global environmental stewardship.

“I was a generalist – an elementary science teacher,” said Denise Martin, SRC curriculum specialist. “For me, it really helped me to bring good science into my classroom. We’re very fortunate that we’re able to offer this resource to the teachers in Cy-Fair.”

In addition to working with teachers, SRC staff work with volunteers and parents on demonstrations and training, deliveries, lab kit preparations and usage, gardening and field trips. The volunteers in turn, are able to bring real-life science into the classroom and assist teachers in their instruction.

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In addition to working with teachers, Science Resource Center staff work with volunteers and parents on demonstrations and training. Field Trips also put students together with real-life science, including “Animal Odyssey,” a two-hour trip for kindergarten where they visit teacher- and volunteer-run stations housing fish, reptiles, birds and small mammals.

“The demos are all parent-driven,” said David Wallace, SRC manager. “And they’re only done by parents at the different schools.”

Added Martin: “So it’s exciting to be able to teach a child’s parent to take snakes into their classroom and they become superheroes for the day. Once they come to one training, we’ve hooked them in.”

Among the field trips available are “Animal Odyssey,” a two-hour trip for kindergarten where they visit teacher- and volunteer-run stations housing fish, reptiles, birds and small mammals. “Gulf Mysteries” allows first-grade students to explore the Gulf of Mexico and both the plants and animals that live in the environment. Third-grade students can participate in “Simple Machines,” where groups work through activities with inclined planes, levers, pulleys and wheels and axles.

But the curriculum can evolve, with the SRC ready to assist teachers who communicate their needs. It may be transporting and showcasing animals in a classroom for a day, to scheduling and overseeing a field trip to the facility.

“We just try to help the teachers any way we can,” Wallace said. “They’re just so appreciative of whatever we can help them do. I mean, that’s the whole reason we’re here.”

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Adjacent to the Science Resource Center is a “pocket prairie,” which is a part of the Prairie Builders Schools & Parks program designed to form a bridge between the classroom and prairie science, culture, economics and global environmental stewardship.

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CFISD recognizes numerous volunteers with VIPS Appreciation Event

Though many of the thousands of volunteers who help serve CFISD aren’t motivated by recognition, the district made sure to let all the extra supporters know how important they are.

CFISD does this annually with its Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) Appreciation Event, put on by the VIPS Executive Board. The 2018 ceremony was held May 2 at the Berry Center, with the event and reception underwritten by PBK and supported by many other sponsors.

0509 VIPS Appreciation 1CFISD Board members join Ault Elementary School students for a special cheer during the VIPS Appreciation Event at the Berry Center on May 2. 

An addition to collectively recognizing all district volunteers, the ceremony highlighted 11 individuals and supportive businesses and faith-based organizations with awards that included outstanding volunteer and mentor at elementary and secondary levels, Bus Buddies Award and community engagement awards for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

“All the volunteers, every single day throughout the school year, are coming in and serving but we don’t know (and) we’re not able to truly recognize them until this event,” said Kelli Ray, a VIPS Executive Board member leading community outreach.

Volunteers provide support at district, campus and organizational levels by serving as business partners, Adopt-a-School partners and mentors. They even include Board of Trustees members, who give up many hours of their personal time to help steer the third-largest school district in Texas and 22nd-biggest in the nation.

“You get to see the kids on an everyday basis (and) what they’re doing,” said Krista Guerrero, who serves as Post Elementary School’s PTO president. “When they see you, it puts a smile on their face and there’s nothing better.”

Added Klaudia Weston, a volunteer with the Langham Creek High School band: “You get to know all the kids, get to know all the parents and actually support the staff and administration.”

0509 VIPS Appreciation 4Heath Rushing, right, Memorial Hermann Cypress CEO, accepts a Community Engagement Award for the hospital from Becky Souther, CFISD Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) executive board member at the VIPS Appreciation Event on May 2.

The VIPS Appreciation Event filled the Berry Center arena, with administrators from individual campuses bringing signs and balloons to show their support for their volunteers.

Attendees were treated to numerous performances from students across CFISD. They ranged from the Cy-Fair High School Air Force JROTC presenting the colors and Sampson Elementary School first-grade student Coral Khieu performing Sonatina on the piano, to Spillane Middle School’s percussion ensemble performing a piece with dinnerware and Cypress Ranch High School senior Abigail Ayala singing I Dreamed a Dream.

The Board of Trustees joined Ault Elementary School cheerleaders for a combined performance to end the ceremony.

“The VIPS Appreciation Event is a wonderful opportunity each year to recognize our district volunteers and business partners,” said Leslie Francis, CFISD director of marketing and business relations. “We are so fortunate for the incredible support from our sponsors, who completely underwrite the event, as well as our extremely talented students and staff which provide the entertainment.”

AFJROTC offers students leadership, team-building opportunities

A number of programs, classes and organizations within Cypress-Fairbanks ISD offer students the ability to assume leadership roles, work together in a team setting and learn discipline and structure. One that represents more than 1,100 high school students at all four grade levels is Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC).

Hosted on eight of CFISD’s 12 comprehensive high school campuses – students from non-hosting schools combine with other units – JROTC is a federally-sponsored program by the United State Armed Forces and dates its origin to the National Defense Act of 1916. At its core, the program is designed to help develop students learn and understand good citizenship, leadership, respect, community service, the importance of physical fitness and self-reliance.

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Cy-Fair High School Air Force Junior ROTC students participate in the Military Drill Competition on Feb. 3 at the Berry Center. 

There is no military obligation and the program isn’t designed to steer participants toward military service, though the influence includes curriculum (aerospace science and leadership in CFISD) taught by retired military personnel and cadets required to wear a uniform. The focus is instead on building those soft skills to help students thrive in any career path they choose.

“The students run the program,” said Dr. Sharon Hogue, CFISD AFJROTC and career and technical education coordinator. “It’s a cadet-run program, and so the instructors build up the cadets and the cadets take charge.”

Within each JROTC unit are a number of activities and teams in which a cadet can participate, including the drill team and color guard. Units participate in competitions, team-building activities and community service. Earning a letterman jacket is also possible in JROTC.

“I really love ROTC because of everything it has to offer after school,” said Sayra Rodriguez, a Jersey Village High School senior and the school’s AFJROTC corps commander. “There are so many teams that you can join and it actually gave me my first leadership position.”

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Cypress Falls High School AFJROTC cadets lead the “Pass in Review” at Pridgeon Stadium on April 21. 

CFISD and its AFJROTC units hosted a Military Drill Competition on Feb. 3 at the Berry Center, in which 25 units from across CFISD and the Houston area participated. Langham Creek High School placed third overall, as cadets competed in events that included academic presentations and testing, inspections, exhibition drill and physical training. Units were evaluated by military training instructors from Lackland Air Force’s 737th Training Group, University of Houston ROTC cadets and Texas A&M University cadets.

The district also hosted its 16th Annual AFJROTC Pass in Review, which was held April 21 at Pridgeon Stadium. A military tradition designed to display the readiness of troops and their units to a newly assigned commander, the Pass in Review showcased the cadets’ discipline and uniformity to a crowd that included family, friends, Board of Trustees members and campus and district administrators.

Cypress Falls High School AFJROTC Unit TX-20003 served as the host school and senior Josephine Ngo served as the commander of troops.

“This event is steeped in military tradition dating back to the American Revolution at Valley Forge,” Hogue said. “These cadets carry on the proud tradition of excellence with their precision maneuvers, as evidence of the hard work, discipline and dedication of the instructors and cadets.”

Though a four-year program, JROTC has the ability to help students build long-lasting relationships beyond high school.

“We are a big family, so all the connections with people are really strong,” said Fatima Medina, a Cy-Fair High School junior and cadet captain. “You find friendships and connections and bonds that can’t be broken. It’s really a special thing.”

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.”

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.”

CFISD Classroom Cheerleader Spotlight: Edward Torres

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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 Edward Torres, an area manager with CFISD’s operations department.

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

I have lived in and worked for Cypress-Fairbanks for more than 30 years.

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

I am passionate about Cypress-Fairbanks ISD because I have grown not only personally but professionally through my years. I have made lifelong friendships. Cypress-Fairbanks is passionate about their employees, so that motivated me every day to be the best I can be.

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

Cypress-Fairbanks has impacted me when I was able to see all my children go through Cy-Fair schools and prepare them for their future careers. I am grateful to work for a district that allows me to provide for my family and watch my children be products of Cy-Fair ISD.

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

To accept challenges, learn from your mistakes and show passion toward the career you choose. Always strive for the best, stay focused and become a productive citizen.

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

I like to attend high school craft shows and support local restaurants while seeing students working and being productive and making a difference in lives of others.


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 CFISDSpirit.com to cheer along with our team!

CFISD Classroom Cheerleader Spotlight: Allison Payne

cheerleader-payne-52
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 Allison Payne, second-grade math and science teacher at Moore Elementary School. Payne was also named the school’s 2016-2017 Spotlight Teacher.

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

Eleven years.

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

I love my Cy-Fair community. We are all one big family who helps one another and cheers each other on!

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

Cy-Fair has helped grow and mold me into the teacher I am today. I’ve had the amazing experience to work with and learn from some of the best administrators and teachers. I’ve met some of my best friends by working here in Cy-Fair. We really are one big community that supports one another!

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

Never give up! You can achieve anything you set out to do! If you can dream it, you can achieve it!

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

I love trying new restaurants, attending movies, concerts and sporting events!


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 CFISDSpirit.com to cheer along with our team!

CFISD Community Cheerleader Spotlight: Tracie Barton

cheerleader-barton-27

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 Tracie Barton, chairman of the Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) Executive Board, as well as a parent volunteer and student mentor.

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

16 years

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

When moving to Texas from Louisiana 16 years ago, the deciding factor on which part of Houston to live was education since our oldest child was about to start kindergarten. We chose Cypress-Fairbanks because of the reputation of the school district. I began volunteering at Lamkin Elementary, where my daughter was a student and she has since graduated from college. My youngest will be a senior this year at Cypress Ranch High School and I hope to continue as a mentor and active volunteer for many years to come. I adore the students and employees of the district! This community is full of passionate, wonderful people. I am proud to live in the Cypress-Fairbanks community.

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

Living in the school district has enabled my oldest daughter to attend her dream Ivy League school. With the guidance of her teachers starting in elementary school, they challenged her and planted the seed of dreaming big and to go after her dreams. Her teachers, coaches and staff members instilled in her that with hard work she could obtain anything she could imagine. They saw her potential and encouraged her.

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

To follow your dreams because everything is within your reach if you just believe. We have Olympic athletes, professional athletes and television personalities who have all graduated from this district. No dream is too big!

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

Of course, my family would say SHOP! I would agree, along with working out at my local gym. Since moving to Cypress in 2001, our community has grown so rapidly. More great restaurants, the outlets and new gyms–all the while feeling like a small, quaint town. That’s what makes this community great!


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 CFISDSpirit.com to cheer along with our team!

CFISD Community Cheerleader Spotlight: Cyndi Matteson

cheerleader matteson-25

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 Cyndi Matteson, a global volunteer and member of the Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) Executive Board. In her spare time, she enjoys mentoring more than five students at five different CFISD schools.

Business:

Retired, sales management at US Foodservice

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

10 years

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

The CFISD community has allowed me the ability to “give back” to kids of all ages in several of the schools. I supported my own child in his CFHS activities while also being able to help in so many areas like hospitality, many school VIPS opportunities and mentoring.

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

This district has allowed me to become involved in so many areas now that I am retired. I love being a global volunteer and traveling around the district meeting new people and helping out wherever there is a need. I’m blessed to be a part of many students lives as a mentor too.

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

Each student has so many opportunities to excel and be all that they can be and never feel like they don’t have the support of the teachers and staff in their school. The resources, both during school as well as after school, within this district are exceptional and need to be taken advantage of by each student for growth and valuable experience.

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

I enjoy being outside walking or biking the many trails around the community with my family and friends. Having been in the food service/restaurant industry for 25-plus years, I enjoy checking out all the great restaurants, especially the new ones, that are all over the Cypress area.


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 CFISDSpirit.com to cheer along with our team!