Terrell ISD students joined other students across the state to celebrate literacy by reading the same book at the same time, led by Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett.
Via video recording, Coach Garrett read the first chapter of The World According to Humphrey to kick off the Texas Reads One Book program. Students from J.W. Long and Dr. Bruce Wood elementary schools traveled to the Performing Arts Center to watch Coach Garrett introduce the book. Students will also receive their own copy of the book to take home.
From April 27 to May 11, elementary students across the state will participate in the Texas Reads One Book program. The program is designed to engage families in the reading process and to create a culture of reading at both the school and district level.
The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney is the simple, accessible, endearing story of the humble hamster named Humphrey. With his common sense and aggressive nose for right and wrong, Humphrey turns the world of those he meets upside down – for the better. Students will learn many things by looking at the classroom through Humphrey’s eyes.
Every evening, students are encouraged to read one chapter of the book with their families. The next day, classes will review Humphrey’s antics and experiences and discuss what they can learn from his example.
Both campuses have a resident ‘Humphrey’ that will visit each classroom as students read the book. This interactive push to improve reading comprehension is just one way Terrell ISD is working to improve student achievement in all areas.
Sitting in a quiet room waiting to take a college entrance exam is nerve-wracking for most high school students, so just imagine how that would feel as a seventh grader. TISD seventh grade students Abigail Beck, Cash Muehl, Anaya Rhodes, and Kashala Robinson said they felt slightly out of place in a classroom full of older students as they prepared to take the ACT for the very first time.
The four students scored at or above the 95th percentile on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR), which qualified them for the Duke Talent Identification Program (Duke TIP). After qualifying for the program, the students registered to take the ACT.
“The tests were definitely challenging,” Anaya Rhodes explained. “Some of the science concepts were not familiar to me, but it was still a great experience.”
Two of the students scored a 19 and the other two scored a 20, a score that would guarantee them acceptance to the University of North Texas as long as they graduate in the top 15% of their class. Nationally, the average ACT score among high school students is a 21.
“My goal for these students is to continue to make huge strides academically, and to know that their educational future is limitless,” Gifted and Talented Director Bronwyn Vaughan said.
The students already have big plans for their future. Abigail wants to attend the University of Texas to study psychiatry. Cash plans to attend Carnegie Mellon to study computer science. Anaya wants to attend Duke University to study pediatric science; and Kashala plans to attend the University of California, Los Angeles as a pre-med major.
The students will be recognized at the Duke TIP State Recognition Ceremony on Saturday, May 30 at the University of North Texas. They are also planning to attend a summer program at Austin College in June.
“I am really looking forward to the camp this summer because I know it will be a great learning experience,” Abigail said.
Congratulations to these outstanding students!
How do you get young students excited about writing? You give them someone to write to! Better yet, make it a mentor who loves to write back. That’s exactly what Furlough Middle School teacher Shellie Massengale and Burnett Elementary School teacher Amy Forrester are doing with their students.
Mrs. Massengale, FMS Student Council sponsor, began the Pen Pal program four years ago as a way to encourage students young and old to enjoy writing. Each student council member is paired with one or two kindergarten students based on common interests, and the students exchange short letters once a week.
“My students know when that red bag arrives that their Pen Pal’s letter is inside,” Mrs. Forrester said. “They get so excited and want to drop everything they’re doing and write back immediately.”
Mrs. Forrester says the relationship that forms between the students is just as important as the writing skills they develop.
“This generation really needs the support that comes from knowing someone cares,” Mrs. Forrester said. “Just the fact that someone else is interested in their life, takes time to see them, works on projects and talks to them means a lot.”
The mentors get to do more than simply write one letter a week. They also have the opportunity to spend time with their Pen Pal. They work on crafts, read together, and enjoy a good snack. Just before Easter, they set up a very special Easter egg hunt. The mentors hid eggs with letters painted on them that spelled out “Happy Easter.” Then, they helped their Pen Pal collect the eggs they needed to spell the words. Seventh grade student Taiya Henderson said it is activities like the Easter egg hunt that she enjoys the most.
“I really like hanging out with the little kids,” Taiya said. “I also like writing them and asking them what they want to be when they grow up. I like to encourage them to follow their dreams.”
Established in 1883, Terrell Independent School District has a proud history of providing quality education to students. It is our belief that the future of our community, state, and nation hinges on the quality of the students being educated by our school system.