Frisco ISD is piloting a community education forum to provide stakeholders with a behind-the-scenes look at District operations.
FISD Insight is roughly modeled after City Hall 101 and Leadership Frisco, which are programs of the City of Frisco and Frisco Chamber of Commerce, respectively. The goal is to cultivate relationships and increase awareness and understanding.
“This is an opportunity for Frisco ISD to engage in more face-to-face dialogue and get closer to the community,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jeremy Lyon. “People may know us, but not know where we’ve been. They may support us, but not understand us.”
Keeping up with FISD’s phenomenal growth and influx of new residents is a significant and ongoing challenge. Frisco ISD is the largest employer in the City of Frisco and now has nearly 7,000 employees serving more than 56,000 students on 68 campuses.
District leaders and members of the Board of Trustees have long envisioned a program to grow existing connections and advance higher levels of communication and engagement among families, citizens and the school district.
“We know we need to do more to create and connect stakeholders to opportunities to be involved,” said Chris Moore, executive director of communications and community relations for Frisco ISD. “We’re excited about FISD Insight and hope it will be an informative, interactive and fun experience for all participants.”
The inaugural class of FISD Insight met for the first time in late January. The group of 16 parents and community members were nominated by business, civic and community leaders from across the District. They range in age and ethnicity.
“Sharing our District with you is critical,” Board President Anne McCausland told the group as they gathered at the new Miller Elementary in Little Elm. “It’s your District too.”
The program will include five classes over the course of the spring semester as part of this first pilot class.
Participants will visit schools, as well as non-educational facilities, to learn about everything from academics, athletics and fine arts, to finance, transportation and maintenance, as well as other administrative and operational functions. Each member will also be asked to attend one School Board meeting and spend one-half school day as a hands-on volunteer at a campus.
The goal is to shed light on everything that goes into cultivating the success of students.
“Everyone knows about teachers and classrooms, but we also want to make sure we showcase all of the resources that it takes to support those classrooms and run an effective, efficient school district,” said Jamie Driskill, director of community relations and marketing. “We talk a lot about meeting the needs of the ‘whole child’ and with this program, we’re looking to educate the public about the ‘whole district’ – the parts that create a greater whole. Even our first location of Miller Elementary was an attempt to lay out one of those pieces by showing the size and scope of our district and how our borders are not confined to the City of Frisco.”
The group’s first class covered topics related to curriculum and instruction. Participants visited classrooms, spoke with staff members in small groups about FISD’s vision for student learning, curriculum development, academic programs and services, and got answers to their questions.
“The center of our universe is the student-teacher relationship,” Dr. Lyon said. “Your child does not thrive unless there is a caring, quality teacher working with them each and every day.”
Members of FISD Insight come from various backgrounds and have different reasons for wanting to participate in the program. Some are current parents; others have never had students in FISD schools. Some are new to the area; others have lived in Frisco ISD for many years. All expressed an interest in learning more about the school district.
Dee Maddox, an FISD mother of two who works for the United States Department of Agriculture, said she had “some eye opening moments,” during the first session. She was interested to learn that school start times are tied to being economical with transportation funds and to studies that show that high school students perform better with a late start time.
Others noted how much education has changed since their days in school – from the way students are seated, to the manner in which they collaborate and utilize technology.
At the end of the class, retired nurse Donna Michel acknowledged she only wished her two grandchildren could attend FISD.
Members of FISD Insight Class 1 include:
- Gina Cheek
- Kristy Cotter
- Laurie Daley
- Norm Daley
- Patrick Doyle
- Randy Farmer
- Lani Friedel
- Jon Kendall
- Martha Holguin
- Glen Hunihan
- DeAdrian (Dee) Maddox
- Donna Michel
- Efren Olvera
- Melinda Samberson
- Michael Szymanski
- Lamonte Thomas
The next meeting of FISD Insight is February 27, with one class scheduled each month until the group is recognized at the conclusion of the program at the June School Board meeting.
Based on the success of this year’s pilot program, FISD Insight may expand in class size and curricular offerings moving forward. There is currently no cost for the program.
If you are interested in participating in future classes of FISD Insight, please contact Jamie Driskill at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.