Decatur Impact - 2018

Page 1

FALL 2018



RUNS p. 43 The Official Magazine of the Decatur Independent School District

IN MEMORY OF J.E. CARSON “TO THE WORLD, YOU MAY BE JUST A TEACHER, BUT TO YOUR STUDENTS YOU ARE A HERO.” - Shared at J.E. Carson’s memorial service, October 2018 The 2018 fall issue of Decatur Impact magazine is dedicated to the memory of J.E. Carson, DISD administrator and teacher for 35 years, who passed away last month in Decatur. “Mr. Carson,” as he was known to his students, set a model for teaching, coaching and mentoring that will continue to make an impact for generations to come. Many of his former students went on to teach and coach, crediting J.E. with inspiring them to become educators. Becky Renshaw Lyles (‘70) often consulted with her former math instructor while teaching 5th grade at Carson Elementary School, named for J.E. and his wife and longtime educator, Betty. “My love for math came from J.E. Carson, and I wanted to pass that on to my students,” said Lyles, who was named DISD’s Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2015. “In teaching my students, Mr. Carson was the driving force in my head every day, and I did not want to disappoint him.” Texas High School Football Hall of Fame member Ronnie Gage (‘71), who coached the Lewisville Farmers to two state football championships, says he has always been inspired by his former math teacher’s genuine interest in his students. “Mr. Carson had expectations, and he always had a plan,” Gage said. “He was a person who cared about his students and their well-being. He was a teacher, a mentor and a confidant. Most of all, he was a friend.” Lyles said Mr. Carson’s part in Decatur’s history is significant. “J.E. Carson is an icon in Decatur ISD,” she says. Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •




TRUSTEES Decatur board meetings are scheduled for the third Monday of each month in the Board Room of the DISD Administration Building located at 307 S. Cates, Decatur, Texas, 76234, Please check our website,, for specific meeting dates. Our of Board of Trustees meet in closed session at 6 p.m. Open session starts directly after the closed session is complete. Time is allotted each month for public comments. For additional information, please call the Superintendent’s Office at 940-393-7100.

Cheri Boyd Board President

Rex Hoskins Vice President

Jennifer Wren Secretary

Marsha Hafer Member

Matt Joiner Member

Charlie Tibbels Member

Wade Watson Member


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018



Decatur ISD

Dr. Judi Whitis Superintendent

Dr. Shane Conklin Assistant Superintendent

Steve White Assistant Superintendent

Cindy Tatum Deputy Supt./ Chief Financial Officer

Meradith Culpepper Director of Human Resources

Mike Fuller Athletic Director

Craig Weston Principal Carson Elementary

Roby Nunn Principal Rann Elementary

Lana Coffman Principal Young Elementary

Jim Cain Principal Decatur Intermediate School

Brett Pripps Acting Principal McCarroll Middle

Christopher Mogan Principal Decatur High School

Troy Bagwell Director of Technology

Stephanie Quarles Director of Instructional Technology

April Whisenant Director of Special Programs

Jennifer Terrell Director of Assessment and English Language Learner Services

Shelly Laaser Director of Child Nutrition

Sally Rodgers Director of Communications

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •



Decatur High School

28 It’s Tradition

30 Building Excellence

32 All In The Family

40 High School Sports Schedules

43 A Team That Runs

45 Athletic Wall of Fame

46 Veterans Hall of Honor

District News

ON THE COVER Alexia (Lexi) Sellards (right) and Emily Childress, members of the DHS girls varsity cross country team. Photo credit: Ashley Kyle

05 Get To Know Decatur ISD

07 A Message From The Superintendent

10 Adios, Señor

12 A Closer Look at DISD’s Core Values

16 An Unparalleled Legacy

Contact Us Editorial and advertising inquiries call 972.899.3637 or email your photos, stories, student spotlights and suggestions to for your chance to be featured

24 Professional Learning Communities

25 Fall 2018 Convocation


33 Meet Our New Coaches

34 Administrative Academy

35 DISD For Crisis Management

36 Alumni Spotlight: Julia Heaberlin

38 Coats For Kids

39 Board Spotlight: Charlie Tibbels

Decatur Intermediate

44 Custodial & Maintenance:

48 Decatur ISD Academic Schedule

15 Rann Calender of Events

Young Elementary

18 #bestatYES

McCarroll Middle School



Stretching Our Thinking

22 Off to a Great Start • Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

Graphic Designers Alyson Modene Caroline Brock Letters Decatur Impact welcomes reader feedback, story suggestions and general comments. Email All submissions become the sole property of Murray Media Group.

PRODUCTION Art Director Lizeth Wallace

04 Decatur Board of Trustees

14 Building Relationships


20 Technology Spotlight

CONTRIBUTORS Sally Rodgers, Director of Communications Decatur ISD

03 In Memory of Mr. Carson

Rann Elementary

EDITORS Jana Melton Steve Gamel

Carson Elementary 08 Growing The Whole Child

PUBLISHERS Scott & Kelly Murray

Decatur In Action

Address: 3513 Yucca Drive, Ste. 200 Flower Mound, TX 75028

Published by Murray Media Group. Opinions expressed in articles or advertisements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher or the Decatur Independent School District. Decatur Impact is not responsible for omissions or information that has been misrepresented to the magazine. Advertisers and its agencies assume all liability for advertising content. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the permission in writing from the publisher. © 2018 Murray Media Group.

A Message

from The Superintendent T

he 2018-2019 school year is off and running! On August 15, 2018, our six campuses opened the doors to more than 3,400 students. It is exciting to see the enthusiasm, energy, and anticipation that existed the first week of school still evident in our hallways and classrooms. Our theme for the year is “Building Excellence.” A dictionary definition of excellence states that it is the quality of being outstanding or extremely good or superior at something. In other words, whenever you excel at something you are performing at a level far above what the average person is able to give to that particular skill or situation. Achieving excellence is never easy to do. Excellence is a quality that people really appreciate, because it’s so hard to find.

“Building Excellence” is a proper phrase to characterize the direction Decatur ISD is headed this year. “Building Excellence” outlines the commitment of our teachers and staff to our mission to provide a quality education where students will learn digitally, think creatively, and compete globally. Student success and improving every child’s learning experience is the focal point of what happens each day in DISD. A greater emphasis on teaching and learning along with increased expectations in the classroom, on the field, in the gym and in every performance or competition means that we are “building excellence” in Decatur ISD. Decatur ISD teachers and staff are the most caring, committed individuals that I know. Thanks to their dedication and hard

work, every Decatur ISD student has the opportunity to achieve his/her personal best. As the year progresses, each student will gain valuable skills and knowledge that will prepare them to advance to the next grade or to graduate at the end of the school year. We will continue to model excellence, inspire big dreams and encourage our students and colleagues to keep moving forward. It has been said that “excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.” It is my belief that by modeling and nurturing a culture of excellence we open the path to success. We have to grow and evolve because what is considered excellent today will only be considered as adequate tomorrow. The journey ahead is exciting and full of possibilities. I look forward to serving the students, parents, community and staff as we partner to provide the very best education possible for our students. Together we can make “Building Excellence” a reality in Decatur ISD.

Judi Whitis Dr. Judi Whitis Superintendent, Decatur ISD

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


Carson Elementary:

Growing The Whole Child A

t Carson, we aim to provide the best that will lead to success on those standards, overall experience that we can — to our analyze student performance data, and students, to parents, and for our faculty that demonstrate a commitment to lifelong works hard every day to love, teach, and care learning. Our teachers have already gotten for our kids. Having reached the two-month to know each other better, grow closer, and point, we are encouraged by the progress learn to communicate and collaborate more we’ve already made and we’re excited as effectively through this process. Kids will we look down the road to the rest of the benefit by having more targeted, streamlined, school year and the development that the and intentional learning activities and kids with entire school is undertaking. Setting our sights varying learning needs will all work toward to high performance and success on state standards. building excellence permeates Ther 2018-19 school year "We believe in an also brings a new program everything we do. inclusive learning called Promoting Academic We make growth and community and continuous improvement two and Social Success (PASS) of our goals, regardless of our to Carson. PASS allows us we value all of roles here. Success in those to meet the needs of all of our children as areas will directly benefit our our students, not just most of integral members students in all aspects of their them, and aims to keep us in of the Carson development — academic, a high level of harmony. We family." social, emotional, behavioral believe in an inclusive learning and physical. Indeed, we seek community and we value all to grow the whole child and keep that core of our children as integral members of the belief in the forefront of our thinking when Carson family. examining our procedures and processes. Another new program we have brought Some of the changes we are enacting this to the school has students demonstrating year bring some level of challenge, but promise praiseworthy behaviors throughout the the possibility of rewards in the near and long building. We call it REACH, which is an term. Our teachers work very well together, acronym summarizing traits that parents and we have implemented collaborative and school employees find equally valuable Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) in instilling into our students — Respect, in all of our grades. PLCs allow our teachers Excellence, Attitude, Cooperation, and to break down into detail the state standards Honesty. In short, REACH is a positive for curriculum, plan assessments and lessons behavior system that turns the tables on


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

the traditional approach of only correcting negative behavior when it is caught. Instead, the faculty intentionally seeks to find students who are modeling positive behaviors and to acknowledge, praise, and sometimes reward them. Students use an incentive system to cash-in earned tokens toward prizes ranging from pencils and erasers to being tweeted about to playing hide-and-seek after school. It’s made a noticeable impact already and we’re excited to see where we take it next! Ultimately, we take our responsibility to the Carson community very seriously. We are entrusted with parents’ most prized possessions — their children — and we aim to provide them the very best opportunities for growth and learning possible. We love our #CarsonStars and are thrilled to watch them continue to thrive, mature, and make lasting relationships that will change their lives forever!

Carson Elementary Principal Craig Weston

Carson Elementary School 2100 US-287 BUS, Decatur, TX 76234 (940) 393-7500 •

Second Grade Teachers Superhero Day

1st Grade Teddy Bear Picnic

Plot Sisters Teach Plot to 4th Grade

Scholastic Book Fair

Stem Class

Prayer Walkers

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •



Longtime Teacher Enters Final Year By Austin Jackson; photo by Joe Duty, Courtesy of the Wise County Messenger


stream of students swerves past Terry Stewart, El Jefe of the Spanish department, as he looks out from his lavishly decorated classroom at Decatur High School. It’s the first day of school, and Senor Stewart, as he’s most commonly known, is dressed in excellence. His suit is firmly pressed. His cufflinks and earring dazzle. His eyes and smile greet every student who takes the time to look up from their phones. “Sup, Senor?” said a student. “Good morning,” Stewart replied with a nod, letting the first-period rush wash over him. Soon, the first bell rang, and the hallway chaos settled behind closed doors. The first last day of Senor Stewart’s teaching career, the 35th year spent teaching Spanish to 14-18 year-olds, had begun. His last first day didn’t feel much different than the 34 first days that preceded it, Stewart said. “It’s wonderful, but I’m nervous. I can’t help it,” Stewart said. “I’m never satisfied. I always feel like I can do better. But I told the kids, this is a really dangerous position for them to be in – no renewal of contract here. I can do what I want.” Jokes aside, all Stewart wants is to connect with his students and enrich their lives. A staple of Stewart’s career has been teaching more than what lies in the textbook. He teaches language and culture – concepts that are inextricably connected. “If you only teach what’s in the book, you’re not doing your job,” Stewart said. “I teach verbs and adverbs, but I teach culture, too. You have to give them a little ice cream to go with their lesson plan.”


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

He’s been incorporating the colorful cultures that speak Spanish into his classroom for years. He’s led the charge to take students outside of the classroom as well. Every two years, he takes students to Spain and Morocco to get a true grasp of Spanish, where it’s spoken. It’s the way he was taught in his first year at Arlington from Doctora Rodriguez, head of the Spanish Department. But before he began teaching, Stewart was a banker. He said the desk job, “ate away at his soul.”

The job he got after he graduated paid well, but left him empty. Soon, Stewart was called to use the years of Spanish college classes. When Stewart entered the classroom, he found his niche. The pay wasn’t great, but the people were. “Teaching is not a career; it’s a lifestyle,” he said. “I fell in love with it.” Doctora Rodriguez showed him the ropes. Stewart still has a framed picture of the doctora in his classroom to this day. He

said his lesson plans have her fingerprints all over them. “She taught me everything,” he said. After 15 years of teaching under Doctora, Melinda Reeves, one of Stewart’s administrators at Arlington, left to take a job at Decatur. Reeves wanted to start an advanced Spanish program, and Stewart was the first name on her recruiting list. “I told her absolutely not,” Stewart said. “I’m a city boy.” But Stewart kept listening, and after meeting with Reeves at a coffee shop in downtown Decatur, he found a community to call home. It’s an odd, but welcome fit. Stewart built the Advanced Spanish Department from the ground up 20 years ago. His classroom, outside of the pictures of Latin art and culture, is covered in the awards garnered by his department. It was recognized for its excellence by Congresswoman Kay Granger in 2008. “That means a lot,” Stewart said. “I have my degree up there too. I was told a long time ago to showcase your success in the classroom. Lead by example and show what students can achieve if they work.” In addition to teaching the language, Stewart founded and teaches the Flamenco dance program, which has also had its fair share of success. “What was really cool is seeing students of all kinds join,” he said. “We had kids with mullets, football players, girls and artsy kids all dancing together. They would have never crossed paths, but they became friends through Flamenco.” Now, retirement awaits. Stewart said he’s not leaving teaching because he’s tired of the job. It’s his passion. Watching his mother pass away after a battle with Alzheimer’s changed his priorities. “Teaching isn’t a 9-5 job,” he said. “I’ve put my heart and soul into teaching kids for 35 years. I need to put some of that energy back into my family.” While he’s leaving the program he built, Stewart said Decatur’s Spanish department is in good hands. “I think our teachers are great,” he said. “Doctora left a legacy. I think I have, too.”








Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


A Closer Look CORE VALUES at DISD’s


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018


hen Dr. Judi Whitis came on

will not only be an asset to you as a Spanish

hosted an Appreciation Breakfast for teachers,

board as the district’s new

student, but as a productive member of

administrators and staff that provided a great

superintendent in 2017, one of her

today’s society.” Thank you, Señor, for your

opportunity for them to showcase items they

priorities was to establish a set of

commitment to excellence.

will be selling as part of their big fundraiser.



“core values” for the school district. To create a positive learning culture she believed those key principles had to be communicated to all employees so they could better support their students. “In an ever-changing world, core values are constant,” Whitis said. “To me, the core values underlie our work, how we interact with each other, and they are the strategies we employ to fulfill our mission.”

- or should be using - every day in everything

The 10th Annual Decatur Prayer Walk took place in early September. Led by organizer Connie Lamirand, walkers made their way from Carson Elementary to Decatur High School, the intermediate school, McCarroll Middle School, Rann Elementary and finally Young Elementary. Friends of Decatur ISD gather each year to walk to each campus and pray over students and staff. We are grateful for a community that supports DISD students

that we do.”

in so many ways.



A school year has rolled by since the core values were first introduced, and Dr. Whitis’ hope that they would be endemic to the DISD culture is evident. “The core values are the basic elements of how we go about all that we do in Decatur ISD,” she said. “They are the practices we use

DHS Spanish teacher Terry Stewart, who

The members of Decatur High school’s

is retiring next year after 35 years of

FFA (Future Farmers of America) program

teaching, received the “Hometown Hero”

are used to hard work. With their teachers

Award presented by Modern Woodmen

behind them, they strive every day to live up

Financial. Señor Stewart was honored for

to their motto: Learning to Do, Doing to

his outstanding contributions to DISD and

Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve. Through

the community. Stewart built the Advanced

agricultural education, they are finding a path

Spanish Department from the ground up

to achievement in premier leadership, personal

20 years ago. He tells his students, “Integrity

growth and career success. Last month, they

Technology is integral to the success of DISD students. To give students the edge in becoming future leaders in an informationrich age, the district has made a long-term commitment to putting the latest technology in their hands. Dr. Whitis stopped by Decatur Intermediate this fall to check out how 5th-grade students are using their brand new Chromebooks to better learn.


To show her appreciation for principals, assistant principals, directors, and administrative staff, Dr. Whitis hosted a hamburger lunch last month at the Administration building. Those attending enjoyed burgers with all the fixings, plus a chance to spend time outside the office with colleagues. Building quality relationships with this team is an important part of building excellence in Decatur ISD. “I’ve always believed that leadership is set by example,” Dr. Whitis said. Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •




Relationships A

t Rann Elementary, we are family.

amazing teachers that have great content

to draw in everyone. So far, we have had

Relationships are the core of everything

knowledge, but are also excellent

open house for parents and family members,

we do, every day. We began the year by personally visiting

relationship developers.

a “Boo Hoo Breakfast” for incoming

At Rann, we are also committed to

Kindergarten parents, a “Rise and Read”

many of our Rann students at their homes

providing engaging learning experiences

and welcoming them to the Rann family. We

for our students, so that they may make

greet every student, every day as they enter

real world connections to their learning

the building. We are dedicated to developing

in school. We believe that experiences

the “whole child” and unequivocally believe

are critical to student learning and we are

that every student can and will learn. We

Stay Connected to Rann!

believe that a critical function of what we are called to do as educators is to focus on social and emotional well-being. We believe that each

Follow us on:

child deserves adults

event for grandparents, and our first student awards ceremony. In October we hosted the “Rann Spooktacular and Science Extravaganza.”

constantly looking at

In November, we will invite the entire

ways to broaden their

community to share in our Veterans Day

horizons and deepen their

celebration. Additionally, we build capacity


with our staff members. We continually work

We have had the

on developing our craft as educators by

opportunity visit the

attending workshops, creating high impact

Bob Bullock museum

goals, and meeting weekly as professional

and the Capital in Austin (see photos). We have also visited the Elm Fork

who they are deeply connected to and can

Education Center and our GT students have

trust completely. That is why we begin each

spent time learning at Melba Doyle Park.

learning communities. We believe that building excellence begins with building strong relationships with our students, our staff, our parents and our community. We

day with a “Morning Meeting.” This is time

At Rann, we believe that success only

then build on that foundation with powerful

that is intentionally built in to every day to

happens if we partner with our parents and

instructional practices from highly qualified

address social emotional learning. These

community. We have an open invitation for

staff members. We encourage you to stop

meetings are designed to help students

all community members to visit our campus.

by and see what Rann Elementary is

develop better relationships with their peers

We have several events that are designed

all about.

and teachers and to learn critical skills in dealing with stressful situations. Our goal is to help students develop interpersonal skills and problem-solving skills that extend beyond the scope of their academic needs. We believe that by addressing these needs, our students will be successful in all facets of life. We have 14

• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

Roby Nunn Principal Rann Elementary

Rann Elementary School 1300 S Deer Park Rd., Decatur, TX 76234 (940) 393-7600 •

Rann Calendar of Events Spirit Table Nov. 2, 2018 7:30 AM - 8:00 AM Fun Run Nov. 2, 2018 Noon - 3:00 PM Veteran’s Day Celebration Nov. 9, 2018 7:30 AM - 9:00 AM 3rd Grade Music Program Nov. 15, 2018 6:00 PM - 6:30 PM Rann Spelling BEE Dec. 14, 2018 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM Early Dismissal Dec. 20, 2018 1:00 PM - 1:05 PM Area Spelling BEE Jan. 14, 2019 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Talent Show Auditions Jan. 15 - 18, 2019 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM Talent Show Jan. 18, 2019 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM Spring Pictures Feb. 12, 2019

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


An Unparallelled Legacy:



.E. Carson will be remembered as many things - teacher, coach, disciplinarian, principal, role model. But he will be remembered most as a friend. “His job as a teacher was important to him,” said Ronnie Gage, who had Carson for 8th grade math at Decatur Junior High. “But he was also a person who cared about his students and loved them. He could be compassionate, and he could be outspoken. I know he was proud of me, and I was of him.” J.E. died last month after a lengthy illness. His memorial service, held at the First United

“J.E. loved the Decatur school district.”

JE Carson with his Family


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

Methodist Church in Decatur, was filled with former students, teachers, administrators, family and friends. “The impact he made on me and so many others will last forever,” Gage said at the service. J.E. and his wife, Betty, are the namesakes of Carson Elementary. His role as an educator for DISD spanned from 1955 to 1990, when he retired as principal of Decatur Middle School Gage. Gage, who taught and coached football for 42 years, said that ‘Mr. Carson,’ as he was known to students, served as mentor and inspiration over the years.

After serving in the Korean War, J.E. began his teaching career in Paradise ISD. He married wife Betty and moved to Decatur in 1955 from Kaufman. Through the years, J.E. taught math at the high school and middle school and coached boys middle-school basketball before eventually becoming the middle school principal in 1971. “The dictionary defines ‘educator’ as a person skilled at teaching,” said Roy Eaton, a longtime friend and publisher of the Wise County Messenger. “It defines ‘distinguished’ as a person marked with excellence. I define J.E. Carson as a ‘distinguished educator.’ ” J.E. was hired as coach of Decatur’s first baseball team. With just $100 in seed money provide by Superintendent E.L. Gantt, the Carsons drove to a sports outlet store in Ft. Worth and purchased chest protectors, catchers’ mitts, bats, and baseballs. After receiving his Master of Education degree from North Texas State University in Denton, J.E. continued teaching middle school

math until he became the DMS principal. In addition to teaching, J.E. became a Division II basketball official, officiating more than 1,100 games over a 25-year period. J.E. was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Decatur, served on the Decatur Planning and Zoning Commission,

“The impact he made on me and so many others will last forever.”

and was a member of the Decatur Housing Board and

educators. Last May, J.E. and Betty received the first-ever Friends of the Foundation Award, awarded by the DISD Education Foundation Award. “J.E. loved the Decatur school district,” Eaton said. “Until just a month ago, he was a regular at Decatur school board meetings. His knowledge of public education in Texas was unparalleled.”

the Decatur Water Board. His favorite pastime was golf, and he was a charter member of the Decatur Country Club (DCC) and a member of the Senior Oil Belt Golf Association. “J.E. loved this community,”

said Derrick Boyd, who is a close family friend of the Carsons. “He was truly a role model.” In 2000, DISD named its new elementary school after the Carsons, who had served nearly a combined 80 years in the district. Carson Elementary was the first school campus in Decatur to be named for former

J.E. Carson at the Middle School in the 80’s

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


Young Elementary

#bestatYES O

ur theme for the 2018-2019 school year is #bestatYES. The first week of school each student at Young received a bracelet with the word “BEST” on it. It is their daily reminder to “Be Extraordinarily Successful Today.” In everything we do at Young from morning announcements to assemblies, students are reminded to do their best or give their best. We remind students that everyone’s best may be different, but as long as they are working hard and giving all they’ve got, then we are proud of them. Relationships are a top priority at Young. Staff members greet each child in the morning as they enter the building either from the car drop off or bus loop. Teachers wait at

their classroom doors to greet students for a second time and call each student by name. We believe that greeting students at the door, calling them by name, and spending a few moments welcoming them promotes a sense of belonging and sets a positive tone for the day. At Young, we also strongly believe in the power of play and the importance of letting children be children. Research does not indicate significant benefits of homework at the elementary level. We believe that when students give us all of their day, they deserve to have all of their night. Therefore, we have eliminated the majority of our standing homework assignments. We ask families to eat dinner together and talk

"Positive teams don't just have fun together. They pursue greatness together."

about their day. We also ask families to enjoy their child’s extracurricular activities without worrying about homework. Parents know that their child is working hard at school each day and has earned their evening playtime! We do highly encourage parents to take a few minutes each evening to read a book of choice with their child, practice sight words, math facts, etc. Recess is defined as “regularly scheduled periods within the elementary school day for unstructured physical activity and play.” At Young, we refer to recess as a “Brain Break.” We believe that there are several benefits to brain breaks such as increased attentional focus, improved academics, improved attendance, decreased behaviors, and improved creativity and social skill development. Our students have four scheduled 10 minute Brain breaks per day. Two of the breaks will are outside on the playground and two are an inside activity such as BrainPop or GoNoodle. Our staff at Young is the best! We work closely together as a team. Jon Gordon says, “Positive teams don’t just have fun together. They pursue greatness together. They believe the best is yet to come so they give their best to create the best outcome.” Lana Coffman Principal Young Elementary

Young Elementary School 379 Buchanan Road, Decatur, TX 76234 (940) 393-7400 18

• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

3rd Graders Learn About Mixtures in Tasty Way

2nd Grade Fun With Math

1st Graders Get New MACs

Mrs. Coffman and Mr. Smith

4th Graders at Ms. Abel’s Reading Time

Wall Sign At Young

Reading in PreK

Principals Cooking On Game Night

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


TECHNOLOGY SPOTLIGHT: Deeper Learning Experiences by Stephanie Quarles, Director of Instructional Technology


n Decatur ISD, we believe professional development should be intentionally planned and include hands-on, relevant experiences for teachers. In this we have enlisted the help of two outstanding groups: Apple Professional Learning and Region 11 Educational Service Center. Apple Professional Learning Specialist, Tim Yenca, is working with a group of 36 elementary and high school vanguard teachers and administrators. This group can expect to see many different professional development models with Apple this year including whole group, flipped instruction, mentor teaching and several coaching cycles that will follow the plan, implement and reflect model. In Yenca’s short time with the district, positive changes can already be seen in classrooms in which deeper learning experiences are already being created.


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

Sixteen Decatur Intermediate and McCarroll Middle School teachers and administrators are working with three fantastic coaches from Region 11: Shawna Ford, Charles Cooper and Brian Smith. These coaches bring exper t knowledge in varying grade levels and content areas. They have already begun working with teachers as they explore and implement student-centered instructional strategies that allow students to drive their own learning experiences. These already awesome teachers will par ticipate in many coaching cycles that will also follow the plan, implement and reflect model. “Having had the oppor tunity to visit and observe many classrooms and chat with many teachers. I know that our students are already being engaged in relevant and meaningful ways,” said Stephanie Quarles, DISD’s Director of Instructional Technology Decatur. Quarles said Kim Sinclair’s

6th-grade students at Decatur Intermediate School use Canvas to record their own data and track growth and progress as they meet their own personal learning goals in reading. Kara Hayes at DIS employs Hyperdocs to engage her 6th grade students in understanding the difference between limited and unlimited government. Young Elementary’s Amanda Taylor uses the app “Teach Your Monster to Read” to reinforce the phonics skills they learned this week. And at Rann, second grade students are getting ready to participate in a Breakout EDU game to unscramble patriot songs that were accidentally all mixed up.

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


Decatur Intermediate School:




START n this first year at Decatur Intermediate

and culture. We have two administrators,

School, our No. 1 goal is to create a positive

one counselor, twenty-one core classroom

culture through building relationships. One of

teachers, eight elective teachers, five special

the first things we did as a staff was to come

teachers, five paraprofessionals, three office staff and two custodians

up with our campus core values. Relationships was our top vote. It was on every teachers’ list. We want to build great relationships with students, parents, and one another. We want to know every student’s name and every

Being excellent at DIS means every person working harder and doing better every day.

student’s needs. Another goal is to create a culture of unity within an outstanding staff from a variety of backgrounds. This year fifth grade teachers from Rann, Young and Carson moved across

who are all learning to work as one team. When we put everyone together – teachers, paraprofessionals, office staff, custodians and shared teachers – we have a total of 47

the sixth graders is exciting and challenging. This age groups brings a lot of energy, wonder, curiosity, and enthusiasm. DIS started STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics), which is a new class this year. STEAM develops a variety of skills that are essential for success: critical thinking and problem solving, creativity and innovation, communication, collaboration, and entrepreneurship. Morning clubs are another area of excitement. Many of students are so excited about clubs that they arrive at school early to participate. Clubs give our students an opportunity to explore topics and activities of their choice, taking ownership in their learning. Additionally, clubs give students and opportunity get to know the teachers in a different way. Building excellence is what Decatur Intermediate School is all about. Excellence is about being outstanding and doing your best in all situations. At DIS, excellence is students fully engaged in quality, engaging learning opportunities. It is students building others up, respecting others in the classroom, in the hallway, in the cafeteria, and at recess. Excellence is teachers coming alongside students and one another to ensure that all learners are successful. It is a support

on staff. As a unified

staff whose first priority is student safety

team dedicated to our

and well-being. It is administrators leading

students, we are off to a great start. New beginnings bring excitement, and this

a safe school, supporting teachers and communicating to parents. Being excellent at

first year at DIS is no different. Bringing all the

DIS means every person working harder and

fifth graders together and putting them with

doing better every day.

town to our new campus. Other teachers had already been here working with sixth graders. Seven new staff members came to DIS from other school districts. Six of our teachers come down each day from the middle school. Each person brings in his or her own style, personality, talents 22

• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

Jim Cain Principal Decatur Intermediate School

Decatur Intermediate School 1200 Eagle Drive • Decatur, TX 76234 (940) 393-7327 •

Students Tracing Logo

Student Greeters Wait Outside in The Mornings

D Award Winners for Excellent Behavior

Positive Behavior Rally

New Chromebooks

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


Decatur ISD Aims to Improve Student Performance Through

Professional Learning Communities by Dr. Shane Conklin, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction


ecatur ISD is focused on continuous

and administrators prepared to lead their

improvement. As a professional staff

colleagues in collaborative learning teams that

of over 240 teachers and administrators,

focus on learning and support the needs of

we are determined to improve the

their students.

performance of students in Decatur Independent School District. In September, each campus brought a team of teachers and administrators for two days of training around the concept of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and the purpose and importance of operating as a PLC. A professional learning community, or PLC, is a group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively focusing on student learning. PLCs focus on three big ideas: 1. A Focus on Learning - The fundamental purpose of every campus is to ensure that all students learn at high levels. a. What do students need to know and be able to do? b. How will we know if our students are learning? c. How will respond when students don’t learn? d. How will we respond when they already know it? 2. A Collaborative Culture and Collective Responsibility - Educators must work collaboratively and take collective responsibility for the success of each student. 3. A Results Orientation - To assess their effectiveness as educators, teachers focus on evidence of learning rather than evidence of teaching. School leaders and educators will


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

Professional learning must be intensive and directly related to the needs of students and teachers. Operating as a professional learning community provides the most sustainable model for ensuring teacher collaboration, resulting in high levels of learning for all students. During the collaborative team planning time, teachers will participate in the following tasks to improve student performance: 1. Analyzing and unpacking high priority learning standards 2. Creating common assessments to measure student mastery 3. Design student learning experiences 4. Examine evidence of student learning 5. Identify students that need additional time or enrichment “The very essence of a learning community is a focus on and a commitment to the learning of each student. When a school or district functions as a PLC, educators within the organization embrace high levels of learning for all students as both the reason the organization exists and the fundamental responsibility of those who work within it.” —Rick DuFour, Bob Eaker, and Becky DuFour (2007) Professional Learning Communities is not a program, a meeting, an add-on, or initiative. PLCs operate under the

be involved in ongoing, job-embedded

assumption that to the key to improved

professional development to ensure we

student performance is building the collective

operate as professional learning communities.

efficacy and responsibility of our staff. DISD is

The professional development plan is designed

committed to providing an exemplary learning

to ensure that every school has teachers

environment for both students and faculty.

Fall 2018 Convocation:


he wisest person Dr. Rick Rigsby, motivational speaker and author, ever knew was a third-grade dropout. “That third-grade dropout, the wisest person I ever met in my life, was my father,” Rigsby said. “He taught me five important lessons: don’t judge; be early; be kind; have a servant heart; and be excellent.” Dr. Rigsby served as keynote speaker at the DISD Convocation in early August, where the theme, “Building Excellence,” was introduced to all 450 district employees who had gathered to kick off the 2018-2019 school year. After sharing the new theme, Superintendent Dr. Judi Whitis provided multiple examples to define the those two important words that will guide Decatur ISD this year. Illustrating DISD excellence were performances and appearances by the Decatur High School Big Blue Marching Band,

the DHS Cheerleaders, and FFA student representatives. The celebration began with a fantastic breakfast of delicious treats prepared by the Decatur Child Nutrition Department. Attendees then had the opportunity to do a little morning shopping and visiting with more than 25 local businesses that participated in the vendor fair. After lunch, Dr. Rick Rigsby shared his inspiring message, which centered on stories about his father, a cook who dropped out of school to help on the family farm. “Just because he left school doesn’t mean his education stopped.” Dr. Rigsby told the audience. “I learned that excellence ought to be a habit, not an act.” Check out these photos to see how Decatur ISD celebrated the start of the new school year.

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


McCarroll Middle School


hat a tremendous start McCarroll Middle School has had for our

2018-2019 school year. Our students and

Teachers have risen to every challenge

Clear routines and procedures

presented. I am also equally impressed with

High expectations in the learning

the families and students.


teachers are excited about several things that

Our parents have also been so supportive

Collaborative Engagement

we are rolling out this year, such as our newly

and positive at every turn. They all have been

Building Relationships

formed clubs and flex time. Our goal for this

very easy to work with and have proven to be

Differentiated Learning

year is to bust open the doors and dream

real partners in the education of their children

big about what is possible here at McCarroll

– always willing to help and do whatever is

As we build excellence here at McCarroll

Middle School. We want our teachers and

necessary for our campus to be successful.

students to think outside the box, try new

At the beginning of the year, the MMS staff

things, and stretch their thinking. We want

sat down and talked about the things that

them to constantly try to answer the question,

make up a successful classroom at McCarroll

“What if?”

Middle School. They identified the following:

“What if we could do more? What if we could build on this idea in a new way? What if . . .?” I am so excited to be part of the McCarroll Middle School family. The more I am around these impressive people the more I am convinced that we are destined for greatness.

Middle School it is our pledge to you that we continue to grow in these important areas. Our teachers are committed to these ideals and to making strides to not just grow here, but become experts in each of these categories. At McCarroll Middle School we are proud to be a part of the learning community at DISD and always excited about partnering with parents in continuing the growth and development of the young people that walk through our halls each day.

Never have I been around a more caring and invested group of educators. They never tire of pouring themselves into children, building relationships and striving to improve their practice.

Brett Phipps Acting Principal McCarroll Middle School

McCaroll Middle School 1201 W Thompson St. Decatur, TX 76234 (940) 393-7300


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

MMS Teachers Show Spirit MMS Cross Country

MMS Participates in 2018 Prayer Walk First Day of School

MMS Pep Rally

MMS Volleyball

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


It’s Tradition


AND OFTEN UNIQUE, CUSTOMS Last First Day of School For more than 10 years, Decatur seniors have celebrated the “last first day of school” on the DHS campus. The observance of this momentous day in the life of every DISD student initially began with seniors wearing specially printed T-shirts to school on the last day. A sunrise breakfast, served up by parents, began in 2012. Through the years, parents, faculty, and students alike have enjoyed this special time kicking off the final year of the seniors’ DISD academic career. Homecoming Parade The semi-annual Homecoming Parade in Decatur dates back generations. In its early years, spectators lined Walnut Street to watch the DHS band and cheerleaders marching in line with vintage autos, fire trucks, police cars, and horses. Over time, the parade came to include floats decorated by the classes, school groups, and other campuses in the district, making its way from the stadium, up Walnut Street to the square, and then down Main. The pep rally on the square, also a beloved Homecoming activity, is part of a long-standing commitment the community has to the Eagles of Decatur High. Mums No Decatur Homecoming would be complete without the mum. A tradition that dates 28

• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

back decades in DISD, wearing a mum to the Homecoming football game is still a “thing” here today. In the beginning of this long-standing custom, florists in Decatur created the mums, which were once distributed by the junior class as a fundraiser, using real flowers. Today, mums can cost up to $500 and do not include anything floral. Though many Texas towns include these festive arrangements in their homecoming celebration, Decatur holds its own when it comes to mums and Homecoming. Coming Home Queen Another beloved Homecoming tradition is the crowning of the Coming Home Queen. Announced as the recipient before kickoff of the varsity football game, the honoree must be a graduate of Decatur High School who lives in Decatur and gives back to the community. Many accomplished women have been recognized as Coming Home Queen over the years, and it continues to be a special honor today. 5th Quarter /Riot Night One of the most unique things happening in the fall in Decatur is “5th Quarter.” This longtime event, rotated among the churches in town, is open to high school and middle school students immediately after every home football game. At 5th quarter, students enjoy food

and fellowship until the doors close at 12:30 a.m. Years ago, before fast-food restaurants filled the Decatur skyline, “Riot Night,” as it was then called, served as the only opportunity to dine late-night on the town. Thanks to our church partners in Decatur for keeping this wonderful tradition going! Senior Breakfast The schedule of events surrounding high school graduation always includes Senior Breakfast at First United Methodist Church. For years, graduates have made the journey to the church to eat, pray and share time together. It is a long-standing tradition that the girls wear white. Many thanks to First UMC for carrying on this event. DISD appreciates your commitment to our grads! And One We Really Miss This is the first year the Battle of Big Sandy, the annual football game between Decatur and Bridgeport high schools, has not been played in nearly 100 years. Named for the creek that runs between the two Wise County towns, the long-running rivalry was one of the most storied in Texas and was televised for many years. For those growing up in Decatur, you never missed the Bridgeport-Decatur game. Now, we can’t help but miss it.


Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •





t has been an exciting start to the 2018-19 school year at Decatur High School. New staff members have joined the DHS family to serve our students, including teachers, teacher aides, nurse, counselors, and administrators – adding to an already excellent staff that was in place. The year began in early August with the DHS Staff hard at work preparing to welcome back our students and for the upcoming school year. We are focused this year on “Building Excellence” in everything we do, including in areas both in and outside of the classroom. We are also working to build positive, supportive relationships with our students and improved communication with our parents and families, setting high expectations for achievement in the classroom. Academically, the DHS Staff is continually

working within the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) model as a way for teachers to work collaboratively and interdependently with each other toward the common goal for learning for all students and ways to support struggling learners. New Advanced Placement (AP) courses have been introduced this school year, including AP Statistics and AP Environmental Science, that have added to an already impressive catalog of AP course offerings for our students. The Counselors will be introducing the Naviance Program to staff and students this school year that allows students the ability explore options for their post-secondary opportunities at colleges, universities, career and technology schools. As usual at Decatur High School, a large number of our students are involved in extracurricular activities, many of which are already in competition or performing this fall semester. DHS accomplished a lot in its fall

sports, and our winter and spring sports are geared up to continue that success! Our Fine Arts programs extremely busy as well. The DHS Band and Color Guard performed on Friday nights and is in marching competition. The Choir competed at the All Region Choir and our students were very successful. Theater was busy this fall preparing for the first show of the season to debut for our families and community members. Our FFA program got off to a fantastic start as well, with students purchasing pigs for the school year. We had successful pep rallies already this fall, with outstanding performances by our Eagle Dolls and cheerleaders getting our students ready for Friday night. There are great things happening at Decatur High School and great things still ahead this school year because of the outstanding students, staff, and families that support us! DHS is truly a special place to be each and every day, and we are excited to watch the students be successful and work together with our parents and community to continue “building excellence.”

Go Eagles! Christopher Mogan Principal Decatur High School

Decatur High School 750 East Eagle Summit Dr. Decatur, TX 76234 (940) 393-73200


by Anahi Pacheco DISD says “thank you” to Carrie Alano and her journalism class for all they do to capture the moment at DHS. Shown here are the students’ photos from this fall.

by Andrea Salazar by Kylie Raymond

by Anahi Pachecow

by Abraham Ruiz

by Jack Garrett

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


All in the Family by Reece Waddell Reprint courtesy of the Wise County Messenger


hen longtime Decatur volleyball assistant Brandy Mayfield resigned

“Looking back on it, I didn’t want moving to be the reason I didn’t [work with him],”

education, and [White] is special education.” White graduated from Texas

to take the Alvord head coaching job in June,

White said. “Dad keeps talking about

A&M-Commerce in 2010 and started

Clark Oberle immediately knew who he

retirement, so we don’t know how much

coaching in Prosper. She coached in Abilene

wanted to replace her.

longer he’ll be working. I thought if I didn’t at

for two seasons before moving back to the

least try to come here, I would regret it.”

Metroplex in November 2016.

It had been over a decade since he shared the court with his daughter, Alyssa White, but

Playing at A&M Commerce, White

Oberle wanted her to join him on the bench

recorded 287 kills in 2008. In high school, she

for the 2018 season.

was an all-state selection at Argyle, playing for

“My first thought was Alyssa,” Oberle

her father.

recalled. “So, I texted her and said, ‘Do you

“As a player, she was fierce,” Oberle said.

want to be my assistant and get a ring?’”

“She absolutely hated to lose. She knows my

At first, the plan seemed like nothing more

philosophy and style of play.”

than a pipe dream.

Oberle started the volleyball program

White was already coaching in Aledo and

at Argyle in 1999 and won the 4A

had moved to the area a few weeks earlier.

championship in 2015. He won more than

While she wanted to be reunited with her

500 games at Argyle, but never made it to

father, White did not want to uproot her

the state tournament with his daughter.

family again in such a short amount of time.

“It was a dream and a goal of ours to go

“We moved six weeks before he

to state,” White said. “The last year I played

messaged me,” White said. “For me, it was a

for him, we got beat in the region final, so

‘haha’ moment. I just laughed it off.”

we were one game away. We’re still kind of

As June turned into July, White started giving the proposition more thought. One Sunday when she went over to Oberle’s house, she started talking to her mother about the idea of coaching with her dad. Driving home with her family later that night, White texted Oberle and began asking

“It was a dream and a goal of ours to go to state.”

tournament when White was in high school, but they are hoping their years of working together at Argyle will finally pay off. Oberle already has one state

“It would be very cool,” Oberle said.

Oberle said.

practices began in August. Even though it

come up short of reaching the state

his collection with his daughter by his side.

“It just kind of fell into place after that,”

Middle School two weeks before two-a-day

The father-daughter tandem may have

championship ring, and he is ready to add to

questions about the job.

White resigned from her post at Aledo

pursuing that goal.”

After years of trying to join forces, Oberle and White were finally able to team up. “We had kind of talked about [coaching

“That’s one of those things in 20 years we can look back on and be like ‘Do you remember that year?’ A deep playoff run

meant moving for the second time in less

together], and it has been a possibility in

would be cool. A state tournament would be

than a year, White could not pass up on the

years past, but the teaching field wasn’t right,”

a dream. That’s something we’ve talked about

opportunity to coach alongside her father.

Oberle said. “But Coach Mayfield was special

since she was 12.”


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018



1st year head tennis coach at middle school; assistant tennis coach at DHS

Middle school volleyball, basketball, track

Married to Bryan Blair, head tennis coach at DHS

Daughter of two coaches from Emory High School in Rains, Texas



Middle school football coach; assistant softball coach at DHS

Assistant high school football, track Coached at Boyd HS and Northwest HS

Former softball head coach at Krum HS; wife, Jennifer, is the counselor at Young Elementary



Middle school football coach; track coach

Assistant girls basketball and track

Former varsity coach at Paradise HS

From Krum, played basketball at Southeast Oklahoma State



New head football coach and boys coordinator at McCarroll Middle School

Assistant volleyball coach

5th year at MMS

Played volleyball at Texas A&M-Commerce; also coached in Prosper and Abilene.

SETH OLIVER Student Teacher

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •





s summer winds down, the back to school season kicks in with excitement and anticipation for the year ahead. For parents it means preparing kids with everything they need – school supplies, lunch boxes, clothes, backpacks – for their best year yet. For Decatur ISD leaders, it means an intensive time of planning, collaborating, reflecting, and goal setting, all with a little fun along the way. It also means setting expectations as well as dedicated time to communicate about the vision, core values and the important work in the year ahead. Decatur ISD principals, assistant principals, directors, and district leaders started the back to school season in style, with a three-day academy in late July. The group began the event with a team building activity called “Tools for Schools.” This activity was a fun, interactive, and productive event focused on uniting the group toward a common goal of helping the Decatur community. The Tools for Schools program is a hands-on charity work event that challenged our team to fill a backpack with vital school supplies, including notebooks, pencils, erasers, and more. But it’s not as easy as picking up the items and putting them in the bag – our teams had to earn their


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

items through creative mental and physical team challenges that required teamwork, effective communication, and a willingness to roll up their sleeves and get involved. Decatur ISD leaders successfully fulfilled the task by working together, communicating effectively, identifying strengths of team members, and focusing on their mission – helping the children. Backpacks full of supplies were donated to the Wise County Christian Counseling Center. Communicating expectations was a critical component of the DISD Administrative Academy. The Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Judi Whitis, articulated clear expectations that included: learning and student success; collaboration; commitment; loyalty and trust; two-way communication; and solutions oriented. The expectations along with the vision and core values define the standards and the road map for success for 2018-2019. The academy culminated with a data day and goal setting session involving over 50 campus teachers, administrators, and parents. Data analysis and goal setting processes are an important tool not only for clarifying direction but also for assessing progress in Decatur ISD. Multiple themes emerged from the work

accomplished by the teams, with three goals developed: Goal 1: Decatur ISD will engage students in rigorous and relevant experiences that will prepare them for graduation and post-secondary opportunities. Goal 2: Decatur ISD will cultivate a safe, secure, and supportive environment conducive to learning for all students and staff. Goal 3: Decatur ISD will promote two-way communication among our staff, parents, and community to engage them in positive partnerships and maximize the success of all students. Although the back to school season has ended, Decatur ISD leaders continue the important work started in July. The focus on expectations is ongoing, with strong efforts directed to fulfill the DISD vision and 2018-2019 goals. We are fortunate to have hard working, passionate, dedicated leaders running our campuses and leading our departments. What started as a three-day academy in the summer is expected to yield exceptional results that will be acknowledged and celebrated as the year progresses.



nder the leadership of the Assistant Superintendent, Steve White, Decatur ISD is forming a committee to meet regularly to review and assess district plans for crisis management. The committee is composed of principals, some central office staff, members of local law enforcement, first responders, parents, and community members. White said the current plan needs some updating since first being drafted in 2010. “We are working to have the latest information to ensure we are ready if a crisis arises,” White said. “Most of the information from eight years ago is still good, but we need to make some changes to stay current.” New this school year is a plan to utilize a portion of staff development time to discuss crisis management. Decatur Police Chief, Rex Hoskins, and student resources officers (SROs) will meet with staff at all DISD campuses during the staff development period before school to discuss crisis management planning. Each DISD campus, led by the principal, will form a committee consisting of the assistant principals, school nurse, counselors, selected teachers, selected parents, and campus SROs. These school committees will meet regularly to review and assess the campus plan for crisis management. School safety On a district-wide basis, the plan will be reviewed and is a top priority updated annually to ensure that all procedures and guidelines reflect the latest information on crisis management. More for the City detailed procedures for addressing an active shooter will be of Decatur added to the plans, with an emphasis on crisis prevention. Directors of support staff -- including maintenance, and DISD transportation, technology, and food service -- will meet with other staff regularly to review and assess their plans. Both the campus and district plans will include response procedures, medical protocols, roles and responsibilities of campus, and district staff, and an ongoing practice schedule of response procedures. Fire drills, tornado drills, and lockdown drills will be conducted at least once each month during the school year. After all crisis management plans are completed, the DISD school board will review and approve before finalizing.

School safety is a top priority for the City of Decatur and DISD, with the two underscoring that point last spring by adding another school resource officer at the high school. School Resource Officers (SRO) are specially trained police officers that serve as positive role models for students, and provide assistance to school administration. Each SRO provides full-time police service to their respective campus and builds a relationship with students in order to improve relations between youth and police. The aim of the SRO program is to help students help themselves through personal safety awareness. “SROs are an integral part of school and safety and security,” said Assistant Supt. Steve White. “If there is a threat on any of these campuses, they are there to address it. That backup is invaluable to our educators.” The SRO creates and maintains safe, secure, and orderly learning environments for students, teachers, and staff. As a positive role model, a SRO instills good moral standards, good judgment and discretion, respect for other students, and a sincere concern for the school community. The SRO shares special law enforcement expertise and promotes a better understanding of laws. “Their role on the campuses is to watch and be seen,” White said. “They are there for prevention more than anything else.” Joining the two SROs at Decatur High School, Sgt. Keith Flake and Officer Amy Blankenship, are Officer Cristina Schwabe at the intermediate and middle schools, and Officer Victor Monjaraz, who covers the three elementary schools. “I love my job,” says Officer Flake, who is starting his second year DHS and 14th with the Decatur PD. “It’s nice to be able to interact with the kids and have the opportunity to mentor them.” Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •




Questions with Julia Heaberlin


ulia Heaberlin, a 1979 graduate of Decatur High School, is the author of the best-selling fictional thrillers Paper Ghosts and Black-Eyed Susans, which is being made into a feature film. Growing up, her favorite things about Decatur included visiting the old public library and cheering on the football team under the Friday night lights. Julia returns to Decatur time and again to visit her parents, Chuck and Sue Heaberlin. Last month, she took time out of her writing and public speaking schedule to talk about reading, writing, and her favorite DISD teachers.

“There is magic in a school system that creates lasting and loving bonds like this, and I am grateful.” - Julia Heaberlin photography by Jill Johnson


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018


What were you like when you were a child?

I loved to read, so there were a lot of hot summer walks to the Decatur library. I would check out as many books as I could, lug them a mile back to my house, and stack them up beside me so that as soon as I finished one, I could reach for the next. I wanted to be Harriet the Spy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Anne of Green Gables, Jo in Little Women, and Scarlett O’Hara. I wanted to be as brave as Anne Frank and as lyrical as Emily Dickinson. I was a girl who discovered herself through the heroines of literature. I was living in a small Texas town but traveling worlds far beyond it.


What did you think you would be when you grew up?

I didn’t know, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. Kids are pressured so early now to pick a path. At fifteen, I dreamed of writing a novel after reading Rebecca, but I wasn’t fully prepared to do it until more than twenty years later. I was a journalist first, which taught me so much about developing a voice, the craft of writing, and drawing complicated characters. After editing real-life crime drama, I became intrigued with what happens to victims and killers long after a crime occurs. This is at the heart of most of my novels, along with strong female protagonists. And I love layering in a deeper theme beyond the plot.


Who were your favorite DISD teachers? It says a lot that so many Decatur educators come to mind: Lavaga Long, Sue Jean Cocanougher, JoAnn Baker, J.E. and Betty Carson, Pam Holland, Dena Silvers, Rachel Gasperson, Joyce and

Bud Enis and many more. All of these men and women not only supported me and opened my mind as a child but they continued to cheerlead me into adulthood as both a journalist and an author. I can’t tell you how many of them have shown up at my signings and let me know they’ve read my books. There is magic in a school system that creates lasting and loving bonds like this, and I am grateful.


Do details from your childhood and growing up in Decatur show up in your novels?

Yes, absolutely. The fantastical house looming over a town in my thriller BlackEyed Susans was definitely inspired by the Waggoner Mansion. As a kid, I loved its air of spooky mystery, the feeling that our town had a few ghosts wandering around. I set all my books in Texas and, other than Paper Ghosts, all in North Texas near Decatur and Fort Worth. Every writer is heavily influenced by critical or impressionable moments in his or her childhood.


Who has influenced you the most?

The people I love. My husband, who me to quite a secure job and wrote the novel I kept talking about, and then supported me through three difficult years of rejection. My parents, who, at 88, still live in the old white house on Trinity Street where I grew up. They provided a stable childhood and inspired a love of reading. It is a beautiful thing to be able to bo back and write inside the same bedroom where you discovered both literature and yourself. About Julia Heaberlin Julia’s novels, all set in Texas, have sold in more than 20 countries. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed Playing Dead and Lie Still. As a journalist, she worked in features as an award-winning editor at The Detroit News, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and The Dallas Morning News. Julia lives with her husband in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where she is at work on her next thriller. She has one son, who is in medical school in Chicago.

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •


COATS for Kids F

or a third year, Decatur ISD has been designated as one of the recipients of the Coats for Kids Ride, a nonprofit event based in Denton that distributes winter coats to children in need. Led by founder Greg Sawko, the ride winds from Denton to Corinth for the sole purpose of collecting coats for kids. This year’s ride is set for Sunday, November 25, beginning at 2 p.m. at Cycle Center in Denton.

It ends at American Eagle Harley Davidson in Lewisville. Even if you don’t ride, you can come out,


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

bring a coat, and a have a good time,” Sawko said. Immediately after the ride is over, the Coats are distributed to several school districts, including Decatur. Joining in on the efforts are Denton ISD, Ponder ISD, Lake Dallas ISD, Sanger ISD, Krum ISD, Aubrey ISD, and Lewisville ISD. “After the ride I’ll gather up a few ‘elves’ and go to Denton to load the our cars with coats,” said Meradith Culpepper, DISD Director of Human Resources Coats will be delivered to Decatur campuses on Monday, November 26. Culpepper said Decatur counselors have been asked to send a list of coat sizes to her by November 9. Because older students in middle and high school may not want coats, hoodies are an option. Last year’s event saw nearly 800 riders come out, collecting 2,080 new coats and hoodies for kids. Since 2011, the year it was formed, Coats for Kids Ride has donated more than 12,000 coats to children in North Texas.


Charlie Tibbels


ecatur ISD welcomes its newest board member, Charlie Tibbels. Having been asked to serve on several boards around the area, he said he takes his role very seriously because of the impact it has the community’s most valuable asset, our children. ”We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the assets provided by our taxpayers,” he said. “I am proud to serve the community in this capacity, and I hope that I can make an impact on our students’ lives through managing this great school district as we look toward the future. Charlie has practiced law in Wise County since 2012. Before law school, Charlie was the Chief Information Officer for a Wise County-

based healthcare company, where he served as the Privacy and Security Officer during the HIPAA implementation of the early 2000s. After several years in the business world, Charlie and his family decided the time was right for him to attend law school. During law school, he spent his summers interning for Mike Carrillo. Charlie and Mike became partners on January 1, 2013, and have enjoyed a growing general practice firm. Charlie is a graduate of Decatur High School (‘88), the University of North Texas (‘02), and Texas Wesleyan University School of Law (‘12) (now known as Texas A&M School of Law). Charlie also spent a few years at Texas Tech University where he played trumpet in the “Goin’

Band from Raiderland.” He was also Texas Tech’s mascot, Raider Red, in the fall of 1991. An avid musician who has played guitar for more than 30 years, Charlie plays lead guitar for the worship team at Crossroads Church in Decatur. Most of all, he enjoys spending time with his wife Misti, and two children, Zack and Marlee.

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •




Lady Eagle Softball




JAN 18

1st Practice


Oct 10

Fit N Wise Dual-Eaton, NW Eaton,

JAN 26

@ Grandview Round Robin

V 1:00, 2:30, 5:30

Azle @ Home (Fit N Wise)

JAN 28

vs Denton Ryan Scrimm

JV 5:00, V 7:00

Nov 27

Halloween Relay @ Denton




Nov 1

Dual @ Home (Fit N Wise)


@ Azle/Brock Scrimm

V 11, 1

Nov 10

Cougar Classic @ LISD


vs Arlington Heights Scrimm

JV 5:00, V 7:00

Nov 30 - Dec 1

Keller Invitational @Keller ISD


@ Little Elm, Frisco, McKinney V 10:45, 12:30, 5:45

Dec 6-8

TISCA Qualifier @ Frisco


@ Little Elm, Frisco, McKinney JV 10:45, 12:30, 5:45

Jan 10

Fit N Wise Dual-Wichita Fall (Senior Night)

FEB 12

vs Alvarado

JV 5:00, V 7:00

@ Home (Fit N Wise)

FEB 14-16 JV Brock Tournament


Jan 19

District @ Keller ISD

FEB 14-16 V Brock Tournament


Feb 1-2

Regionals @ Mansfield

FEB 19

vs Boswell

JV 5:00, V 7:00

Feb 14-16

State @ Austin

FEB 22

@ Eaton

JV 5:30, V 7:30

FEB 26

vs Keller Timber Creek

JV 5:00, V 7:00

FEB 28-Mar 2 @ McKinney Tournament



vs Richland High

JV 5:30 V 7:00

MAR 7-9

vs Graham V Tournament


MAR 12

@ Midlothian High


MAR 13

@ City View

V 12:00

MAR 16

vs McKinney North

V 4:00

MAR 19

vs Bridgeport (District Game)

V 5:30, JV 7:30

MAR 22

@ Springtown (District Game)

V 5:30, JV 7:30

MAR 26

vs Krum (District Game)

V 5:30, JV 7:30

MAR 29

@ Argyle (District Game)

V 5:30, JV 7:30


@ Denton Ryan

V 5:00, JV 7:00


@ Bridgeport (District Game)

V 5:30, JV 7:30


vs Springtown (District Game)

V 5:30, JV 7:30

APR 12

@ Krum (District Game)

V 5:30, JV 7:30

APR 16

vs Argyle (Senior Night)

V 5:30, JV 7:30


• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018


Varsity Eagle Golf DATE

Tournament / Course

OCT 15

Boys Flower Mound HS Tourney @ Bridlewood at 8:00

OCT 24

Brewer HS @ Squaw Creek at 8:30

OCT 30

Girls Fossil Ridge HS @ Willow Springs at 8:00


Burleson Centennial @ Diamond Oaks at 8:30

Boy's Basketball DATE






Nov 6

Ponder (Scrimmage)


4, 4 & 5

Jan 7

@ Wichita Falls

Nov 10

@ Denton



Nov 15

@ Argyle


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Jan 11

vs N Centeral TX Academy Jv/V vs Westlake Academy 9

11:30, 1 & 2:30 11:30, 1 & 2:30

Nov 19

@ Denton


10:30, 10:30 & 12

Jan 15

vs Bridgeport (Dirstirct Game) Jv/9/V

5,5 & 6:15

Nov 20

vs Aledo


11, 12:30 & 2

Jan 18

@ Argyle (District Game)

4:30 & 6

Nov 24

Alumni Game


11, 12 &1

Jan 22

@ Springtown (District Game) Jv/9/V

5, 6:15 & 7:30

Nov 27

vs FW Arlington Heights


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Jan 25

vs Krum (District Game)


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Nov 29-31 @ Weatherford & @ Bowie

Jv/V 9


Jan 29

vs Wichita Falls


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Dec 6-8

Decatur Invitational



Feb 1

@ Bridgeport (Dirstirct Game) Jv/9/V

5, 6:15 & 7:30

Dec 14

@ Bowie



Feb 5

vs Argyle (District Game)


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Dec 18

vs Stephenville


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Feb 8

vs Springtown (District & Senior)


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Dec 20

@ Burkburnett


4, 4 & 5:30

Feb 12

@ Krum (District Game)


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Dec 21

vs Brock


2, 2 & 3:15

Feb 18-19 Bi-District



Dec 27-29 @ Saginaw (Whataburger Torn.) V @ Windthorst (Windthorst Torn.) Jv

TBA 6:30

Feb 21-23 Area



Jan 2

vs Midlothian Heritage


4:30 & 6

Feb 25-26 Regional Quarterfinal



Jan 4

vs Wichita Falls


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Mar 1-2

Regional Tournament



Jan 5

@ Glen Rose


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Mar 7-9

State Tournament






Lady's Basketball DATE






Oct 29

Ponder (Scrimmage)



Dec 18

@ Mineral Wells


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Nov 5

vs Eaton


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Dec 27-29

@ NCTC Tourn



Nov 8-10

@ Stephenville Tourn



Jan 2

vs Bowie


11:30, 1 & 2:30

Nov 10

@ Braswell



Jan 4

vs Springtown (District Game) 9/Jv/V

5,5 & 6:15

Nov 12

@ Eaton



Jan 8

@ Krum (9-4A Game)

4:30 & 6

Nov 13

@ Paradise


5 & 6:30

Jan 11


Nov 15 & 17 @ Weatherford Tourn



Jan 15

vs Bridgeport (District Game) Jv/V/9

5, 6:15 & 7:30

Nov 16

vs Muenster



Jan 18

@ Argyle (District Game)

5 & 6:15

Nov 19

@ Aubrey


12 & 1:15

Jan 22

@ Springtown (District Game) Jv/V/9

5, 6:15 & 7:30

Nov 20

vs Sanger


11, 12:30 & 2

Jan 25

vs Krum (District Game)


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Nov 27

@ Alvord


6:30 & 7:45

Jan 29

vs Hirschi


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Nov 29 -

@ Salado Tourn &



Feb 1

@ Bridgeport (District Game) Jv/V/9

5, 6:15 & 7:30

Dec 1

@ Minerl Wells Tourn

Feb 5

vs Argyle (District

5 & 6:15

Dec 4

@ Graham


4:30, 6 & 7:30

Feb 11-12




Dec 6-8

@ Pwaster Tourn



Feb 14-16




Dec 10

vs Easton



Feb 18-19

Regional Quarterfinal



Dec 11

@ Lake Country


4:30 & 6

Feb 22-23

Regional Tournament



Dec 14

vs Melissa Wells


5, 6:15 & 7:30

Feb 23 - Mar 2 State Tournament





& Senior Game) Jv/V

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •



Boys Soccer








vs WF Hirschi


JAN 15

@ Lake Worth


vs WF Hirschi

JAN 10-12 @ Springtown Tournament JAN 15

@ Lake Worth


JAN 17-19 @ Springtown Tournament

JAN 18

DH Jarvis


JAN 22

@ Gainesville


JAN 22

vs Gainsville


JAN 29

@ Graham


JAN 29

@ Graham



vs Stephenville



vs Stephenville



vs Mineral Wells



vs Mineral Wells


FEB 12

vs Argyle


FEB 12

vs Argyle


FEB 15

@ Springtown


FEB 15

@ Springtown


FEB 19

vs Bridgeport


FEB 19

vs Bridgeport


FEB 22

@ Argyle


FEB 22

@ Argyle


FEB 26

vs Springtown



• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018



ighteen. That’s the number of district championships Decatur High School cross country teams have racked up over the years. There are other impressive numbers, too. Twenty-one (number of times DHS cross country teams have qualified for regionals) and four (number of state championships). Under the leadership of head coach David Park and assistant coach Kristina Edwards, the numbers continue to pile up this fall. “The state titles and other accolades speak for themselves,” said Meradith Culpepper, whose daughter, Elizabeth, finished her cross country career last year at DHS. “They are a testament to one of the largest and most successful programs at Decatur High School.” Those close to the program say that success comes from the respect modeled by the coaches, and the sense of pride that each runner feels by being part of the cross country team. “Coach Park is the best coach I’ve ever been around,” said Julie Haney, whose daughter, Morgan, ran for Parks at DHS. “Those kids love him. He treats every one of them the same, whether you are in first place or last.” The connection between coaches and students is what makes the program so successful. For runners, DHS cross country is not just about being on a team. It’s about spending time with family. Everyone has a part, from the runners to the coaches to the parents. Every year at the cross country

banquet, Park reminds the seniors that after graduation, he will always be there for them. “It’s never too early; it’s never too late; and I’m never too busy,” he tells graduates. After a highly successful coaching career in Keller ISD for 21 years, Park came in 2004 to Decatur, where his teams continue to dominate. He says the program’s success is due in large part to a culture that remains family– and team-oriented. One of the team’s slogans is “We are not runners on a team. We are a team that runs.” “We are very big on putting others first,”

DHS CROSS COUNTRY BY THE NUMBERS DISTRICT CHAMPIONS 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

Park said. “Younger team members will look to the older ones for guidance. The kids know that the coaches care for them regardless if they are fast or slow. No matter if they had a good race or bad race, we are still a family.” Culpepper said that whether a runner is the last to cross the finish line or a

REGIONAL QUALIFIERS 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 REGIONAL CHAMPIONS 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2010, 2012

state qualifier, the emphasis is on personal bests. Coach Park and Coach Edwards celebrate each runner and each victory no matter where team members fall in the final standings. To Park, the number of medals and championships is far less important than the life lessons his runners learn. “I don’t know who said it but a coach was once asked, ‘What do you think about your

STATE QUALIFIERS 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 STATE MEDALISTS 1999, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2014

team?’ The coach answered, ‘I’m not sure, I’ll let you know in about 20 years,’ ” Park said. “That about sums it up for me.”

STATE CHAMPIONS 2001, 2005, 2006, 2012

Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •



They Help Us Focus on Our Jobs


“They work very hard to keep us operating

Schools without the important work of custodians - it’s not something Assistant Superintendent Steve White wants to imagine. “Custodial work is definitely one of the most important jobs in the district,” White said. “Their work helps the rest of us focus on our jobs.” Decatur ISD’s custodial staff comprises 36.5 (the half is for a part-time position). Their duties include opening the

under a watery siege during torrential rains in September, the custodial crew at the school

what they do we cannot see. But without them,

DISD wouldn’t

keeping all spaces clean,


tidying up offices, emptying trash, cleaning and sanitizing restrooms, and washing windows. During flu season, they work hard to eliminate germs by spraying disinfectant and cleaning areas that could be affected. • Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

When Decatur High School found itself

“So much of

buildings in the morning,


in a clean environment,” White said.

order. Their work helping to restore the high school in September was an example of how seriously the department takes their job. “They do a terrific job for the district,” White said. “So much of what they do we

joined DISD maintenance

cannot see. But without them, DISD

workers to go into

wouldn’t function.”

emergency mode. Some

The maintenance department is composed

could be found pushing

of four general maintenance employees, three

water out of the building

grounds employees, two athletic maintenance

with brooms and mops;

workers, an HVAC specialist, a locksmith, a

others physically tried to

secretary, and a part-time general maintenance

block water from spilling

employee. Director Rusty Berg is on call 24

into the building.

hours a day.

“It was a tremendous effort on all parts,” said

White. “You just can’t imagine all that they had

The department is responsible for 705,520 square feet of DISD buildings, including 259 classrooms. Grounds maintenance takes care

to do.”

of more than 230 acres, over 11 properties,


athletic fields and one indoor practice facility.

The DISD maintenance staff ’s job is to keep all school property in good, working

throughout the district, including six outdoor Last year, the entire department completed 3.406 work orders.




or Jill Eder, being named to the DHS Athletic Wall of Fame was the culmination of a lifetime of devotion to Decatur athletics.

“It makes me feel very grateful to be honored,” Eder said, who was named the 1967

District MVP in basketball and went on to teach physical education in DISD schools for 34 years. “I am humbled and happy to be recognized.” Eder is part of the 2018 class of inductees that includes Blake Workman (1927 graduate) and Ricky Terrell (1970). They join the inaugural class of Curtis Enis (1984), Ronnie Gage (1971), Kevin Haney (1978), and Brennan Williams (2003). The “Wall of Fame” recognizes significant contributions and achievements of studentathletes, coaches, athletic administrators, and distinguished volunteers who have brought honor and excellence to Decatur ISD. Nominations are accepted for the 2019 induction year until December 31, 2018. Each year a maximum of three inductees will be inducted from the pool of nominees. The Hall of Honor committee, which selects the inductees, was established in March 2015 to recognize, standardize, and ensure the accuracy of athletic achievements within Decatur ISD. The committee includes Bobby Actkinson, Joey Christian, Jill Eder, Kasi Elder, Julie Haney, David Sherman, Jason Wren, and DISD Athletic Director Mike Fuller.

To be eligible for induction, all individuals and team members must be of good moral character as may be determined at the discretion of the Committee. Consideration for membership in the “Wall of Fame” shall be based on the following two categories: (1) Individuals who graduated from DHS and achieved one or more exceptional accomplishments in the field of sports at the high school, collegiate, or professional level shall be eligible for nomination and induction into the Hall of Honor’s Wall of Fame. Examples of exceptional accomplishments include, but are not limited to, single game, season, or career accomplishments at DHS, or achievements in the field of sports following graduation. A minimum of ten (10) years must have elapsed since the date of class graduation before individuals may be inducted into the Wall of Fame. (2) Individuals, including non-DHS graduates, other than athletes who have made a significant contribution including time, talent, support, or funding to enhance the DHS athletic program shall be eligible for nomination to an induction into the Hall of Honor’s Wall of Fame. Candidates shall include coaches, teachers, administrators, booster club members, school patrons, or any others who support our athletic programs. To receive a nomination form, contact Fall 2018 • Decatur Impact •




hen the discussion began three years ago about creating a Veterans Hall of Honor at Decatur High School, DHS graduate and U.S. Navy Veteran, Tony Mooney said he felt that a prominent fixture within the school was the perfect way to honor alums who had served our country. “We wanted these kids to walk by that hall, read those names, and think, ‘They are from here and they went on to serve,’ ” Mooney said. “We wanted them to see that kids just like them fought for their country.” The Veteran Hall of Honor serves as a permanent reminder that the privileges that we enjoy — to learn, discover, and compete — come at the cost of sacrifice and service. The names of local patriots are a daily reminder to students that former Eagles, young men and women no different from themselves, left Decatur to preserve and protect these freedoms. Mooney, who served in the U.S. Navy during the Gulf War, joined former DISD Director of Communications Holly Fuller, Melinda Reeves, 46

• Decatur Impact • Fall 2018

boarding hostile combatant vessels. He met his Gay Trachta, Tim Woodruff, and Stephen wife, Paula, also a Navy veteran, while serving. Wren on a planning committee to make the Their younger son, Devin, will be joining the memorial a reality. Special Operations program of the U.S. Navy “Being born and raised in Seals when he graduates from Decatur High Decatur, this hall is so important to next spring. Older son Connor, a sophomore me,” Mooney said. “It’s one of the at the University of North Texas, played Taps at greatest honors of my life to be the dedication of the hall of honor in 2017. part of establishing this at Decatur “Both boys were raised in an environment High School.” that supports the military,” Mooney said. The memorial stands at the end of Decatur’s strong and proud tradition of the upstairs hallway at the high school, service dates back to World War I, when just down from the auditorium and Edward Hornback, Decatur class gym. Visitors may stand of 1915, served as a U.S. Army and read the names or sit Sergeant. From there it continues in the beautifully appointed space with Jack Rieger, Decatur class of to rest and reflect. 1925, who served as an Air Force “It serves as a living, breathing Captain. In all, the Veteran Hall of monument as we continue to Honor lists the names of nearly add DHS graduates to the list,” 150 Decatur graduates. More will Mooney said. be added every year. After graduating from DHS in Mooney If you know the name of a 1988, Mooney served in the Navy veteran who served, please visit until 1995. During his military and fill out the career, the Gulf War veteran DHS Veterans form. The name plates will be operated in the minefield off the coast of updated each summer. Kuwait performing maritime interdiction or