Mansfield ISD Magazine Winter 2022 | Page 16



Everything starts with a farmer . That ’ s what Cymbre

Penwarden , agricultural science elective teacher at Donna Shepard Leadership Academy , instills in her fifth and sixth grade students every day .
Students in her class learn where their food comes from , where their clothes come from and get hands-on experience caring for animals and vegetation . Penwarden said the program builds upon what is taught in elementary school at Tarver-Rendon School of Agricultural Leadership .
Performing tasks , like hanging clothes , is an employable skill local business leaders noted they would need .

From the time a student first enrolls into a Mansfield

ISD school , the mission of inspiring and educating all students to be productive citizens begins .
For the Special Education Department , this means giving students with disabilities the life skills they need to live an independent life . The Transition Program that is provided in high school specifically focuses on preparing the
students for success post-graduation and into adulthood .
“ Transition is really setting our kids up for life after they leave us ,” said Rebecca Brooks , special education coordinator . “ We really look at our life skills and also their job skills and help them to be successful once they leave us .”
Some of the tasks the transition students complete in class include washing laundry , putting up dishes , shredding papers , arranging menus and hanging up clothes .
Community input is a big component of the skills that are taught . A team of staff and local business owners meet to discuss what the current workforce needs are . That information is then directly implemented into the program . The goal is for the students to learn pre-employment skills that can land them a job or help them get placed with a vocational agency that can further develop their skills .
“ Those kids come into class with that knowledge already and have ideas of what they want to do , and they share it with the students who didn ’ t get to go to Tarver- Rendon ,” said Penwarden . “ They just take it and keep going a little further and a little bit further with it .”
At the intermediate level , Penwarden said her assignments are more student led . Everything from garden beds , coops and feeding areas are designed and built by the students .
The students in the agricultural science course are responsible for the daily chores of the school ’ s mini farm and garden . They feed and clean the animals , ensure the animal living quarters are well kept and water the plants .
It teaches the kids the basics of agricultural and gives them a sense of pride in their accomplishments .
Those interested in continuing in the agricultural science classes can attend nearby Linda Jobe Middle School in the seventh and eighth grades . They can then study a variety of courses in the agriculture , food and natural resources program at Ben Barber Innovation Academy at the high school level .
“ Sometimes people might be like , ‘ Well , why don ’ t you just help them more ?’ Because they ’ re not going to get that help when they leave here . So , we ’ re trying to be able to pull back as much as possible but also help when needed ,” said Jinna Danser , life skills teacher at Legacy High School .
The MISD Special Education Department provides services to those ages 3 through 21 ( birth through 21 for students with visual or auditory impairments ) who meet the legal requirements of one or more disabilities as defined by the Texas Education Agency ( TEA ).
The agricultural science students and teacher watch as a turkey enters its newly built home .