Learning Through Immersion: MISD Kids Find Their Genius The Foreign Exchange Student Program Through Clubs Y ou can learn about different countries in geography books, but 11 new Mansfield ISD high school students have chosen to learn about the U.S. culture by traveling across the globe and immersing themselves in it. The MISD Foreign Exchange Student Program provides teenagers from other countries the opportunity to learn about the history of the United States, see the workings of U.S. government and become more fluent in the written and spoken English language. “There’s such hope and promise in what a foreign exchange student can glean from the year-long experience,” said Holly McCanlies, MISD director of guidance and counseling. “The purpose of the program is to gain a deep understanding of a culture that’s different from their own, to make life-long friendships and to experience an educational system that is truly great.” McCanlies said that students from all over the world have taken advantage of the MISD Foreign Exchange Student Program, and she has seen how the experience has helped them flourish into well-rounded individuals. During their stay, foreign exchange students live with host families who reside within the district. MISD has space for five foreign exchange students at each of its traditional high schools. Origami, the art of folding paper, has proven to be an intriguing activity to the students. O n Fridays, there’s an extra pep in the step of the third and fourth-graders at Martha Reid Elementary School. It’s not because the weekend is near, though. The students know that if they do their school work Monday through Thursday, there’s a special period Friday morning where they can engage in different clubs. Principal Rebecca Stephens said the idea was implemented in the second six weeks to coincide with one of the guiding statements of Vision 2020, Mansfield ISD’s new strategic plan, which states that students will participate in an extracurricular or co-curricular activity. “Every kid has an interest; every kid has their genius,” said Stephens. “We’re giving them the opportunity to try different clubs to see what they like to do outside of school.” She added that having the clubs during the day gives students who may not be able to come early or stay later an opportunity to participate in the different activities as well. Origami, science, music, drama, robotics, Legos and kindness are just some of the various offerings each six weeks. There’s also a Book Buddies Club in which the older children read to the younger ones. Federico Dominguez (seated) is originally from Spain and attends Timberview High School for the school year. 26 Mansfield School & Family Stephens added that it’s not just about having fun. The Friday clubs give children intrinsic motivation and school buy-in. Starting in January, the club rotations will be available for the second-graders as well.