McKINNEY — When two McKinney ISD school buses made their stops at Glen Oaks Elementary, McKinney Boyd High School and Evans Middle School last Wednesday, the 70 senior adult passengers onboard were greeted with an enthusiastic array of fanfare: banners, cheering students, drum lines and a panther mascot wielding a flute. But, the most familiar form of greeting throughout the day was a smile from host and visitor alike.

Wednesday marked the 2015 McKinney ISD Senior Tour, the fourth such annual opportunity for McKinney senior adults to take an inside look at programs offered at the elementary, middle and high school levels as well as to meet students, teachers and administrators who make it all happen each day in MISD. Along the way, they shared stories and laughter and marveled at how far things have come.

“The advanced technology that we’re seeing in the schools tells us how much progress has been made through the years,” said Moses Aleman, a three-time visitor on the Senior Tour. “I graduated from high school in 1948. They didn’t have all of this. Grade school to us was a blackboard and a piece of chalk.”

Music class at Glen Oaks Elementary School.

Music class at Glen Oaks Elementary School.

 

One would be hard-pressed to find a blackboard hanging anywhere in a school these days. Smartboards, iPads and laptops have sent such items to permanent storage. But, the difference in contemporary education goes well beyond the tools students are using. The manner in which those devices are integrated into the learning process gives kids the opportunity to engage with new information in fresh, exciting ways – to collaborate, connect and expand their learning using methods that weren’t possible before. And that approach benefits students at all levels.

“There is such advancement in the teaching, and it seems to be more individualized to help uplift each student. It makes me want to come back to school,” said Myrtle Pate, a guest on the tour. “It’s absolutely wonderful.”

 

 

For McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel, the Senior Tour was a complete success. “When you watched the seniors' faces as they arrived at their respective locations, it was obvious that they were caught up in the nostalgia of being back on a campus. The sights and sounds of kids cheering, bands playing and kids singing throughout the day showcased the promise of today's youth.”

Touring McKinney Boyd High School.

Touring McKinney Boyd High School.

 

At Glen Oaks Elementary, Senior Tour participants joined in on the fun in P.E., learned a few new dance steps in music class and lent their artistic vision to an art project in addition to other activities.

“The kids – the communication – they’re so able to express what they’re doing,” said Senior Tour participant Marie Labelle. “And, the little ones, they didn’t hesitate to talk to you. It wasn’t like, ‘Who are all these gray-haired people coming in here?’ They were just so engaging and welcoming. They came around and shook your hand and talked to you and told you about what they’re doing. They all just seemed to be confident and headed in the right direction for life. And that’s so good to see. When you go into a classroom, you don’t just stand around; they encourage you to get into it. That’s why I was always the last one out [of the room].”

The midday stop was at McKinney Boyd High School where the guests were treated to lunch and a performance by the Boyd Jazz Band before checking out the school’s offerings that included new language labs, the video production studio, an impromptu choir performance and floral design class.

Video production at McKinney Boyd High School.

Video production at McKinney Boyd High School.

 

Boyd senior PALS member Ross Matiscik enjoyed the opportunity to serve as a guide for the Senior Tour. “Well, I think it’s awesome, just showing them around our school and how we do things now. It really wows them, so it’s really cool to show them all of the great opportunities we have.”

The time spent comparing notes with the tour guests provides fresh perspective for the students as well. “It’s really eye-opening about how great McKinney really is,” said Matiscik. “Just to see how much things have changed and how blessed we are to have [access to] technology and teachers that care so much about us – to be in a school district that cares so much about our future.”

The day wrapped up at Evans Middle School, the namesake of Leonard Evans Jr., who was the first African-American faculty member to break through McKinney’s line of segregation in the 1960’s.

Coach Evans is a frequent visitor to the campus that bears his name, so it was no surprise to find him among the guests on the Senior Tour. Catherine Ross, a reporter from NBC 5, was on hand to talk with Evans and his longtime friend George Webb who, as a School Board member in the 1960’s, played a pivotal role in the desegregation of McKinney schools. You can click here to watch Ross’ full report.

 

 

"I come by here two, three times a week just to see my name," Evans joked with Ross. He gave high marks to the job that McKinney ISD is doing, “A big number, 98.7 percent,” and said that he learns something new every time he attends the Senior Tour.

Technology at Evans Middle School.

Technology at Evans Middle School.

 

Evans told NBC 5 that he wants to see minority students continue the work he started, and stressed the need for minorities to be involved in the arts and music. "But they're going in the right direction," he said.

As the guests made their way around the school, the distance traveled between 1965 and today was obvious. Guided by AVID and PALS students, tour participants took in choir, dance and orchestra performances as well as visits to AVID, Spanish and engineering classrooms.

Webb said, “It's so great to see the difference of when we had it segregated, of everyone together. Sometimes I think we started something, but we should have started it sooner."

In an orchestra room, Jessie McGowen, the namesake of McGowen Elementary, stopped the students just before they raised their bows and asked them to pause for one moment. He placed his hand on the shoulder of the man seated beside him.

“I just want to make sure that all of you are aware that this is Leonard Evans whom your school is named after,” McGowen said.

Orchestra at Evans Middle School.

Orchestra at Evans Middle School.

 

There was a gasp of excitement among the musicians – and they seemed to sit up a little straighter. As they bent to their task, creating a gorgeous, joyful sound that washed over the small audience, the unspoken message seemed clear to everyone in the room, “This is for you, Coach Evans. Thank you!”

“I could not have been more proud of our campuses for their preparation and for the spirit they added during the entire Senior Tour visit,” McDaniel said. “Needless to say, all of the guests on the tour left impressed with MISD, but more importantly, they left with a renewed faith in the future of our city and country, via the actions of our McKinney faculty, staff and students.”

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or smauldin@mckinneyisd.net.

 

About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.