Duane Thomas

First Financial Bank Executive Vice President Duane Thomas accepts the 2018 Adopter of the Year award for their work with Cooke Elementary School on Wednesday during the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The bank helped the school start the Character Counts Guidance Program.

First Financial Bank received the 2018 Adopter of the Year award today during the Cleburne Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Cleburne Conference Center.

The Adopt-a-School program is a partnership with Cleburne ISD and the chamber to enable students to participate in unique activities, expose them to new ideas and learning opportunities and provide much-needed equipment and materials for teachers and schools.

FFB Executive Vice President Duane Thomas said it’s a joy to work with students and staff at Cooke Elementary School. 

“On behalf of all the employees, directors and the officers of the bank, what an honor this is just to be nominated with this great group of people and organizations that were nominated this year,” Thomas said. “Our relationship with Cooke Elementary [School] goes way back. Our challenge that we have is to mentor young people. They’re the next leaders and business owners. There’s no greater challenge that we have to help those folks.” 

Cleburne ISD Community Relations Director Lisa Magers said FFB does many things for the school.

In August 2017, the school approached the bank to implement the school’s Character Counts Guidance Program and focuses on six pillars that make up the program: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship.  

The bank has provided financial support with this program, including the purchase of program banners that hang outside the school and in the cafeteria proclaiming that Cooke is a school that believes in character, Magers said. 

The bank purchased instructional tools associated with the program, along with 600 program T-shirts and items for the store, she said. 

The bank also sponsored the Christmas Trees of Character, which students decorated with ornaments relating to the six pillars and were given to families of Cooke students and other families in the community who would otherwise not have a Christmas tree, she said.

The latest partnership the bank has partnered with the school is the creation of an outdoor learning center for the school, she said. 

“We could not do without our adopters,” she said. “They are true friends to our campuses and to education. We are very grateful for them.”


District update

CISD Superintendent Kyle Heath gave chamber members a glimpse on the projects the district has been working on, including an update on construction progress of the new Cleburne High School. 

In February, both Heath and the board of trustees were recognized by the Texas Computer Education Association, with Heath as the Administrator of the Year and the board as School Board of the Year, for outstanding service to the advancement of technology in education. 

The passage of Bond 2016 by voters included a technology component to provide students in grades sixth through 12th with Chromebooks for use at school and home. 

Also through technology advancements, Heath said the district was able to install wifi in all its campuses. Students can work in collaborative areas to do school work and also work with augmented reality, a technology that superimposed a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world providing a composite view. 

During the 2018-19 school year, the district will pilot a two-way dual language program at Irving Elementary School for kindergartners and first-graders where they will receive instruction in both English and Spanish as bilingual leaners. 

Also starting next school year, the district will implement full-day prekindergarten at all seven elementary schools. Pre-k is open to students who are 4 on or before Sept. 1, and who meet one of the following eligibility standards:

• Federal free/reduced price lunch guidelines.

• Unable to speak or comprehend English.

• Currently or have been in foster care.

• Homeless as defined by 42 U.S.C. Section 1143a.

• Have a parent who is an active duty member of the U.S. armed forces or whose parent was injured or killed while serving on active duty as a member of the U.S. armed forces.

In March, Coleman Elementary School was chosen as a Capturing Kids’ Hearts National Showcase School, which is an initiative built on the concept that “if you have a child’s heart, you have a child’s mind,” and is in its second year of implementation on all CISD campuses.

Establishing healthy bonds between teachers and students and collaborative agreements of acceptable behavior, including social contracts developed by both the teacher and students clarifying classroom expectations, are among the tools in use. 

Since Hurricane Harvey reached the coast, many school districts had to close and were need of assistance. 

The school district and the city of Cleburne partnered together to stand “Side by Side with Ingleside,” which was one of the school districts affected by the hurricane that is demographically the same as Cleburne, Heath said.

Since the tragedy, he said the district has stepped up in many ways, including raising money, collecting goods and hosting a school dance. 

In February, CHS launched the STinG week initiative — Students Together in Giving — which involves students and staff in a 10-week contribution campaign to benefit an individual recipient, or a charitable project or organization, leading up to STinG Week. 

At the new CHS, construction is moving forward, he said. The science wing should be open in August, with the rest of the school ready to open at a later date. 

There were also performances at the luncheon by the Wheat Middle School boys choir and the CHS brass qunitet. 

For more information about the bond, visit www.c-isd.com and click on “Bond 2016.” To view a video of the choir performing, visit www.cleburnetimesreview.com.


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