I'm proud to be involved in the Frisco Independent School District's Independent Study and Mentorship (ISM) program. And, I'm proud of these high school students working hard to learn and gain experience in their field of interest. This article is just one example of the many impactful, thought-provoking, forward-thinking course projects coming out of the ISM program. Please enjoy learning about Lily Jones' ISM experience, from her perspective. – Kelly Walker
Coming into my last year at Reedy High School, I knew I wanted to take courses that genuinely interested me; ones that I thought would be enjoyable and beneficial. One class in particular that Frisco ISD offers is the Independent Study and Mentorship (ISM) program.
This prestigious program is strictly open to only juniors and seniors and requires an additional application and interview process. The idea of ISM is to give high achieving students the opportunity to research and develop large projects based on their topic of study, under the guidance of a professional mentor.
This class is unlike any other and allows students not only to learn from various experiences but also gives young adults the platform to get involved in the professional world.
ISM is solely based on what each student makes of it, and I would highly recommend any eligible high school students to apply if he/she is willing to be self-disciplined and put in the additional time.
About a year ago, I picked out my first pair of eyeglasses. I wondered why and how my eyesight was beginning to change after having perfect vision my entire life.
With ISM, I was able to explore, learn, and observe under the guidance of a mentor. Through my experiences, I furthered my passion for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
This year in ISM, I'm studying optometry and I'm honored to be working with a phenomenal mentor, Dr. Carey Brooks.
Dr. Brooks graduated from Texas A&M University with a major in Biology and a minor in Business, later furthering her education at the University of Houston, College of Optometry. Additionally, Dr. Brooks is a mother of three and the owner of her own practice, Frisco Eye Source.
My Experiences and Opportunities with ISM
As a part of Reedy High School ISM this year, I participated in various events that typical high school courses wouldn't normally offer to someone my age. This included conducting research, writing at least two essay reports weekly, interviewing professionals, scheduling mentor visits and observation dates, and working with various organizations and companies to produce my Final Product.
During the first semester, all ISM students in Frisco ISD were invited to an event called Business Symposium. It's a great opportunity for participating students to mingle, connect, and learn from various business professionals, entrepreneurs, and other students.
In January, I had the privilege to present my work at the Frisco ISD Independent Study and Mentorship Research Showcase, at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco. This community event provided students the opportunity to introduce his/her mentor, showcase their research, and highlight their Original Work.
My Final Product
For my Final Product, I decided to implement an eyeglasses drive in various FISD elementary schools. The collected glasses would then be donated to individuals around the world with ocular needs.
The initial goal of the project was to collect at least 1,000 eyeglasses with the participation of at least ten elementary campuses. The drive took place during the month of March and within the schools, each grade level would have a friendly competition between each other.
After many months of preparation, networking with local companies, and constantly working and communicating with all the elementary schools, the drive officially launched the first week of March.
With the flyers I designed and provided for each campus, all the schools had the freedom to advertise as much or as little as they liked. After three weeks of the eyeglasses drive, it was time to pick up all the glasses collected. Many schools that I visited blew me away with how many glasses they collected in total!
I'm pleased to say that the eyeglasses drive bypassed all of the goals that were set. Thanks to the large contributions from friends, elementary schools, and businesses, the drive collected over 6,700 eyeglasses.
Additionally, I'm very thankful and proud of all eleven elementary schools that participated; Fisher, Hosp, Sparks, Isbell, Spears, Robertson, Allen, Taylor, Boals, Shawnee Trail, and Sem. The 6,700+ frames collected was beyond what I had expected, especially for a young high school student reaching out to the community.
Unique experiences working with the elementary schools included having the freedom to drive to all the elementary schools participating in my drive and establish a “face-to-face” connection with the staff and students I would be working with. The freedom of traveling around Frisco allowed me to take on exclusive experiences, such as speaking at Friday Assemblies and being featured in Morning Broadcast Announcements.
To do this, I chose to partner with the McKinney Noon Lions Club. At the end of April, I traveled to Watauga, Texas, with McKinney Noon Lions Club members. During our day in Watauga, I helped package, sort, and screen the donated glasses, in preparation to be sent off to places in need.
Now that my Final Product is complete and my senior year is coming to a close, I'm amazed at how much was accomplished in ISM. The achievements made this year are beyond anything I could have expected, and I'm grateful for the platform to make an impact in the community.
I'm so proud of the Frisco elementary schools that participated because it allowed young students to come together for a common cause.
The local and global success associated with my Final Product wouldn't have been attainable without the patience, collaboration, and support of the principals, office staff, nurses, counselors, and teachers that willingly opened up their campuses for my eyeglasses drive.
Thank you to Nancy Fatheree (Fisher Elementary Principal), Mr. Donn Holsinger (McKinney Noon Lions Club), Dr. Carey Brooks (Professional Mentor), Mr. Speice (Reedy/Lebanon Trail ISM Teacher), and Market Street (donation bags).
Truthfully, my Final Product was demanding, time-consuming, and at times, stressful. However, ISM allowed me to bring my ideas to life. I was deeply invested in the vision and committed to making it happen.
Collecting over 6,700 eyeglasses is a personal moment of pride. I'm ending my high school career knowing that I invested in something that I'm passionate about. Something that will have an impact on the lives of others.
My hope would be that Frisco ISD would adopt my eyeglasses drive as a yearly event, not only to donate to people around the world but also for students in need here in Frisco.
About the Author
Lillian Jones is senior at Reedy High School, participating in the Independent Study and Mentorship course, studying optometry. She first became intrigued with the eyes after taking various science classes, such as AP Biology, Medical Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, Health Science, and Pre-AP Chemistry.
Her extracurricular activities include Reedy Varsity Tennis, Junior Frisco Women’s League, National Honor Society, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation Student Ambassador program. She enjoys the outdoors and spending time with her family, friends, and especially, her two dogs!
Lillian is proud to announce that in the fall she'll be attending the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Biology.
To learn more about her experiences and journey with ISM, check out Lilian Jones' digital portfolio.
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