Glendale Union High School District

GUHSD boasts a ‘Straight A’ year
Glendale Union High School District has had a repeat performance—the district again received the letter grade “A” and so did all nine of its schools, including Sunnyslope, Washington and Thunderbird High Schools.

The letter grades, according to the Arizona Department of Education, depict a district or school’s academic performance based on a variety of criteria including the academic growth of all students. GUHSD ranks top in the state as it relates to growth points.

In addition, the percentage of GUHSD sophomores who met or exceeded the state standards in mathematics, reading, writing, and science surpassed the state average.

Cummings receives $24,000 fellowship
Sunnyslope High School teacher Karin Cummings was awarded the James Madison Memorial Fellowship for Arizona for 2014. Cummings, who teaches social studies, AP government and economics, was awarded $24,000 for graduate study from the Madison Foundation.

She will earn a master’s in American History and Government from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. She also will take several online courses.

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level. Fellowship applicants compete only against other applicants from the states of their legal residence. Applicants must be committed to teaching American history, American government, and/or social studies full time in grades 7-12.

The fellowships are intended exclusively for graduate study leading to a master’s degree. James Madison Fellows may attend any accredited institution of higher education in the United States.

Madison School District

Green Team lauded for recycling program

Last school year, Madison Simis Elementary Green Team students earned money and prizes for their school by collecting and recycling the drink pouches they use at home and in the lunchroom. Madison Simis Elementary students reached the third level of TerraCycle ( and Capri Sun’s Drink Pouch Brigade milestone contest by collecting more than 40,000 drink pouches. For their accomplishment, the school earned 50 TerraCycle wristbands and a vinyl banner announcing their achievement.

The students have also earned more than $3,000 for their school by collecting the drink pouches.

The Drink Pouch Brigade is a free recycling program that rewards people for collecting and sending their waste to TerraCycle to be recycled or upcycled. The Milestone Program began in September 2013 when Capri Sun added prizes for collecting certain amounts. Now, in addition to the money they earn for each piece of waste collected, participants can win prizes made from recycled drink pouches, such as park benches, recycling bins, a playground and other fun rewards.

“We recycle many items that are not accepted in the city of Phoenix recycling bin,” said Yvette Speers, last year’s chairperson of the Simis Green Team. “Our students do an incredible job recycling.”

Since the recycling program’s inception in December 2010, the school has recycled more than 150,000 juice pouches, nearly 59,000 granola bar wrappers, and upwards of 38,400 candy wrappers. Other items that can be recycled at the school include chip bags, Lunchables containers, cheese packaging, toothpaste tubes, cereal bags, and diaper packaging.

The Green Team works with several individuals in the community who recycle through its program. Some of the proceeds from the recycling program benefit the Phoenix Public Library and Clothes4Souls. For more information, e-mail

Phoenix Union High School District

Metro Tech teacher wins law-related award
Metro Tech instructor Mike Dillon won the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services and Education’s John J. Ross Memorial Award for Excellence in Law-Related Education. Candidates for this award are not only Mock Trial teachers but are selected from all facets of legal education throughout the state.

Only four educators out of the entire state of Arizona grades K-12 are selected each year. Dillon, who also is a PE and Health teacher at Metro Tech, received a $250 cash award. John J. Ross was a senior partner in the Phoenix law firm of Brown & Bain.

Band director could win GRAMMY award
Camelback High Band Director Jamie Johnston has been selected as a GRAMMY Music Educator Award quarterfinalist, one of only two from Arizona among the 7,000 nominees.

Johnston is in her ninth year with Phoenix Union and entering her second year at Camelback after a successful stint at Central High. She built the Bobcat Band from 17 members to more than 60 members, created a jazz band, formed several quartets that performed in the community, and the marching band performed at numerous parades and special events. She coordinated the annual Greater Phoenix Orchestra Music Festival and trained new music teachers to the district for the last three years.

At Camelback, Johnston increased band enrollment from 20 to 45 in one year, and has 75 members this year thanks to a summer school band program. Under her watch, she more than doubled enrollment in guitar classes and the music department was able to add another teacher. A new class she started this fall called “Creating Music through Technology” is attracting more music students and she has turned last year’s volunteer jazz band into a jazz class this year. Her Camelback students nominated her for the Grammy Award.

The Music Educator Award was established to recognize current educators (kindergarten through college, public and private schools) who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of music education and who demonstrate a commitment to the broader cause of maintaining music education in the schools.

Semifinalists will be announced in September and 10 finalists will be notified in December, from which one Music Educator of the Year will be selected and honored at the 2015 GRAMMY Awards, Jan. 26, 2015. The winner will receive a $10,000 honorarium. The nine finalists will each receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the schools of all 10 finalists also will receive matching grants.

Former students inspire with stories
Forty former Camelback High graduates came back to their alma mater on Aug. 12 to share with 200 current junior and senior marketing students their personal stories of college, career and life after Camelback.

There was a lawyer, engineer, CFO and CEO, business owner, broker, chemist and current college students.

Anna Fernandez, who works in the mortgage business said surround yourself with good people. “Choose your support system wisely.”

Manny Lucero, who graduated in 2009 and is now a development coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House said, “Network. You never know who can help you down the line.”

Edward Garcia said test-taking in college is huge. “It could be worth 80 percent of your grade, so don’t mess around when it comes to the exams. Know who your teachers are, by using” By participating in DECA and marketing contests, he found a benefactor who hired him and is paying for his college education.

Each year, volunteer Jeff Stephens, a local architect, gathers Camelback DECA alumni students from as far back as 1988 to speak to the DECA students. Marketing teacher Julia Bourdo looks forward to this every year. She even has the alumni conduct interviews for the DECA club officers.

FBLA chapter wins national award
Metro Tech’s Future Business Leaders of America Chapter won a national championship for the second year in a row at the FBLA National Leadership Conference in Nashville in July.

In the Virtual Business Management Challenge, the “Destroyers” took first place. The team included Ivonne De La Trinidad, Crystal Loza and Daniel Sanchez Ruiz. Metro had two of the 16 finalists who qualified from the 500 teams that started the online competition in October 2013.

The “Triple A’s”—Aracely Lopez Burboa, Adrian Partida Raygoza and Alejandra Salinas Oclica—finished fifth. Partida-Raygoza’s older brother, Andres Partida, won the national title in this event last year, and a Metro team, which included Crystal Loza, placed fifth.

The Virtual Business Management Challenge is an Internet-based game that challenges students to use visual simulation software to manage a bicycle shop. The program teaches students to analyze data and make sound, quick decisions to keep their business profitable. The National Conference attracts more than 10,000 high school students competing in more than 150 events.

Washington Elementary School District

WESD welcomes assistant principals
The Washington Elementary School District welcomed two new assistant principals to schools in the North Central Phoenix region.

Jaclyn Farrer joins WESD from the Cartwright Elementary School District as the new assistant principal at Maryland School. Farrer is originally from Flagstaff and she earned her bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University. With more than 10 years of experience in education, she was most recently the assistant principal at Manuel Pena School in the Cartwright Elementary School District.

Farrer hopes that at the end of the school year her school community will say, “They trust in my leadership because I’ve maintained high visibility on campus, genuinely listened to and supported the needs of students and all stakeholders and promoted high student achievement schoolwide.”

Jason Nuttall joins the Royal Palm Middle School staff as the new assistant principal. Nuttall comes to WESD with many years of experience teaching high school students. Most recently, he was the assistant principal of athletics and facilities at Copper Canyon High School in the Tolleson Union High School District.

Nuttall believes the most important thing you can teach a child is “to have confidence in his or her own potential to take risks, to both succeed and fail and try again.”

Private and Charter Schools

Reptile fun at Christ Church School
Junior kindergarten (JK) students at Christ Church School spent the previous school year with some very unusual pets. JK students were responsible for raising three newts (Alvin, Simon and Theodore) and three fire belly toads (Snap, Crackle and Pop).

The newts and toads live in a specially created classroom habitat and love to eat crickets. JK students learned how to keep the habitat clean and feed the amphibians. They studied the lifecycles of their pets and learned many other interesting facts, such as fire bellied toads have heart-shaped pupils.

The JK students studied the newts and toads as part of the school’s Life Science labs, a tradition at Christ Church School.

Junior kindergarten is an accelerated academic program designed to expand skills learned in pre-K and build a strong foundation in key elements necessary for future kindergarten students. With a class size limited to 14 students and taught by two experienced teachers, the JK individualized academic program is coupled with weekly curriculum enhancements that include Spanish, computers, P.E., music, library and chapel. JK students participate in daily one-on-one teacher-guided learning activities in math and reading. They also work in small groups to practice manuscript handwriting and sight words.

JK students attend class from 8:30 a.m. through 1:15 p.m. Monday through Friday, and may register for additional after-school enrichment classes or stay for Extended Day until 4 p.m. To schedule a campus tour or for more information, call 602-381-9906 or e-mail

Blake to attend event in Washington, D.C.
North Central teen Carolyn Blake, a sophomore at Xavier College Preparatory, was nominated for and will attend the National Congress of Future Medical Leaders in November, held in Washington, D.C.

The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students who want to become physicians or go into medical research fields.

During the three-day Congress, she will join students from across the country and hear Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners talk about leading medical research; be given advice from Ivy League and top medical school deans on what to expect in medical school; witness stories told by patients who are living medical miracles; be inspired by fellow teen medical science prodigies; and learn about cutting-edge advances and the future of medicine and medical technology.

Along with maintaining her grades, Carolyn also plays basketball and softball at Xavier and enjoys playing the piano and creating art projects.

GLAAZ continues to reach milestones
The Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona (GLAAZ) celebrated the first day of school on Aug. 5, and is anticipating another “first” this school year—the first graduating class that will have students who have gone through all four academic years at GLAAZ.

GLAAZ is the only public all-girls high school in the state. As a Title 1 school, more than 80 percent of the 142 students’ families live at or below the federal poverty level.

In just three years of operation, GLAAZ has already has created positive change in the community by preparing young women for success in future educational pursuits and in life. Its curriculum and many community partnerships facilitate learning beyond the classroom and provide numerous leadership, creative thinking and career exploration opportunities.

GLAAZ shares the attributes of high schools that work: a common focus on research-based goals and an intellectual mission; a small, personalized learning community; technology as a tool for designing and delivering engaging, imaginative curricula; and, rigorous academic standards for both high school and college-level studies.

The Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona is located at 715 W. Mariposa St., on the campus of Florence Crittenton of Arizona. Families interested in becoming part GLAAZ can call 602-288-4518 or visit Tours for prospective students and their parents or guardians are available.

Norton joins team at Tesseract School
Kathleen Norton is the new executive director of advancement for Tesseract School, a nonprofit, independent school with campuses in Paradise Valley and Phoenix for students from pre-school through 12th grade.

Most recently Norton served as vice president of fund development and community relations at St. Joseph’s Foundation/Barrow Neurological Foundation. During her seven-year tenure there, Norton led key initiatives to build state-of-the-art facilities and expand programs to enhance the hospital’s scientific research, patient care and global partnerships. Norton secured multi-million dollar gifts and raised a total in excess of $10 million for key initiatives.

Norton began her career in education and has a long-standing connection to Tesseract, having served as director of Admissions in 2001. Norton returns to Tesseract at an important time. The school has plans to grow and expand to keep pace with market demands, starting with facility growth and enhancement.

Norton holds a B.S. in Education from Kent State University and an M.S. in Education from the State University of New York.

For information, call 480-991-1770 or visit


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