Madison Elementary School District

Two teachers receive grants
Two Madison District teachers have received Arizona Technology in Education Association (AzTEA)/CenturyLink Integrating Technology Grants.

Jodie Dominguez, a Madison Rose Lane kindergarten teacher, received a grant for her project “Ebooks and Beyond in the Kindergarten Classroom.”

Julie Leckman, a Madison No. 1 eighth-grade math teacher, received a grant for her project to use technology innovatively by integrating 24 tablets and a charging station into her math instruction, empowering students to be able to utilize advanced graphing tools.

The two teachers were among 23 statewide who received grants based on proposals they submitted. They were recognized at the closing of AzTEA’s Spring 2015 Conference: Imagine, Inspire, Innovate (I3) on May 30.

Meadows nominated as a Blue Ribbon School
Madison Meadows Middle School has been nominated as a National Blue Ribbon School. The National Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes public and private elementary, middle, and high schools based on their overall academic excellence or their progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

The Secretary of Education’s announcement as to which nominated schools will be selected as the 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools is tentatively scheduled for September.

Only a few schools in each state are nominated each year, making it an honor just to be nominated. In 2004, Madison Heights Elementary School was honored as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Phoenix Union High School District

Geston named interim super
The Phoenix Union Governing Board unanimously named Chad Gestson as interim superintendent to replace Kent P. Scribner, who is the sole finalist for the Fort Worth, Texas Independent School District superintendent position.

Gestson’s appointment is contingent upon Scribner’s contract approval in Fort Worth. Currently the district’s director of School Leadership, Gestson’s interim contract will be through June 30, 2016.

School to be re-named in honor of board member
When PUHSD Governing Board member Linda Abril struggled to complete high school in her youth, the last thing she ever imagined was that a school would one day be named after her. The Governing Board has approved a recommendation to re-name Suns-Diamondbacks Education Academy to Linda Abril Education Academy, when the small alternative school moves to a newly constructed building for the 2016-17 school year.

The school opened in 2001 with one-time contributions from several companies and organizations, including approximately $150,000 total from the Phoenix Sun Charities and Arizona Diamondbacks Charities. Over the years, the school has helped hundreds of students at risk of dropping out, make up credits and earn diplomas through an accelerated, targeted and personalized approach.

With the success and popularity of the school, it has outgrown two leased locations, and will move into its own building located on the Metro Tech High School campus, 1900 W. Thomas Road.

Abril has been a champion of alternative schools during her 20-plus years on the Governing Board. She is the third-longest serving board member in the 120-year history of Phoenix Union, serving her sixth term. She was appointed to the Governing Board in May of 1994 and won elections in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and was unopposed in 2014.
Abril was Board President in 2002, 2011 and 2012, and was the Board Clerk three times. She was named the 2011 Outstanding Board Member by the Arizona Hispanic School Administrators Association. In her tenure, she has worked with five superintendents and 25 different board members.

Abril retired as child support enforcement officer with the Arizona Department of Economic Security in 2000. She attended Phoenix Union High School, as did her four children.

Metro Tech lauded as a ‘safe’ school
Metro Tech High School was named the safest high school in the Valley, and the second-safest in Arizona, according to’s 2015 Niche Rankings.

The site provides safety ratings for tens of thousands of schools across the United States, by analyzing data such as the number of disciplinary actions a school takes in an average year, including the number of student expulsions, suspensions and the number of school related incidents reported to police. It also takes into account survey responses.

Also making the top 100 Safest Schools list were Bioscience, Camelback, Central, Maryvale and Cesar Chavez. University High in Tucson topped the safe school rankings in Arizona.

Two recent grads get scholarships from UTI
Two recent graduates of the Phoenix Union High School District have a passion for engines that has paid off as they both get started in career training as automotive and diesel technicians.

Eric Morales Alonso of Central High and Jonathan Mendoza of North High both received $5,000 scholarships to attend Universal Technical Institute (UTI), located in Avondale.

Alonso has always been interested in cars and after spending last summer working at a local dealership, he knew that he wanted to continue in the industry. He hopes to open his own shop one day.

Mendoza is excited about training as a diesel technician, pointing out that “there are huge opportunities in the diesel industry right now, there are more jobs than people trained to do them.”

The scholarships are part of UTI’s commitment to making UTI accessible and affordable through $15 million in sponsored scholarships in 2015.

Washington Elementary School District

Orangewood given school supplies
Orangewood School received a special delivery of school supplies on Aug. 13, thanks to a generous donation from Sundt Stacy and Witbeck, Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix.

All three organizations are working together on the light rail expansion project on 19th Avenue. Since construction began, Sundt Stacy and Witbeck, Valley Metro and the city of Phoenix have been great partners to the WESD and the schools affected by the construction. Orangewood will put these supplies to good use throughout the school year.

Mountain View receives 70 violins
Students in the strings program at Mountain View School started the school year with new violins thanks to The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation. The musicians in Bethany Farmer’s strings class will have their choice among 70 new and refurbished violins, a donation valued at $35,400.

The foundation donates new and refurbished musical instruments to schools in an effort to give youngsters the many benefits of music education, help them to be better students and inspire creativity and expression through playing music. The organization was founded by Michael Kamen, who composed the music for the 1995 motion picture “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” In the last 19 years, more than 18,000 new and refurbished instruments have been donated to 1,311 schools across the country.

WESD menus available digitally
Washington Elementary School District menus have gone digital. Using WESD’s new online menu, parents and students can now easily view more information about what is on the school menu each day for breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack. There is a picture and description for each food item, as well as nutrient and allergen information.
This information also is available on a mobile app. To view the menu, go visit
Contact the WESD Nutrition Services Department at 602-896-5235 for further information.

Private and Charter Schools

Haircuts benefit women with cancer
St. Thomas the Apostle students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, along with parents, teachers and alumni, recently donated a minimum of 8 inches of their hair to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program. The program helps women fighting cancer receive real-hair wigs.

On Aug. 20, during the first week of school, the STA Serves kick-off rally launched the fifth year of students participating in local and nationwide service programs. The entire student body cheered as girls lined up to cut their ponytails for patients in need. Stylists from Salon Sureal (who are STA alumni) donated their time and services.

The aim of STA Serves is for students to take an active, hands-on service role throughout the school year. For more information visit

To learn more about the Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program, visit

Two teachers work with NASA program
Xavier College Preparatory faculty members Janet Mambrino and Adrienne Hestenes were selected to participate in NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) program. They are one of 14 two-person teams that will serve as 2015 Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors.

Mambrino and Hestenes will first complete a graduate credit astronomy course and will then be paired with a team of professional astronomers conducting science flights aboard SOFIA, a highly modified Boeing 747SP jetliner carrying a 100-inch (2.5-meter) effective diameter telescope. After their flight experiences, the two educators will bring their program experience to their classrooms and community in order to share the scientific discovery process and its value to society.

Working to expand professional development opportunities for science educators across the United States, NASA’s SOFIA is fitted with instruments that collect data at infrared wavelengths. It flies at altitudes between 39,000 and 45,000 feet (12-14 kilometers) on 10-hour overnight science missions.

Xavier welcomes two new coaches
Stephen Moss has assumed the position of head varsity basketball coach at Xavier College Preparatory. He has served as the team’s interim head coach in December 2014.

Moss has more than 20 years of playing and coaching experience at the club, high school, college and professional levels. Previously, Moss was the head coach and assistant director of the Arizona Mavericks girls basketball program. He also is a former head coach of the Team Legacy girls basketball program and an assistant coach for the Phoenix Flame.

Carrie Markham is Xavier’s new head varsity softball coach. She succeeds Bobby Pena, Xavier’s head coach of nine years, who has accepted a coaching position at Glendale Community College.

Markham was a four-year starter as a pitcher/outfielder at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sports management. She earned a master’s degree in leadership and organizational change from Pfeiffer University in Charlotte and, during that time, she interned with the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.

Brophy uses grant dollars to renovate
Brophy College Preparatory is using a grant award from the Diocese of Phoenix, funded by the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, to transform its Information Commons into the Innovation Commons.

The space was originally designed to allow students space to access web-based information. The Virginia G. Piper grant dollars will allow Brophy to transform the 11,500 square feet into a space that will give students access to sophisticated types of technological equipment technology professionals to pursue both assigned and independent projects.

Initially there will be three project spaces: a coding lab, a fabrication studio that features 3-D printers and other prototyping equipment, and a physical computing laboratory with an emphasis on robotics and drones. The goal is that by fall 2016, a new honors elective will be available for students to partner with outside organizations and communities to create projects and innovations that serve the common good.

Lady Eagles soar with softball awards
Bourgade Catholic High School’s varsity girls softball team raked in some impressive awards over the summer with six National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American Scholar Athletes: sophomores Alexia Flores, Rachel Hammons, and Crystal Stokes; juniors Alexianne Ramirez and Briana Soltero; and senior Marissa Heinley.

Each of these Lady Eagles maintained 3.5 or better GPA during the 2014-15 school year. Soltero and Hammons also earned AIA Division All Section first team awards and Crystal Stokes a place on the AIA All Division Second Team.

Hammons, whose standout year included a.790 batting average to accompany 76 runs and an on-base percentage of .821, received both National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American and Max-Preps All American awards. Her 68-for-69 in stolen base attempts also earned her the NFCA Golden Shoe Award in the high school division.

Higgins named an All American
Pat O’Neill, Brophy varsity swim coach, recently announced that seven of his Brophy Broncos—including North Central resident Cal Higgins—have been named by the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association (NISCA) as National High School All American Swimmers.

Higgins, who graduated this year, was named an All American in the Medley Relay. He was part of the Brophy varsity swim team that won the school’s 36th state championship title.

Shearim Torah school purchases a campus
Shearim Torah High School for Girls is preparing to move into a home of its own. Arizona’s only Jewish high school for girls has completed the purchase of a building at 715 E. Sierra Vista, just a few hundred feet from the school’s current leased location at 6516 N. 7th St.

The building features a large room to handle the entire school for assemblies and speakers. There also will be five to six classrooms, a designated library area and a computer lab/independent study area.

School officials will work with architects and contractors to finalize plans to implement a “Phase II” expansion in the summer of 2016, which will allow the school to handle more students in the future.

Acquisition of the new building was supported by contributions from many local donors. Ongoing fundraising will help with financing for the initial purchase and planned future improvements and expansion.

For more information, call 602-324-3406 or visit

Local youth selected for poetry anthology
North Central resident Anita Sheih, a senior at Phoenix Country Day School, has been recognized in a national poetry contest for her creative work. Anita was encouraged by her junior English teacher, Sarah Driscoll, to submit creative pieces written for her class to the American Library of Poetry contest.

Anita’s submission has been selected for publication in Eloquence, the American Library of Poetry’s national collection, which will debut this fall. Only a small percentage of students who submitted their work were chosen for such an honor; the works of three students from PCDS were selected.

Midtown Primary offers blended learning model
“Blended Learning” is the addition of online learning to the face-to-face classroom at Midtown Primary School. It allows for a more personalized learning experience and more independence—even with young learners.

Midtown has added Blended Learning to its rotational model, with small groups moving among different teachers in different environments to get intense instruction in various subjects. Blended learning allows teachers more direct instructional time while also introducing the kids to vital 21st century skills.

Midtown allows teachers the freedom to choose how they will structure the use of technology in their classroom. Rather than de-personalizing their students, the teachers have found that it gives them more time for hands-on experiences, character building, and one-on-one assistance. Students are engaged and motivated.


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