Glendale Union High School District

WHS honors its AAA award winners
The Glendale Union High School District Governing Board honored Washington High School’s Achievement Above All recipients on Dec. 16. The special event recognized distinguished members of Washington, including volunteers, teachers, support staff, students and student groups.

The Teacher Award recipient was Adam Roberts, who has been a teacher for 18 years and taught hundreds of students in the areas of Spanish and Advanced Placement U.S. history. He also coaches multiple sports each year, including distance track, soccer and swim teams.

Campus Technology Assistant Brandon Charette was named the Support Staff Employee of the Year. Charette has been an instructional assistant in both special education and Title 1; he has been an assistant coach for pole vaulting and wrestling.

Interact, which was the Student Group award recipient, is the school’s largest and most active service club on the Washington campus.

Washington senior Misael Perez Saldivar, the Student Award recipient, not only is a high academic achiever, but a very active student on the campus. Since last year and thus far this semester, Misael has performed nearly 200 hours of community service through National Honor Society and as co-president of the Interact Club. His course load includes advanced placement literature, calculus, physics, and government classes, honors Japanese, advanced band and jazz ensemble and he is in the top 1 percent in his class. He participates in Academic Decathlon, Japanese Club, Garden Club, tennis and the Washington High School Site Council.

Washington’s Parent/Volunteer of the Year recipient was Mark Klink. Klink volunteers his time at Washington as the president of the band booster club, where he attends all concerts, fundraisers, football games and band festivals. Klink also has represented the school by participating in community and district committees, at Governing Board study sessions and parent events.

Madison Elementary School District

Swanson named a Rodel finalist
Jeannie Swanson, kindergarten teacher at Madison Camelview, was named as a finalist for the Rodel Foundation of Arizona’s 2016 Exemplary Teacher Award.

“These teachers, representing the best of Arizona, were selected for their outstanding student achievement in high-need schools, effective classroom practices, and their potential to be outstanding mentors to future teachers,” read the statement from Rodel announcing the award finalists.

Swanson has spent 15 years in education teaching kindergarten, first grade, and Head Start and currently serves on Madison Camelview’s site council committee and math data committee. Representatives from the Rodel Foundation of Arizona visited Madison Camelview on Dec. 16 to recognize Swanson for her work.

The Rodel Exemplary Teacher Initiative honors extraordinary teachers and asks that they each mentor high-potential student teachers from local colleges of education. What sets the program apart from typical student teaching programs is that mentor teachers are selected based on their outstanding student achievement in high‐need schools, their ability to mentor new teachers, and the recommendation of their principals and Rodel’s observation team. This ensures that student teachers are learning from the best.

Kinder roundup set for Feb. 4
Madison School District hosts a Kindergarten Roundup 6-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4, at all Madison elementary schools. Families will have the opportunity to tour and learn about the school, speak with administrators, and receive information on enrollment for the 2016-17 school year.

For more information and a list of Madison’s elementary schools, visit

Osborn Elementary School District

Students’ art found in local calendar
Two Encanto Elementary School students are celebrating their honors in the 11th Annual Cool Transit STUFF Art Contest. The winning is featured in the 2016 Valley Metro Transit Education calendar.

Takoda Crabtree of Encanto Elementary has his artwork featured for June. Olivia Trujillo of Encanto also received an Honorable Mention in the contest.

Third grade students in Maricopa County were asked to design artwork showcasing the theme “Valley Metro: Ride With Me!” There were 629 entries from 39 schools.

The calendar display the winning artwork for Best of Show, Top 12 and four Honorable Mention winners.

The art contest is an annual program that incorporates the communities Valley Metro serves. The goal is to generate excitement about public transportation and highlight how transit helps to improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion.

The winning artwork is displayed in a calendar that is distributed to the general public. All winning artwork can be viewed in the 2016 calendar, online at: education/bus_contest.

Pierre receives grant for computer students
Sixth-grade teacher Julia Pierre from Solano Elementary School recently won $10,000 through for her students. This award will help further computer science education and technology needs for students at Solano. is a nonprofit that fundraises from multiple donors including Microsoft, Google, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Verizon, and AT&T. actually searched for potential projects on, where that website can run the fulfillment of the prizes and take much of the administrative burden off of

In order to win this prize, the students had to participate in an Hour of Code during Computer science week, work on coding throughout the year, and fill out an application for the grant. “The $10,000 will not only help put more computers into the students’ hands at this school, but make this a more student-centered classroom ready for the needs of the 21st Century,” said Pierre.

According to officials from, founder Hadi Partovi has the goal of granting money to lower-income schools where someone is going to take the initiative to broaden computer science knowledge in the classroom. “We looked at the fact that you are from a Title I school, had an entire classroom participating in regularly, and had a great idea for how every grade could incorporate computer science,” officials from said to Pierre in an e-mail.

At Solano, the grant money will help the school have a 1-to-1 ratio of computers for sixth grade students and create the third printing program at the elementary school. Solano is constantly improving its STEM education program and hopes to inspire students with its science curriculum.

Pierre added that according to recent studies, 67 percent of all new STEM jobs are related to computing, so initiatives like this “help get students’ footsteps in the door for computer science.”

Phoenix Union High School District

Metro Tech team makes it to finals
For the fifth consecutive year, a Metro Tech team has qualified for the Virtual Business Challenge competition to be held at the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Nationals in the summer.

This year’s team, “The Revengers,” made up of Christian Barrera, Erick Valenzuela and Ahmad Stanikzai, was one of 16 teams to make it to the finals, out of more than 400 teams from around the U.S. that began the online competition. They will travel to Atlanta in June for the finals.

Teams have two chances to qualify for the Nationals: a four-week competition in the fall, and another in the spring. To qualify, a team must place in the top eight of either of the month-long events, and it must be first in its state. Metro Tech has qualified at least one team five years in a row, and twice qualified in both the fall and spring competition. Twice, Metro has won the Virtual Business Challenge National title: in 2013 and 2014.

“A very large percentage of the Virtual Business competition is held outside of the class period,” Business teacher Francis Bidleman said. “Dedicated students playing the Virtual Business game, come in on their lunch hour, during Advisory class, before and after school to play the game.”

PCA program extends for 2 years
Phoenix Union will continue partnering with Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) for the next two years, thanks to a $50,000 grant from Fiesta Bowl Charities. The national nonprofit program, with the goal of producing better athletes and better people, was funded this year through a grant from the NFL and the Super Bowl, played in Arizona.

Positive Coaching Alliance provides access to PCA’s training for coaches, sports parents, student-athletes and administrators with live group workshops, online courses, books and additional online resources, free audio-video tips and tools. It focuses on leadership, positive culture building and character development.

The local chapter of the national nonprofit is committed to developing better athletes and better people through youth and high school sports. The grant will allow PCA to conduct workshops for coaches, athletes and parents in the district. An initial grant from the Super Bowl Host Committee launched the partnership with PUHSD this year.

Kamara named to All-Arizona Team
Central High defensive end Azur Kamara was named to the All-USA Arizona High School Football team that was announced on Dec. 20. That team is made up of the top players in the state, regardless of team classification.

He was one of only four players from Division III. The 6-4, 215 pound defensive end broke the state sack record. This season he had 107 tackles, 25.5 sacks, 47 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He also ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns.

Qui named a finalist for Flinn Scholarship
North High senior Nan Qiu is among 79 semifinalists for the prestigious 2016 Flinn Scholarship. There were 761 applications from the most talented high school seniors in Arizona. Semifinalists went through a 20-minute interview in January, and finalists will be interviewed again in late February.

There are only 20 Flinn Foundation Scholars selected statewide each year. The merit-based scholarship program covers the cost of tuition, fees, room and board and at least two travel abroad experiences for students attending state universities. The overall financial package is valued at more than $115,000.

Qiu is ranked No. 1 in her class, with sights on being valedictorian, thanks to a 4.92 GPA. Her favorite subjects are math and biology. She is captain of the tennis team and the No. 1 singles player and a vital team member of the North Robotics team, doing electrical and mechanical duties, as well as programming.

Qiu knew no English when she relocated from China just two years ago and now is fluent. She even tutors students in Spanish. Harvard and UC-San Diego are her other college choices, studying medicinal chemistry.

Washington Elementary School District

Bonnette named a Rodel principal
Shannon Bonnette, principal of Richard E. Miller Elementary School, has been named a 2016 Rodel Exemplary Principal. Bonnette is in her fifth year as principal at R. E. Miller. Prior to that, she was assistant principal at Shaw Butte Elementary School.

Bonnette is a true leader of change and passionate advocate for every student, family and staff member that she serves at R. E. Miller. Her ability to bring people together and develop a positive culture of belief in students, staff and community have been the foundation of her four years as principal.

Bonnette holds a Bachelors of Arts in Education degree from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University.

The Rodel Foundation announced on Jan. 8 that Bonnette is one of eight Rodel Exemplary Principal honorees statewide and one of four in Phoenix to receive the honor. She was named one of 15 Exemplary Principal finalists in December.

Bonnette has been a part of the WESD for most of her life: she attended elementary school in the district, worked in the WESD during college and served students at several schools throughout her teaching career before moving into administration.

Rodel, in partnership with Social Venture Partners of Arizona, developed the Rodel Exemplary Principal Initiative to recognize outstanding school principals and populate a pipeline of highly skilled school leaders for Arizona’s high-need schools. Each cohort of Exemplary Principals provides professional development, field experience, and ongoing mentorship to a class of Rodel Aspiring Principals for two years.

WESD hosts job, interview fair
WESD will host a Teacher Job and Interview Fair on Saturday, Feb. 27, to issue contracts for the 2016-17 school year. The fair will be held from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Palo Verde Middle School, 7502 N. 39th Ave.

Attendees will have the opportunity to visit with staff from schools that anticipate vacancies for the 2016-17 school year and find out if they are a good fit for the position(s) the school is trying to fill. School staff will conduct interviews with applicants of their choice. Applicants will be able to interview with more than one school.
For more information, contact the WESD Recruitment Office at 602-347-3622 or e-mail

Private and Charter Schools

Students conduct impromptu drive
Did you know that many dogs and cats enter valley shelters every single day? During winter months, temperatures can drop to freezing at night and most of the shelter animals are sleeping on concrete while they wait to be rescued.
The third and fourth grade students at Christ Church School (CCS) are animal lovers, and when they learned about the plight of these shelter animals they decided to take action—and turn it into an impromptu class project.

“Realizing that the help of many has more power than the hands of a few, these students petitioned Head of School Kim Westfall and asked if they could conduct a school-wide blanket and towel drive to provide shelter animals with cozy alternatives to concrete on cold winter nights,” reported CCS teacher Emma Porter.

After receiving approval, the students researched and selected two local shelters: the AZ Mastiff Rescue and the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC). They made signs, wrote a plea letter, and appealed to other students and parents at CCS for contributions.

“As a class, they also worked together to make many new blankets,” Westfall said.
Their combined efforts paid off; 130 shelter animals are now toasty warm due to their successful collection of blankets and towels.

For more information about how you can help shelter animals, visit the MCACC website at and the AZ Mastiff Rescue at

Ashman wins essay contest
Sixth grader Alexander Ashman and two other students from Phoenix Country Day School were named winners in the 2016 Town of Paradise Valley MLK Essay Contest.

The Paradise Valley MLK task force has organized the PV MLK Celebration for more than 14 years, and has run the concurrent essay contest for the last three years. The contest is open to all Paradise Valley resident middle school students, as well as middle school students attending schools in the Paradise Valley Township.

A winner was chosen at each grade level—5, 6, 7, and 8—and PCDS students won three of the four available awards. Alexander and his fellow winners were recognized at the Town of Paradise Valley MLK Celebration on Jan. 18.

GM senior engineer visits ASEDS students
Rosana Hull, Senior Manufacturing Engineer–Powertrain Division for General Motors in Detroit, visited All Saints’ Episcopal Day School on Dec. 11. She spoke to students in the A World in Motion (AWIM) elective class.

A World in Motion is an elective class in its second year for middle school students. It is an award-winning program that brings science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to life in the classroom. Student design teams work together to engineer and construct prototype toy vehicles to meet specific challenge requirements.

Student teams set goals, gather and analyze market survey research, design, test, build, and construct. Students sharpen their writing and public speaking skills when they create their proposals and presentations to show off the new products they created. Teams explore potential and kinetic energy, force and friction, inertia, momentum, simple machines, gears, torque, etc.

Hull also is the AWIM Leadership Team volunteer coordinator for GM. She spent time with the students, sharing her expertise and helping with their motorized toy cars. Each engineering team received some one-on-one time where Hull asked some pretty tough questions. She helped students see alternative options and decide the next steps with their motorized toy designs.

“Programs like this one are important because they give students a chance to do real work,” said Mary Konczal, A World in Motion (AWIM) teacher. “There isn’t a set of problems on page to complete. Instead, the teams are asked to design something. They take the project from concept and design through testing and troubleshooting. They experience the cycle that is engineering.”

O’Keefe receives ‘Excellence’ award
Karen O’Keefe, ELL testing specialist at Mountain View School, received the Excellence in Education Award from KEZ 99.9 and Taylor Morrison.

O’Keefe was nominated by Ellen Dean, Arizona coordinator of the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG) Foundation BookPALS literacy program (Performing Artists for Literacy in Schools). In her nomination Dean wrote, “Karen is the teacher in charge of the BookPALS PencilPALS writing program in which students write to an adult volunteer for the school year. Karen teaches the students how to write a friendly letter, organizes training for the volunteers and arranges parent nights so they can see what their students are learning.”

O’Keefe and her principal, Mike Waters, are invited to attend an end-of-the-year luncheon where the teacher of the year will be announced and the winner will receive $999.


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