Glendale Union High School District

DeBusk honored for leadership
Jim DeBusk, Washington High School’s Choir director, has been awarded the George C. Wilson Leadership and Service Award at the Arizona Music Educators Association Conference earlier this year.

He is a graduate of Sunnyslope High School and received scholarships for his talents on the trombone and in vocals to attend Grand Canyon University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Music Education. He received a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University in 2009.

DeBusk has taught at Washington for 24 years. He is the director of choirs and the Performing Arts Department chair. He also teaches media productions and sponsors the Vocal Music Club and the Video Club.

DeBusk has served as president of the Arizona Choral Educators, Treasurer of the Arizona Choral Educators, two terms as choral chairperson of the AMEA Northwest Region, chairperson of the All State Jazz Choir, and he currently is serving a third, two-year term as governor of the AMEA Northwest Region.

District seeks stories from alumni, teachers
Calling all alumni from Sunnyslope, Thunderbird and Washington high schools. The Glendale Union High School District has announced a new spotlight project featuring graduates.

The “We Are GUHSD” project is a collection of stories told from the Glendale Union High School District community. The voices of the campaign highlight teachers, students, alumni, parents and district advocates. They share their stories as examples of the importance of public education and strengthening communities.

Interested candidates may contact the Community Relations Department by sending an email to To read stories from the project, visit

Madison Elementary School District

Kennedy takes helm at Madison Park
Sandy Kennedy has been named the new principal of Madison Park Middle School. An educator for more than 25 years, Kennedy is a Rodel Exemplary Principal recipient, former Alhambra School District principal and Beat the Odds mentor—a program that empowers new principals to raise student achievement.

Kennedy is focused on enhancing Park’s signature STEAM program, as well as ensuring each Park student has a strong academic foundation to build on throughout their lives.

Madison Park Middle School is still accepting students for the 2017-2018 school year. Families interested in learning about its STEAM program or Action Labs may call 602-664-7500 or visit

Osborn Elementary School District

Osborn welcomes new administrators
Osborn welcomed new administrators Nicole McNeil, Brittney Weber, and Jill Crossley to the district. These new administrators began the first week of July at the District Office.

McNeil worked with Osborn when the district began work with TAP as a Regional Master Teacher with Arizona State University. She has also worked as a bilingual teacher and director of Language Acquisition.

Weber served in active military duty for six years. She worked as an executive Human Resources officer, followed by a position in HR with a local private day special education school, and then the position of director of Human Resources in Osborn.

Crossley has served the Osborn community as a classroom teacher, substitute coordinator, behavior intervention specialist and Master Teacher. She works within the Curriculum Department as the Curriculum Specialist for Data and Assessment.

District congratulates Teachers of the Year
The Osborn Educational Foundation has announced its selections for the Osborn Teachers of the Year for the 2017-2018 school year. Among the winners are Clarendon sixth-grade Spanish dual language teacher, Ruth Ruiz; OMS seventh-grade math teacher Sarah Saiz; and OMS/Clarendon band teacher Julia Georges.

There will be a celebration recognizing these teachers at an awards dinner on Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Phoenix Country Club.

Phoenix Union High School District

Former coach honored at opening football game
Camelback High recognized former coach Jesse Parker and some of the players from the 1974 championship team at the Spartans’ first home football game on Aug. 18. Parker passed away July 21 at age 77.

Parker’s illustrious 40-year coaching career started at Camelback, where he won his first of five state championships. He left Camelback and started the Mesa Mountain View program, winning four state titles. After a short stint in Texas, he coached 10 more years at Gilbert. He won 309 games.

Parker went to the state championship game two years in a row, losing to Tucson Palo Verde in 1973, 22-20 and beating St. Mary’s by the same score in 1974, when his Spartans went 12-0-1. He left for Mountain View the next year.

Williams hosts basketball clinic
Phoenix Suns’ Alan Williams, who in July signed a three-year, $17-million contract with the home team, was back at his alma mater North High School Aug.12-13, holding a youth basketball camp in the gym where he starred as a high school player.

One hundred-twenty boys and girls, ages 7-17, participated in the clinic, including several players from the North girls and boys teams. According to North boys coach Joe Bustos, Williams provided several dozen camp scholarships for the kids.

Williams was part of the Mustangs’ back-to-back state championships in 2009 and 2010, and as a senior, he was the Arizona High School Player of the Year. He had an outstanding college career at California-Santa Barbara, but was undrafted. He played a year in China, and in March of 2016, he signed a 10-day contract with the Suns.

He made the team last year, and after spending much of the first half on the bench, the 6-8, 260-pound forward got his chance. In 24 games after the All-Star break, he averaged 11.4 points and 9.1 rebounds in just 22.6 minutes.

The clinic was a family affair, and a reunion with some former high school teammates who assisted in the clinic. His mom, Jeri Williams, the Phoenix Chief of Police and his father, Cody Williams, a former city councilman, were helping out. The Suns’ Devin Booker and Marquese Chriss made appearances, as well.

Metro Tech earns A+ rating–again
Metro Tech reapplied and has been named an A+ School of Excellence by the Arizona Educational Foundation for the second consecutive time. The school earned the A+ label in 2014.

Principal Bryan Reynoso and staff re-applied a year early in February, and received the good news April 12. The designation is normally for a three-year period, but Metro Tech will keep the honor for the next four years. A formal celebration took place at the school on May 9.

To qualify as an A+ School, schools must demonstrate sustained high achievement or significant improvement through assessment data. Winning schools are recognized for their superior ability to identify and meet the academic and non-academic needs of their student population.

In related news, Reynoso was named the Phoenix Union Administrator of the Year at the Opening of Schools Convocation last month. Reynoso has been at Phoenix Union as teacher and administrator for 33 years.

Washington Elementary School District

Teacher honored by AZ StRUT
Robert Followwill, retired computer instructor and teacher of math and robotics in the afterschool program at Desert View Elementary, was named as the AZ StRUT 2017 STEM Teacher of the Year for 2016-17.

AZ StRUT is a nationally recognized organization that encourages business donations of old computer equipment, which is then recycled by students, providing them the opportunity to gain technology skills. The equipment is then donated back to schools in need in Arizona.

Grant returns SROs to some campuses

Thanks to a new state-funded grant from the School Safety Program, WESD was one of 30 schools districts awarded School Resources Officers (SRO). The district was awarded a total of eight SROs, and North Central schools that will have an SRO on campus this school year include Mountain View School, Royal Palm Middle School, Sunnyslope School and Washington Elementary School.

The total grant award is $2.5 million for three years. SROs will conduct law related education classes (LRE) and assisting the staff with crisis response and preparedness.

Schools get fresh produce two times a week
Seventeen WESD schools have been awarded the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) for the 2017-2018 school year—the largest number of schools awarded the grant in the state. Through the program, students will receive a fresh fruit or vegetable twice a week, in addition to their nutritious breakfast and lunch.

Among the 17 schools are Desert View, Maryland, Mountain View, Orangewood, R.E. Miller, Sunnyslope and Washington Elementary Schools and Royal Palm Middle School.

The goals of the FFVP are to expand the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience; increase children’s fruit and vegetable consumption; and support the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to provide healthier snack choices in schools.

Private and Charter Schools

Gillom receives Legacy Award
Xavier College Preparatory’s Jennifer Gillom received the 2017 Legacy Award from the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy. Gillom, who is a physical education teacher, assistant varsity basketball coach, and basketball program director at Xavier, was honored along with her sister, Peggie Gillom-Granderson, for their outstanding accomplishments and contributions to the University of Mississippi.

Gillom played basketball for the Ole Miss Lady Rebels from 1982 to 1986. Among her many distinctions, she was awarded SEC Female Athlete of the Year accolades and was inducted into the Ole Miss Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999.

After graduating from Ole Miss, Gillom played professionally for the Phoenix Mercury from 1997 to 2002 and for international teams in Italy, Turkey, and Greece. She then coached in the WNBA for seven years and earned gold medals both as a player in the 1988 Olympics and as a Team USA coach in the 2012 Olympics. In 2009, she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Olympian featured at annual X Breakfast
Eight-time Olympic swimming medalist Allison Schmitt will deliver the keynote address to approximately 1,000 guests at Xavier College Preparatory’s tenth-annual X Breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 21 at 7:30 a.m. on the school’s campus, 4710 N. 5th St.

Golf Channel analyst and former Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) golfer Amanda Blumenherst Freiman, who is a graduate of both Xavier and Duke University, will be this year’s alumna speaker. After the breakfast, both Schmitt and Freiman will address Xavier’s student body of 1,200 young women.

Co-chaired by Xavier parents Amy and Dan Mahoney, X Breakfast will kick off Xavier’s 75th anniversary celebration by raising proceeds to benefit the school’s Legacy of Leadership Capital Campaign. All members and friends of the Xavier community are welcome to attend the event. Although registration is free, guests are encouraged to support the school with a financial contribution.

To register or to obtain additional information, e-mail XCP-X-Breakfast@ or call 602-240-3133.

MHP robotics team heads to championship
The Madison Highland Prep SeaPerch Robotics team, composed of junior Tommy Najor, junior Kevin Liden, sophomore Vaughn DuPlantis, and junior Steven Celis, won the 2017 Chandler SeaPerch Invitational on May 21. With the victory, the MHP team has qualified for the 2018 National SeaPerch Challenge to be held at the Georgia Tech Aquatics Center in Atlanta on May 19-20, 2018.

This is the second consecutive year this team has been recognized at the Chandler Invitational event.

MHP receives recognition based on first-year results
Madison Highland Prep has earned a bronze medal from U.S. News & World Report based on its national ranking in the publication.

According to U.S. News & World Report, schools are ranked based on their performance on state-required tests and how well they prepare students for college. Data was based on the 2014-2015 school year, which was MHP’s first year of operation.

MHP is a STEM college preparatory, charter high school in Phoenix serving grades 9-12. MHP opened its doors on August 5, 2014 initially serving grades 9 and 10. For information, visit or call the school at 602-745-3800.

School receives grant to boost curriculum
Empower College Prep, a Valley charter school serving students in grades 8-12 located at 2411 W. Colter St., was one of four Arizona schools to receive a $20,000 grant from Verizon and its partner, Project Lead The Way.
Since 2014, the partnership has resulted in more than 240 schools across 36 states offering PLTW’s high-quality computer science curriculum.

PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s teacher training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning. More than 9,000 elementary, middle, and high schools in the United States offer PLTW programs.

For more information on Project Lead The Way, visit

Higginbotham is new athletic director
Kim Higginbotham has been named Bourgade Catholic High School’s athletic director for the 2017-18 school year.

Higginbotham comes to Bourgade Catholic with nine years of experience as a coach and educational leader. She taught Advanced Placement courses and revived a waning softball program at Chandler High School. While there, she built an integrated softball program (freshman, junior varsity, and varsity) and led the program to four state tournament appearances. She also accumulated the most wins in Chandler High School’s softball history.

Higginbotham played four years of softball at Arizona State University where she was named PAC-10 Academic All-American and played in the 2006 College World Series. She is a graduate of Seton Catholic Preparatory High School where she was a stand-out athlete.

Higginbotham holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and two master’s degrees, one in Educational Leadership and the other in Gifted Education, from Arizona State University. She began her duties at Bourgade on July 1.


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