Glendale Union High School District

WHS students continue to dominate in competition
For the third time in the last four years, Washington High School’s Educators Rising chapter had more national champions than any other chapter in the country. The group also had a total of 12 top-ten finishers at the recent Educators Rising National Conference, held June 21-24 in Orlando, Fla.

National Champion winners from WHS included Ethical Dilemma: Aurora Gabow and Cindy Alonso; Impromptu Lesson: Ivonne Carmona; and Exploring Education Careers Non-Core: Axel Lujan. In addition, Aurora Gabow and Makenna Ray were ranked third in the nation in the category of Researching Learning Challenges.

The conference boasted 21 competitive events designed to allow students to develop and showcase their teaching skills. Students also were able to learn from each other through breakout sessions, and hear keynote presentations from national education leaders.

District ranks high in national surveys
U.S. News & World Report announced earlier this year that Glendale Union High School District schools have once again made the annual Best Schools list. There are nine high schools in the district. Of the schools, all nine ranked among the top 100 for the state of Arizona and five were nationally recognized.

Sunnyslope High School received the highest ranking, at 21st place, followed by Washington at 39th, Thunderbird at 45th, Moon Valley at 48th, and Apollo at 50th.

GUHSD schools have continuously made the U.S. News & World Report – America’s Best High Schools list since 2008, adding to its impressive resume of academic achievements.

Arizona recently finalized the 2017 school letter grades and three GUHSD schools moved to the coveted “A” position, making the total number of “A” schools eight. Among the recent additions were Washington, Cortez and Glendale high schools. This new information ranks GUHSD as No. 1 in the state for having the highest percentage of schools earning an “A” (among all schools/districts/charter and non-charter with two or more schools).

Madison Elementary School District

Madison has many jobs to fill in all areas
Ramona A. Lomelí, Ed.D. has been named Madison School District’s new director of Human Resources and the lead on hiring for the 2018-2019 school year.

Lomelí was most recently with the Tolleson Elementary School District where she served for 17 years in executive human resources positions. She has more than 30 years experience in education ranging from a principal to current adjunct professor for Northern Arizona University.

Madison has more than 30 positions still available, from special education teacher, to bus driver, crossing guards, food services and more. Job requirements range from a high school diploma to master’s degrees. The majority of currently available positions are for support staff, but Madison considers new hires all year, so interested teachers can reach out anytime for future opportunities.

View all open Madison Schools jobs at

Osborn Elementary School District

Teacher collaborates on education app
Clarendon Elementary resource teacher and ASU doctoral student Emerald Ochonogor has collaborated on launching an education app and startup called Help In Hand.

Sponsored by ASU’s Venture Devils, the Help in Hand App is designed to support teachers, students and families in providing supports for students with special needs. The app will offer interventions and strategies to support the most diverse learners and can be expected as early as fall 2019.

Phoenix Union High School District

Burton Foundation continues support
At this year’s PUHSD Foundation Scholarship Dinner, Christine and Daryl Burton of the Burton Family Foundation were recognized for their generous contributions to Phoenix Union. Among those were flash-funding for club requests through Support My Club, ACT Prep Boot Camps and a college exploration trip for 30 students to Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

The Burton Family Foundation has continued its support, including funding two ACT Test Prep Boot Camps this summer for rising juniors and those seniors wishing to improve on their ACT test scores, and donating $64,144 to cover the cost of 45 students and three chaperones on a six-day Historically Black Colleges and Universities tour over fall break.

The students will visit Bowie State in Maryland, Howard University in Washington, D.C., Hampton University and Norfolk State in Virginia, North Carolina Central and North Carolina A&T, and Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse and Spelman Colleges in Atlanta.

Busken retires from North football
North High Football Head Coach Bernie Busken is retiring from the game he has coached for 42 years. Busken was with the North Mustangs for four years, turning around the program in that time, with “old-fashioned” hard work. He leaves a team that went 7-3 last year, completing a 19-21 overall record. “Hard to overcome that 1-9 first season,” Busken said.

“I have had a blast at North. Never have I been around kids that let you know how much they love you. They are all great kids.”

He came into a program in which the freshman team did not have one student who had ever played football. He leaves with 75 current student-athletes, and successful freshmen and JV teams coming up. Under his regime, he emphasized the weight room for strength and stamina, practiced early mornings before school so students could work after school, and helped develop a booster club with parents.

Busken won three state championships and had a 40-game winning streak at Mesa Mountain View in the nineties, coached at Western New Mexico University, and returned to Arizona to coach at Basha High for three years before moving to North.

He plans to move to Texas to be close to his daughter and grandchildren.

Students continue to find success with STEP
Forty-six Phoenix Union high school students have joined STEP’s (Student Expedition Program) Class of 2020. STEP received 307 applications from prospective sophomores to join its College Prep Program this year—the largest and most competitive applicant pool to date. Of the 103 students accepted, almost half are from the Phoenix Union High School District. Last year, 37 PUHSD students entered the program.

The STEP Program educates and empowers low-income Arizona high school students to enroll in and graduate from college. Students selected participate through high school graduation, attending workshops with individual advising, guidance with application process, including financial aid instruction for both students and parents.

North Central seniors from PUHSD who were in the STEP program and graduated this year will attend the following schools this fall: Eloisa Sanchez Urrea (Metro Tech), St. Mary’s University Honors College; Estrella Gonzalez Saldana (Metro Tech), Scripps College; Gisselle Beltran Valdez (Metro Tech), Arizona State University; Ismael Rios (Metro Tech), ASU Barrett Honors College; Jennifer Beltran Gastelum (Camelback), Smith College; Lizette Mier (North), Wellesley College, Monica Lam (Central), ASU Barrettt Honors College; and Nancy Twishime (Bioscience), ASU Barrett Honors College.

Peters named president of art educators association
North High Art Teacher Julie Peters was elected Arizona Art Education Association President, April 21. She held an interim position since January.

Peters was a presenter at the National Art Education Association conference March 23 in Seattle. For the last seven months she participated in the NAEA’s School for Art Leaders program. She presented two sessions and was honored at the national conference upon completion of the program. Upon successful completion, participants become members of the national School for Art Leaders network and are positioned to excel as leaders in education, the arts, and advocacy.

Peters won 2016 Outstanding Secondary Art Educator Award, an honor presented by the Arizona Art Education Association. She has been teaching drawing, painting and advanced art for IB for 13 years and is the Visual Arts instructional leader at North.

A graduate of Camelback High School, Peters taught in Las Vegas, Colorado, and Peoria before coming home to Phoenix Union. She earned National Board Certification in 2012, joining Stephanie Grijalva (now at Camelback) as the first PUHSD Art teachers Board Certified.

Private and Charter Schools

First Loyola Academy student graduates
In spring 2011, Brophy College Preparatory announced plans for an on-campus middle school that would provide underserved boys with academic potential the education necessary to succeed in a college preparatory environment.
Loyola Academy opened its doors in August 2011 and that first group of sixth-grade boys, who became Brophy seniors, graduated on May 19.

On May 11, Brophy hosted a signing ceremony that included the announcement of post-graduation plans for these students.

One of the graduates has enlisted in the U.S. Navy; the remainder will become first-generation college students at colleges in Arizona and around the country. Colleges include Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola Chicago, College of the Holy Cross, University of San Diego, St. Mary’s College and Emerson College.

Robert Baransaka ’18, who will attend Loyola Marymount University, explained why the young men of Loyola Academy are called “scholars,” rather than students. “Because (Loyola Academy director) Ms. (Kendra) Krause told us when we started that students have to go to school, but scholars want to go to school.”

In addition to announcing their future plans, the graduates offered advice to the current Loyola Academy scholars and thanked those whose donations made Loyola Academy possible.

Students qualify to attend Loyola Academy based on recommendations, academic potential and verified financial need. The program includes a 10-hour school day with transportation and meals provided (students receive homework support after the school day finishes), and mandates parental involvement. Students attend school 11 months of the year.

Xavier students have a busy summer
Xavier junior Katie Donaldson, who lives in North Central Phoenix, was chosen to serve as Phoenix Sister Cities Youth Ambassadors this summer in Prague, Czech Republic. She will travel to Prague to represent the city of Phoenix and the state of Arizona. Upon returning home, Katie and her family will welcome her international counterpart to the Valley.

Sophomore Abigail Converse, also a North Central resident, was selected by the Arizona Interscholastic Association to attend the National Federation of State High Schools National Student Leadership Summit in Indianapolis this summer.

Junior Jada Sims broke the school record in the heptathlon at the USA Track and Field Arizona Association Junior Olympic Combined Championships. A North Central resident, Jada also holds the school record in the high jump, is part of the team that holds the school record in the 4x400m relay, is second (all-time) in the 100m hurdles, and is third (all-time) in the long jump.

MHP receives nod for its engineering program
Madison Highland Prep has earned the 2017-18 Project Lead the Way (PLTW) Distinguished District designation based on the exemplary results from the school’s PLTW engineering programs during the 2016-17 school year.

MHP is one of 31 districts to receive the designation nationally, and one of two high schools in Arizona to receive a PLTW prestigious designation. PLTW’s recognition program is designed to honor districts and schools committed to increasing student access, engagement, and achievement in their PLTW programs. Districts and schools are recognized for empowering students to thrive in an evolving world through PLTW programs.

MHP, a STEM charter high school in Phoenix, uses the PLTW curriculum for multiple classes. For information, call the school at 602-745-3800.

Full-day kinder at AmeriSchools
Kindergarten is an important milestone for students. At AmeriSchools Academy’s Camelback campus, strong academic programs build a foundation for lifelong learning. Parents of children who turn 5 years of age before Sept.1 may register their child at the school, located at 1333 W. Camelback Road.

Parents of children reaching the age of 5 after Sept. 1 may request that their child be assessed for early admission if they believe it is in the best interest of the child. To learn more about the assessment procedure or to enroll your child in the kindergarten program, contact the school office at 602-532-0100 for more information.

Downes takes over head coaching job
Brad Downes has been named head varsity softball coach at Xavier College Preparatory. Downes will replace former head coach Carrie Markham, who will return to her pitching instruction business on a full-time basis.

Downes served as Xavier’s assistant varsity softball coach during the 2018 season. He most recently was a coach for the Arizona Hotshots Softball Team, and he also serves as president of Hotshots Softball of Arizona, Inc.

Downes graduated from UCLA in 1991 and received his law degree from Arizona State University in 1994. In addition to his extensive experience coaching club softball, he has served in various capacities as the softball-baseball coach at Horizon Honors High School from 2009-2018.

“Brad Downes brings tremendous high school coaching experience and softball club involvement to Xavier’s softball program,” said Sister Lynn Winsor, BVM, Xavier’s vice principal for Activities and athletic director. “We are delighted that he will be leading our program.”

Midtown Primary gets Honor Roll award
Mike Robinson of Charter School Capital nominated Midtown Primary Elementary School for the AZ Charter School Honor Roll. Midtown Primary won one of the 25 awards for this year, out of the 458 charter schools in Arizona.

Currently in its inaugural year, the Honor Roll is a celebration of charter schools with high growth, student achievement, or community service. Honor Roll schools are awarded a special gift, admission to the Southwest Charter Convention, and will be honored at an exclusive dinner at the event.

“This is such a great honor and acknowledgement for the hard work our dedicated teachers put in to each student and our school,” Midtown Primary’s Principal Judy White said.

Xavier Volleyball makes All-American List
The 2017-18 Xavier volleyball team has been named to the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) Team Academic All-American List.

The award is given to high school volleyball teams that maintain a cumulative team grade-point average of at least 3.30 (scale of 4.0) or 4.10 (scale of 5.0) during the school year.

Nationally, 975 high school teams made the list. In Arizona, only nine high school teams received this honor.
The Xavier team won the state championship last season.


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