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School Briefs

Glendale Union High School District

Task force discussing reopening schools

The Glendale Union High School District sent information via email and phone dialer to parents to report it is working with its Reopening Task Force to develop plans to ensure students and employees safely go back to classes. Gov. Doug Ducey required schools in the state to close for in-person instruction in March due to COVID-19, and then extended the closure date through the end of the school year. In May Ducey announced students may return to schools in the new academic year.

The task force has parents, students, teachers, a social worker, a nurse and school administrators from all schools working on recommendations for reopening. The group is using guidance from a recent survey of district parents and students as well as the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Arizona’s Roadmap for Reopening Schools and local, state and national health agencies.

An online learning option will be provided for students/families that want to keep learning remotely when the next school year starts.

For the latest news on the district’s plans for reopening, visit

Madison Elementary School District

Yolanda Abel, a third-grade teacher at Madison Simis Elementary School, receives a sign revealing gratitude for her work. Simis principal Laura Webb and assistant principal Lindsay Murray surprised all their teachers by delivering signs to their homes to show their appreciation for their work to their yards recently (submitted photo)

Leaders’ special delivery a sign of the times

Madison Simis administrators are spreading good cheer and showing appreciation for their teachers.

Simis principal Laura Webb and assistant principal Lindsay Murray recently surprised teachers by bringing signs to their yards at their homes to thank them for their work, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic. Teachers in the Madison School District and around the state had to transition to educating students online after schools were closed due to COVID-19. Webb wanted teachers to know they were appreciated for their hard work, dedication and professionalism.

The principal did not have much money to spend but found some signs she thought would be great ways of publicly thanking the teachers. She and Murray drove to teachers’ homes all over the Valley to deliver the signs. Every sign had a note on the back saying where it came from and teachers thanked the administrators for their support.


Schools to reopen, safety being discussed

Campuses in the Madison Elementary School District will reopen for in-person classes next month while plans to enhance safety due to COVID-19 are being discussed.

District Superintendent Kenneth Baca revealed results of a survey sent to parents about their opinions on schools reopening during a virtual town hall last month. The plan is to open schools on Aug. 11 but the district has applied for approval from the Arizona Online Instruction Program for an online learning platform that also could be offered to students in the fall. This program would be subject to the State Board of Education’s approval.

Baca said the district administrative team is creating an opening plan to address the health, safety and social/emotional needs of students and staff members. Some ways the district administrative team has talked about aiming to meet the needs of children and employees include possibly providing face shields and Plexiglas barriers in schools, as well as requiring social distancing in classrooms, offering alternative schedules for classes and lunches and making ventilation/HVAC upgrades.

To learn more about the latest plans for reopening, visit


District receives honor for healthy practices

The Madison Elementary School District is receiving recognition for its practices to keep employees, families and the community healthy.

The Healthy Arizona Worksite Program honored the Madison district with the Gold level of excellence in worksite wellness award, which is given to businesses that are evaluating and documenting outcomes and behavior change.

The Madison district created a fall and spring wellness challenge to encourage employees to participate in healthy activities. This past school year the district focused on Catch Your Breath, a program emphasizing rest, relaxation and recharging, as well as Water Wise, which urged staff members to make water their number one drink and drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day.

Madison district officials also use data from an annual health assessment and an annual open enrollment wellness survey to make choices about future wellness events.


Osborn Elementary School District

Groups discussing reopening plans

Three groups are considering and planning for all different, possible scenarios for reopening Osborn District schools this coming academic year.

The District Operations, School Operations and Teaching & Learning task forces are meeting weekly to discuss reopening options. These committees are reviewing employees and families’ survey data, as well as many different guidance documents from the Arizona Department of Education, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona School Risk Retention Trust, Inc. and the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.

The task forces will finish their work on July 2, after which the reopening plan will be revealed to staff members, families and the community.


Rebecca Greenberg

Encanto teacher receives Intel grant

Rebecca Greenberg, an art teacher at Encanto Elementary School, will be able to move full steam ahead with hands-on lessons as she has received one of “40 for 40 Teacher Grants.” Forty-four educators were chosen for the grants funded by Intel Corporation. She received a grant of $1,800 for her future “Makers Empire 3-D Printer and Curriculum.” Greenberg plans to incorporate 3-D printing and design projects with her kindergarten through third-grade students. Students will be able to make 3-D objects and work together on designs via the Makers Empire interactive platform.

The grants were awarded for projects focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM). The goal of the grants is to support the work of Arizona teachers and to inspire more students to consider pursuing STEAM careers.


Phoenix Union High School District

Donate to help families in need

The Phoenix Union Foundation for Education (PUFE) has set up a $30,000 Emergency Relief Fund to help families in the Phoenix Union High School District affected by the economic issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This fund was created to buy items the school district is unable to purchase including food, toiletries and mobile hot spots.

Make a financial donation or buy PXU Apparel and proceeds from the items you buy will go to families in need. To buy district clothes and other items, visit If you want to make a donation directly to the Emergency Relief Fund, visit


North High School student Jordan Davis-Wiley was selected for the 2020 Junior Achievement 18 Under 18 list (photo courtesy of Phoenix Union High School District).

North High teen makes ’18 Under 18’ list

A North High School student has the “write stuff” when it comes to achieving her goals and pursuing a career while still a teen.

Jordan Davis-Wiley, who was a sophomore this past school year, was recently named to the 2020 Junior Achievement 18 Under 18 list. Junior Achievement of Arizona and Republic Media present this awards program to recognize students who are making a difference in the world.

Jordan heard a song in her head one day and decided to turn that lyric into the draft of a book. Then she self-published the book, “Dreamcatcher,” that is sold in airport bookstores around the United States. Jordan is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate program at North High and is in the process of starting her own publishing house, Nickelberry.

Washington Elementary School District

Two new principals to start in new year

Desert View and Richard E. Miller elementary schools will start the 2020-21 school year with new principals.

John Mospan,  assistant principal at Mountain Sky Junior High for the last five years, will take the reins as principal at Desert View. He replaces Maria Farmer, who retired after 10 years as principal. Mospan has worked as the instructional leadership coordinator for math and science in the Tolleson Union High School District and has been active on Washington Elementary School District committees.

Pamela Hall will become the new principal at Richard E. Miller. She will take over from Amanda Wilber, who has been principal for four years. Hall has spent 16 years in the district as a Head Start assistant, teacher and most recently as the instructional coach and assistant principal at Shaw Butte Elementary. She also is a mentor teacher, as well as a specialized English Language coach.

Private and Charter Schools

Shammai Camara

MHP graduate earns soccer scholarship

Madison Highland Prep student Shammai Camara recently accepted an athletic scholarship to play men’s soccer at California State University at Bakersfield. The May graduate will study business and sports management at the university.

Camara earned one season assist and one season scoring titles during his time at Madison Highland Prep. He was a two-year starter and forward. Camara earned the most goals for the 2019 season.


Xavier student drives Navajo Nation donations

Xavier College Preparatory student Caroline Purtill spearheaded a supply drive for the Navajo Nation, which has been heavily impacted by COVID-19. Pictured are (from left) Sierra Goldstein, Caroline Purtill, Ben Richardson, Max Goldstein, Alex Goldstein and Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez (photo courtesy of Xavier College Preparatory).

A Xavier College Preparatory student spearheaded efforts that will offer some relief to the Navajo Nation, which has been hit hard by COVID-19.

Caroline Purtill, an incoming junior, and her friends raised more than $15,000 to buy supplies for the Navajo Nation. She and her fellow students contacted Navajo Nation officials to ask what items citizens there needed.

Caroline and her friends reached out through their Twitter account, @FundNavajo, and a GoFundMe project called Navajo Supply Project to take in donations. The students took the money raised to Costco and Walmart to buy sanitizer, water, cleaning supplies, diapers, baby formula and non-perishable food. Then the students and their parents brought the supplies to Window Rock in the Navajo Nation. Students were humbled when they met Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, who helped them with the supplies.

Caroline said the experience makes her want to keep giving back. To donate to the Navajo Nation Supply Project, visit


Midtown Primary School feeding children, teens

Midtown Primary School is providing meals to children and teens in need though Aug. 4.

The school is providing grab-and-go meals with two breakfasts and two lunches for each serving. They are being provided from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Park Lee Apartments, next to the recreation center, at 1600 W. Highland Ave. and from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays through Fridays at Proper Play at 9617 N. Metro Parkway. Anyone ages 18 and younger can accept the meals. Children must be present to obtain the meals or a parent may take the meals home to their kids.

For more information, call Midtown Primary School at 602-265-5133.


Summer programs give kids jump on learning

Children are getting a head start on the next academic year in summer classes at Midtown Primary School.

Spaces are still available for children to enroll in the school’s Kindergarten Jump Start summer program. Students learn about letters and numbers, how to be involved in a group, following playground rules and where the bathroom is located. Midtown Primary’s Summer STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) program offers first through fourth-graders a chance to engage in art and hands-on science and engineering lessons.

Both summer programs are held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The kindergarten groups meet from 8 to 11 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. STEAM camp meets from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Children are given breakfast, lunch and snacks. Midtown Primary is using safety measures including taking temperatures, doing wellness checks and disinfecting the campus, while children work in small groups in order to try to keep everyone safe due to COVID-19.

To request a spot for your child in one of these programs, call 602-265-5133 and ask for Belinda.


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