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Glendale Union High School District

Sunnyslope High teacher seeks donations for videos

A Sunnyslope High School teacher needs help continuing to create and edit instructional videos to help his students keep working under any circumstances.

Joshua Cunningham, who teaches science, is asking for donations via DonorsChoose.org of about $2,600 to keep making videos to assist students as they had to miss in-person classes when Arizona’s schools were forced to close their campuses due to the Coronavirus pandemic last school year.

Cunningham said his students are “creative and motivated” but many come from low-income homes and must work outside of their homes. He made the videos so they would not be stressed about missing in-person class time and could prepare for advanced placement (AP) exams.

The donations would fund a laptop allowing Cunningham to edit videos at home and school to help students do activities now and when in-person classes resume.

To make a donation, visit DonorsChoose.org and search under Phoenix schools.

Madison Elementary School District

Teachers trained in engaging students

New teachers in the Madison Elementary School District are tapping into tools to keep students engaged and feeling comfortable in classes.

Teachers who are new to the district participated in the Madison Teacher Orientation last month, virtual sessions in which they learned online teaching strategies designed to actively engage children and teens. Teachers learned whole-group and small-group methods of teaching including how to ensure every student participates in discussions.

The new teachers also learned from Cynthia Mruczek, a lecturer and academic program associate at the University of Kansas, who talked about the concept of “culturally bound communication.” Mruczek said in some cultures adults will tell their children to do something in an indirect way by asking, “Is that where your shoes go?” but in other cultures parents directly tell their kids, “Pick up your shoes and put them where they belong.” The differences in communication styles can potentially cause misunderstandings. Madison district’s teachers were challenged to think about their communication patterns to try to help make all students feel welcome and safe.

Students dive into online learning

Students are hitting the ground running with online classes in the Madison Elementary School District.

The district has provided more than 4,500 Chromebooks to more than 75 percent of its students so they can take classes online as the district had not reopened its physical campuses for in-person learning as of late August due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governing board voted to delay the start of in-person learning until the end of the first quarter (Oct. 2) unless data revealed a downward trend of COVID-19 cases indicating it would be safe to open back up earlier.

Anyone who needs help with accessing technology for online classes can call a Tech-Help phone line set up by the district’s IT department. The district also is helping families in need via discounted home internet options and offering district-issued Wi-Fi hotspots. If you need to learn more about the discounted home internet choices, call the main phone number for the school your child attends or the district office at 602-664-7900. To learn more, visit madisonaz.org.

Supplies would help students learn safely

You can help a teacher at Madison Rose Lane Elementary School enhance safety and learning when classes start again in-person in the district.

Teresa Belnap, a prekindergarten through second-grade teacher, is seeking financial help through DonorsChoose.org to purchase chair pockets, new dry-erase boards and math counters that will magnetically attach to the dry-erase boards. She is seeking about $900 for the materials including chair pockets, which she said would provide storage of crayons, scissors, pencils and books. Students would be able to access these learning materials independently and without putting their classmates at risk in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The dry-erase boards would be used for writing, sight word practice and math lessons. Belnap said the math counters would attach to the dry-erase boards to provide activities for counting, addition and subtraction strategy practice. Every student would have their own dry-erase board and tools to practice these math techniques without having to share them with other students. To make a donation, visit DonorsChoose.org and search for Phoenix schools.

Phoenix Union High School District

District cancels in-person sports workouts

Students are back in online classes in the Phoenix Union High School District but will not be going to in-person workouts for sports teams right now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The district in a post on its website said it believes in “the value and importance of athletics” as they can transform young people as student-athletes, help them form relationships with peers and coaches and learn dedication, work ethic and teamwork, among other life skills. The Aug. 14 post said it “cautiously allowed sports conditioning” this summer to prepare for fall sports but at this time it did “not feel that it is safe” for students to keep doing in-person workouts as the spread of COVID-19 in the community is much greater than recently released health benchmarks that recommend safely returning to campuses.

As of Aug. 17 the district postponed workouts, practices and competition for fall sports until the community met Arizona and Maricopa County’s health criteria for safely going back to in-person sports activities. Workouts for winter sports also will not start until those standards are met.

To learn more about the latest response to the Coronavirus crisis, visit pxu.org.

Washington Elementary School District

Zane Baiardi, a fourth-grader, and Zachary Baiardi, a first-grader, participate in online classes in the Washington Elementary School District (photo by Courtney Baiardi).

Students connect with teachers in Google classes

Children and teens in the Washington Elementary School District are connecting with their teachers in real time in virtual Google classrooms this academic year.

The district began the 2020-21 year online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing math, reading, art, music and physical education in the online classes. Students will stay in online classes through Labor Day, Sept. 7. They also receive social and emotional support from the district’s social workers, behavior support advocates and psychologists, as needed, in real time.

District leaders are reviewing health benchmarks the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Department of Education provide, as well as information from Maricopa County Health Services to determine when it will be safe to return to in-person classes. The district will keep providing online education the whole school year for families that prefer to keep their children in virtual classes.

Washington Elementary School District provided 18,361 Chromebooks and more than 600 hot spots to students and their families.

Watch for updates on the district’s website at wesdschools.org.

Free meals provided at schools despite closure

While in-person classes had not yet resumed in the Washington district, as of press time, families can still access breakfast and lunches every week at all the schools.

District families can pick up five breakfast and five lunch meals for the week from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. Mondays in the “Grab and Go” program that the district’s Nutrition Services Department provides. To find a school, visit wesdschools.org.

District’s social workers address emotional needs

The Washington Elementary School District is not only teaching students academics but also delivering tools to help them stay strong emotionally and mentally.

It is focused on offering emotionally and academically safe environments for children and teens as they work in virtual classes and when it is safe for them to go back to schools for in-person instruction. The district uses the five core competencies from the CASEL Guide, which include understanding and managing emotions and setting positive goals. Establishing and maintaining relationships, as well as feeling and demonstrating empathy for others and making responsible decisions are the other factors of the program.

There are 34 school social workers in the district that support students, staff members and families during the academic year. These social workers have been teaching social-emotional learning (SEL) lessons online to students and also are available on their campuses to lend help.

Private And Charter Schools

Boys attend a freshmen orientation at Brophy College Preparatory for which the private school set up Plexiglass and added other safety measures to protect students, staff members and visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic (photo courtesy of Brophy College Preparatory).

Brophy starts virtual classes, adds safety measures

Brophy College Preparatory students are learning online while faculty members teach from their classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The online classes started Aug. 17 and the school is preparing to reopen for in-person classes on Tuesday, Sept. 8. At that time, students can decide to either come on campus for classes or attend classes from home. There will be a livestream for classes.

Students, faculty staff members and visitors will be required to wear masks on campus and Brophy has adopted many other safety measures to keep people safe. It has installed an air ionizing system, adopted new lunch procedures and established regular, deep cleaning and sanitizing measures. Social distancing will be followed as much as possible and Plexiglass dividers have been set up in classrooms and other areas of campus. An eighth hour has been added to offer more time for student life activities. Prospective students and families can participate in informational socials via Zoom.

For more information, visit brophyprep.org.

Midtown Primary students involved in online learning

Students are involved in projects online and using items at home to learn in innovative ways at Midtown Primary School.

Classes for the 2020-21 academic year began last month with students enrolled in the online program being taught by online teachers. Those students who want to return to in-person classes once the campus determines it is safe to do so are engaged in distance learning with teachers. Online learning is when students and teachers interact and participate in lessons on computer screens. With distance learning, students also work from home on computers, but can use manipulatives and other materials for projects not found online. There are 114 students enrolled at Midtown Primary School so far this year and some spaces were still available, as of press time.

Principal Judy White said the online instruction is going well and participation has been wonderful. If the metrics from health officials reveal a “moderate” level of risk for in-person classes, then Midtown Primary School will start classes for students back on its campus on Tuesday, Sept. 1. Students can stay with online teachers even after in-person classes begin again if they like.

Xavier volleyball team earns academic honor

Xavier College Preparatory’s varsity volleyball team is showing its spirit and academic prowess as it recently received a national award.

The team received the 2020 U.S. Marine Corps/American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award for the 2019-20 school year. Xavier Gators maintained an average grade-point average of 3.8285 for that whole time period.

The U.S. Marine Corps and the American Volleyball Coaches Association said recently that 1,315 teams in the country received this award for the 2019-20 season. Also, 232 programs obtained Team Academic honors for the first time this year. The award Xavier received honors volleyball teams that keep a grade-point average of 3.30 on a 4.0 scale or 4.10 on a 5.0 scale.

Chloe Hinck, a first grade teacher, teaches students online from the campus at Midtown Primary School (photo by Belinda/Midtown Primary School).

Free meals delivered at Midtown Primary

Midtown Primary School is providing free-of-charge breakfasts and lunches to its students on campus.

The school at 4735 N. 19th Ave. provides one breakfast and one lunch per day to each student from 8 to 11 a.m. Mondays and by appointment. That means each student will receive five breakfasts and five lunches per week. This program is only for students enrolled at Midtown Primary School.

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