- Scottsdale Unified School District
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Academics - December 2023Posted by SUSD Communications on 12/1/2023
SUSD Diploma Seals: Showcasing Your Child’s Skills and Interests
As a parent, you want your child to have the best possible education and opportunities for their future. You may have heard of the Arizona Diploma Seals, a system of special recognitions that are awarded to high school students who have demonstrated a high level of proficiency in various subjects. These seals are not only a mark of academic excellence, but also a way to showcase your child’s skills and interests to colleges and employers. In this post, we will explain what the Arizona Diploma Seals are, how your child can earn them, and why they are beneficial for their personal and professional development.
If your child is passionate about the arts, you should know about the Arizona Seal of Fine Arts. This seal is awarded to high school students who demonstrate a high level of proficiency in dance, music, theater, visual arts, or media arts. To earn the seal, students must complete a rigorous set of requirements, including taking a four-year pathway in the arts, participating in arts-related activities and service, and presenting a capstone project. The seal is placed on their diploma and transcript, showing their artistic excellence and readiness for college and career. For more information, refer to our SUSD Guidance Document.
Beginning this school year, Scottsdale Unified School District will offer the Arizona Seal of Personal Finance. This is a special recognition that is awarded to high school students who demonstrate a high level of proficiency in personal finance. To earn the seal, students must complete a rigorous set of requirements, including passing an assessment, completing a program, participating in a co-curricular or extracurricular activity, and writing a reflection. The seal will is affixed to graduating seniors’ diplomas and transcripts, showing their readiness for college and career.
If your child has a love of language, or if your student is enrolled in one of SUSD’s two Dual Language Immersion programs, you should encourage your child to pursue the Seal of Biliteracy, which is given in recognition of students who have studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. The Seal of Biliteracy is a statement of accomplishment for future employers and college admissions offices.
The Seal of Biliteracy is not only for native speakers of other languages, but also for native English speakers who want to learn a second language. We offer testing for the Seal of Biliteracy in all Level 4 classes. Students not enrolled in Level 4 language courses may sign up for the exam at their high school. The Seal of Biliteracy requires intermediate proficiency in all language domains, such as listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In SUSD, we use the STAMP test to demonstrate this proficiency. Students must also meet GPA requirements and English proficiency requirements listed here.
Find out more about these seals on our official district website, Academic Programs / Diploma Seals (susd.org).
Echo Canyon Receives National Title I Recognition
Known for its unique blend of teaching, learning and practical lessons in sustainability, Echo Canyon School has been delivering an outstanding education to its elementary and middle grade students since 1990. Now, as a 2023 National ESEA Distinguished School, Echo Canyon will also be known for its students’ exceptional growth and academic performance during the last two school years.
School and district officials learned of Echo Canyon’s selection last month from the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), which oversees Arizona’s Title I schools. Title I, a federally funded program of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, provides resources to ensure that all students, especially those considered most academically at-risk, can close achievement gaps and succeed in school.
Kat Hughes is Echo Canyon’s proud principal. “It truly highlights the hard work and dedication of our students, staff and community to create and foster a learning environment that is built upon relationships with our families and our community.”
Nestled in the shadow of Camelback Mountain, Echo Canyon, located at 4330 N. 62nd St., Scottsdale, offers the families of its 358 students a school-wide looping model. The school’s cross-curricular learning gardens are home to the Chef in the Garden program, founded by former SUSD parents and supported by James Beard Award-winning chef Charleen Badman and other local chefs.
Echo Canyon is one of two Arizona schools to be named a National ESEA Distinguished School for 2023 and the only one in the state to be recognized for academic growth and achievement. The school will formally receive its award at the National ESEA Conference in Portland, OR, in February. A springtime, school-wide celebration is planned.
Minds in Motion
While the focus at the end of each school year tends to be on its graduating classes, Coronado High School celebrates the academic achievements of its underclassmen, too. The 150 Dons on the school’s merit and honor rolls, Principal’s List, and Highest Honors List at the end of the 2022-23 school year were celebrated at the 32nd annual Minds in Motion ceremony on Nov. 8. Coronado Jobs for Arizona's Graduates (JAG) Coordinator Wendy Paez Gonzales provided keynote remarks and the Advanced Choral Ensemble and Orchestra, under the direction of Sam Brasen, provided beautiful musical performances. Generous community members topped off the honors festivities, providing everything from gift cards to new laptops to these top Dons scholars.
Read more at The SUSD Source
Academics - November 2023Posted by SUSD Communications on 11/1/2023
SUSD Induction and Mentoring
Many SUSD parents recently had the opportunity to meet with their child’s teacher(s) during parent/teacher conferences and discuss their academic progress, as well as learn ways to support student learning at home. As you may have noted during these meetings, we pride ourselves on creating optimal learning environments for students in SUSD to support their academic and social growth. To this end, we make it a priority to provide professional development opportunities for all teachers to support their instructional practice and promote excellence in teaching and learning.
Supporting teachers across their professional continuum is a cornerstone of our work in SUSD.
Specifically, for new teachers, we provide a comprehensive induction program that is focused on providing extensive support and mentoring to new teachers in their first and second year of teaching. SUSD’s New Teacher Induction and Mentoring Program provides beginning teachers with consistent guidance and feedback from experienced mentors who help them develop their content knowledge, hone their instructional practice, reflect on their own teaching and learning, and increase their teacher efficacy.
In addition to working with an SUSD Mentor Teacher, each beginning teacher is paired with a site-based teacher instructional lead who serves as a ‘first responder’ in support of new teachers at each campus. Beginning teachers also attend monthly meetings facilitated by our district mentor teachers to strengthen pedagogy, foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement, and build relationships with other new teachers and school/district leaders.
Teaching is an incredibly rewarding profession that gives talented and qualified professionals an opportunity to make a significant impact on others. As such, SUSD recognizes the importance of retaining beginning teachers through meaningful professional development. We believe that by accelerating teacher effectiveness, we are creating learning environments that are conducive to promoting student success!
Read more at The SUSD Source
SUSD Earns Districtwide Cognia CertificationPosted by SUSD Communications on 11/1/2023
As you’ve heard us report over the past year-plus, the Cognia organization has granted STEM accreditations to Laguna and Navajo Elementary schools and Saguaro High School. To top it off, SUSD, as an entire district, is now also Cognia-accredited, becoming part of a global system of more than 36,000 schools and school systems in 85 countries that are dedicated to continuous improvement.
The long and arduous district accreditation process was led by our Associate Superintendent, Dr. Karen Benson. She was recognized at the recent Arizona School Administrators conference in Tucson with the state Cognia Excellence in Education Award, which is bestowed “to one individual who has demonstrated unparalleled leadership in promoting and advancing excellence in education." This much-deserved recognition is a reflection of Dr. Benson’s persistent dedication to and relentless focus on ensuring your students receive every opportunity possible to be future-focused, world-class learners … #BecauseKids!
Read more at The SUSD Source
NAU Holocaust Exhibit VisitPosted by SUSD Communications on 11/1/2023
Chaparral High School hosts a traveling exhibit of the Northern Arizona University-based Martin-Springer Institute this week. The exhibit, “Through the Eyes of Youth: Life and Death in Będzin Ghetto” tells the stories of seven Jewish children from the Polish city of Będzin, before, during and after World War II’s Holocaust.
On display in the lobby of the Chaparral Auditorium, “Through the Eyes of Youth: Life and Death in Będzin Ghetto” is open to the public on November 1-2 at 6:30 p.m. On November 1, visitors will hear from the Institute’s director, Professor Bjorn Krondorfer, who will relate the harrowing story of Holocaust survivor Doris Martin, who was 12 years old when Nazis forces invaded her hometown. The Institute is named after the one-time Flagstaff resident, coupled with the anglicized version of her birth name, Szpringer. Martin passed away last year in California at the age of 95.
On November 2, SUSD parent Adena Bernstein Astrowsky, author of Living Among the Dead, will be the exhibit’s special guest. Astrowsky, the granddaughter of two Holocaust survivors, will speak about her grandmother’s experiences during that time in history and how the stories she grew up hearing are tools that are relevant today.
The exhibit consists of 24 panels centered around a contextualized timeline of events that coincide with the Holocaust and World War II. Northern Arizona University students constructed the exhibit, which has visited Poland, South Africa, New York and many parts of Arizona.
In addition to the public events at Chaparral this week, the exhibit is proving to be a valuable resource for SUSD middle and high school educators. State law requires that students receive instruction regarding the Holocaust and other genocides at least twice during their school years, once in either 7th or 8th grade, and then again in high school. The Institute spent last week training student volunteers from Chaparral’s Holocaust/Genocide Studies class and National Honor Society to serve as exhibit tour guides for middle school and high school field trips.
Read more at The SUSD Source
Robotics Season Around the CornerPosted by SUSD Communications on 11/1/2023
Although the official school robotics competition season doesn’t get underway for another month or so, the Arcadia and Saguaro High School robotics teams got some good experience at last month’s Sanghi Foundation AZ State 2023 FIRST Robotics Competition at ASU’s Desert Financial Arena. Twenty-six teams took part. The Sabercats, in an alliance with community-based teams from Chandler and Surprise, as well as Central High School’s Phoenix Coding Academy, missed getting to the final round by a mere two points! Regardless of the outcome, student robotics programs provide great opportunities to work collaboratively on a project with classmates and to work together with students from other locales who have similar interests in science, technology, engineering and math, aka STEM!
The high school robotics season launches in January, but on December 2, Sabercat Robotics will once again host a FIRST Lego League qualifying tournament for elementary and middle school teams seeking to go to the state championships at ASU in January.
Read more at The SUSD Source
Science LearningPosted by SUSD Communications on 10/1/2023
Exciting times are ahead for SUSD middle and high school science students! The new curriculum, approved by the SUSD Governing Board this past spring, is now being implemented. New textbooks and materials have arrived for middle school science and for Biology, Chemistry, and Physics high school courses.
Christopher Donovan, who teaches Biology at Desert Mountain High School, praises the new curriculum for its organization, engagement, and real-world relevance. “The combination of content, lab/activities, online simulations, and interactive materials make this perfect for students in today's world. The students are able to see themselves in the content area with the input from real world scientists their respective fields,” Donovan states.
Teachers will receive ongoing professional development to ensure successful implementation. Stay tuned for more updates as SUSD launches another adoption cycle for the remaining secondary science courses this month! To learn more about active curriculum adoptions, visit Committee Hub.
National Merit Scholarships SemifinalistsPosted by SUSD Communications on 10/1/2023
Twenty Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) seniors are among the nearly 400 Arizona students named Semifinalists in the 2024 National Merit® Scholarship Program. National Merit Scholarships are among the nation’s oldest and most prestigious. Each year, the program recognizes top students in the nation’s high school graduating class for their academic achievements, leadership in their school communities and potential for success in rigorous, post-secondary studies.
Of the more than 1.3 million students who took the 2022 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT®) last fall as juniors, more than 16,000 Semifinalists have been selected to continue in the competition, including the following seniors from these SUSD high schools:
- Arcadia High School
- Lauren Matz
- Chaparral High School
- Douglas Driggs, Chloe Greetis, Tyler Higgins, Joseph Kahn, Tate Leventhal, Sania Patel, Darshan Shankar, Morgan Tefft, Elvia Uzdonas
- Desert Mountain High School
- Adelina Grotenhuis, Victoria Leung, David Ortloff, Leo Weber
- Saguaro High School
- Mitchell Fesmire, Alyssa Perrine, Amutha Rajasundaram, Nikhil Sethi, Alex Stephenson, Jake Weiss
The Finalists for $28 million worth of college scholarships will be determined in February 2024; winners will be named in monthly announcements from April to July, 2024. We wish our Super Seniors well!
Holocaust Education OpportunityPosted by SUSD Communications on 10/1/2023
Legislation was passed and signed into law in 2021 that requires all Arizona public school students to receive instruction on the World War II Holocaust and other genocides at least twice during their school years, once in middle school and once in high school. The action followed an Arizona State Board of Education update to the state’s History and Social Studies Standards in 2018 that SUSD implemented before the law took effect.
Chaparral High School and SUSD are proud to host a Holocaust education traveling exhibit that meets this requirement. “Through the Eyes of Youth: Life and Death in the Bedzin Ghetto,” presented by Northern Arizona University’s Martin-Springer Institute, will run from October 26 to November 14 at Chaparral. Field trip opportunities to the exhibit are available for our 8th through 12th grade students and their teachers. Student volunteers from Chaparral are being trained to be field trip docents during the exhibit’s run.
Two special community events are planned, as well. “SUSD Educators Night” will be held on November 1. The community and local educators are invited to hear Institute Director Bjorn Krondorfer speak that evening. The following evening, November 2, the SUSD community is invited to hear Adena Bernstein Astrowsky, author of Living among the Dead: My Grandmother's Holocaust Survival Story of Love and Strength. Both events get underway at 6:30 p.m.
Upcoming SUSD College & Career FairPosted by SUSD Communications on 10/1/2023
Don’t forget to stop in at SUSD’ Career and Technical Education College & Career Fair on Tuesday, October 17th, the day after we return from Fall Break. The fair runs from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. at Chaparral High School and will be quite the event!
More than 100 colleges and universities, including the institutions representing our military branches, will be there to speak with you and your students about educational opportunities that await your SUSD graduate. Our high school guidance counselors and CTE teachers will be there, too, to share what students can be doing now to prepare for their future, including information about SUSD’s 16 CTE career pathways and their related industry certifications, and FAFSA, financial aid and scholarship information.
This event is not just for high school seniors: we hope to see plenty of our middle school and elementary school students and their families there, too, because it’s never too start thinking ahead!
Students aren’t the only ones learning during the school year!Posted by SUSD Communications on 9/1/2023
Did you know that during District Early Release Days, teachers and staff participate in coordinated, professional learning and collaboration? Aligned with the SUSD Strategic Plan Goal of Academic Excellence, the district’s first early release day of the new school year focused on MTSS Tier I Instruction and Student Engagement. Teacher feedback from the day celebrated time interacting with their colleagues, learning new strategies, and thinking about their content or area of specialty in new ways! Early Release days highlight how a culture of learning is important for teachers, too!
Another exciting opportunity for learning is taking place with the K-5 ELA curriculum adoption. The K-5 ELA Adoption Committee resumed its important work to review and recommend a new K-5 ELA curriculum to the Governing Board.
We encourage staff and families to visit the Curriculum Review Display at Laguna Elementary School, 10475 E. Lakeview Dr., Scottsdale, between now and Nov. 14 to see the materials and provide feedback. Hours are 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. on SUSD school days, or by appointment. Click here to learn more.