• Celebrations

  • Echo Canyon Preschool Program Earns Impressive 5-star rating from Quality First

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 4/26/2022

    Echo Canyon's early learning classrooms, with teachers Marrin Velarde and Kellan Velarde along with assistants and child care providers, Morgan Kane, Anna Reilly and Paige Johnston recently earned a coveted 5-star rating through Quality First. 1.	Echo Canyon Preschool Program Recognized at Board Meeting

    Quality First - the signature program of First Things First - partners with early learning centers to improve the quality of early learning across Arizona.

    The Quality First star rating system is a voluntary quality rating system that helps families in the state of Arizona find quality early learning classrooms. Quality star ratings are an important indicator of early learning quality. A quality rating system also helps early learning providers improve the quality of their programs.

    The quality of each early learning program is assessed using valid and reliable tools that focus on what research shows are the key components of quality early learning including adult and child interactions, learning environments and staff qualifications.

    Based on these assessments each program is given a quality for star rating ranging from one to five stars.

    Five stars, the platinum standard of the early learning rating is the result of the highest quality early learning environment and far exceeds quality standards.

    We are proud of the five-star rating that Echo Canyon's early learning program has received, and we recognize the early learning staff for their commitment to our children!

    Quality First logo

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  • Laguna’s Stephanie Shamy is Finalist for 2022 Presidential Award

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 4/26/2022

    Laguna's Stephanie Scottsdale Unified School District teachers give their all every day to support their students, their colleagues and their schools.  This is the very definition of Laguna Elementary School gifted specialist Stephanie Shamy. We are excited to report that Stephanie is a finalist for a 2022 Presidential Award, one of two elementary grades’ math teachers chosen to represent Arizona in the competition. 

    The National Science Foundation’s Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government for K-12 science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer science teaching.  Up to 108 teachers nationwide are bestowed this award each year.

    To her Laguna colleagues, and the students she has taught over her 28 years with SUSD, this may seem long overdue.  We’ve known for a long time about Stephanie’s commitment to be the best educator she can be.

    Stephanie received her bachelor’s degree from ASU and her master’s degree in educational leadership from NAU.  She is National Board-certified in K-8 Literacy, and has state endorsements in Early Childhood, ESL, Reading and Gifted.

    She has been a Charros Teacher of the Year and a Horace Mann Award recipient.  And as if that were not enough, she has been an SUSD leader in arts integration in recent years, working closely with the Scottsdale Center for the Arts and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

    Being the bundle of energy that she is and always looking for new opportunities for Laguna students, Stephanie was behind the effort to create a makerspace at the school.  She cares deeply for her students and spends countless hours creating outstanding, engaged learning opportunities for them, even during the summer when she offers puts on Camp Innovation.

    Congratulations, Stephanie, on your nomination by State Superintendent Hoffman and the Arizona Department of Education for this national award.  This honor is a testament to your more than 20 years of dedication to SUSD students. Good luck in the competition!

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  • Cocopah 8th Graders Represent Arizona in FIRST LEGO League Challenge Competition at Houston’s FIRST World Festival

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 4/26/2022

    Meet The Electro-Botz!  Aaron Benco, Nora Peloke, Cannon Rierson, Addie Scott, and their coaches, Robyn and Joe Benco. This team of Cocopah 8th graders worked together outside of school to take part in this school year’s Cargo Connect First Lego League (FLL) competition. Guided by Aaron’s parents, Robyn and Joe, the ElectroBotz qualified to take part in the March state FLL Championship held at ASU and they walked away with the state FLL Championship! Electrobotz Recognized at Board Meeting

    In turn, this enabled them to represent Arizona in the FIRST LEGO League Challenge competition at the FIRST World Festival, which was held last week in Houston, Texas.  Our students competed against more than 100 teams from around the world, 63 from the U.S. and 42 from overseas.

    What an amazing four days it must have been!! 



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  • Saguaro’s Ashley Crose Receives Prestigious Shofar Zahkor Award from Phoenix Holocaust Association

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 4/26/2022

    Mr. Crose Recognized at Board MeetingSaguaro’s Social Studies teacher Ashley Crose was honored for his contributions to the teaching of the Holocaust and genocide awareness.

    In 2018, the state Board of Education adopted new Social Science standards. One of the new requirements was to address education about World War II’s Holocaust at the middle school and high school levels. 

    Teachers throughout the district came together to develop district curriculum maps to address these new standards, including the Holocaust Education requirement, which is now part of SUSD’s 7th grade World Wars unit, 8th grade’s Human Rights and Genocides unit, and 9th and 10th grades World History courses.

    This school year, we have added a one semester, Social Studies elective for 10th through 12th graders, called “Holocaust and Genocides Studies.” The course is being piloted by Mr. Crose, who is the Social Studies Department Lead at Saguaro and, even more notably, is a United States Holocaust Museum Teaching Fellow. 

    This sensitive subject matter could not be in better hands, and we hope there is enough student interest in the future to be able to offer it at our other high schools.

    For his efforts, Mr. Crose is a recipient of the Phoenix Holocaust Association’s Shofar Zakhor Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the teaching of the Holocaust and genocide awareness.

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  • Mohave Middle School’s SRO David Steel Recognized with Esteemed Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation Jack Cummings Award

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 4/26/2022

    Officer Steel is a well-known face in our Saguaro Learning Community, but he calls Mohave “home.” He is the recent recipient of this year’s prestigious Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation Jack Cummings Award that recognizes a member of the Arizona public service community who exemplifies the professional values, ideals, and dedication of a late FBI officer in Pennsylvania.

    SRO Steel Recognized at Board MeetingOfficer Steel has been with the Scottsdale Police Department for 15 years and has been an SRO for the past 7 years. Besides his SRO duties, Officer Steel serves as the Officer in Charge for the School Resource Unit when the supervisor is unavailable.  He is also actively involved in several city teen programs, including “Sirens and Sleigh Bells.”

    Normally referred to as a “Shop with a Cop,” this annual program organized by Scottsdale PD creates a holiday shopping adventure for students who are undergoing hardships.  Officer Steel also spends Tuesday nights supporting the department’s Cadet Program and mentors young adults who are considering making law enforcement their profession.

    On campus, Officer Steel conducts drug and alcohol awareness classes in P.E. classes, strums his guitar in general music classes and has helped the school set up parent forums on such topics as internet safety with the Arizona Attorney General’s office and in-house sessions on student anxiety.

    Officer Steel and another member of SPD’s bike squad train Mohave students who ride their bicycles to school on how to safely get to school, bike safety equipment, and the importance of wearing a helmet.  He also educates parents on the safe drop-off and pick-up procedures.

    Lastly, he is a huge support for Mohave, lending his technical skills in setting up for assemblies, talent shows, and the school’s promotional parades.

    Officer Steel can also be found visiting Pueblo and Navajo Elementary Schools and Saguaro High School.

    Pueblo Principal Shelley Hummon and Saguaro Principal Achtziger are big fans of his, too.  He often comes to Pueblo to join the acoustic guitar players in class and just last week was honored as an honorary member of the Pueblo guitarists.  

    SRO Receives Award At Saguaro, he is about as huge a Sabercats fan as you can find and was invited to run out onto the field with the football team’s captains at one home game last fall.

    Even more heartwarming than all of this is the way students react to Officer Steel.  He is a reassuring, calming presence on campus who is always ‘there’ for students when they’re having a rough day, they just want to chat, they need a bike helmet or help setting up for a show.

    Officer Steel is also scheduled to become the next Crisis K-9 handler for the department next school year, and he is especially looking forward to that!

    Officer Steel has become part of the fabric of the Saguaro Learning Community over the past 7 years, and for that we could not be more grateful.



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  • Saguaro High School Awaits Accreditation as a Cognia STEM-certified School

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 3/22/2022

    Saguaro Principal and StaffAt Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD), our Vision is to engage all students in world-class, future-focused learning.  As the home of SUSD’s Math & Science Academy, this vision is clear every day for all students at Saguaro High School, and even more so now, as it awaits accreditation as a Cognia STEM-certified school.

    Cognia is a global, nonprofit improvement organization dedicated to helping institutions and other education providers grow learners, teachers, and leaders.  Serving 36,000 public and private institutions from early learning through high school in more than 85 countries, Cognia brings a global perspective to advancing teaching and learning.

    Saguaro administrators, teachers and staff made the bold decision two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, to undertake the journey to Cognia accreditation to ensure the school was continuously improving learning opportunities for its 1,400 students.  The project involved putting all of the school’s teaching and learning under a microscope to not only identify what works and what can be done better, but also to identify new opportunities for student learning and teacher development.  The massive effort ultimately also involved Saguaro students and parents, community business partners, the district’s leadership team, Teaching and Learning academic coaches, Governing Board and the SUSD Foundation.

    The Cognia Global Commission votes on Saguaro’s STEM accreditation this week.  SUSD’s two STEAM elementary schools, Laguna and Navajo, are also in the process of becoming Cognia-certified.

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  • 2022 Scottsdale Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year Award Winner

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 3/22/2022

    Sydney FranksCongratulations to Desert Mountain High School sophomore, Sydney Franks! Sydney was recently recognized by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale as their 2022 Youth of the Year.

    The Youth of the Year program celebrates leadership, club involvement and academic success.  Sydney is a longtime member of the Boys & Girls Clubs’ Thunderbird Branch.  Sydney was nominated along with students from five other branch clubs and was announced as the 2022 Youth of the Year at a special event last month. 

    As its winner, Sydney can begin making college plans, although we’re pretty sure she already had them well in mind!  In addition to her title, Sydney was awarded $25,000 in post-secondary education scholarship funds.

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  • McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Collaboration Project

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 3/22/2022

    7th Grade Middle School Science TeachersWorking in partnership with the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy, SUSD is engaging middle school students in the study of the Sonoran Desert.

    Seven middle school teachers ‒ Chris Hain and Daniel Cermack from Ingleside; Patricia Hernandez from Tonalea K-8; Lynette Harper from Desert Canyon; Karen Batson and Jim Weser from Mountainside; and Bert te Velde from Mohave ‒ have received professional development and collaborated to create units of study that support middle school Life Science standards, all through the lens of life in the desert we inhabit. These dedicated teachers created a unit that culminated with a field trip to the McDowell Mountain Preserve’s Gateway Trailhead and Bajada Trail, where students made observations, collected data and experienced how these science concepts apply to life in the Sonoran Desert.

    Approximately 650 of our 7th grade students experienced these rich lessons and gained valuable field experience. SUSD looks forward to continuing this new partnership with the Conservancy and expanding the opportunity to other schools in the years to come!


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  • Cherokee Elementary School: A+ renewal

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 2/22/2022

    Cherokee ES Principal and StaffEach year, Arizona public schools are invited to commit to a demanding, introspective look at themselves – their programs and practices, their commitment to excellence, equity, service and sustained high achievement, as well as their parent and community involvement.

    It is a months-long endeavor, and it is little wonder that not many schools undertake the challenge of becoming an Arizona Educational Foundation A+ School of Excellence!

    However, at the February 22, 2022 Governing Board meeting, Cherokee Elementary School was recognized for having been named an A+ School – FOR THE THIRD TIME – and one of 21 schools statewide.

    As if the application process and comprehensive examination by a group of A+ judges isn’t enough, Cherokee, led by Principal Walt Chantler and Assistant Principal Paul Anderson, braved not only a campus reconstruction project in the process, but a global pandemic!  This is truly an impressive achievement and a credit to Cherokee’s leadership, its teachers and staff, the school’s students and their parents. 

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  • Congratulations to Echo Canyon’s Scholastic Super Reader - 3rd grader Miles Rogers

    Posted by SUSD Communications on 2/22/2022

    Scholastic Super Reader Winner Last fall, 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Strom learned from a friend about a reading program particularly for Title 1 schools, with an opportunity to donate 1,000 books to a community organization.  Mrs. Strom applied for the program and her classroom was one of 100 chosen nationwide to be named a “Scholastic Super-reader Classroom,” as was the 6th grade classroom of teacher Angie Chassey.  The school has chosen Valleywise Health Foundation’s Library Family Learning Center to receive 1,000 books! Mrs. Strom was also asked to nominate one of her students as a “Scholastic Super-Reader” and she chose Miles Rogers.

    Miles was one of 5 students nationwide who got to meet, virtually, with author J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame, all the way from Edinburgh, Scotland!  Not only did they get to ask her questions about her latest work, The Christmas Pig, but they got to hear her read the book and tell her what their favorite part was, having already read it ahead of time. 

    Further, Ms. Rowling and Scholastic Books have donated another 1,000 books, this time to Echo Canyon itself, which will be shared with all of Echo Canyon’s Jaguar student body!

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