Superintendent's Letter November 2017

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is appropriate to express thanks for - and to - the people who make our district tick every day...

Superintendent's Letter November 2017

Posted by SUSD Web Admin - 2017-11-17 08:18:17

November 2017


Dear Scottsdale Unified School District Family,


As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, it is appropriate to express thanks for - and to - the people who make our district tick every day. 


Late last month, we gathered employees with 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service with SUSD to celebrate their work and offer our gratitude.  Called “SHIO,” or “Scottsdale Honors Its Own,” you may have seen photos of these groups on our Twitter and Facebook.  It was a wonderful celebration indeed.  Combined with those marking their 5th and 10th anniversaries, these 412 outstanding employees represent a staggering 5,155 years of service!  Their expertise, loyalty and steadfast dedication to Scottsdale students is amazing.  For a complete list of this year’s honorees, click here – you will probably find someone from your student’s school whose name you recognize.  Next time you see one of them, give them a big “Thank you!”


Many of the 2017 SHIO honorees are SUSD teachers, without whom none of our work would be possible.  Everything our students accomplish is because of them, their creativity, their nurturing.  That steady, guiding hand is worth celebrating every day, and during the past month, 29 of our very best teachers have received surprise visits from a top district official to notify them they have been selected as a SUSD Outstanding Educator.  This first group of teachers will be celebrated for their contributions to the district at the November 14 Governing Board meeting.  Congratulations, one and all, and thank you for your exceptional work every day on behalf of our students, parents and school communities.


Our meetings in each of the five SUSD learning communities continue this month with 9 a.m. forums to discuss instructional practices and how we are growing our teachers professionally.  I look forward to seeing you and answering your questions.  I believe I learn as much at these meetings as anyone, and appreciate your interest and candor.


I want to draw your attention to some terrific SUSD events coming up on Saturday, Nov. 18.  That’s when 800 of our middle grades students will wrap up their fall basketball and soccer seasons at four locations around town.  Check your school’s website for sites and times.  Also on Nov. 18, Arcadia High School will compete in Division III of the ABODA State Marching Championships at ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium; Chaparral High School will be there, too, competing in Division IV.


This week, the annual SUSD Marching Band Exhibition and Middle School Choir Festival were held.  And at the recent ABODA Fall Orchestra Festival, the Saguaro High School Symphonic Orchestra received a ‘Superior’ rating, while the Mountainside Middle School Orchestra received a ‘Superior with Distinction’ rating, the only participating middle school to be rated so highly.  Well done, SUSD musicians!


Indeed, it is a busy time of the year for all Scottsdale students, and particularly for our college-bound seniors, as they narrow down their school choices, check off those final letters of recommendation and submit their applications.  We know your accomplishments while at SUSD will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with, if not heads above, the finest schools in the nation!


Fall sports are winding down now, winter sports tryouts are underway and we already have some state championship performances to recognize.  Congratulations to:


  • the Arcadia High School boys golf team, which brought home the state Division II trophy from Tucson the last week of October
  • the Chaparral boys golf team, which took Division 1 honors
  • the boys and girls swim and dive teams from Chaparral High School, both of which delivered championship-winning performances at this past weekend’s state tournament
  • Firebirds junior Abi Archer, who repeated as girls’ Division 2 state cross-country titleholder, also this past weekend and
  • Chaparral’s #1 duo of Jerikah Davis and Taylor Alphabet, who recently took the Division II state badminton doubles championship.


In football, #2 Saguaro and #10 Chaparral and are still alive in their respective divisions, having posted wins in the first round of the playoffs last week.  Go, SUSD!


I want to thank all the middle school and high school student athletes who represented their schools and SUSD during the fall season, and applaud their courage and dedication, regardless of the results.  Moreover, thank you to the coaches who put in just as many hours, if not more.  It is no easy task to be part of a team and consistently put in your best performance, both in class and on the field.  We are proud of all of you.


Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday, everyone!



Dr. Denise Birdwell