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District Stories

Episode 14 Spotlight Podcast Thumbnail
In this episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we introduce Darius Kelly, the new head football coach at Saguaro High School. Coach Kelly shares his vision for the football program, discusses the legacy of the Sabercats, and provides insights into his journey and what brought him to this new role.
  • Saguaro-Story
Episode 13 Spotlight Podcast Thumbnail

In this inspiring episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we dive into the extraordinary life of SUSD parent, Minda Dentler, a powerhouse of determination and inspiration. Minda, the first female wheelchair athlete to complete the Ironman World Championship, shares her incredible journey from an orphanage in India to the global stages of advocacy and athletics. SUSD is proud to have her as a parent and a role model within the community. Tune in to hear Minda discuss her trailblazing path, the impact of her children's book "The Girl Who Figured It Out," and her powerful message of perseverance that challenges us all to redefine identity beyond disability. Join hosts Dr. Menzel and Kristine Harrington for an unforgettable conversation with a woman who lives by example, showing what it means to overcome adversity and achieve the unimaginable.

  • District-Story
Spotlight Podcast Episode 12 Thumbnail

In this episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we are thrilled to feature Dr. Michelle Watt, a visionary leader at the forefront of integrating artificial intelligence and innovative strategies within the educational landscape of the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD). Join us as we explore the groundbreaking initiatives led by Dr. Watt and her dedicated team, focused on aligning technology and education through strategic planning and pioneering partnerships including the newly launched Magic School AI-tool for students and staff.

  • District-Story
Spotlight Podcast Episode 11 Thumbnail

In today’s episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we take a look at the district’s new and very first “Grow with SUSD” coloring book, illustrated by Chaparral High School junior Jackson Washburn. The “Grow with SUSD” coloring book is the start of a campaign to highlight the meaningful journey through SUSD schools that students can take. From education opportunities for children as young as 2 years old, SUSD offers a pathway to truly grow from early childhood to career readiness and Jackson, is a testament to that starting in SUSD at 6 years old at Cheyenne Traditional School. We’ll ask Jackson about his own artistry and background, what working on the coloring book was like, and his future dreams of working as a cartoon animator.

  • Chaparral-Story
  • Cheyenne-Story
  • Spotlight Podcast
Episode 10 Thumbnail for Spotlight Podcast

In this insightful episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we explore the journey of Rabbi Adam Zagoria-Moffet, a proud SUSD alum, from his roots in Scottsdale, to becoming the esteemed Rabbi of St. Albans Masorti Synagogue in the United Kingdom. Rabbi Zagoria-Moffet shares his reflections on growing up in SUSD, the impact of his education on his path to spiritual leadership, and the rich experiences that led him to embrace his role in the Jewish community across the pond. Rabbi Zagoria-Moffet offers advice to current SUSD students navigating their own paths, spotlighting the diverse possibilities SUSD graduates can aspire to.

Scottsdale school becomes first in Arizona to be 'blue zones' approved

Echo Canyon School is contributing to a healthier Scottsdale and setting the bar for other local schools by recently achieving Blue Zones Approved™ status. Part of the Blue Zones Project Scottsdale, this prestigious recognition marks a significant milestone in Echo Canyon’s commitment to foster a culture of well-being and better health within its school community.

“Today is really important because we are celebrating one of the features of Echo Canyon that makes it really extraordinary in terms of its learning environment,” said Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel, who serves on the Blue Zones Scottsdale steering committee. “When the Blue Zones project was starting and they were talking about community gardens and schools, the first place I recommended they visit was Echo Canyon.”

Echo Canyon School, a K-8 school located at 4330 N. 62nd St. in Scottsdale, began the process of becoming Blue Zones-approved in December 2023. Thanks to the hard work of teachers, staff, parents, students, and community partners, Echo Canyon was able to demonstrate the many Blue Zones Project Scottsdale principles that it already embodied. Principal Kat Hughes called the journey to becoming a Blue Zones Approved™ School both inspiring and transformative, enhancing the well-being of its students, staff, and families alike.

“Through the use of our gardens, our Chef in the Garden program, learning activities in our classrooms and outside, our wonderful café staff, and our great business partners, we were able to highlight everything we do to help support students to make healthy food and drink choices, have a sense of belonging, keep moving, tune out and destress,” Hughes said. “We are fortunate to have many activities and resources for our students to grow great habits that will help them to live better, longer.”

Echo Canyon’s collaborations have cultivated a supportive environment that encourages healthier choices and positive lifestyle habits community-wide.

“Echo Canyon School has been fully engaged since our early conversations, as they already had extensive programming focused on promoting healthy living," shared Danielle Anderson, Organization and Well-Being Lead for Blue Zones Project Scottsdale. "Their commitment is evident through initiatives, such as their community garden and Chef in the Classroom program with Blue

Watermelon Project. This initiative connects students with local chefs who teach them the process of growing food from scratch and preparing nutritious meals using their own produce."

SUSD recognizes the importance of helping kids make informed decisions about eating right and staying healthy. The district continues to partner with the Blue Zones Project and will be rolling out some Blue Zones-approved menu items in school cafeterias next school year.

  • Echo-canyon-story
Spotlight Podcast episode 9 thumbnail

In today’s episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we learn about Blue Zones life practices and policies that encourage longer, healthier lives for everyone. Featuring Executive Director of Blue Zones Project Scottsdale,  Sarah Kearney, and Patti Bilbrey, Director of Nutrition Services. We will explore the exciting partnership between SUSD and Blue Zones and discuss how Blue Zone principles will be integrated into our school meals leading to a healthier experience for our students. Listen in as we discover how the environments we create can lead to healthier lifestyle choices and learn about the transformative initiative that is the Blue Zones Project. Since recording this episode, one of our very own schools (Echo Canyon) received the historic honor of being named Arizona's first Blue Zones-certified school, we celebrate this achievement which signifies the strength of Scottsdale partnerships. 

  • Echo-canyon-story
  • Spotlight Podcast
Spotlight Podcast Episode 8 Thumbnail

In this episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we learn about the Early College Campus at Coronado. SUSD and Scottsdale Community College have formed a partnership at Coronado to offer valuable opportunities for Dons to establish connections with SCC professors and local industry leaders and to introduce high-interest classes not already offered as part of dual-enrollment offerings at Coronado High School.

  • Coronado-Story
  • Hohokam-Story
  • Pima-Story
  • Spotlight Podcast
  • Tonalea-Story
  • Yavapai-Story
Spotlight Podcast Episode 7 Thumbnail

In this episode of the "SUSD Spotlight" podcast, we learn about the amazing academic program called SCORE which serves as a transition program to pair students, their families, and community partners to bridge high school students to future career opportunities. SCORE helps to develop skills to provide independent career exploration and transition planning with real-world mentorship and the PAES program. Learn more about the impact of the SCORE program by hearing from Stephanie Muecke and student, Nathan Clouse with us today on Spotlight!

  • High-School-Story
  • Spotlight Podcast
Spotlight Podcast Episode 6 Thumbnail

This episode delves into Desert Canyon's thriving and unique educational environment, where students benefit from an immersive bilingual education, spending half their day learning in English and the other half in Mandarin. We sit down with Kim Mills, the Principal of Desert Canyon Elementary School, and Amie Hegeman, a dedicated PTO member and parent, to discuss the remarkable achievements and innovative educational models that have set Desert Canyon apart. With its recent A+ School of Excellence honor and the unique 50/50 dual language model, Desert Canyon Elementary is a beacon of academic success and community engagement within the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) fostering an inclusive and supportive atmosphere that encourages excellence for all students.

  • DCES-Story
  • Spotlight Podcast
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Across the nation, National Board reviews the practice of accomplished teachers to evaluate whether they represent the values and standards of excellence in education. In SUSD, we have nearly 70 National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT) across our 29 schools. On this episode of Spotlight, we sit down with NBCT Susan Leonard, an Ingleside Middle School educator and SUSD’S lead trainer for NBCT candidates. We dive into a fun conversation about education excellence and how teachers in 2024 can feel appreciated and recognized for their achievements. 

  • Elementary-Story
  • High-School-Story
  • Middle-School-Story
  • Spotlight Podcast
Anasazi IB Service Day

The IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) nurtures and develops young students as caring, active participants in a lifelong journey of learning. The PYP’s inquiry-based curriculum framework creates a community of future-focused learners that is able to engage critically and meaningfully across subject matters. As part of being an authorized IB PYP school, Anasazi Elementary School provides a world language offering of Spanish as a specials class for all students kinder - 5th grade.

The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring students who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. Inquiry learning helps students learn while building on what they already know. Students create meaning through a hands-on approach to learning, gaining understanding, and having student agency and providing action. Our goal is to develop lifelong learners through the process of inquiry. Through the IB curriculum, students become independent learners capable of in-depth critical thinking and reflection. 

  • Anasazi-Story
  • International Baccalaureate
Annual District Spelling Bee 2024

It was 13-year-old Nina Bhatia who emerged as the champion of the January 19 Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Spelling Bee, spelling the word “indemnity” correctly.

Among the words she also had to spell were “megaron,” “coccidiosis” and “innards.” How did the Cocopah Middle School eighth grade student prepare for the 2024 Bee? “For the easier words, I usually just skimmed over them and made sure I practiced them,” said Bhatia.

“For the harder words, though, we had to kind of associate with the picture and also definitions. It took a really long time for the hard words,” she added.

Bhatia credited her mother with helping her study and shared that she doesn’t plan to change her approach for the Region II Spelling Bee that SUSD will host at Coronado High School on February 9. There, she will be joined by the district bee’s five runners-up:

  • Gabriel Roxas, fifth grade, Hohokam Elementary School
  • Dhruv Bansal, sixth grade, Desert Canyon Middle School
  • Raquel Charlesworth, eighth grade, Mountainside Middle School
  • Jak Boudi, fifth grade, Hopi Elementary School
  • Promise Elhassan, fourth grade, Yavapai Elementary School

Bee winners from the Cave Creek, Deer Valley and Paradise Valley Unified School districts, as well as northeast Valley charter, private and homeschools, will also participate in the Region II Bee. The regional bee winner will head to the March 16 Arizona Spelling Bee at the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix. The state bee champion will be Arizona’s representative in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee which will be held May 26 – June 1 in National Harbor, Maryland. As for Bhatia, she reads more nonfiction than fiction these days. Her favorite fiction author is J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame. Her favorite Harry Potter character? Gryffindor’s Hermione Granger, but, she added, “I’m a Slytherin.”

A day earlier, SUSD conducted its second middle school Spanish Spelling Bee. Eighth graders swept the top three spots.

Echo Canyon School’s Adrián Fernando Alvarado Padilla out-spelled 16 other students, winning with the word “embarazoso.” Cocopah Middle School’s Matias Lagos Pucllas finished in second place; Ingleside Middle School’s Angel Gomez finished third.

  • Cocopah-Story
  • DCMS-Story
  • Elementary-Story
  • Hohokam-Story
  • Hopi-Story
  • Mountainside-Story