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Superintendent's Letter June 2017

Superintendent's Letter June 2017
Jun 15, 2017

June 2017

Dear Scottsdale Unified School District Family,

I hope you are enjoying your first taste of summer vacation and that your students are relishing not having to set the alarm for school, at least for a few weeks!

School years always seem to end in such a flurry of activity that it is not until about now, a few weeks after the final bell has rung, that students start to gain an appreciation for everything they achieved this past school year.  In so doing, I very much hope they recognize that those achievements were inspired by their teachers, who were there for them every step of the way, every day, to issue the challenges and guide the learning process.

The end of the school year also means that we bid farewell to 94 District employees who will retire by the end of the month.  Combined, these employees provided students, school communities, the school district and taxpayers more than 1,800 years of public service – thank you, and best wishes to you!

Congratulations are in order for the SUSD Finance Department, which recently received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.  The certificate is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting.

The first visible signs of 2016 bond-related construction are apparent at Chaparral, Coronado and Saguaro high schools, where the football fields and surrounding track surfaces have been removed.  Initial work on the new additions at Cheyenne Traditional will get underway this summer, as well.  To check on how the District’s bond projects are proceeding, go to bond.susd.org.  Better yet, sign up weekly bond project updates at http://www.tinyurl.com/bondupdate.

The learning doesn’t stop in SUSD, just because it’s summer.  Last week, 558 of our teachers took part in our four-day, annual Summer Institute.  Nearly 40 seminars were offered, with topics ranging from vocabulary building and academic writing in elementary grades to encouraging mathematical mindsets in middle schoolers, and using interactive math and science simulation programs in high school classrooms.  A considerable amount of time was also spent expanding teachers’ technology knowledge so they can make use of digital teaching and learning resources, and collaborate more effectively with each other.

At Coronado High School last week, the Dons’ teaching team gathered for design days with our Success Initiative partners from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.  The sessions were similar to ones that have been held since the beginning of the year with Coronado students, parents and the community at-large as we look to turn over a new leaf in the school’s storied history.

SUSD students are staying busy this summer.  A district-wide summer reading program is keeping our middle school students engaged in learning.  Many high school students also have summer assignments in English, math and science, all in preparation for their fall classes.

Our Community Education Department is offering multiple educational, sports and camp activities throughout the district this summer.  More than 1,800 high school students started taking classes this week in the first set of summer school classes.  Students have the option of either getting ahead on coursework or improving their achievement in a variety of core subjects.  Exploratory electives are also available for credit.  The second, three-week session of SUSD Summer School begins July 10.  Go to communityed.susd.org for more information.

We continue to learn of the accomplishments of the Class of 2017!  Nine recent SUSD graduates learned last week that they are recipients of college-sponsored National Merit® Scholarships.  They are:

  • Karishma Albal, Desert Mountain; Arizona State University
  • Jake Ausdemore, Desert Mountain; Arizona State University
  • Benjamin Buzas, Chaparral; Arizona State University
  • Ari Cohen, Chaparral; University of Southern California
  • Eleanor Jo, Arcadia; Arizona State University
  • Wesley Jung, Desert Mountain, Vanderbilt University
  • Camryn Lizik, Arcadia; Arizona State University
  • Megan Seifert, Desert Mountain; University of Southern California and
  • Laura Tutelman, Desert Mountain; Arizona State University

Congratulations are in order for two other Arcadia graduates.  Sarah Himmelberg has accepted an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and classmate Grant Loftin will head to the U.S Military Academy at West Point.  Both students underwent an extensive, months-long application and interview process before being recommended for commissions by members of Arizona’s congressional delegation.  We are very proud of this pair of Titans and know they will serve our nation with distinction.

Lastly, big things are ahead for Chaparral graduate Jacob Gonzalez, who was drafted this week to play baseball for the San Francisco Giants.  The Firebirds third baseman comes from a baseball family:  You may recall the heroics of his father, Luis “Gonzo” Gonzalez of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in the 2001 World Series.  We expect Jacob will make his own mark on the game.   

Have a great summer!

Dr. A. Denise Birdwell