Tag Archives: SUSD

Caps Off to the 2nd Annual Title I Dream Fair!

Mary Ellertson
Scottsdale Unified School District

Dream FairClose to three hundred Scottsdale family members participated in the 2nd Annual Scottsdale Unified School District’s Title I Dream Fair, held in November at Coronado High School.  Developed by Scottsdale Leadership Class 26 in support of SUSD students and families, the Dream Fair’s overwhelming success for two years in a row has earned it a permanent spot on the school calendar, guaranteeing the event to be one that parents, students, and local community members can look forward to each year.

Mary Ellertson, Title I Coordinator for SUSD, played a vital role in making this a sustainable event.  Coining the slogan, “From Cradle to Career,” Ellertson was passionate about spreading the message that it is never too early to prepare for college.

Dream FairThe goal of the Dream Fair was to level the playing field so that all children have the opportunity to be prepared for college or a career.  Many students in local Scottsdale communities will be the first generation to apply to college and need guidance on how this process works.  Title I funds, which are designed to help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged minority students and their peers, combined with the donations of local businesses and community members, will help keep the Dream Fair a SUSD tradition.

This year’s Dream Fair hosted two motivating Keynote Speakers, former NFL player, Dr. Ray Otis Perkins, a strong advocate of education who shared his message “not just to survive but to strive,” and Gary Trujillo, a graduate of Harvard Business School and co-founder of Southwest Harvard Group Venture Capital.

Health Occupation Students of AmericanStudent performances in music and dance, booths with information about careers and strong study habits, food, and discussions about how dreams can come true were a few of the many exciting offerings of the Dream Fair.  As stated by one attending parent, “We really did not know what to expect when coming but this was an amazing event!  Both of my children learned so much… we hope you continue the Dream Fair!”

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Scottsdale Leadership Class 26 Pays It Forward

Scottsdale Leadership Class 26 Pays if Forward
Graduating class of Scottsdale Leadership poised to leave a lasting legacy in Scottsdale

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – As part of the nine-month community leadership program, members of Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 26 were assigned to teams and challenged to plan and implement five community service projects. The goal was to identify a community need and develop a project that positively affected that need, while gaining hands-on experience as community leaders.

“The teams had to quickly organize and create a project that will pay it forward for years to come,” said Brian Bednar, board president of Scottsdale Leadership. “We are beyond impressed and proud of class 26.  Their accomplishments are a reflection of what Scottsdale Leadership stands for. It proves that, even with limited time and resources, a few passionate people can make a tremendous impact on a community.”

The projects underway include:

Play it Forward
Play it Forward is dedicated to getting musical instruments out of retirement and into the hands of students, particularly to those in low-income areas who might not otherwise have access to musical education.  The team, in partnership with Ear Candy Charity and Arcadia High School Contemporary Music and Sound, is conducting an instrument drive benefiting schools in the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD).  Project Play it Forward Group was featured on Channel 12 news at: http://www.azcentral.com
How to get involved: Donate musical instruments at the front desk at Arcadia High until April 15. To make a donation to help repair and place the instruments with those in need, visit www.EarCandyCharity.org and click on CMAS drive.

Everybody Dance Now! Scottsdale
Everybody Dance Now! Is dedicated to enhancing the lives of youth through dance, leadership and community involvement by starting a chapter of Everybody Dance Now! in Scottsdale. The project team is partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale to provide weekly dance programming to middle and high school youth who would otherwise not have access to such opportunities.  Everybody Dance Now! is a youth-run nonprofit dedicated to inspiring students through positive opportunities that promote healthy and active lives. The first class begins on Wednesday, March 28 at the Rose Lane Branch of The Boys & Girls Club.
How to get involved: Participate in two upcoming golf tournaments which will raise money for Everybody Dance Now!. A Good Friday Golf Tournament will take place at Stonecreek Golf Club on Friday, April 6 and a NFL Alumni Golf Tournament will take place at Whirlwind Golf Club on Friday, May 4. Golfers may contact Tim Jorden at tjorden@cox.net to reserve a golf foursome. Also, volunteers will be needed to teach dance classes, particularly teens and college students with hip-hop experience. Interested volunteers can contact the local Everybody Dance Now! program at Scottsdale@everybodydancenow.org.

Paiute Community Garden
This team partnered with the Paiute Neighborhood Center to create a multifaceted edible garden with raised planting beds and an art-inspired seated reading area. The Paiute Community Garden will be a beautiful place for children and adults to grow an edible garden while layering an educational curriculum to inspire healthy food choices. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday, April 10 at 10 a.m.
How to get involved: The program is happy to accept gardening materials and cash donations to assist the program. Make your donations at the Paiute Neighborhood Center located at 6535 E. Osborn Road in Scottsdale.

Healthy Packs Program
The mission of Healthy Packs program is to aid children in Title 1 schools experiencing weekend hunger by sending them home from school with food on Friday afternoons. Good weekend nutrition ensures the children arrive to school on Monday well-nourished and ready to learn. Project partners include Vista Del Camino Food Bank, Scottsdale Leadership, SUSD, Police Officers of Scottsdale Association, Scottsdale Sunrise Rotary Club, Bethany Lutheran Church, and Concerned Citizens for Community Health. Healthy Packs kicked off on Friday, March 23.
How to get involved: The project will continue to need volunteers and donations. You can volunteer with the Vista Del Camino Food Bank to help pack bags, deliver bags or collect funds for the program. You can also donate online at http://www.concernedcitizensscottsdale.org/ for the Healthy Packs Program. Non-perishable food donation can be made directly to Healthy Packs at Vista Del Camino or to the Healthy Pack food donation boxes located at all SUSD elementary schools. Donations boxes will also be available at select middle schools and Desert Mountain High School.

Dream Fair
The goal for the Dream Fair was to inspire Coronado High School students entering 9th and 10th grade and their parents to be more involved in school to help them realize their dreams for graduation and beyond. Increased student and parental involvement are key contributors for better educational performance and decreased dropout rates. The Dream Fair on March 24 featured former White House Doctor Connie Mariano and Craig Jackson of Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction and a former Coronado High School graduate. Both shared how school helped them reach their dreams. The event included free food, prizes and activity booths from the school and community.
How to get involved: This year’s events is complete, but stay tuned  for chances to donate your time and resources to next year’s  Dream Fair.

Teams will present their projects the community during formal presentations on Friday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library Auditorium. Project Pay It Forward Presentation Day is sponsored by the Scottsdale Charros. A panel of judges will evaluate the projects and the winning team will receive $2,000 from Scottsdale Leadership to be donated to the team’s benefiting organization.

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What is in the special sauce?

Braden Love, Class 26
Director IT Business Consulting, Scottsdale Insurance

The Class 26 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

Another great day at Scottsdale Leadership was spent at the Coronado High School learning about the Scottsdale Unified School district. The coordination to pack in the star-studded speaker roll and tons of information in a short time was impressive. It was great to hear from the talented administration and a couple of smart students but I would have preferred to directly hear from a teacher.

What is the special sauce that makes SUSD excel above others? We heard about how great the school system is performing in a very challenging environment. The environment sounded, well… broken. Funding challenges abound. Equalization, a finance system older than a lot of Coronado alumni, the inability to move funds from one budget bucket to another, stagnate salaries and budgets.  Surely the special sauce is not money, look how well the team performs with what they have.

What is in that special sauce? Listening to the discussion about accountability and seeing the school professionals’ challenges and perceptions of what looked to me like chaos diminished my confidence in our policy makers. Another seemingly broken, or at least faltering, system. Not only do we have three definitions of successful but those definitions are changing like the seasons in New England. How’d you like it if that were your performance evaluation environment for your job?

If money is not the silver bullet for education and our policies on standards and performance create challenges more than they enable, then what are the ingredients for that special sauce? It must be another part of the system… Perhaps it is the community? The Administration? The kids? The parents?  The teachers?

What do you think is written on that recipe card? Please respond and let me know.

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Seeing the big picture is hard – but necessary

By Katy Kelewae, Class 22
STARS, Development Associate & Volunteer Coordinator

Looking at a present situation and deciding to take a leadership role in wherever your passion lies may seem daunting task. It is often hard, if not impossible, to visualize what the end result may look like. I am fortunate enough to know one amazing individual who took her passion from the very starting point to what is today the non-profit, Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services or STARS.

Mary King had just moved to Scottsdale, in 1973 and was working part time in the City Manager’s office. She was given the task of researching what programs and services were available to adults with intellectual disabilities in the Scottsdale area. She found none. With the support of Scottsdale elected officials, including Mayor Herb Drinkwater, Mary began to pull together other passionate individuals and groups who all wanted the same result – employment opportunities for adults with intellectual disabilities.

For the past 38 years, Mary has stayed by STARS’ side through many changes including adopting the name STARS, the opening of new facilities and the closing of others. If asked in 1973 if she thought one project at her part time job would change the lives of so many people, she probably would have said “no.” Mary saw an underserved population, knew that something had to be done to make their lives better, and kept going by taking it one day, task, challenge at a time. Today, STARS serves 180 adults with intellectual disabilities and their family’s everyday because of her dedication and focus.

Looking into 2011 and beyond, we see others setting a course for the future of STARS, a future that may not be fully realized for years. In 1973 the shift for individuals with disabilities was from institutionalization, to programs and services. Today, the shift is from sheltered employment to full integration into the community. Scottsdale Unified School District took a big step in 2010 towards creating the next phase of services for individuals with intellectual disabilities by partnering with STARS and creating the Cholla Special Needs Community Campus. Companies such as Fry’s and Scottsdale Healthcare are leading the way locally by creating the employment future for adults with disabilities along with STARS and others who continue onward by taking it one day at a time.

One person was able to look ahead and take action, where do you think you can make a difference?

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Education in Arizona

Scottsdale Leadership, Katherine Yu

Jessica Zambo and Katherine Yu at Coronado High School

Katherine Yu, Class 25 Class Blogger
Sr. Scientist – Henkel Consumer Goods Inc.

The Class 25 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s seventeen core program days.  The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community.

Education is one of the most vast and complex issues that face our community, and the fact remains that there are no clear cut resolutions. On this Scottsdale Leadership program day we were able to listen to many perspectives regarding education. There were few aspects where I could see where groups were aligned and fewer where solutions were agreed upon. However, there are some things that are indisputable to all groups. Education is important; it provides a foundation for individuals and our community; it is changing at a rapid pace, faster than even we can comprehend; and finally, reform is necessary. What shape or form this change will take is unknown, but change is imminent.

Education in Arizona affects everyone. As cliché as it sounds, the children are our future. The next generations will be our future workforce, community stewards, policy makers, and leaders. We need to be sure that our young people are prepared and have the skills necessary for the real world. How can we be sure that we are doing our best to guide them, mentor them, and provide for them? How do we know they are ready? What do they need to know?

One undeniable area which our young people must be proficient in is technology. Technology has infiltrated our everyday lives. Electronic devices are no longer luxuries, but necessities to be prepared for the 21st century. Kids are learning differently with access to information, globalization, exposure to languages, cultures, and (every parent’s nightmare) social networking. As parents, teachers, and mentors, we need to make sure our young people have access and are proficient in using technology.

Lastly, it is clear that reform is necessary. The “finance puzzle”, as Dr. David Peterson so skillfully articulated, needs to be solved. An outdated, decades-old funding formula cannot be used today. Making schools choose between teachers and arts programs, or between staff and all-day Kindergarten, is plainly not acceptable. Incentives and motivation to excel are vital. Accountability is key from our students, teachers, administrators, parents, and communities.

Obviously we care for our children and we understand the importance of education. Scottsdale Unified School District superintendent Dr. Gary Catalani was certainly inspiring with his vision for the Education community. Certainly change starts with strong leadership, and certainly change will not occur overnight. My certainties end here.

What do you think will ignite change for the betterment of Arizona’s educational system?

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