So often these days, it seems that schools are only in the news for their failures. Journalists love to write about the sensational news of school violence or poor test scores. Well, out west in Phoenix, Arizona, the Phoenix Schools are doing some things right! The Phoenix area is divided into dozens of individual districts; and all throughout Phoenix Schools, success abounds.
One such district, the Deer Valley Unified School District sums up the mission of the entire system of Phoenix Schools: “In partnership with families and the community, [Phoenix Schools] will ensure that all students will graduate with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for success in a globally interdependent world.” If parents are looking for safe, secure and attractive campuses, qualified and caring staff who are passionate about working with children, rigorous curriculum that meets the needs of each student, award-winning faculty and programs, high academic achievement, and involved parents, business and community members who actively support education goals- then they need search no further than the districts of Phoenix Schools.
One district within the system of Phoenix Schools recently received an honorable mention award in the American School Board Journal’s (ASBJ) 2007 Magna Awards contest. The Magna Awards recognize school districts, like the Phoenix Schools, which implement outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage communities to get involved in their local schools. This year, winning entries were selected based on three enrollment categories: less than 5,000 students; 5,000 to 20,000; and 20,000 and above.
“For 13 years, the Magna Awards have rewarded highly innovative thinkers in school districts who grapple with the complex challenges in public education on a daily basis,” said Marilee Rist, ASBJ’s publisher and assistant executive director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA). “This year’s entries showcase excellent examples of school boards, superintendents, and staff that’ve focused on the common threads of community, collaboration, and partnership to advance student learning”. Indeed, it is a great honor for the Phoenx Schools to be recognized in this way.
Two Phoenix Schools, Esperanza Elementary and Constitution Elementary recently received recognition and rewards for the work of their PTA and PTSA, respectively. These Phoenix Schools were winners of the Readers Are Leaders Award sponsored by McDonald’s Owner/Operators of Arizona, and the Arizona Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Each school received a $1000 check for their Phoenix Schools literacy programs. The Readers Are Leaders program provides funding for the books and reading materials that school libraries need to enhance book collections. “We are proud to support literacy in our local schools,” said Dorothy Stingley, McDonald’s owner/operator. “Our restaurants are committed to the communities we serve, and investing in education is a top priority.” Kudos to these two Phoenix Schools! Lucy Ranus, president of the Arizona Parent Teacher Association, adds: “Arizona PTA believes that one of the most important things families and [Phoenix Schools] can do is [to] encourage children to love reading. Projects like McDonald’s Readers Are Leaders provide the tools to develop this love for reading and thereby improve learning.”
While the Phoenix Schools still face challenges in meeting national standards, they are clearly making strides in the right direction.