Volume 44, No. 4, Oct. 30, 2015

Digital promise logo

District joins League of Innovative Schools

Mesa Public Schools has been accepted into the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of forward-thinking school districts organized by Digital Promise. Digital Promise is a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to accelerate innovation in education. The district was selected from a competitive and national pool of applicants based on leadership, evidence of results, innovative vision for learning and commitment to collaboration.

"Membership in the League of Innovative Schools will provide Mesa Public Schools the opportunity to embody what we espouse — learning through interaction and exchange with our peers — so we can be the catalyst for students to reach their full potential," said Dr. Michael Cowan, superintendent.

Feeding Frenzy districtwide food drive

feeding frenzy posterFrom Nov. 2 to 6, 10 district junior high schools will be participating in a food drive competition to benefit the United Food Bank and families in Mesa. Employees and community members are welcome to participate.

Bring nonperishable food (no glass or expired food) to Summit Academy 7-8, or Carson, Franklin, Fremont, Kino, Rhodes, Shepherd, Smith, Stapley or Taylor junior high schools during office hours next week to donate. 

The United Food Bank is particularly in need of items such as peanut butter, canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, soup, pasta and rice.

If you are interested in setting up a United Food Bank drive at your school or department, please contact Heidi Hurst.

Fall creative and performing arts performances

fall Hs playsDobson, Mountain View, Skyline and Westwood high schools will be putting on their highly anticipated fall plays Nov. 4 to 7. View the theater performances page for information about these and other upcoming productions.

The 15th annual Mesa Public Schools music curriculum festival is 2 p.m. Saturday Nov. 7 in the Carson Junior High gym. The concert features students from Adams, Edison, Franklin at Alma, Guerrero, Hale, Hawthorne, Holmes, Keller, Salk, Webster and Zaharis elementary schools, and Summit Academy.

High school bands from all over the state will be at the ABODA Arizona State Marching Band Festivals Saturday, Nov. 7. Division I and festival class bands will be performing at Dobson High School. Tickets can be purchased at the gate for $10. Children under 5 are free. The day's schedule will be posted Nov. 1 on the ABODA website. Approximately 115 bands will perform between the three sites (Dobson, Hamilton and McClintock high schools). The top 10 scoring bands in each division move on to the Arizona State Marching Band Championship, held Saturday, Nov. 14, at Glendale Community College.

Don't forget to check the district music calendar for other upcoming events.

AzMERIT reminder

AzMERIT family score reports will be arriving at schools by Nov. 9. The reports are to go home with students Nov. 16. As a reminder, resources such as a video, frequently asked questions and helpful links are available on the district's AzMERIT staff site

Chick-fil-A day is back

It's time again to "eat more chicken." Chick-fil-A and Mesa Foundation for Educational Excellence are teaming up for the second annual Mesa Public Schools spirit day. Eat at the Mesa Riverview, Stapley or Superstition Springs Chick-fil-A restaurants Nov. 18. Chick-fil-A will donate 10 percent of the day's proceeds to the foundation, directly benefitting the MiniGrant program. Please spread the word with your students, community, friends and family. 

High school bands to perform for millions

Skyline band

Mountain View High School's marching band has been invited to perform Jan. 1 in London, England. The London New Year's Day Parade is expected to see more than two million spectators along the route, including Queen Elizabeth, while 10 to 15 million people will watch it on TV.

Skyline High School's marching band will be in the spotlight when they perform in the 45th annual Fiesta Bowl parade. The band has invited the Skyline cheerleaders to march in the parade with them.

The parade begins 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 2, in downtown Phoenix at N. Central Ave. and W. Montebello Ave. General admission is free, reserved seating is $10 and bleacher seating is $25. Tickets for reserved seats can be purchased online. The parade will also be broadcast live on TV.

#Run3rd 5K is back

After a successful inaugural run, #Run3rd 5K will once again be held at Red Mountain High School's track Saturday, April 2. The #Run3rd 5K movement was started by actor Sean Astin, who ran last year and plans to attend again this year. Proceeds go to participating after-school running programs. District coaches who are interested in getting their teams involved are welcome to contact Mindy Przeor, PE teacher at Brinton Elementary.

Student learning through plants

Johnson Garden WallJohnson Elementary's room 44 has a new look. DLR Group assisted in the design of a living plant wall for interior quality air improvement. The air quality of the classroom will be tested by students with help from DLR representatives.

Students researched indoor plants that remove toxins from the environment and helped with the construction of the wall. Parents, students and representatives from DLR Group came together Oct. 10 to build the wall. The project is registered with the Green Apple Day of Service.

Johnson Elementary is one of several district schools that encourage hands-on learning opportunities through the use of plants and gardening.

Student teacher meet and greets

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, the human resources department coordinated meet and greet interviews between 48 student teachers and 25 principals. The district currently has 70 full-time teaching positions available. Principals with vacancies in English, math, science, special education, art and elementary education conducted more than 80 interviews. "We are encouraged by the quality of MPS student teachers and anticipate filling many second semester vacancies with student teachers graduating in December," said Pete Lesar, assistant superintendent.

Cue the applause...

Greg Reid RodelCongratulations to Greg Reid, principal at Entz Elementary. He has been named a semifinalist in the Rodel Exemplary Principals program. The Rodel Foundation of Arizona recognizes extraordinary principals who make a difference in the lives of students who attend challenging schools across Arizona. For two years, selected Rodel Exemplary Principals have the unique opportunity to help train, mentor and inspire the next generation of Arizona school leaders. Good luck, Greg!

And congratulations to our educators who were recognized for their experience and contribution to student achievement. Dobson High School history teacher Misty Willis won the Kids in Need Foundation Teacher of the Year 2015 award for last year's Civil War chalk mural project. Larry Dexter, social studies teacher at Westwood High School, and Andrea Barker, fourth-grade teacher at Whitman Elementary School, received the 2015 Great Moments In Social Studies Award from the Arizona Council for Social Studies. Dexter impressed the council with his lesson "The Great War, American Neutrality and Western Union," and Barker was recognized for her "Hohokam Communities: Taking Risks and Making Trade-offs" lesson.

Eisenhower Center for Innovation was recently selected as an Apple Distinguished School for 2015-17 for its one-iPad-per-student program. The Apple Distinguished School designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence, and demonstrate a clear vision of exemplary learning environments.

Bronze award PE

Eisenhower Center for Innovation and Irving, Lowell and Salk elementary schools received the 2015 National Healthy Schools Bronze Award for leading health, physical activity and wellness efforts during the 2014-2015 school year. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation recognized the schools for transforming their environments into healthier places. Physical education teachers Mario Valle, ECFI; J.D. Guerrero, Irving; Daniel Velazquez, Lowell; and Kerri Johnson, Salk, attended the 2015 Leaders' Summit in Washington, D.C., Oct. 2 to 4. 

(Pictured, from left to right: Guerrero, Johnson, Velazquez and Valle.)

At the Oct. 27 Governing Board meeting, superintendency and board members honored the October Educators and Employees of the Month. Educator of the Month awards went to Cathy Easterling, Title I specialist at Lindbergh Elementary, and Brett Zahner, business education teacher at Smith Junior High. Employee of the Month awards went to Kristi Busken, office specialist at Poston Junior High, and Shannon Steen, resource center aide at Brinton Elementary. Congrats to all! Nominate a colleague today for Employee of the Month.

Crismon Elementary volunteers David and Laura Fabiano were named Volunteers of the Month at the Oct. 27 board meeting. The couple devote their time and energy to boost student achievement. Our Volunteer of the Month program needs your help. Nominate a fabulous volunteer today.

Send news to:

Heidi Hurst, district communications supervisor

Submit an award or recognition or tell us about a special event via our good news form.


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