Volume 44, No. 5, Dec. 1, 2015

Nicki Derryberry EOTYDerryberry named Milken Educator of the Year

On Nov. 16, Red Mountain High School teacher Nicki Derryberry received the surprise of a lifetime. The biotechnology teacher was named a Milken Educator of the Year. Lowell Milken himself, Diane Douglas and Dr. Cowan were all on hand to celebrate her huge achievement. Derryberry won $25,000, which she plans to use for a future student project.

Mesa and Westwood high schools revalidated by AVID

Recently Mesa and Westwood high schools were revalidated as AVID National Demonstration Schools. Demonstration Schools are required to go through the process every few years to ensure high levels of implementation, with quality and fidelity to AVID strategies schoolwide. This honor is bestowed on less than 2 percent of AVID schools in the United States.

Johnson robotics team takes on food waste problem

Johnson waste studyJohnson Elementary's robotics team, The Atomic Nerdz, are working with an ASU School of Sustainability doctoral candidate to solve the problem of food waste. The team of eight fifth- and sixth-graders studied food waste produced by students during lunch. On the day they tested, they found that students threw away 89 pounds of food waste. They extrapolated the information to determine this amounts to approximately eight tons of food waste per year. The team communicated with a local composting company to help design a new style of trash bin exclusively for food waste that would serve as a composting bin using the Bokashi method. The team presented their ideas at the FIRST® LEGO® League regional qualifier Nov. 21, where they placed in the top four and qualified for the state tournament Dec. 12.

Buy your holiday poinsettia and help FFA students

Dobson, Red Mountain and Westwood high school FFA students are selling poinsettias again this year. Dobson High School is selling red, white and pink poinsettias until Dec. 19. Open greenhouse day is Dec. 5. Contact Ashley Masters at 480-472-2369. Red Mountain High School is selling freedom red and polar bear white poinsettias. Open greenhouse days are Dec. 1-3. Contact Jessica Mennetti at 480-308-7463. Westwood High School is selling red, white, shimmer surprise and jingle bell poinsettias. Open greenhouse day is Dec. 2. Contact Sue Larsen at 480-472-4590. At all three schools, small (single) plants are $6, medium (double) plants are $12 and large (triple) plants are $18.

Enjoy the music of the season

Our district is filled with talented budding musicians. Keep an eye on our live music calendar to learn what concert opportunities are available at various schools throughout the year. 

Nancy Parry Quinlan space campKino teacher attends Space Camp

Nancy Parra-Quinlan (pictured) recently attended Space Camp® at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Parra-Quinlan was part of the Space Academy for Educators Program, which is designed for teachers who want to advance education in the STEM fields. She experienced astronaut simulators and took a virtual tour into space to save the International Space Station. Program participants follow lesson plans based on NASA content (which is correlated to the National Science Education Standards) and gain knowledge to pass on to their students. 

Red Mountain AP Spanish class gives back

In late October, AP Spanish students traveled to Phoenix to put their language skills to practical use. They visited the Salvation Army to translate for more than 300 families participating in the Christmas Angel program. It is safe to say that the students and their instructors got as much, if not more, out of this worthwhile service opportunity as the families.

Adult education teachers needed

Community Education is looking for teachers in the adult education program. The positions are part-time and hourly. Evening classes are held at various district schools. Current or retired teachers interested in teaching GED math and English as a second language are encouraged to contact Christine Niven, adult education specialist, at 480-472-7262.

Boeing funds Claiming the Evidence grant

Boeing has provided more than $63,000 to fund the Claiming the Evidence grant. Third- through sixth-grade teachers who are trained in Engineering Is Elementary are eligible to participate. The focus is to provide teachers with tools and skills to successfully integrate scientific explanation into the classroom. Teachers are immersed in a year-long journey through which they will construct a framework that will break down the complex practice of scientific explanation into four components: claims, evidence, reasoning and rebuttal. Teachers will develop a roadmap to enhance students' conceptual understanding and ability to think and communicate more scientifically by carefully analyzing evidence and backing up their claims. Teachers will apply these best practices to their current science and engineering content by adapting lessons to incorporate these skills.

Cue the applause...

Meredith Hey, Irving Elementary, and Jennifer Ruiz, Hawthorne Elementary, were named 2016 Rodel Exemplary Teachers Nov. 29. Exemplary Teachers are selected based on outstanding student achievement in high-need schools, their mentoring ability and recommendation of their principals and Rodel's observation team. The Rodel Exemplary Teacher Initiative asks awardees to mentor student teachers with high potential.

Pangrazi Teatro award 2015Huge congratulations to Deb Pangrazi, elementary physical education specialist. She was named Administrator of the Year by Arizona Health and Physical Education. Courtney Teatro, PE teacher at Stevenson Elementary, was also recognized at the October awards ceremony as Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year. Pangrazi and Teatro were honored for their commitment to helping our students through physical education, health and fitness. (Pictured: Suzie DePrez, Teatro and Pangrazi)

Mesa High's marching band has dominated competitions this fall. The band, directed by Robert Brooks and Jeff Quamo, took first place in Division II of the 2015 Arizona State Marching Band Championships Nov. 14. Mesa High also won awards for Outstanding Percussion, Outstanding Auxiliary, Outstanding General Effect and Outstanding Music. The next week, the band swept the Class 3A division of the AzMBA State Championships, winning first place and all five caption awards.

At the Governing Board meeting Nov. 24, four district employees were celebrated as Employees of the Month. Lydia Carrillo, student advisor at Mesa High, and Jackie Rosenthal, special education teacher at Porter Elementary, were named Educators of the Month. Summit Academy instructional assistant David Bottrill and Irving Elementary facility assistant Maria "Miss Terrie" Villalba were named Employees of the Month. Roosevelt Elementary volunteer Cora Jensby was named Volunteer of the Month.


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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