SUSD Showcase

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School Safety Partnership Spotlight STEM Certification COMPLIMENTARY COPY FALL/WINTER 2022



8500 E. Jackrabbit Rd. Scottsdale, Arizona 85250 (480) 484-6100

Showcase magazine is an in-house publication of the Scottsdale Unified School District Office of Communications and Marketing.

©2022 All rights are reserved.

For advertising opportunities and more information, please call (480) 484-6100, visit or email

Editor: Kristine Harrington

Writer: Nancy Norman

Art Director: Victor Bobbett

Arcadia High School, Class of 1984 Advertising: KC Shuck

Social Media Promotion : Sam Schnoes

Website Promotion: Lainie Triplett

Stay Connected!

Be sure to follow Scottsdale Unified School District on social media for the latest news, events and career opportunities. Each of our 30 schools also has its own website and official Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. For a complete listing of our social media accounts, with links to each, visit

Dear SUSD Families,

From the Desk of the Superintendent

On the Cover: Cason Frankito (L) and Conor Sheehan (R), 4th grade students at Laguna Elementary School, working on their STEAM-focused bridge project.

(Photography by Victor Bobbett)

The Scottsdale Unified School District has a strong Legacy of Success. We are excited to share some of it with you in this edition of Showcase magazine.

You’ll read about Robert Flick, a Coronado Graduate who is supporting current Dons in their pursuit of higher education; Andy DeFusco, a Saguaro graduate who is instrumental in providing classroom grants to teachers; and former Kiva student Trey Chappell a scholarship fund for Kiva alumni. And then there is our cover story featuring Mr. Paul Messinger. For more than nine decades, this man has served our community, delivering newspapers as a boy, then making headlines as an entrepreneur, city, and state leader.

These are just a few of our SUSD alumni of distinction who are dedicated to making a difference. It reminds us just how important it is that we never waiver in what we do: educating and inspiring young people. Academics are the cornerstone, and we are proud of our high-achieving students who regularly outperform our peer districts and the state, but for today’s learners to develop into tomorrow’s leaders, it all starts with a sense of belonging. In order for students to achieve at high levels, their educational environment must ensure a safe, supportive, and welcoming culture. We serve a diverse student population, and ensuring each student has a sense of belonging and is treated with dignity and respect is foundational to becoming the world-class, future-focused district we envision.

We hope the stories you read here will resonate with you and put a smile on your face. We hope you feel the same sense of pride that we do.



Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board


2022 Board President Term: 2021-2024

Coronado Learning Community


2022 Board Vice President Term: 2021-2024

Arcadia Learning Community, Scottsdale Online Learning


Board Member Term: 2019-2022

Desert Mountain Learning Community


Arcadia High School Class of 2012

Board Member Term: 2019-2022

Saguaro Learning Community

Upcoming Governing Board Meetings

Unless otherwise indicated, Regular Governing Board meetings are held at 6 p.m. in the Board Room at Coronado High School, 7501 E. Virginia Ave., Scottsdale. Study Sessions and Special meetings are held at 6 p.m. at the Mohave District Annex (MDA), 8500 E. Jackrabbit Rd., Scottsdale. Meeting agendas, minutes and related documents are available at Regular and Special meetings are open to the public, except during Executive Session. Members of the public are welcome to speak at Regular Board meetings, which are also broadcast live and archived on the official Scottsdale Unified School District YouTube channel. For additional information, please call (480) 484-6238.


Board Member Term: 2021-2024

Chaparral Learning Community

Watch online anytime! Meeting schedule subject to change. Please visit for the most current information. Study Sessions / Special Meetings Regular Board Meetings November 1, 2022 November 15, 2022 No meeting December 6, 2022 January 3, 2023 January 17, 2023 February 7, 2023 February 21, 2023 March 7, 2023 March 21, 2023 April 4, 2023 April 18, 2023 May 2, 2023 May 16, 2023 June 6, 2023 *June 20, 2023 *June 20 meeting at 5 p.m. for 2023-2024 Fiscal Year Budget approval

Partnership SpotlightCORONADO PROMISE Grads Giving Back

Coronado High School has long had the support of its alums. Founded in 2002, the Coronado Foundation for the Future (CFFF) has made it its mission to inspire and empower current Dons to recognize their full potential.

Last year, CFFF partnered with the Scottsdale Charros, Scottsdale Community College, the City of Scottsdale and SUSD to launch the Promise Scholarship Partnership. That effort caught the attention of former Coronado Don Robert Flick, Class of 1971, who, in late 2020, committed $1 million over 10 years through the Flick Family Foundation to help future graduates afford a college education. The first $50,000 is donated each year; then, the Flick Family Foundation matches the next $50,000 raised by the partnership. The support of the Scottsdale Charros is essential to ensuring that the partnership makes the match each year.

“I graduated from Coronado and had such fond memories of my time there. I would do my high school years over again and again, if possible,” said Flick. “We have been blessed in a big way and my wife and I were looking for a way to give back in a meaningful way.”

Flick believes his success is an example of what is possible for other students if they remain focused. “I believe everyone has the ability to succeed if they put their mind to it and NEVER GIVE UP! Half the battle seems to be never quitting,” Flick adds. “Define your goals and dreams, find a mentor to help you develop a plan to achieve your goals and then TAKE CONSISTENT ACTION.”

Between 2009 and 2018, CFFF provided more than $50,000 in scholarships to more than 20 students, helped substantially by a donation from the Papago Rotary Foundation. Fastforward to 2022, and the Coronado Promise granted 25 scholarships worth $125,000.

“Our hope is that eventually, the Coronado Promise Partnership could tell any student that was entering CHS that we would cover two years of community college,” said Karen Beckvar, CFFF’s executive director and former SUSD Governing Board member.

But money isn’t the only barrier to students’ achieving postsecondary success. Some students also grapple with a lack

of technology and other support necessary to get there.

Leave it to another community member to step in to meet the additional need. “I am on the board of the Coronado Foundation for the Future and my husband is on the

SUSD Foundation Board,” said Bronwyn Milhaven Maxwell. “Obviously, education is important to us.”

Maxwell served on the scholarship interview committee and quickly realized that a scholarship alone is not enough. Many of the students lacked access to the computers that are essential to being successful in college today.

“Over time, I developed a relationship with the counselors, and they identified more students that also were in need of a computer,” said Maxwell, who has now delivered six laptops to scholarship recipients.

This is just some of the additional support that Coronado Promise Scholarship recipients receive. Board members also serve as success coaches for students, helping them



navigate their new world of post-secondary studies, and supporting them if they struggle with other obstacles that can hinder their success in college or trade school.

“Sometimes it takes others cheering you on and having faith in you,” said Flick. “Never be afraid to ask for help and guidance. Successful people are always looking to help you if your desire is strong enough.”

The Coronado Promise is growing into something much bigger than any single college scholarship. It is a K-12 promise that is taking shape throughout the Coronado Learning Community, where elementary and middle school students, too, are being encouraged to start thinking now about college and career, because the promise of help achieving that dream awaits.

New License Plate Supports Public Education

The Scottsdale Charros launched a new fundraising initiative to continue their support of Scottsdale Unified School District.

There is a

$25 initial application fee and $25 annual renewal fee. The Charros Foundation receives $17 from each plate sold and donates these funds directly to Scottsdale education programs. Order yours today at no need to wait for your current tags to expire. HOME OF THE

PARTNERSHIP SPOTLIGHT Strengthening Scottsdale Together

DeFusco Law is a personal injury/ wrongful death law firm led by Bryn and Andy DeFusco.

“In 2018, we founded the DeFusco Law Classroom Supply Stipend Program to provide financial assistance for SUSD teachers,” said Bryn. “Every year, we award at least 10 teachers with $300 stipends.”

Since 2018, the DeFuscos have awarded more than $30,000 to more than 100 SUSD teachers (five each semester) to be used for classroom supplies.

“In the fall of 2021, we allocated additional funds from a settled case referred to us by an SUSD staff member and awarded 18 teacher stipends,” said Bryn.

The DeFuscos are passionate about supporting public education, particularly Title 1 schools that often lack robust parent-teacher associations.

“We firmly believe that a welleducated society benefits everyone,” said Andy, Saguaro High School, Class of 1983

Lowe's Hometowns and Points of Light Community Impact Project

This fall, Yavapai Elementary School’s library will be renovated as part of the Lowe's Hometowns and Points of Light Community Impact Project. The company launched Lowe’s Hometowns, with 2022 serving as the first year of a five-year, $100 million commitment to the communities Lowe’s serves.

The Yavapai library redesign will create flexible student seating and a makerspace.

“Thank you, Lowe’s, for supporting Scottsdale students with more than $130,000 in grant funding,” said Yavapai Elementary School’s principal, Dr. David Priniski, Saguaro High School, Class of 1997. “Our staff, students and parents are proud to serve as Arizona’s Hometown Hero!”

You can find details of the Lowe's Hometowns project and progress on the Lowe's Hometowns landing page and at #LowesHometowns on social media. The Yavapai library is slated to be completed by the end of 2022. newsroom/Lowes-Hometowns

College X-ing, led by Trey Chappell, has committed to a scholarship fund given to a Kiva Elementary School alumnus each year.

Chappell himself attended Kiva, as have his children.

“We are passionate about our neighborhood schools. My wife and I had such positive experiences growing up attending K-12 schools and believe in the power of families in public instruction and building community.”

Beginning in 2007, his foundation, the Scottsdale College Fair Foundation, hosted an annual college fair, open to the public. Post-pandemic, the focus has shifted to scholarship efforts for the Kiva community.

“Providing an annual scholarship to a Kiva graduate connects high school students back to their elementary family and gives the younger students and their parents further proof that the Kiva family is deeply committed to learning,” said Chappell.


National Blue Ribbon School

Last month, the U.S. Department of Education announced its 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools, and SUSD’s Cherokee Elementary School in Paradise Valley was named one of just six schools in Arizona and 297 nationwide to receive this recognition.

The prestigious National Blue Ribbon Schools award acknowledges the combined efforts of educators, families and communities to create safe, welcoming schools where students are engaged in rigorous, relevant content.

It is the second time one of our schools has received the honor twice (Sequoya Elementary is the other, in 1992 and 2001). Cherokee was also SUSD’s first to be named a Blue Ribbon School, in 1988, five years after the national award program began.

Nominated by the Arizona Department of Education to apply for the honor, Cherokee is being recognized as an Exemplary HighPerforming School for its students’ performance on state assessments and nationally normed tests.

Cherokee and this year’s other National Blue Ribbon Schools will be formally recognized in Washington, D.C., in early November.



SUSD offers an engaging array of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at our comprehensive high schools.

CTE programs focus on technical and professional skills to prepare students for post-secondary education and the workforce.

Students have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized certifications and community college dual enrollment credits through our CTE pathways.

Pairing robust academics with technical skills is what gives students a competitive advantage as they transition to college and career opportunities.

Please visit our website at

CTE in Biotech

CTE in Theater

CTE in Engineering

CTE in Film and TV

CTE in Sports Medicine



S USD is a district dedicated to the student population they serve. The dedication shown by SUSD toward their student body has enabled a group of students to dedicate themselves to supporting the district. These students make up a unique sector of the district, the Student Advisory Board.

The Student Advisory Board (SAB) is a group of high school students from each high school in SUSD that comes together to problem solve and help shape the overall student experience. Students meet monthly with district leaders to collaborate and share about campus trends, concerns, and opportunities for improvement.

Student voices matter in SUSD. The Student Advisory Board serves as a conduit for students to share their concerns, praises, and thoughts with district leadership. Members gather student feedback, promote participation, and offer resources in order to improve student experiences. SAB members represent the student population at their individual schools and strive to help keep SUSD the best school district in Arizona. The Student Advisory Board also hosts Thoughtexchanges with students and community members in order to get feedback on a larger scale. At the beginning of each school year, students apply to be a part of the Student Advisory Board. For the 2022-2023 school year, six students have been selected at each high school.

Each year, the Student Advisory Board undertakes specific initiatives to work on. In the recent 2021-2022 school year, the

SAB worked on many important issues, including bringing the Latin Honors system to SUSD high schools and updating the district Code of Conduct and dress code. The Student Advisory Board has a committee structure, where major topics are split up into different committees. Each of these committees works closely with district leaders in charge of specific committee-related departments. The committees for the 2021-2022 school year were Technology, Code of Conduct, Communications, and College and Career Readiness. Being a part of the Student Advisory Board is a big honor for students. Students involved learn leadership skills through serving as advocates for the district student body.

The Student Advisory Board is supervised by the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, Dr. Milissa Sackos, and our District Superintendent, Dr. Scott Menzel. The leadership of the Student Advisory Board consists of an elected President, who serves one year as President-Elect, along with school-specific senators at each high school. This means that there is one President and one President-Elect who run the SAB each year. I am serving as President this year; Victoria Hill from Desert Mountain High School was voted President-Elect at our first meeting of the new school year. School senators coordinate with each site principal to set up regular meetings with school SAB members and their principal, in addition to the monthly district-wide meetings. Student Advisors have the opportunity to make regular presentations at the district board meetings, where their findings can be shared with community members and the district’s elected board members.

Members of the 2021-2022 Student Advisory Board


BUILT TO LAST Your Tax Dollars At Work

In 2016, the community approved SUSD’s request to issue $229 million in bonds and a capital override to generate $8.5 million in funding over seven years.

SUSD’s bond was approved to:

Renovate, improve and construct school facilities

Enhance school-site safety

Update pupil transportation

Since that time, Cherokee, Hopi, Pima, Hohokam and Kiva Elementary schools have been rebuilt. Navajo and Yavapai Elementary schools have been renovated, and a gymnasium and new classrooms were added to Cheyenne Traditional School. Currently, Tavan Elementary is in the process of being remodeled and Pueblo Elementary will be rebuilt this school year.

The Innovation Center at Saguaro High School was also created, with the SUSD Foundation’s assistance in outfitting it.

All five high schools’ tracks and football fields have been replaced and tennis courts have been resurfaced.

Each of our 29 school sites has received security upgrades (see the Safety and Security article on page 22) and the Transportation department’s aging bus fleet has been upgraded with 10 new minibuses, 15 full-size buses and 11 wheelchair buses.

The final bond sale was completed in March of 2021.

Visit for more information on SUSD’s bond projects.

Hohokam Elementary School The newly renovated campus located at 8451 E. Oak St., Scottsdale, was dedicated on August 20, 2021. Students, parents, staff, community and district leaders celebrated the school’s updated, Ralph Haver-designed campus. New features include a structure to house music and P.E. classes, cafeteria and stage; a new building shared by the school administration and media center; and renovated schoolhouse buildings for each grade level.

Kiva Elementary School The Cougars will celebrate their 65th anniversary later this fall on completely rebuilt grounds. The new campus at 6911 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, made its debut for the 2022-23 school year. The community will be invited to celebrate both occasions with a ribbon-

cutting ceremony and tours of Kiva’s new and innovative spaces for teaching and learning.

Yavapai Elementary School The Thunderbirds are back home at 701 N. Miller Rd., Scottsdale, after two years of sharing a space with and at Hohokam. Their school has a fresh coat of paint, upgrades to the HVAC system, new flooring and new fencing. This fall, the library will undergo a makeover as part of a non-bond-related community project (read more under Partnership Spotlight on page 6).

Tavan Elementary School Seven locations on the Tavan campus, located at 4610 E. Osborn Rd., Phoenix, were renovated for the 2022-23 school year. The focus now shifts to a construction phase, which will include a new administration building; a newly renovated building to support Pre-K and PANDA classrooms; a new art room and Comprehensive Gifted Program classrooms, and a large, outdoor space for P.E.

Pueblo Elementary School Prep work is underway at Pueblo, where a new school will be built in just 10 months. Students will continue to attend school in the original buildings, located at 6320 N. 82nd St., Scottsdale, while the new school is built on a different part of the property.



What Is Old Is New Again

What’s old is new again in Scottsdale. This year, Kiva celebrates 65 years, but in different surroundings than when it first opened back in 1957. What remains tried and true is the school’s tradition of kindness and high academic expectations.

This is Matt Gromek’s third year as Kiva’s principal. In that time, he has taken on not only COVID, but a complete campus rebuild. What’s most notable about Kiva, says Gromek, is “the community, the traditions, the family-fun atmosphere and the kindness.”

“Kiva is a whole child-centered neighborhood school,” said Gromek. “It prides itself on building strong, long-lasting relationships. We welcome all and make elementary school a memory of a lifetime that parents and students will never forget.”

Elizabeth Gardemann often reflects fondly on her days as a Kiva student, running around the playground and learning in its classrooms. “Once a Cougar, always a Cougar,” said the kindergarten teacher, a Saguaro High School class of 1994 and part of SUSD’s Legacy of Success

Those experiences are what inspired her to become a teacher herself, returning to Kiva as a student teacher who was hired on the very next year. “Kiva has an ‘at-home‘ feeling,” said Gardemann. She not only attended Kiva from kindergarten through sixth grade, but has spent the last 25 years teaching there. “We love involving our community, and teachers love and care about their students.”

While the charm of the school’s red brick buildings is gone, the same heart beats on and the love of learning lives on.

“The updated layout is built for world-class, future-focused learning,” said Gromek. “Kiva’s unique, hybrid design improves opportunities for collaboration, expands opportunities within fine arts, and lends itself to students building relationships and our instilling a passion in them for learning. The technology is top-notch, too.”

Kiva will celebrate its 65th anniversary ‒and new campus when it welcomes current and past families and staff for a ribboncutting ceremony later this fall.


School colors: Dark Navy and Gold

SUSD’s original School of Choice

Curriculum based on time-tested Saxon Math, Spalding Language Arts programs

Welcoming, collaborative, teacher-directed, studentcentered, standards-based, textbook-driven instruction

Humanities, public speaking, high school Spanish credit, Athletics, school uniforms

Rigorous, intentional curriculum and high expectations prepare students for high school success and beyond

Traditional model embraces today’s learning

Mascot: Eagle

School colors: Royal Blue and Yellow

Cognia-certified STEAM curriculum that integrates

Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics

All-grades Makerspace cultivates inquiry-based learning, critical thinking and collaboration

and 4-time Arizona Educational Foundation A+

of Excellence™

Scottsdale Arts/Kennedy Center Artist in Residence program

and pre-kindergarten Early Learning programs

Mascot: Firebird

School colors: Scarlet Red and Gold

Annually graduates high-achieving, academically talented, major university-bound students

Its Class of 2022

Received more than $26 million in academic, athletic and extracurricular scholarship offers

Had the highest cumulative GPA of any Firebird graduating class

award-winning Theatre, Music and Visual Arts; state championship Athletics and Robotics programs; and real-world, Career & Technical Education courses of study in in-demand professions

to a

Middle School,

grade added, Fall


colors: Black and White

English, History, Math


Placement (AP) high school Math

Dual Language Immersion

college and career readiness


Opened 1972 50th anniversary
 Offers
Opened 1987 35th anniversary
 Current
 Preschool
Grades 6 – 8 60th anniversary Opened 1962 as a K-8 school Converted
Fall 1986 6th
1995 Mascot:
 Honors
courses  Pre-Advanced
courses  Spanish
program  Fine Arts, STEM programming & Athletics  Comprehensive Gifted Program  High school,
guidance counseling  Robotics and
clubs CHEYENNE @ 25 LAGUNA @ 35 CHAPARRAL @ 50 MOHAVE @ 60


Q & A with Roni Scholz

Inspired to become a teacher because of her own excellent 5th and 8th grade teachers, Roni Scholz has been teaching in SUSD for 46 years. She currently serves as a Title I Instructional Specialist at Ingleside Middle School.

What is special about SUSD that gets you up and going, day after day and year after year?

I feel so fortunate to call SUSD home. SUSD has always had an authentic vibe. I am surrounded by people who have the best interest of students in mind. I have as much energy and excitement to start each school year as I did when I entered my first classroom so many years ago.

Why not retire?

I just think I’ll know when I’m ready to retire. For now, I still love what I do and feel I still do things well.

How has teaching evolved?

The resources that are available to teachers now are endless and the use of technology has been a game changer. With that being said, the end goal of teaching hasn’t changed. Taking students to the next level and building independent, critical thinkers is still the focus of good instruction.

What is your advice to first-year teachers?

Never lose sight of why you entered the profession initially. It’s all about the kids and making a difference every day. I also recommend all teachers know the meaning of the word “flexible.” Teaching is not an assembly-line job. Every day is different, and things don’t always go as planned. We need to look at each day with fresh eyes, and modify and adjust as needed.

Do you keep in touch with any former students?

I have many former students who are now SUSD teachers, administrators, directors, social workers or support staff. It seems no matter where I am, I see a former student. Just last week at the mall, a young man came up to me and said I was his 5th grade teacher. When my husband was in the hospital a year ago, the floor nurse walked in and went crazy when she looked at me and realized I had been her teacher. When the kids from one of my first 8th grade classes all turned 50, I was invited to their get-together.

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

What is most rewarding about teaching?

I love seeing that look in a child’s eyes when they have accomplished a task. I believe that we need to celebrate the little successes along the way. If a student can answer one more question than they could the day before, to me, that is a win.

What has been most challenging?

One of the toughest challenges to deal with in recent years is the effect of social media and what kids are exposed to at such a young age. Some of the things that kids deal with would be difficult for adults to handle. I approach all this knowing that I can’t change the outside world, but I can make the time a child spends in school the best it can be, both academically and socially.

Smile every day and don’t forget to say thank you to those around you. Thank your students, their parents, your colleagues, and your administrators. Find the good in all. Every child who walks through your door is depending on you. Never underestimate the impact you make and never lose sight of why you became a teacher. It’s all about the kids.



Paul Messinger, Class Of 1948

He says those were important lessons that have taken him far in life.

“What we learned in those days is that integrity is absolutely necessary. We had to be honest with each other, even if it hurt.”

And if the cows got out, the teacher understood that meant she had to let some students leave.

“We’d look out the window and see our cows or a friend’s cows walking down Indian School Road and we had to go collect them. Sometimes, we could get the work done and still get back for the rest of class.”

Education was very important in the Messinger home. Paul’s father served on the school board.

The community always supported the schools. We knew strong schools made for a strong community. Scottsdale was very diverse, and the schools were very inclusive. We all did everything together.

Leader. Legend. An SUSD Legacy of Success.

Paul Messinger is humble and hardworking. The former Scottsdale city councilman (1971-76), Arizona state legislator (1979-85) and founder of Messinger Mortuary is 94 years old and still works seven days a week. That is his secret to success.

“I woke up every day at 3:30-4 in the morning to milk the cows, then did my paper route and went to school. After school, I did a paper route and milked the cows. I also worked in restaurants at night, but still always got my homework done.”

There were no excuses for not being prepared.

“I gotta tell you, no kid told a lie in front of their teacher. You never want to be a liar. Honesty was the most important thing. They had to trust you, and you could always trust them. It was always about respect.”

Even if that meant sometimes owning up to being a bit of a prankster.

“I remember throwing spit balls at lunch and using rubber bands to hit things, but I gotta tell you this: if you got in trouble, the teacher would say, 'Paul, go tell the principal what you did.' He had a wooden paddle and I gotta tell you, he gave me 30 swats. Then he’d say, 'Go back to class,' and that’s what you did.”

Despite all of Paul’s responsibilities outside of school, he was also very involved in clubs and sports at Scottsdale High School. He was a member of the Key Club and the Radio Club, and was a photographer for the school newspaper and yearbook. He also played on the tennis team, when time allowed.



He was one of 31 students in Scottsdale High School’s Class of 1948. His two sons also graduated from Scottsdale High and subsequent generations of Messingers have continued through Scottsdale schools.

Messinger Mortuary, founded in 1959, remains a family business. Paul boasts that Messinger is now the largest mortuary in the Rocky Mountain region, with 100 employees.

Messinger recalls being a straight-A student. His favorite subjects were math and science. More than 80 years later, he still reflects on his favorite teacher, Leo Kennedy.

“He made you believe. He gave you so much confidence and he made you believe you could do anything. We knew every teacher supported us, and we supported them.”

Paul’s class was small, but he and his classmates had big dreams. Their teachers encouraged that entrepreneurial spirit.

“We talked a lot, we laughed a lot, we shared a lot of ideas (with the teachers). They were adults, but they were warm.”

Paul went on to earn a degree in civil engineering and mortuary

science. He started Scottsdale’s first ambulance company, as well as its first mortuary at Indian School and Miller roads. He served five years on the Scottsdale City Council and six years in the Arizona House of Representatives.

His advice to current students?

“Keep your integrity high, take your punishments when you do something wrong and never lose your sense of humor. Most important, be determined, talk to people and be willing to change your mind. Always be constructive in your life and be the one to get things done.”

His question for young people?

“You have one life. What are you going to do with it? Are you going to do dumb things? No. You are going to do the best you can to help others as much as you can. Never waste. Never waste anything, but especially not time.”



COGNIA STEM Laguna, Navajo & Saguaro

Throughout its storied history, Scottsdale Unified School District has distinguished itself by offering outstanding learning opportunities to this community’s students. While defining what those opportunities consist of has continued to evolve during the past 126 years, a constant motivation has been to prepare our learners to not only successfully navigate the world in which they live today, but also the

of the MSA is to provide STEM learning opportunities and extracurricular, community connections to increase STEM literacy for all Saguaro students, even those who do not plan to purse advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields.

To further that end, and in the midst of what was, at that point, a three-month coronavirus pandemic, in June, 2020, Saguaro teachers and administrators dove into the detailed, self-examination process that is required to become a Cognia STEM-Certified school. Cognia is a global, nonprofit education organization that guides schools on the challenging path of continuous improvement for all learners, with STEM learning at its core.

The massive effort involved the entire Saguaro staff, student leaders, parents and key community partners, such as the SUSD Foundation, FIRST Robotics, Luminosity Lab, the University of Arizona, Arizona Game and Fish, and BWS Architects. Together, they put the school’s learning culture, teaching methods, curriculum, and the challenges and strengths of growing learners, teachers and leaders under the microscope, documented hundreds of artifacts illustrating the school’s commitment to Cognia’s 16 STEM certification standards and underwent an intensive, multiple-

world they will inherit and occupy as adults who contribute to their communities, local economies, workplaces and families. We may not have a complete grasp on everything that will drive that future economy or what skills will be in the most demand, but we are able to say with some degree of certainty that our current reliance on mathematics, science, technology and engineering – or STEM – skills will not wane. If anything, the current thinking is that it will only increase. People who are well versed in how to think critically, problemsolve and collaborate with others in multiple workplace settings will continue to be much-sought and have myriad professions open to their pursuit.

It is in this vein that SUSD continues to seek and explore new opportunities to advance student learning. Fifteen years ago, the idea for a science- and math-based “school within a school” was born. Based initially at Copper Ridge School, Saguaro High School has been home to the Scottsdale Math & Science Academy (MSA) since 2008. Offering a rigorous curriculum to students district-wide, the primary mission

day engagement review by a team of education experts. In March of this year, Saguaro High School became Cogniacertified, one of just three public high schools in Arizona that can call itself that.



“Our culture is to prepare our students for the future by creating as many STEM opportunities as possible and ensuring they are accessible for all of our students to learn, engage and grow in our ever-changing and evolving world,” states Principal Ann Achtziger. “We are proud to be distinguished as a Cognia STEM-Certified High School that recognizes our high standards and commitment to a STEM, research-based framework of rigor and continuous improvement.”

Nearly simultaneously, SUSD’s Laguna and Navajo Elementary schools undertook the same arduous, introspective and thoughtful process, culminating in both schools' receiving their Cognia STEM certifications in May. Mohave Middle School is getting its Cognia work underway this school year.

“Today’s problems are increasingly complex, and students must be able to make connections across disciplines to think critically, act collaboratively, and creatively apply their understandings and skills to solve them,” says SUSD Science Academic Coach Johanna Kaiser, Saguaro High School, Class of 1999, who, with now-retired district Science Coach Barb Reinert, helped steer all three schools’ efforts.

“These STEM-certified schools engage students in futurefocused learning where students investigate phenomenon, engineer solutions, and solve novel problems. The world needs those kinds of thinkers, now and in the future,” Kaiser concludes.

STEAM (STEM, plus Arts) schools Laguna and Navajo launched what became a three-year Cognia journey together, with intensive training and coaching of teachers

through Discovery Education, one of Cognia’s approved providers, to support student learning.

Navajo Principal Matt Patzlaff says it was hard, but meaningful work. “Really being reflective of our STEAM teaching and learning, and constantly modeling a growth mindset in our practices have put us on the path to becoming the most

effective STEAM school we can be. We know it’s worth it for our students.”

Former Laguna principal, Arcadia High School 1999 graduate, and now SUSD Special Education Director Dr. Brooke Williams agrees: the professional development and buy-in of teachers was key. “It allowed teachers to understand what the expectations are and how to frame their teaching in hands-on, creative ways that meet both Arizona’s state standards and Cognia’s STEM standards. Students benefit from this kind of instruction. It not only increases their academic skills, but also the soft skills that are needed in the workplace to collaborate and communicate with others to problem-solve in a variety of environments.”

Both Williams and Patzlaff believe the schools’ commitments to STEM and STEAMbased teaching and learning send a strong signal to their parent communities that their children are ready for what comes next.

For SUSD, what’s next is district-wide Cognia accreditation. That work has begun.



Anasazi Elementary School

Primary Years Candidate School

Mountainside Middle School Middle Years Programme

Desert Mountain High School Middle Years Programme, Diploma Programme

POINTS of Pride 20232022 • Gifted Learning Pre-K–12 • STEM/STEAM Programs K–12 • World Languages • K–12 Online Learning Programs • Honors & AP Courses • Career & Technical Education (CTE) • ROBOTICS • Award-Winning Fine Arts • Championship Athletics PROGRAMS
International baccalaureate programme Math & Science Academy (9–12) Spanish - Pueblo ES Mandarin - Desert Canyon ES Dual Language Immersion Schools Laguna ES Navajo ES Saguaro HS Cognia Stem-Certified Schools National Blue Ribbon School Cherokee ES2022 Cheyenne Pima Traditional Schools



SCHOOLS #26 DESERT MOUNTAIN #37 CHAPARRAL #47 SAGUARO #79 ARCADIA MIDDLE SCHOOLS #13 Cheyenne #41 Cocopah #64 Desert Canyon #78 Mountainside ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS #5 Cheyenne #12 Sequoya #32 Desert Canyon #36 Cochise #40 Hopi #45 Anasazi NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED TEACHERS Pueblo Elementary Laguna Elementary Cherokee Elementary Redfield Elementary Sequoya Elementary


Belong In SUSD


Scottsdale students, preschool through 12th grade, are met each day with rigor and respect! The pursuit of academic achievement starts with a sense of belonging. It’s the intangible that is palpable on our campuses and woven into the fabric of our schools’ climate and culture.

This is not only true of our families that choose SUSD, but for our employees, as well, who also come to us from all around the Valley. Success starts with the recognition of one’s inherent dignity. Dignity allows for differences to be set aside, and opportunities to learn and grow soar.

To achieve in a classroom, on a field or on a stage requires as much freedom to fail as to fly. Students who are safe and supported will take on more challenges, they’ll raise their hand and risk being wrong to explore their own creativity and critical-thinking skills while on the road to success.

One size does not fit all in SUSD. Students who choose SUSD also choose their own path, with a wide array of unique program offerings from which to choose:

 K-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme  Math and Science Academy  Career & Technical Education (CTE)  Community College Dual Enrollment  Traditional Schools  Dual Language Immersion (DLI)  STEM and STEAM Programs (K–12)  Gifted Learning (Pre-K‒–12)  Award-winning Fine and Performing Arts  Championship Robotics  Nationally Ranked Athletics  K-12 Scottsdale Online School Learn more at


A Shared Responsibility

Safety and Security is SUSD’s number one priority, and leading the charge is Director Josh Friedman, Saguaro High School Class of 1991, and another part of our Legacy of Success

“I’m proud to serve the District and community that served me so well and continues to serve my family,” said Friedman. “Scottsdale is a special place with very strong partnerships in the law enforcement and first-responder community, which makes it an additionally safe place.”

Placement of school resource officers, school counselors, school social workers and school security on SUSD campuses is only part of the approach to creating and maintaining safe, supportive schools.

As part of the 2016 Bond, the community provided funding to upgrade our facilities and create secure, single-entry points of access during the school day through school front offices. The improvements include:

Upgraded alarm systems

This year, the district rolled out “DIG-IT,” short for Doors, Identification, Gates and IT (cybersecurity).

“DIG focuses on the vulnerabilities that each of us can control without costing the district any additional money,” Friedman explains. “We can make sure doors are locked and not propped open. We can make sure students and staff are wearing their ID badges and that all visitors show ID and sign in in the front office. We can also make sure that gates on campus are locked, unless they are manned.”

Lastly, with the digital age and issuance of district technological devices to students and staff, the potential for vulnerabilities increases. Reminding everyone to change their IT passwords regularly and keep them secure is the final piece of the security puzzle.

These precautions are not new, but there are enhanced expectations for them to be met, along with accountability.

Also this school year, the district has implemented

guidelines for spectators who bring purses or bags to our high school sporting events. The community should already be familiar with them, as they mirror those enforced at college and professional athletic events.

“The safety and security of our students and staff is a shared responsibility. It is as much yours as it is mine,” said Freidman. “We trust students, staff, and parents to say something to us if they see or hear something out of the ordinary or the least bit concerning.”

SUSD students and staff routinely practice emergency drills and review security protocols. We work closely with the Scottsdale Police Department (SPD) to provide training opportunities for our faculty and staff to prepare them for

 Front office/school lobby renovations  New door hardware  Additional/upgraded fencing  Security cameras  Automatic alert buttons  Intercoms 


all types of hostile events, including an active shooter. We also partner with the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC) to conduct vulnerability assessments of our schools and other district facilities. This provides us with a comprehensive, systematic survey and understanding of all of our assets. Our ACTIC partnership ensures that first responders have the most up-to-date information on our facilities.

SUSD is also a leader in the state when it comes to threat assessments, suicidal ideation assessments and interventions. SUSD and SPD are proud to partner with the SUSD Foundation to have two Crisis Response K9 “officers” at work in our schools, with a third on the way. Their duties include providing comfort to crime victims, calming high-stress situations, and bridging gaps with community members. All of our School Resource Officers (SROs) are Crisis Intervention Trained (CIT) and are experienced in helping with behavioral health-related incidents. SUSD is deeply committed to every student’s well-being.

If you have information about a threat or school safety risk, please notify any SUSD employee or SRO, or call the Silent Witness Tip Line at 480-WITNESS (948-6377). For more information on SUSD school safety and Support Services, please visit

how you can help support SUSD’s
K9 Program.
Learn More


A Shared Responsibilty

P art of the SUSD “DIG-IT” campaign includes a focus on digital safety. It begins very simply with locking computers when they are unattended and keeping passwords confidential. These are two easy but important ways students and staff can protect SUSD data and systems from inappropriate or malicious access.

In the classroom, teachers help students understand their role in digital safety by embedding Arizona Technology Standards for digital citizenship and best practices directly into classroom lessons, expectations and directions. SUSD also contributes to the digital safety of the community at large by offering opportunities for students interested in cybersecurity careers to enroll in courses in networking and cybersecurity, software development, coding, robotics and computer science.

Staff members receive regular reminders through weekly newsletters and annual training regarding behaviors that are essential for digital safety. During the month of October, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, staff will have access to new training resources to help avoid getting caught by a “phisher” or falling prey to social engineering tactics that are designed to circumvent cybersecurity systems.

Unfortunately, we all receive unsolicited email messages, and while some may be annoying, some can actually be dangerous. A common way malicious emails are disguised is by making them appear as if they are coming from a trusted sender or friend, but with an email address that does not belong to them. In addition, links within an email may direct you to a false website that is run by a malicious entity.

Here are a few tips we share with our students and staff to help them stay safe when they are considering whether to click on a link in an unsolicited email:

If the email appears to be coming from a company, does the hover link match the website of the sender?

Does the link have a misspelling of a well-known website (such as

Does the link redirect to a suspicious, external domain appearing to look like the sender’s domain (e.g.,, rather than

Does the hover link show a URL that does not match the context that the email claims it will take you?

Do you recognize the link’s address or did you expect to receive the link?

Did you receive a blank email with long hyperlinks and no further information or context?

When in doubt, don’t follow the link. Instead, we advise reaching out directly to the sending individual or organization using another communication channel (telephone, website) to help determine if the message you received is indeed a legitimate message.



The Freedom of Flexible Learning

Rigor and relationship building coexist online in Scottsdale

Students sacrifice nothing but the constraints of a classroom. This is not pandemic learning. Rather, for more than a dozen years, SOL has served thousands of families all over Arizona with online classes taught by state-certified, SUSD teachers.

“Pre-pandemic, we always had students that chose to take an online class,” said Kayrene Willis, who teaches high school math and science electives for Scottsdale Online. “Some students and parents discovered that they were thriving online because of the freedom and flexibility.”

That increased flexibility while still maintaining high educational standards is a draw.

“Students are now choosing to be at SOL because of the flexibility and what we offer in terms of schedule and curriculum,” said Garienn Van Parys, who teaches SOL fourth and fifth grade students.

SOL students thrive, build friendships and are able to pursue their passions while continuing their education. SOL offers one-on-one attention to each student, often receiving immediate feedback on assignments. For larger projects, teachers dive into the work to provide detailed suggestions.

“Our program has always been a rigorous and relevant program with dynamic course content,” said Willis. “Our content is updated regularly and our user interface is one of the best.”

Parents also are able to take an active role in their student’s learning.

SOL science teacher Tracey Dodrill is a 17-year, veteran SUSD teacher, formerly based at Cocopah Middle School before joining SOL’s teaching cadre. In that time, she has developed partnerships with all three Arizona universities and has served as a NASA Solar System Ambassador.

“My SOL students and families have had unique, virtual opportunities in Earth and Space Science through the partnerships with these universities,” said Dodrill. “This has enriched their learning experiences and enhanced their online learning experience.”

SOL offers a convenient, engaging way for Arizona K-12 students to learn. While they’re based in Arizona, SOL students often do their learning on the road, sometimes even from overseas.

“Students who are self-motivated, organized, with a highly structured environment should flourish with this program,” said Megan Ballatore, SOL’s Middle School Lead Teacher.

Sophia Ramirez reports she often works a week ahead in every class … for fun. The SOL senior defines her fellow SOL students as “driven and good with time management.”

“I have a lot more free time for the things that are important to me, considering I can work at my own pace,” said Ramirez. “I’m definitely much more self-sufficient, now that I attend SOL, but I can still get help when I need it.”

SOL is currently enrolling students from across the state of Arizona.

For more information, please visit



Middle School

Academics. Arts. Athletics. The three A's in Scottsdale Unified combine to provide an outstanding learning experience for students that prepares them for the many roles they will have as adults. The skills that are developed through taking part in organized school athletics are refined over the course of time to deliver valuable, life-long lessons far beyond fields, tracks and courts.

With the exception of cross country and track and field, students spend the first four or five weeks of a quarter learning and practicing a sport on what’s called a Tier 1 team that has no cuts. Following a Saturday festival each quarter, Tier 2 school teams are selected to continue with a three- to six-week competitive season against other SUSD schools. If not for the rain that washed out the September 10th baseball festival, nearly 900 middle-school age students would have taken part in this year’s fall festival. That’s roughly the same size as SUSD’s largest middle school population! Even so, 34 girls volleyball teams took the courts at Arcadia, Coronado and Saguaro High schools that day, with several schools fielding more than one team per grade.

Leslie Johnson has a 7th grader at Mountainside MS who’s playing volleyball this fall and a freshman at neighboring Desert Mountain HS who’s going to try out for the freshman basketball team in a few months’ time. Both she and her husband played school sports, so it’s fun, she says, to see their children follow in their footsteps, have the opportunity to try new sports and be active. Johnson says she sees them benefiting in other important ways, too, that are going to help them down the line.

“Academically, they know they have to maintain grades in order to play sports at school. Socially, they have made great friends through their teams that were outside of their normal circle of

SUSD is proud to be able to offer a variety of team sports at the middle school and high school levels. Middle school athletics are a fun, first foray into being part of and contributing to a school team. There, many students try out a sport for the first time; others may bring club experience with them that adds to a team’s depth.

SUSD’s six middle schools (Cocopah, Desert Canyon, Ingleside, Mohave, Mountainside, Tonalea) and the middle school grades of its three K-8 schools (Cheyenne, Copper Ridge, Echo Canyon) offer four athletics seasons:

Quarter 1 – boys baseball, girls volleyball

Quarter 2 – boys soccer, girls soccer, boys basketball, girls softball

Quarter 3 – girls basketball, boys flag football, cross country

Quarter 4 – track and field

friends. They have learned the importance of supporting their teammates and the responsibility that comes with being part of a team. And they have learned how to handle pressure and emotions, and how to handle successes and failures. It’s not all about W’s (wins).”



High School

"Sportsmanship. Respect. Character.” Athletics contribute to school climate and culture.

High school sport seasons sometimes overlap academic quarters:

FALL – football, girls volleyball, cross country, golf, girls badminton (Chaparral and Saguaro), swim and dive, freshman tennis (Desert Mountain)

WINTER – basketball, soccer, wrestling

SPRING – baseball, softball, tennis, track and field, girls beach volleyball

While the motivation for playing a high school sport may vary from student to student, a considerable body of research indicates athletics contribute to a high school’s overall success. Sports and involvement in other extracurricular activities correlate to higher grade point averages, higher test scores, fewer absences and higher graduation rates. Student athletes contribute to a school’s overall sense of identity and make lifelong friends. Schools benefit from the bonds parents create, sitting in the stands.

SUSD Athletic Director Nathan Slater, Class of 1989, played baseball and basketball at Supai (now Tonalea) Middle School; baseball and football for Coronado High School. From high school math teacher to Saguaro assistant principal, Arcadia principal to district AD, Slater’s Coronado friends are constant.

“BJ Pasquel (Class of 1990) and Brian Corte (Class of 1988), and the professional mentorship of Brian’s dad, Joe: they’re still my sounding board, my biggest cheerleaders and, now, my adversaries on the golf course. To have those guys still in my life is amazing.”

A more recent SUSD graduate, Isabella Struckman, Chaparral Class of 2020, is a junior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., majoring in Artificial Intelligence. Arizona’s 2020 Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year led the Chaparral Firebirds to four consecutive state titles and followed her soccer-playing sisters, Sophia and Olivia, to MIT, where they became NCAA All-Americans.

“The four-year project that was my high school soccer career isn’t consciously in my head all the time," says Struckman, "but I know it provides me with some of the self-confidence and grit required to work slowly and sometimes painfully to larger goals.”

Mom Margarita Struckman strongly believes that the hard work, perseverance and collaboration required of her daughters on the soccer pitch has had permanent impact.

“Our buying a house in the 85258 zip code might be the single

most significant thing we did to ensure our daughters’ academic success,” says Mrs. Struckman. “The resulting doors it opened for them has allowed them to attend their dream university, to pursue their dream careers in dream companies and locations.”

At Saguaro High School, the Uribe brothers play golf. Junior Oscar contributed to last year’s surprise, third-place Division II state tournament finish. Freshman brother Oliver is his teammate this year.

“There is definitely a crossover between the discipline needed in a sport like golf and in the classroom,” says Oscar. “I hope this student-athlete experience at Saguaro prepares me well for college as I continue my athletic and academic career.”

For most high school athletes, formal involvement in sports ends when they graduate. Arcadia volleyball libero Maddy Malatesta, who first played volleyball as a Hopi Hawk, is closing out her athletics career.

“Coach Bunker, Coach Chang and Coach Kelly have done an amazing job creating a fun atmosphere, while at the same time pushing us to work hard and play as a team. I’ll remember most the friendships … this has been the best part of playing!”


(480) 484-6100

NON PROFIT.ORG US POSTAGE PAID PHOENIX, AZ PERMIT NO. 5354 8500 E. Jackrabbit Rd. Scottsdale, AZ 85250
The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. The Maricopa County Community College District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, visit: • Dual Enrollment: Earn college credit for your SUSD high school classes • Concurrent Enrollment: Earn college credit directly through SCC • Achieving a College Education (ACE): Sophomores can earn up to 24 college credits • Hoop of Learning: American Indian high school students can take college classes for free Scottsdale Community College offers many programs that can save you time and money – and our credits easily transfer to many top universities: EARN COLLEGE CREDIT WHILE TAKING HIGH SCHOOL CLASSES Learn more at: (480) 423-6450 or
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