Tag Archives: Arizona

Tech bus delivers training

Take a standard 40-foot, 84-passenger yellow school bus and make it into a rolling technology center.

Scottsdale Unified School District unveiled its eCoach yesterday at Mohave Middle School. They brought out the Saguaro High School Jazz Band, provided refreshments, put up a tent to shade attendees and conducted quick tours through the bus, which is equipped with a Smartboard, document camera, audio, Wi-Fi, extra air conditioners and enough room for 11 people and an instructor.

The eCoach was crowded with students, district staff and members of the media during yesterday's unveiling ceremony.

Tom Clark, the district’s chief technology officer, said it wasn’t too expensive to create because the district already had the bus, district employees made the furniture, partners donated various parts and services to make it a reality and they’ll have a district bus driver cruise around to where the teachers are. All in all, Clark said, it cost “a few thousand.”

The district also intends to use the bus for community outreach to teach parents about the technology their kids are using in school and to provide online access to kids who might not have a computer or an Internet connection at home.

The benefit for teachers is that they will be able to schedule the eCoach to come to their school when they need training rather than having to drive to another school or the district office.

One area of staff development Clark mentioned was the increasing use of iPads in the classroom and apps to enhance the teaching and learning process. The eCoach will make it easier for teachers to get up to speed on the newest apps.

Scan code on the side of the eCoach.

There are 31 schools in the Scottsdale district and about 1,700 teachers, so it looks like the eCoach driver will be on the road non-stop for much of the school year.

For more information, visit ecoach.susd.org.

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Winner triumphs in “tense” situation

Eighth grader Anna Zeng was “pronoun-ced” the the winner after working through the preliminary, regional and semi-final rounds of the Electronic Grammar Usage Mechanics Proficiency Program (EGUMPP) Grammar Bowl State Finals at Grand Canyon University on April 14.

The Arizona EGUMPP Grammar Bowl is a test and on-stage competition for 8th and 9th graders focusing on grammar concepts and terminologies. Students work through the phases of the competition, first scoring at least a 90 percent on a mastery test, then taking an online test and finally taking a timed written test to qualify for finals. Out of 500 students who start at the preliminaries phase, only 24 make it to finals.

Of the 24 finalists, seven were from BASIS schools at Oro Valley and Chandler. BASIS School, Inc. is a non-profit organization that has charter schools throughout Arizona. Zeng is from BASIS Oro Valley.

Anna Zeng and Farhan Rahman with (from left to right) former Senator John Hupenthal, Robert Safran (creator of EGUMPP) and Senator Rich Crandall. Photo courtesy of BASIS Schools, Inc.

“[Anna] displayed grace under pressure,” says BASIS Oro Valley English teacher and Grammar Bowl advisor Susie Lantz in a press release.

Having to answer more questions than many other competitors because of a random choosing for a reduction round, Zeng still won first place prizes of a $5,000 college scholarship, a trip for four to Washington D.C., and a new iPad.

Runner up, 8th grader Farhan Rahman, is from BASIS Chandler.

“We are very proud of Farhan,” says BASIS Chandler English teacher and Grammar Bowl advisor Cyndi O’Brien in a press release. “He worked hard to prepare for the finals and is already planning to compete again next year.”

Farhan and his family. Photo courtesy of BASIS Schools, Inc.

Barefoot shoe drive

Islands Elementary School students in Gilbert participated in the TOMS shoes  “One Day Without Shoes” event with a shoe drive that product 300 pairs of shoes for UMOM, a Phoenix homeless shelter for families.

To get them started on the correct foot they went without shoes for a day in their classrooms to focus their attention on what it is like to go without shoes as many children around the world do, risking disease, infection and injury.

Phoenix Suns name scholarship recipients

Sixteen high school seniors from throughout Arizona have been named winners in the Phoenix Suns Charities’ SunStudents Scholarship program.

Taylor Sanders of Desert Ridge High School was named winner of the Kevin Johnson Scholar Award and will receive a $5,000 scholarship. Each of the 15 other students will receive a $2,000 scholarship. The funds can be used to defray educational expenses at any college or university they choose.

The announcement was made at halftime during Monday night’s Suns-Trail Blazers game at US Airways Center.

This season marks the ninth year the Kevin Johnson award has been presented. The scholarship, named for the Suns’ former All-Star point guard Kevin Johnson, was created in recognition of Johnson’s retirement and honors the spirit of learning and community service espoused by Johnson during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns.

“Phoenix Suns Charities’ scholarship committee was overwhelmed by the number of impressive applications we received this year,” said Robin Milne, executive director of Phoenix Suns Charities, in a press release. “The 16 recipients have not only displayed stellar academic efforts, but have dedicated countless hours to community service.”

More than 300 applicants from across the state were judged on their community involvement, scholastic performance, letters of recommendation and essays on overcoming adversity.

The 2012 Phoenix Suns Charities SunStudents Scholarship recipients are:

Taylor Sanders
Desert Ridge High School, Kevin Johnson Scholarship winner

Aaron Wodka
Nogales High School

Abigail Mucklow
Northwest Christian High School

Adelynn Shafer
Sahuaro High School

Brandon Shaw
Basha High School

Christina Wood
Marcos de Niza

Cole Waldren
Pinnacle High School

Dominic Hayden
Pinnacle High School

Dustin Jed Tanada
Williams Field High School

Kimberly Mitchell
Sunnyslope High School

Meera Kumar
Horizon High School

Meghan Kuebler
Florence High School

Natalie Jones
St. David High School

Nicholas Jakob
Notre Dame Prep Academy

Stephen Smith
Centennial High School

Victoria Ton
Hamilton High School

Phoenix Suns Charities makes grants to non-profit organizations that serve children and youth in the areas of education, health and human services, the arts, sports and recreation, and rehabilitation. In the 24 years since its inception, Phoenix Suns Charities has donated more than 12 million dollars to worthy Arizona organizations and individuals.

Teens practice job skills

Junior Achievement Arizona (JAAZ) teaches high school kids the ins and outs of getting a job through its “JA You’re Hired!” curriculum. Students work for weeks on interviewing techniques, resume writing, ethics, problem solving and interpersonal communications. Then they try out their new skills in front of business people.

This year, 350 students from 20 Valley high schools met at the Tempe Center for the Arts to conduct mock interviews and try their hands, and minds, at creative marketing and perfected elevator pitches.

JA You’re Hired”  is an annual workshop and competition designed to teach high school kids about business in a real-life format.

Not entirely real life, maybe. Look at the photo above, provided by JAAZ. These are Alhambra High School students competing in the “Creative Marketing Challenge, in which they create and market a product to a panel of judges using unconventional items,” according to a press release. Well, yes, rolling pins rarely come in to play in the workplace but it’s good students are learning to work with new business technology.

They’re number one

Congratulations to the national championship Lady Knights girl’s basketball team at Saint Mary’s Catholic High School in Phoenix.

The Lady Knights are ranked #1 in the country for girls basketball by ESPN, USA Today and a host of other ranking services. The team had a perfect season of 30-0 and won the Division I Arizona State Basketball Championship in late February.

The Lady Knights vaulted to the #1 ranking in the nation after winning the prestigious Nike Tournament of Champions in December. This season the Lady Knights defeated five nationally ranked squads from around the country and the Australian high school national championship team. They sealed the “National Championship” by winning their state title and holding their undefeated record for the remainder of their season.

Tournament play exposes the Lady Knights to hundreds of college coaches, greatly enhancing opportunities for college scholarships. The two seniors, Shilpa Tummala and Cortnee Walton, will be playing basketball next year at Harvard University and the University of Louisville, respectively. They both have been named Arizona McDonald’s All American players, and have been named WBCA Honorable Mention All Americans. Shilpa Tummala was just awarded the Gatorade Arizona Girls Basketball Player of the Year, a prestigious award in its 27th year.

Many colleges have also expressed interest in the younger Lady Knights, including Duke, Stanford, the University of Connecticut, Notre Dame,
Princeton, Harvard, UCLA, USC, Miami, Oregon, Boise State, University of
Arizona, Arizona State, Marquette, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, Boston
College, Kansas State and Yale, just to name a few.

These scholar athletes have been awarded the AIA Scholar-Athlete Team Award for the past three years. This award is given to teams with average GPA’s above a 3.5 on a 4.0 scale. A few of the girls have a perfect 4.0 GPA and are ranked
at the top of the sophomore, junior and senior classes. Many of the team
members are involved in Student Council, and one is the chief editor of
the Yearbook. Chloe Johnson, a Junior, just received the prestigious
“Youth of the Year” award from the Boys and Girls Club.

Coach Curtis Ekmark recently was named the Naismith Girls High School Basketball Coach of the Year. The Naismith Award recognizes the top national, regional and local players, coaches, officials and administrators who have displayed excellence and outstanding achievements in basketball.

Saint Mary’s High School is a Roman Catholic co-educational Diocesan high
school located in Phoenix. Founded in 1917, the school currently
has an enrollment of 255 girls and 234 boys.

Engineering the education of future engineers

Too few students are becoming engineers or working in scientific fields. A Wall Street Journal article from Nov. 2011, Generation Jobless: Students Pick Easier Majors Despite Less Pay describes how students may start college intending to become engineers but lack the motivation or skills to meet the rigorous curriculum or choose other fields offering more pay.

The article states, “Research has shown that graduating with these majors (engineering and science) provides a good foundation not just for so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) jobs, or those in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, but a whole range of industries where earnings expectations are high.” Non-STEM fields seek people with quantitative skills and may pay more the than the engineering jobs.

Engineers create our technological gadgets. Science Foundation Arizona hopes to persuade more students to become engineers. photo: Steve Jurvetson-Flickr.com

But students are not prepared for college science or mathematics. Less than half of the graduating high school seniors were ready for college math and less than a third were prepared for college science courses according to an ACT report cited in the article.

Ironically, high-tech gadgets designed by engineers are embedded in the lifestyles of high school and college students, yet they choose not to pursue a career to make the gadgets and software, and perhaps earn a fortune they doing so.

Science Foundation Arizona has established the Arizona STEM Network to increase the number of students interested in STEM fields, increase student achievement, and hopefully inspire them to pursue STEM majors in college.

The Science Foundation of Arizona will manage the Arizona STEM Network to increase teacher effectiveness, get businesses involved in the schools, increase the amount of STEM learning and activities in schools and keep track of what initiatives works and their impact.

They have a five-year plan they hope will change the course of the state’s economy by increasing the number of citizens trained in science and engineering fields to attract employers seeking people with those skills.