Skip to content

Articles from December 2022

Estrella Foothills Authorized as an International Baccalaureate World School for the Middle Years Programme

EFGA IBEstrella Foothills Global Academy has received authorization to become an International Baccalaureate World School for the Middle Years Programme.

IB World Schools are part of a global community of schools committed to developing knowledgeable, caring young people who will be ready to negotiate their futures successfully and make contributions resulting in a more harmonious and peaceful world.

“We commend your school’s educators, administrators, students, and families for their active roles in choosing to offer the Middle Years Programme. The positive results of this choice will become evident in your community as classes of MYP students graduate and undertake activities that enhance social, cultural, and economic environments locally, nationally, and, perhaps, internationally,” wrote Olli-Pekka Heinonen, Director General of International Baccalaureate in his letter to the school.

EFGA has been an IB Candidate School for the last few years while it sought full authorization. IB team members conducted their verification visit to the school in October which was the final step of the authorization process.

Learn more about the Middle Years Programme at EFGA.

Read more

District Celebrated the Opening of Desert Meadows Early Childhood Center

The Laveen Elementary School District celebrated the opening of its Early Childhood Center at Desert Meadows School with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, tour, and reception on Wednesday, October 19 at 4:30 p.m.

This is the district’s first stand-alone building dedicated to preschool-aged children. Constructed adjacent to the Desert Meadows School campus, the center includes four preschool classrooms, a reception area, a conference room, and administrative offices that house the District’s Kids Club and Preschool staff.

The building houses both the district’s developmental preschool for children with special needs as well as the academic general education preschool.

Designed by BWS Architects and constructed by Chasse Building Team, the large classrooms provide ample space for reading, dramatic play, and craft centers as well as naptime and circle-time. High windows allow for natural light while automatic shades prepare the room for napping at the touch of a button. Dimmers allow teachers to adjust lighting for instructional needs. Each classroom has its own interactive Promethean board, sink, water fountain, and bathroom with pint-sized fixtures and Dutch doors. Brightly colored non-skid flooring and modern cabinetry add to the functional space.

All classrooms exit to the playground in which learning tools have been incorporated into the play structures. The administrative area is comprised of a secure reception area, large conference room, offices for dedicated staff, and storage. The exterior is comprised of glass, metal, and concrete wood-look materials that create a bright and inviting space for families. An outside seating area and desert landscaping allow for informal gathering.

The building is energy efficient with LED lighting inside and out, highly-rated windows, and the latest in energy management controls.

The grand opening celebration will begin with remarks from district officials and its construction partners followed by an official ribbon-cutting which will include current preschoolers. Visitors will then tour the building. A reception of lemonade and cookies will conclude the event on the playground.

The cost of the building was $3,962,668 and was funded entirely through bond proceeds approved by Laveen voters in 2015.

Desert Meadows is located at 6855 W. Meadows Loop East.

Read more

Stretch of 38th Ave Renamed “Sandomir Way”

The stretch of 38th Avenue, between Wier Ave. and Roeser Rd., will be renamed “Sandomir Way” in honor of the late M.C. Cash School Principal, Lisa Sandomir. 

The Phoenix City Council approved the Laveen School District’s request to rename the street at their October 12, 2022 meeting. The request was previously reviewed by the Laveen Village Planning Committee.

Lisa Sandomir passed away October 27, 2021 after sustaining injuries in a car accident the day before. Sandomir was the principal of M.C. Cash Elementary for 15 years and had a tremendous impact on the M.C. Cash neighborhood and community. Thousands of local residents were educated under her and she saw multiple generations of families go through her school.

Under Sandomir’s leadership, M.C. Cash School adopted the Kid at Hope framework—a belief system that all children can succeed when they have anchor adults in their lives. She ensured that every M.C. Cash staff member would serve as that anchor adult if a child didn’t have one at home. This belief system drives every aspect of M.C. Cash’s operations which resulted in the school being recognized as an A+ School of Excellence.

Her work did not go unnoticed in the community that she served. She was routinely recognized by the Playa Margarita Park community organization and she received their Community Service Award in 2019.

M.C. Cash School faces this street and is the only property that is affected by the name change.

Read more

Laveen Recognizes Nine Excellence in Education Award Recipients

Each year, one teacher from each school is recognized with Laveen’s Excellence in Education Award. This award honors individuals who exemplify quality teaching and professionalism. The following teachers received this award for their performance in 2021-2022 and were recognized at the September Governing Board meeting.

  • Logan Wasie, Laveen Elementary School
  • Lindsay Delgado, Paseo Pointe School
  • Regan Cunnington, M.C. Cash Elementary School
  • Natalie Urick, Estrella Foothills Global Academy
  • Malissa Iler, Trailside Point School
  • Caitlin Seay, Rogers Ranch School
  • Charlene Saltarelli, Desert Meadows School
  • Kassey Rysdyk, Vista Del Sur Accelerated Academy
  • Julia Mister, Cheatham Elementary School
Read more

Vista del Sur Named a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School

Vista del Sur Accelerated Academy has once again been named a 2022 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. Secretary Miguel Cardona made the announcement on September 16, 2022. “I applaud all the honorees for the 2022 National Blue Ribbon Schools Award for creating vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school communities where students can learn, grow, reach their potential, and achieve their dreams. These schools show what is possible to make an enduring, positive difference in students’ lives,” Cardona said.

The National Blue Ribbon School program recognizes overall academic excellence. Blue Ribbon Schools show outstanding results for all students. The National Blue Ribbon School award affirms and validates the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in striving for – and attaining – exemplary achievement. National Blue Ribbon Schools serve as models of effective school practices for state and district educators and other schools throughout the nation.

Vista del Sur was one of only six schools in Arizona to join this esteemed community. They were nominated as an Exemplary High Performing School, receiving this distinction for the performance of all students on state assessments in both math and English language arts in addition to other state performance targets.

Vista principal, Jessica Epacs attributed Vista’s success to the partnership and hard work of staff, students and parents.  In addition, cooperative learning or Kagan structures are used throughout the school and in each lesson. Each Kagan structure has a purpose and guides students to work together while also holding every child individually accountable for their knowledge. For example, Rally Coaching allows students to be peer instructors to each other. “Because the student is being the instructor it requires students to be actively engaged during the lesson since they know they will need to teach another person,” explained Mrs. Epacs.

She also noted the constructivist approach that Vista teachers take. The constructivist approach means that teachers allow students to construct their own arguments and approaches to solve problems. This approach encourages students to think and process rather than memorize with drill and practice. Even within a constructivist approach, there is still room for direct instruction but the types of problems used for direct instruction are strategically selected to continue to allow students to think and use what they know to solve the problem even when learning new material.

Vista has an overarching approach to instruction, but a key strategy that Vista teachers use when lesson planning is the backwards design model.  Thinking of the end product first, helps teachers to see the path that students need to take in order to get there successfully

Vista del Sur will be recognized at an award ceremony in November in Washington, D.C. Here they will receive the coveted National Blue Ribbon flag that will fly at their school as a reminder of their exemplary teaching and learning. “All of us at Vista are honored to serve as an example of quality instruction and learning for schools across the nation,” said Principal Epacs. “This honor affirms the dedication of our students, staff, and parents in making Vista a community of excellence.”

Vista is part of the Laveen Elementary School District. As an accelerated school, students work a grade level ahead in math and English language arts. It is a school of choice and, as such, does not have attendance boundaries.

Vista was also named a 2016 National Blue Ribbon School. They also were recognized as a Top Elementary and Middle School by U.S. News and World Report.

ABC15 ran a segment on Vista’s award. Watch it here.

Read more