Where did the summer go?  Wherever it went since we last met May 30, we were glad to welcome back students and teachers on Aug. 5, the first day of school.  And we were glad to greet and meet new friends in our classrooms!

Summer is a busy time in Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD).  Teachers, for example, are always thinking about how they can have more impact in the classroom. They take part in professional development opportunities around the nation to be able to increase their skills to benefit students.  District curriculum leaders review the past school year and develop training plans for teachers new to SUSD and to the teaching profession.  This summer, they also took a look at how to best implement new state science standards and familiarize teachers with the content of newly purchased math textbooks.

Building services personnel and contractors have time to undertake projects that can't be accomplished while students are on campus.  This summer, that meant such things as removing solar panels from the roof of Coronado High School, resurfacing and re-striping parking lots, installing new playground equipment and flooring, updating 25-year-old air conditioning systems, dealing with pesky campus drainage problems, installing 'water cannons' to help keep high school football fields cooler and rebuilding a staircase.

Principals and assistant principals gathered to work on school continuous improvement plans within their respective learning communities.  They talked about rigor, relevance and relationships.  And they heard from Superintendent John Kriekard and Governing Board President Patty Beckman, who encouraged them to instill SUSD's Core Values of being Responsive, Student-Focused, Humble and Growth-Minded in all that they do.

As summer wound down, teachers reunited with their colleagues at Back-to-School rallies at Coronado and Chaparral High Schools and the buzz for the 2019-2020 school year got into top gear.  Here we go!


A New Way of Recognizing Excellence

There is no doubt that outstanding achievements happen each day across SUSD.  To publicly recognize these achievements, Superintendent John Kriekard brings the most notable stories to each month's Governing Board meeting during a portion of the agenda dubbed "Celebrations." Any principal may nominate students and employees from their campus to be considered for a Celebration.  In addition to being lauded before the Board, Celebration honorees are presented with a certificate and a very special token of appreciation from the Superintendent: a commemorative Excellence Recognition Coin

Recognition or Challenge Coins are an America tradition, with the first coins being traced back to World War II, during which officers presented coins to soldiers to reward remarkable actions.  Since then, coins have evolved to become prestigious tokens of recognition that are collected, carried and displayed with pride.

These specially-designed coins provide a physical representation of SUSD's appreciation for exemplary, above-and-beyond contributions and achievements, recognizing students and staff who live the District's Core Values.

The first recipients of Recognition Coins were SUSD's 29 principals, each of whom received their coin in a handshake from Dr. Kriekard at one of the Back-to-School rallies.  Members of the superintendent's leadership team described for rally attendees how each school or principal exemplified SUSD excellence.


Read about the first official recipients of SUSD Recognition Coins at a Governing Board meeting in the next story!

  read A Legacy of Literacy

One of the hallmarks of a 'traditional education' is the way in which reading and math are taught. At Cheyenne Traditional School, the Spalding Method of Instruction is used across all grade levels, developing skilled readers, critical listeners, and accomplished writers and spellers.

With a Spalding-trained teacher in each of Cheyenne's classrooms, three Spalding-certified teachers - kindergarten teachers Deborah Harris and Heather Glover, and 3rd grade teacher Amy Peterson - and three Spalding-certified teacher instructors - 1st grade teacher Lindsey Saylor, 2nd grade teacher Christine Globokar and kindergarten teacher Heather Mayhew - Cheyenne is now one of only 11 Arizona schools to be officially accredited by Spalding Education International.

Accreditation is a voluntary process that signifies a school's administration and staff are committed to increasing student achievement through ongoing staff development and meeting  rigorous external standards for The Spalding Method of language arts instruction. Spalding teacher training is accredited by the International Multi-sensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) and the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) that focus on the essential skills and behaviors identified by the National Reading Panel (NRP) and the Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading.

In recognition of creating a legacy of literacy, these teacher leaders, Principal Grace Stombres and former Cheyenne teacher Annie Elmore received Recognition Coins and certificates at the SUSD Governing Board's Aug. 20 meeting.  Congratulations and thank you, Cheyenne!

projectsSUSD Update

Navajo Elementary School


  • The restoration project is moving ahead and the goal remains to have Navajo students and staff back on the Granite Reef campus after winter break.
  • In recent weeks, classrooms have been framed, new HVAC ductwork has been installed and  plumbing work begun.
  • The Navajo project is a combination of repairs needed after an Aug. 2018 fire and the need to bring the school up to code.  Navajo opened in 1960 and underwent its last major renovation in 2002.


Hohokam Elementary School

  • Meetings continue with the Hohokam community as it helps guide the architect team from SPS+ on what it wants a school renovation to look like.
  • A recommendation on whether to rebuild, renovate or do some combination of the two is expected to made to the Governing Board at its Sept. 3 special meeting.  That meeting, at the Mohave District Annex, 8500 E. Jackrabbit Rd., gets underway at 5 p.m. and is open to the public.  It can also be viewed live on YouTube.
  • Hohokam operations were successfully moved over the summer to the nearby Yavapai Elementary campus, where the two schools have combined for the new school year under the leadership of Principal Chuck Rantala.

Cherokee Elementary School

  • The Cherokee community got a first glimpse recently at the proposed design for a new school, provided by Orcutt Winslow architects in a virtual reality presentation.  You can take a look at it, too, by clicking here
  • Groundbreaking for the new Cherokee is expected to take place during winter break. The Governing Board must approve a GMP (Guaranteed Maximum Price) contract with CORE Construction first.


To stay up-to-date on all of SUSD's 2016 bond construction projects, go to

Coffee with Kriekard

Superintendent Kriekard is hosting a series of public meetings in each of the District's five learning communities this school year to meet with parents and provide updates to stakeholders on District initiatives.  The first "Coffee with Kriekard" was held this past week in the Saguaro Learning Community at Saguaro High School.

"I am eager to share with SUSD parents, neighbors and residents all of the great things that are going on in our classrooms and schools," says Dr. Kriekard, "but I also want to hear from them.  We build a stronger SUSD by listening to and supporting each other."

All of the meetings are open to the public at-large and all interests, but each meeting is geared toward providing and gathering information about the schools that comprise that particular Learning Community.

All of the meetings get underway at 8 a.m. and run until 10 a.m., or whenever the last question has been answered, so if you're running late, don't worry about it!

Here is the meeting schedule:

Wednesday, Oct. 23
Arcadia Learning Community
(Hopi & Tavan Elementary; Echo Canyon K-8; 
Ingleside Middle; Arcadia High)
Arcadia High School - Auditorium Lobby
4703 E. Indian School Rd.

Wednesday, Dec. 18
Coronado Learning Community
(Hohokam, Pima Traditional & Yavapai Elementary;  Tonalea K-8; Coronado High)
Coronado High School - Lecture Hall
7501 E. Virginia Ave.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020
Desert Mountain Learning Community  (Anasazi, Desert Canyon, Laguna & Redfield Elementary; Cheyenne Traditional; Desert Canyon & Mountainside Middle; Desert Mountain High)
Desert Mountain High School - Room 5121
12575 E. Via Linda

Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Chaparral Learning Community
(Cherokee, Cochise, Sequoya Elementary; Copper Ridge K-8; Cocopah Middle; Chaparral High)
Chaparral High School - Library
6935 E. Gold Dust Ave.

"One of the best things about this job is meeting people in the community and finding out what's on their minds," says Dr. Kriekard.  "I always learn something new and am impressed by the dedication SUSD parents and residents have to their schools.  It's what makes SUSD great."

JAGJAG Advisor Leads National Seminar Session

Coronado High School JAG (Jobs for Arizona's Graduates) coordinator Wendy Paez-Gonzales traded one Sunshine State for another this summer.  Paez was a presenter at the 36th annual JAG (Jobs for America's Graduates) National Training Seminar in Orlando, Florida, in July.  Her topic:  how to guide students through the creation of a professional, fun and memorable JAG initiation and installation ceremony, an important event in the life of every JAG student!  

A school-to-career program, Jobs for America's Graduates is a state-based, national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who have serious barriers to graduation and/or employment.

In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results: more than one  million young people enrolled in JAG programs have stayed in school through graduation, and have gone on to pursue post-secondary education and secure quality, entry-level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities. 

Congratulations, Wendy, and thank you for everything you do for the students of Coronado High School, the only school in Arizona with two JAG programs!
MOOM&O Override Election Information Sessions

SUSD offers five opportunities in September for the public to learn about its Maintenance and Operations (M&O) override election coming up Nov. 5.  SUSD Chief Financial Officer Jeff Gadd will host the series of informational, public meetings that will take place in each of the district's learning communities.

The SUSD Governing Board voted June 11 to place the budget override issue on the November 2019 ballot. Voters approved the current M&O in November 2014. The current override begins phasing out in the 2020-2021 school year.

All five meetings take place in the evening - from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. - at SUSD high school libraries/media centers, with the exception of one, noted below:

* Tues., Sept 10: Coronado High School, 7501 E. Virginia Ave., Scottsdale
* Thurs., Sept. 12: Chaparral High School, 6935 E. Gold Dust Ave., Scottsdale
* Thurs., Sept. 19: Saguaro High School, 6250 N. 82nd St., Scottsdale
* Tues., Sept. 24: Desert Mountain High School, 12575 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale
* Thurs., Sept. 26: Arcadia High School, 4703 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, Mount Olympus

The Nov. 5 SUSD election is by mail only: there will be no polling places for the SUSD election. In order to participate, you must be a registered Maricopa County voter. Voter registration for this election ends Oct. 7, 2019. Ballots will be mailed to registered voters who reside within SUSD.

District residents will also receive election informational pamphlets from the Maricopa County School Superintendent's Office, which is responsible for conducting this election. It recommends ballots be mailed back no later than Oct. 29, 2019 in order for them to arrive by Nov. 5. 

For more information about the M&O override election, including a fact sheet and Frequently Asked Questions flyer, visit

Upcoming Events

Sept. 2:
Labor Day holiday - All SUSD schools and offices closed
Sept. 3:
SUSD Governing Board Study Session, 5 p.m., Mohave District Annex, 8500 E. Jackrabbit Rd., Scottsdale
Sept. 7:
Middle School Athletics Fall Festival, various locations
Baseball schedule | Volleyball schedule
Sept. 11
Early Release day:  SUSD staff professional development
Sept. 17:
SUSD Governing Board Regular Meeting, 5 p.m., Board Room, Coronado High School, 7501 E. Virginia Ave., Scottsdale
Sept 30:
District Recess - All SUSD schools and offices closed