August 20, 2021
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Falcon Focus
Photo courtesy of The Crazy Tourist
McDowell Mountain Elementary School

Hello McDowell Mountain Families, 

The first week of school has come to an end and we have almost completed our second week of school when this issue of Falcon Focus will be publicized. Time goes by fast when you are having fun!  

During the first week of school, the staff and students focused on learning routines and establishing expectations of behavior in the school. Students worked very hard earning Falcon Tickets through Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS). This school year, the Fountain Hills Unified School District is committed to implementing PBIS throughout every school in our district. Students are taught expectations (District Matrix) and will earn tickets by exhibiting positive behavior success from the learned expectations. Two names are drawn from each grade’s submitted tickets every Friday. Students win prizes on Falcon Ticket Friday if their name is drawn! This year, McDowell Mountain is focusing on tier one. In this tier, the majority of students are successful with taught expectations of behavior without significant re-teaching and implementation of interventions. Tier two adds interventions to assist students with learning behavior expectations and tier three adds even more interventions and supports for success. If you would like to learn more about PBIS, please visit their website:  

During week one and part of week two, we have been working hard to make arrival and dismissal the most efficient but safe practice for our staff, students, and parents. We have dismissal down to about 15 minutes from the 3:20 bell to the last pick up. I am pleased with the results and hope that we continue to find ways to improve this process for parents. Everyone has been patient and cooperative while we have adjusted our process. It is greatly appreciated!    

What’s Happening at McDowell Mountain the week of August 15th?   
  1. Nicole Valentino’s preschool class will be dropping off (8:45 a.m.) and picking up (11:15 a.m.) their students in the back of the school starting as of last Monday (16). This will hopefully create a safer, more welcoming environment for her students.  
  2. On Wednesday (18), we had our first staff meeting since we started school. We debriefed regarding our Meet the Teacher Event and the first week and a half of school. Our goal is to continually grow and improve our processes to meet the needs of our students.  
  3. On Thursday (19) and Friday (20), students at McDowell Mountain checked out Chromebooks. Thank you for making sure that you signed and returned the permission slip, so that we were able to check computers out to your students.
Our success depends on the team that is created between parents, teachers, and administration.  Research shows that parent involvement in schools helps students achieve more and schools thrive. A team approach to education is what’s BEST for our students! 

Please let me know if there is ANYTHING that I can do to make your child’s experience at school a positive one! Call me or email me anytime!   


Dr. Shelly Jensen
McDowell Mountain Elementary School
Fountain Hills Middle School

Hello FHMS Families,

We are two weeks into this school year and we are rocking it. It has been such a joy to see this school year get underway with students in our building and teachers doing what they do best. Walking the halls has served as a wonderful reminder as to why we all got into this very difficult but most rewarding profession. Seeing students and teachers engaged in conversations, students with books in their hands and even taking it back old school with pencil and paper. I was impressed when I asked students what those yellow things were in their hands, they were able to answer, “Pencils” and even tell me what they are used for. As week two comes to an end, I did want to take a moment and update you on a few important items here at FHMS.

Every student who has a signed technology agreement on file with our school has been issued a Chromebook. If your student does not have a Chromebook and is not using their own device, we need that agreement on file in order to issue a device. I have noticed that many students are accessing their Chromebooks at lunch and other non-instructional times, I would strongly encourage them to not bring their Chromebooks to lunch and to leave them secured in their back pack. This also goes for weekend use, if it is not school related it should not be used for entertainment.

Schools PLP
We have been working hard on getting all of our students updated in Schools PLP. If you are asking, what is Schools PLP?” Please take a minute and have a conversation with your student about it. This is our Learning Management Platform for our students. This is also where teachers will house assignments and direct students who may be Quarantined or out of school for other reasons. If your student is having any login issues with PLP, please have them reach out to me and we will trouble shoot their issues.

Now that we are two weeks into the semester you should begin to see grades populating in PowerSchool. I am asking teachers to keep their gradebooks current and up to date as this is where I am directing parents to check on their students’ progress. If you have questions about assignments or grades, we will need to make sure we follow this order of operations, ask my student about the assignment or grade, reach out to the teacher about the assignment or grade, reach out to the administration once steps 1 and 2 have been done and conversations have taken place.

We are doing a great job learning and trying to live by our PBIS Pillars. I did want to bring a few items to light before they became a bigger problem for anyone. Cell Phones, our district has a no cell phone policy on each campus. I have noticed phones starting to creep out in class, please remind your student to keep their phone powered down and put away during classes. Being on time and staying classes, we have a short amount of time with our students, it is important to make sure we are on time for all classes and we do not leave the class without permission. Time missed is time made up when it comes to tardies and/or not being in class. I want to encourage our students to be Responsible, Respectful, Safe and Kind not only in school but as the represent us in the community as well.

Students are doing a good job of taking care of themselves while at school. We are continuing to strive to social distance when possible, we have many students and staff choosing to wear masks and students are making us aware when they do not feel well. Please do your best to not send your student to school if they are not feeling well, we have systems in place to help them stay current on their learning and would rather they heal quickly by remaining at home then come and feel lousy at school.

FHMS Happenings
MS Football is up and running, if your student 6-8 grade is interested in playing football for the middle school there is information available at the main office.

MS Soccer is up and running, if your student 6-8 grade is interested in playing for our MS Soccer team, there is information available at the main office.
Be on the lookout for information on our other Fall Sports as we get ready to kick start them as well.

Chess Club - We had a visit from the Chess Club at lunch on Tuesday. Ask if your student played during lunch and if they are interested in joining the club. We will be asking for names of students interested in joining and giving them to the Chess Coach.

Coin Drive - Help our PTO and our schools, be on the lookout for jugs at our school where you can drop off coins for the coin drive.

Additional Club opportunities that will be launching soon:
K-Kids and Builders
Fashion Club
Falcon Leaders

It is my hope that the school day does not end for many of our students at 3:10, in order to educate the “Whole Child” we must provide learning opportunities for students that challenge them outside of the classroom. I know that our staff and coaches are ready to start providing these opportunities and I hope that your student will choose to get involved with some of our extra-curricular opportunities.

Here is wishing you a fantastic weekend, find time to rest and recharge so we can hit the ground running on Monday.  

In Partnership,

Jeff Markle
Fountain Hills Middle School
Fountain Hills High School

Hello, Falcon Community! 

The 2021-2022 is off to a great start at the High School! Enrollment is over 500 and "Falcon Fest" on 8/9 was a huge success! Students were able to become familiar with the campus, meet staff members, get their ID pictures taken, and meet coaches and counselors prior to Day 1. Thank you, parents and guardians, for your support during these first two weeks. 

Student behavior has been excellent and I have seen a lot of high-level instruction and the emphasizing of our Positive Behavior Intervention Strategies (PBIS) in classrooms. I have been impressed with the student behavior that I have seen on campus.  Please remind your students that the entry gate will close promptly at 7:30am each morning and they must arrive on time for their first hour and each class. Student attendance has been excellent so far. Thank you for your support on this.

If your student(s) have not checked out a Chromebook yet, please remember to send them with the signed FHUSD Technology Agreement to the front office through 8/27/21. 

We are in the process of getting all students updated in Schools PLP. This is our Learning Management Platform for our students. This is also where teachers will house assignments and direct students who may be quarantined or out of school for other reasons. If your student is having any login issues with PLP, please have them go to the front office and we will resolve login issues.

You should begin to see grades populating in PowerSchool. We are asking teachers to keep their gradebooks current and up-to-date as this is where parents go to check on their students’ progress. If you have questions about assignments or grades, please follow these steps:
  1. ask your student about the assignment or grade
  2. then reach out to the teacher about the assignment or grade.

Please remember that while masks are not required, they are encouraged. The students are very self-aware and are doing an excellent job of monitoring their own health. If your student is not feeling well, please keep them at home so they can recover quickly.

Fall Sports and Student Clubs are in full swing. Please encourage your student to get involved on campus through athletics, activities, or both. If your student is interested in starting a club or joining a club, they can either see Mr. Keating (STUGO) in room K103 or Mr. Hiebel, Assistant Principal Overseeing Student Activities, in the front office.

If your student is interested in being a mentor/Falcon Leader, please have them come and see me in the front office or the cafeteria during lunch.

Thank you to all of you for your part in making the first two weeks of this 2021-2022 school year so awesome! Things are off to a great start and we hope it continues. Thank you for supporting The Falcon Way and I wish everyone a healthy weekend and beyond!


Chris Hartmann
Fountain Hills High School
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