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  • What Do You Love About Your School?

    Posted by PVSchools at 1/23/2017

    What do love about your school? January 22nd-28th is National School Choices Week - a week that showcases the education opportunities available at schools across the country. Neighborhood public schools continue to be the first choice for parents. At PVSchools, we appreciate your vote of confidence. This year, we're reaching out to our parents to uncover the great and wonderful things happening in your school. Tell us what you love about your school, what your school or teachers are doing to make a difference, and why you would recommend your school to others? Share your thoughts on the PVSchools Facebook page, and we'll highlight a selection of your parent testimonials to our online community. Thanks, and happy National School Choice Week!


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  • Parent Satisfaction Survey - Now Open

    Posted by PVSchools at 1/20/2017 6:00:00 PM

    Your Opinion Counts

    The 2017 Parent Satisfaction Survey (En Español) is now open, and we are asking parents to help us in our continuous efforts to improve PVSchools by completing a survey for the school your child attends. If you have more than one child, please complete a separate survey for each child. A new survey link will be available at the end of each completed survey.

    This survey is anonymous. All data and comments are shared at the district level and with each site principal. Results will be available at school sites later in the spring.

    The 2017 Parent Satisfaction Survey closes Sunday, February 5th at midnight.

    PVSchools thanks you in advance for your time and input.


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  • Sunrise Middle School Student Wins District Spelling Bee

    Posted by PVSchools at 1/20/2017

    Samuel Rimmer, Superintendent Dr. Lee and Nicola Ferguson
    Pictured from left to right: Samuel Rimmer, Superintendent Dr. Lee and Nicola Ferguson

    Nicola Ferguson, an 8th-grade student at Sunrise Middle School, won the PVSchools Spelling Bee that was held on Friday, January 20th. The Spelling Bee lasted 32 rounds, and the winning word was glockenspiel. Last May, Nicola represented Arizona at the 89th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.

    Samuel Rimmer, a 5th-grade student at Boulder Creek Elementary School, was the runner-up.

    In addition to Nicola and Samuel, Angelina Mann, an 8th grade student at Explorer Middle School; Burke Geris, a 6th-grade student at Sunset Canyon Elementary School; Max Votruba, a 6th-grade student at Quail Run Elementary School; Aine Ramiro-Shanahan, an 8th-grade student at Vista Verde Middle School; Kimberly Brown, a 7th-grade student at Mountain Trail Middle School; Luke Hoover, a 5th-grade student at Grayhawk Elementary School; and Cambria Maldonado, a 6th-grade student at Desert Shadows Elementary School; will represent PVSchools at the Regional II Spelling Bee on Friday, February 17th in the Fine Arts Center at Cave Creek Unified School District.  


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  • Are You Ready for Your Child’s Conference?

    Posted by Karen Brown, Gifted Program Mentor at 1/19/2017

    woman writing notes Second quarter has drawn to a close and conferences are just around the corner. It may seem that all you need to do to prepare for a parent-teacher conference is to show up on time, but to get the most out of the opportunity there's more for you to do. You might wonder, “My child is doing well in school, do I even need to schedule a conference?”  The answer is YES! Even if your child is doing well in school, there are questions to ask and things you can do to prepare ahead of time to ensure a productive conference. Conferences are an opportunity for you to connect with the individual that spends more than five hours a day with your child, don’t miss out on that opportunity! 

    1. Schedule early
      Schedule your conference time early.  Many schools use Sign Up Genius to schedule conferences.  Log on to the teacher’s site when the notification first comes out to get a time that works for you.  If your school sends home conference request forms, be one of the first to return your form.  Scheduling early helps ensure that you will be able to get a time that works for both mom and dad.

    2. Show up prepared and with an open mind
      Come prepared with a set of questions, a pen and paper. There are few things more frustrating then walking out the door and remembering all of the things you wanted to ask. Make sure to have those questions with you and write down the answers. That way you can refer to your notes later, either when talking to your child or if there is something you need clarified.

      Stay positive and open-minded. You'll get better results asking why the teacher thinks your son is having trouble in math, than you will by telling her you think she isn't teaching him the right way. If you're concerned about your child's interactions with other children, it's important not to assume the teacher isn't doing anything to address the concern.  Jumping to conclusions or being defensive can hinder open dialogue.

    3. Share relevant information about home
      Provide relevant information about what's going on at home. “Relevant” is the key word here. If your child is having trouble sleeping, if your living circumstances have changed or he's taking a new medication, the teacher probably ought to know because it can affect his learning.

    4. Involve your child
      Ask your child for his/her input. Kids get anxious when they know adults are talking about them. Giving your child an opportunity to tell you if there are specific questions he would like you to ask or specific things for you to talk about can ease his mind. Following the conference be sure to debrief so they know what has happened.  It is important to share the positive points shared in the conference as well as any concerns that the teacher has shared. A student can’t address a problem that they don’t realize exists.

    5. Make a plan
      If an issue is discussed at the conference take that opportunity to establish a plan. Determine together how the issue will be addressed at school, and how you will address the issue with your child at home and how the issue will be monitored?  Developing an agreed upon plan helps to ensure that all parties are working to resolve the issue and support the learning of the student.

      Building a partnership with your child’s teacher supports not only your child’s academic well being but their social and emotional well being too.  Take time to celebrate your child’s success and remember your child’s education isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.  Developing a strong partnership with your child’s teacher goes a long way in the training process for running that marathon.

    About Karen Brown

    Karen Brown Karen Brown is the Gifted Program Mentor for Paradise Valley School District. As a National Board Certified educator she works extensively with teachers in grades K-12 to ensure that the instruction and curriculum provides the appropriate challenge and support for all students. In her role as Gifted Program Mentor, she supports administrators, teachers, parents, and students in both academics and social-emotional areas. Karen teaches classes in the Gifted Education Masters Program at ASU as well as consults with districts throughout the country on curriculum, Common Core implementation, Depth of Knowledge training, differentiation strategies and depth and complexity training. Karen is the co-recipient of the 2013 NAGC Professional Development Award. She co-authored Differentiated Lessons for Every Learner: Standards-Based Activities and Extensions for Middle School.  



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  • Get the Most Out of Your Parent-Teacher Conference

    Posted by PVSchools at 1/19/2017

    Brooks Martinez

    It’s hard to believe that we’re halfway through the school year, and it’s time again for Parent-Teacher Conferences. Parent-Teacher Conferences bridges the connection between home and school, as well as an opportunity to support your child's academic development. Additionally, research has shown that parental involvement has a positive impact on academic achievement, increased attendance rates and improved attitudes about schools.

    During your conference, your child’s teacher may share with you student data, assignments, quizzes and/or test or progress reports. Since most Parent-Teacher Conferences are limited to 15-20 minutes, it’s a good idea to bring a list of questions and concerns that you wish to address during the meeting.

    Here’s how you can make the most out of your one-on-one time with the teacher.

    Conversation Starters:

    • Improvements you've noticed in your child.
    • Let your child’s teacher know if something is going on at home such as illness, divorce or a new baby.
    • Your appreciation for the teacher or the school's efforts.
    • Your concern and desired areas of improvement for your child or additional assistance requested from the teacher.

    Academic Performance:

    • If your child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan, ask the teacher if he or she has reviewed it yet.
    • How is your child doing academically?
    • Is my child performing at grade level?
    • How does your child is doing compared to the rest of the class?
    • How your child interacts with other students?
    • How your child is doing emotionally?
    • Which areas does your child excel?
    • Which areas does your child need improvement?
    • Does the teacher feel that your child is doing his or her best?
    • How can you help your child at home?

    After the Parent-Teacher Conference if you still have questions or concerns about your child’s progress, email or call the teacher to set up another time in which you can meet.


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  • Whatever the Gift, We'll Help Unwrap It

    Posted by PVSchools at 1/17/2017


    Kindergarten student

    Is your child turning 5 years old before September 1st? You’ll want to learn more about PVSchools’ elementary school options at one of our Kindergarten Round-up events during the month of February.


    Related content: What Parents Need to Know About Kindergarten - Top 10 Tips


    Kindergarten Round-ups

    Kindergarten is a crucial time in the development of your young student. It's a time to discover, learn and grow. That's why at PVSchools, we offer free, full-day kindergarten at all our elementary schools.

    The Kindergarten Round-up program allows you to visit our schools* and talk to the teachers who will be guiding your child as he or she begins the educational journey.

    Join us at one (or more) of our Kindergarten Round-ups. View the schedule

    PVSchools offers:

    • Free, full-day kindergarten
    • Self-Contained Gifted kindergarten
    • Special Education services
    • Specials - Art, Music and P. E.
    • Before and afterschool programs
    • Onsite nurse

    PVSchools has implemented many programs that you may not find elsewhere in the Valley. Our Signature Programs provide students with the ability to experience cutting-edge programs and innovative learning to discover what their interests may be. A few of these programs include:

    • K-12 International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme
    • K-8 Premier School
    • Mandarin Language Immersion
    • Spanish Language Immersion
    • Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)
    • Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics (STEAM)
    • Suzuki Strings violin
    • Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), a college readiness program
    • Core Knowledge®

    About PVSchools

    • 100 percent of our teachers are Certified and Highly Qualified.
    • PVSchools has one of the highest concentration of National Board Certified Teachers in the Valley.
    • PVSchools was recognized in 2014 as one of the top districts in the state for providing students a big academic “return on investment” for high achievement and low cost operations - (Washington, D.C. Center for American Progress).
    • More than 92 percent of district parents feel that classroom learning activities at PVSchools are relevant and engaging.

    Your child’s educational investment is our top priority; let your child’s Journey of Excellence begin at PVSchools.

    *Note: Not all elementary schools are conducting a Kindergarten Round-up in 2017. To arrange a tour, please visit your selected school’s website: www.pvschools.net/find.


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  • What Parents Need to Know About Kindergarten - Top 10 Tips

    Posted by PVSchools at 1/17/2017


    kindergarten student

    It’s one the most important milestones your child will have - starting kindergarten. For some children, this will be their first experience in a school setting, while others may have attended a pre-kindergarten program prior to kindergarten. When the day finally arrives for your little one to start kindergarten will be one hardest day in a parent’s life.

    Related content:  Learn more about PVSchools’ elementary school options at one of our Kindergarten Round-up events during the month of February.

    What should parents know about kindergarten?

    1. How old does my child need to be to enter kindergarten?
      Kindergarten is offered to children who turn five years old before September 1st of the enrolling year.

    2. What type of kindergarten program is offered?
      While some school districts offer free, full-day kindergarten, other school districts may only offer a half day program. Since kindergarten prepares students for 1st grade, students will benefit more from a full day program, rather than a half day.

    3. What will my child need to know prior to starting kindergarten?
      Children entering kindergarten should know the alphabet, counting numbers up to 20, how to spell their first and last name, colors and shapes.

    4. Will my child learn how to read in kindergarten?
      If your child isn’t already reading before starting kindergarten, he or she should be reading by the end of the second quarter. It’s important for you to encourage your child to read books out loud while at home each day.

    5. How is the day structured?
      Since kindergarten is all about routine, a typical day may include greetings, calendar, writing, discussion and planning, mathematics, music, literature, social studies, special projects, outdoor/movement time, science, dance, creative drama, health, eye, hand, and body coordination, construction, reading, manipulatives, oral language development, center time, art, physical education and media center. While not all activities are taught every day, please know that each teacher will have a slightly different daily schedule.

    6. Can I volunteer in the classroom?
      Yes, the majority of teachers welcome the opportunity to have parent volunteers in the classroom. Before you show up to help out in your child’s classroom, make sure you have completed all the necessary paperwork that your school needs to have on file. If you don’t have time to volunteer in the classroom, offer to chaperone a class field trip.

    7. Will the transition will be hard?
      The transition to kindergarten may be harder for you as the parent, than your child. Kindergarten is about establishing routines, making friends and learning.

    8. What if my child needs medical attention while at school?
      Every school in PVSchools has an onsite registered nurse to provide first aid, maintain records, assist in special education programs and screen for diseases of the eyes, ears and teeth. If your child should become ill while at school, know that he or she is in good hands with one of our registered nurses.

    9. What should I pack in my child’s lunch?
      Since students have a limited amount of time to eat lunch, you should pack items that can be eaten quickly and are in containers that can be easily opened. Since some children have food allergies, it’s a good idea to check with your child’s teacher to find out which items should not be included in the lunch box.

    10. How can I help my child at home?
      Encourage your child to read each night. After reading a story, have your child retell it to you in his or her own words. If homework is assigned, you can also check it before it’s turned in.

    At the end of the day, your child will be fine and will be able to build new relationships along the way.


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  • PVSchools Leads the Way in Academic Offerings

    Posted by PVSchools at 1/16/2017

    student working in workbook

    Investing in your child’s K-12 education is a priority for parents across Arizona and the nation. Even though public school districts receive limited funding, PVSchools has made it a priority to keep dollars in the classroom to support our teachers and programs.

    According to the 2015 Auditor General’s Report, PVSchools continues to outperform the state average and the peer district average of the percent of funds spent in the classroom. Additionally, PVSchools was recognized by the Washington, D.C. Center for American Progress as one of the top districts in Arizona for providing students a big academic “return on investment” for high achievement and low-cost operations.

    What else makes PVSchools a leader in academic opportunities? Our teachers and programs! PVSchools has implemented many programs that you may not find elsewhere, including:

    • Early Learning programs
      • PVSchools is one of the nation’s few public school districts to offer Gifted Preschool programs. We have established our Gifted Preschool programs to make sure that 4-year-old advanced learners can experience a challenging curriculum and innovative instruction. The program is offered at four locations – Desert Trails Elementary School, Desert Cove Elementary School, Fireside Elementary School and North Ranch Elementary School.

      • The Montessori Preschool at Mercury Mine Elementary School is a program designed for three-and four-year-old students and is based on the timeless learning principles of Dr. Maria Montessori.

      • The Mini Scholars Preschool and Little Scholars Pre-Kindergarten programs are offered at elementary schools across the district. These programs use the Core Knowledge curriculum that has been adopted by many of our elementary schools. The Core Knowledge sequence guides academic success through hands-on and engaging activities that prepare students for academic success.

    • Careers in the science and engineering fields are expected to grow at a faster projected rate than all other U.S. jobs. As a result, schools across America have been incorporating Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) into all subjects to prepare students for the future. In order to help prepare students for college and career readiness, PVSchools has made the investment by incorporating STEM programs into the curriculum across all levels - elementary, middle and high school levels.

    • Would you like to expand your child’s musical knowledge and give him or her the opportunity to learn a musical instrument at a young age? The Suzuki Strings violin program at Desert Shadows Elementary School can cultivate your child’s interest in the violin, music and the performing arts. Studies have shown that children immersed in arts education tend to succeed academically as compared to those who may not have the opportunity to take some form of performing or visual art classes.

    • Learning a second language at a young age opens the door for future career opportunities. Students enrolled in Foreign Language Immersion programs score higher on standardized tests conducted in English. Spanish is taught at Sandpiper Elementary School, and Mandarin is taught at Whispering Wind Academy.

    • Whether your child is passionate about dance, theater, creative musicianship and music technology or visual arts, PVSchools offers an outlet for your child to express his or her creative passions, with a seamless continuation from elementary school through high school. The North Valley Arts Academies at PVSchools offers the first fully integrated arts education programs in the Northeast Valley at Desert Cove Elementary School, Shea Middle School and Shadow Mountain High School.

    • The International Baccalaureate K-12 Programme challenges students with rigorous assessments that aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. IB is offered at Quail Run Elementary School, Vista Verde Middle School and North Canyon High School.

    • Middle school can be a challenging time for some students. PVSchools implemented the Academies at Desert Shadows Middle School to help create an environment in which students can feel invested and engaged in school. Students leave the programs ready for success in high school and beyond.  The two Honors Academies at Desert Shadows Middle School provide honors core classes English, math, science, social studies with an emphasis in one of two programs: world languages and pre-engineering.

    • The Center for Research, Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST) is offered at Paradise Valley High School where students can study fields such as engineering, computer science or biotechnology. These are all growing fields where some of the most exciting and highest paying jobs are found today.

    • When you step inside a Digital Academy of Advanced Placement Scholars (DAPPS) classroom at Shadow Mountain High School, it’s like stepping into a college-level class. The bar is raised high and so are the expectations for students. Students are engaged in research, discussion and active learning without the constraints of lectures while being able to experience what high school has to offer such as sports, band, choir, electives and extracurricular activities.

    • PVSchools is helping students make college a reality with the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program. AVID is a college readiness program designed to increase the number of students who enroll in four-year colleges and to close the achievement gap. The program is in seven schools, including Aire Libre Elementary School, Palomino Intermediate School, Greenway Middle School, Shea Middle School, Vista Verde Middle School, North Canyon High School and Shadow Mountain High School. North Canyon is also an AVID National Demonstration School, which less than 2 percent of the 4,500 AVID schools receive this designation.  

    • For some students, a post-secondary education may not be the path they want to pursue after high school. Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs provide students with the foundation and opportunity to explore different career paths while gaining real-world experiences along the way. With a wide array of CTE programs offered in high schools, students receive hands-on learning by using industry standard equipment in state-of-the-art facilities to hone the skills and techniques necessary to succeed in in the workforce.

    • The Dual Enrollment program, which is offered through Rio Salado College, allows students to take classes and earn college credit at the same time they are finishing up their high school graduation requirements. In some cases, students will graduate with an Associate of Arts degree before earning their high school diploma. Furthermore, Dual Enrollment programs provide students with a better understanding of what the workload of college courses will be like.

    • At PVSchools, we realize that learning isn't a "one size fits all" model. For some students, taking high school classes in a traditional classroom setting may not be an option due to athletic schedules, work schedules or family commitments. By thinking outside of the box, PVSchools has developed a Night Class program at Sweetwater Community School for students who may need credit recovery, want to get ahead or may not be able to attend school during the day. This program is open to students across the Valley.

    These are just a few of the many signature programs that are offered in PVSchools. Even if you don’t live in the PVSchools boundaries, your child can still attend one of our schools through open enrollment. Applications will be accepted until January 21st for the 2017-18 school year.

    Your child’s educational investment is our top priority; let your child’s Journey of Excellence begin at PVSchools.


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  • PVSchools Governing Board Elects New President

    Posted by PVSchools at 1/13/2017

    Mark Lane The PVSchools Governing Board elected Mark Lane as its new president at the January 12th meeting. This is the first time Mr. Lane will serve as president of the PVSchools Governing Board. Mr. Lane was first elected to the Governing Board in 2011 and is currently serving his second term. Learn more about Mr. Lane.

    Reorganization of the Governing Board occurs once a year at the first meeting in January.


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  • 35 Students to Compete in PVSchools Spelling Bee

    Posted by PVSchools at 1/13/2017

    PVSchools 2016 Spelling Bee winner and runner-up:  Angelina Mann, Superintendent Dr. Lee and Jacob
    PVSchools 2016 Spelling Bee winner and runner-up pictured from left to right: Angelina Mann, Superintendent Dr. Lee and Jacob Rimmer.

    PVSchools will host its annual Spelling Bee on Friday, January 20th with registration starting at 8 a.m., and the Spelling Bee starting at 9 a.m. in the Governing Board Room at the District Administrative Center. In total, 35 elementary and middle school students will participate in the PVSchools Spelling Bee.

    At the PVSchools Spelling Bee, Superintendent Dr. James P. Lee will give the opening remarks and will present trophies to the winner and runner-up. The pronouncer of the words will be Elaine Jacobs, principal at North Canyon High School. Judges will be Dr. Bennett MacKinney, director of Elementary Education; Lynn Hoppes, curriculum specialist; and Koni Withers, lead counselor. The facilitator of the Spelling Bee will be Jamie Caldwell, curriculum specialist.

    The winner, runner-up and seven delegates will represent PVSchools in the Maricopa County Regional II Spelling Bee on Friday, February 17th in the Fine Arts Center at Cave Creek Unified School District.  

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