A+ Exemplary Program spurs exemplary action
Arizona Republic
March 5, 2008


 (Phoenix, AZ)

Author: Bobbie O'Boyle, Special for The Republic

At Paseo Hills School in Deer Valley, first-grade students who need extra help to improve their reading skills participate in the one-on-one S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Tutoring Program, which recently earned an A+ Exemplary Program Award from the Arizona Educational Foundation. S.U.C.C.E.S.S. pairs struggling readers with trained eighth-grade buddies who make a proven, positive difference in the reading abilities of first-graders at Paseo Hills.

Through its Apprentice Boardroom Project, Horizon High School provides students with opportunities to incorporate real-life business practices into their high-school experience. Modeled after television's popular show The Apprentice, this program incorporates a multitude of business practices and state standards and allows students to receive meaningful feedback from actual business executives.

Every day in schools across Arizona, staff members develop innovative, outside-of-the-box, above-and-beyond ways to improve educational opportunities for their students. Through its A+ Exemplary Program Award, the Arizona Educational Foundation seeks to recognize such schools for their resourcefulness. Since the program's inception in 2004, 26 programs in schools across Arizona have earned the A+ distinction for finding creative ways to successfully address challenges and solve problems.

This year, following a rigorous selection process, eight programs in schools throughout Arizona earned the A+ Exemplary Program Award. In addition to the two aforementioned, six additional programs received the distinction.

Two schools incorporate the fine arts to meet some of their challenges. Harris Elementary School in the Gilbert District started a Reader's Theater Troupe, which targets students who struggle with reading fluency. Reading scores for participating students have soared. The Off-Freeway Performers at Marana Middle School provide the Marana community with a variety of cultural experiences focused on social issues relevant to the students and community.

Do something good or make positive choices at Desert Willow Elementary in Vail, and you are likely to receive a "Caught in the Act" card from a staff member. Students at Desert Willow make good choices and demonstrate model citizenship on campus.

Two schools in Cave Creek offer A+ Exemplary Programs. First, Horseshoe Trails Elementary School provides an After-school Equine Program that is available to all horse-enthusiast students in the district. Academic standards are reinforced through the equine curriculum. Next, at Desert Willow Elementary, the project "Idiomas Unidos: A Partial Spanish Immersion" was developed by the principal and several community members. By acquiring a second language early in life through "Idiomas Unidos," Desert Willow students broaden their scope of knowledge, elevate their critical-thinking skills and develop neuronal networks in their brains not available to monolingual speakers.

Finally, Kyrene de la Mariposa Elementary School's Celebrating Diversity A+ Program is a 3-year effort to encourage students and families from all parts of the globe to share their backgrounds and cultures through a yearlong series of events. Mariposa values and celebrates the varied cultures represented by its families and community.

These programs are beacons of success and hope. With dedicated staff and commitment from the community, the effects of A+ Exemplary Programs are far-reaching. Educators and the public are encouraged to contact and visit these schools to learn more about these outstanding programs.

Bobbie O'Boyle is executive director of the Arizona Educational Foundation. Reach her at bobbie@azedfoundation.org.

Edition: Final Chaser
Section: VALLEY & State
Page: B3
Dateline: AZ
Record Number: pho96898617