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AASA names Peoria leader Arizona superintendent of the year

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  • Erin Dunsey/ Peoria Unified School District


The Peoria Unified School District is pleased to announce that superintendent, Denton Santarelli, Ed.D., has been named the Arizona Superintendent of the Year from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

The award will be presented at the Arizona School Boards Association (ASBA) Conference at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec .11 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort. This award will also advance him into the national competition taking place later this month.

AASA names Peoria leader Arizona superintendent of the year Denton-SantarelliInside

Peoria Unified School District Superintendent Denton Santarelli, Ed.D., has been named the Arizona Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators.

“Dr. Santarelli is a true visionary leader who puts the needs of all students first,” said Peoria Unified’s Governing Board President, Hal Borhauer. “With more than 30 years in public education, he has touched an invaluable number of students and staff and has earned the respect of his peers and educational leaders. We are honored that his leadership and vision has been recognized by other education professionals in Arizona. There is no greater champion for public education than Dr. Santarelli.”

Under Dr. Santarelli’s leadership, the district boasts a 95 percent high school graduation rate, more than 15% above the state and national average. Peoria Unified is an “A” labeled district by the Arizona Department of Education. Also in 2014, 20 schools throughout Peoria Unified earned “A” labels, including all seven of the district’s high schools, achieving another milestone.

Peoria Unified opened its newest elementary school this fall, Sunset Heights Elementary. Dr. Santarelli led the charge to provide Sunset Heights with a cutting-edge design, complete with flexible learning spaces and natural lighting.

Dr. Santarelli also celebrated the re-opening of the district’s oldest educational asset, Old Main, on the Peoria High School Campus this fall. Old Main is currently home to students attending the Peoria Transition Center, the district’s non-traditional high school but it will also become the home to the new Medical, Engineering, Technology (MET) Professional Academy, launching in January 2015. There are only a few programs like it across the country.

Peoria Unified was the first district in Arizona to receive the prestigious International AdvancED Accreditation. In addition, high school seniors earned more than $57 million in scholarships in 2014, an unprecedented amount.

Through each of these achievements, Dr. Santarelli retains a laser focus on the district’s vision, “Every student, every day, prepared to shape tomorrow.”

Arizona School Administrators, Inc. is a non-profit corporation organized to promote the best interests of education in the state of Arizona. ASA works to advance the roles of administrative leaders by providing training and support services for its membership. The organization attracts talented individuals to the field and disseminates research related to current education issues. Its membership serves as a voice in the legislature, in their communities, and in other organizations promoting educational improvements that benefit students and schools.

The Peoria Unified School District is celebrating its 125th anniversary of educating students this year. Peoria Unified is located in the West Valley, serving more than 37,000 students in 34 elementary schools, seven high schools and non-traditional high school. Peoria Unified prides itself on excelling schools, award-winning teachers, high AIMS test scores, specialized signature programs and championship sports programs.