Arizona Department of Education forms task force in preparation for its Arizona Ready for School campaign - AZEdNews
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Arizona Department of Education forms task force in preparation for its Arizona Ready for School campaign

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  • Morgan Dick   |   Arizona Dept. of Education

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The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) announced and held the first meeting of the AZ Ready for School Task Force as part of its Arizona Ready for School Campaign that will kick off this summer.

The task force brings together representatives from tribal communities, education associations, community organizations, city and state agencies, schools, and more to help address persisting challenges related to the pandemic in advance of the new 2021-2022 school year. 

“The 2020-2021 school year has been immensely difficult for our students, families, educators, and schools, but it showed we can be nimble and innovative,” said State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman. “We’re ready to build on the lessons learned. Our task force will help us address current and future challenges impacting students and educators in order to get students, families, and educators ready to get back to school.” 

During the task force’s first meeting, members shared ways they successfully overcame some of last year’s extra challenges as well as ideas for how to get students and families enrolled and ready for the new school year.  

“Tribal communities were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, but, at San Carlos, we had already begun working on becoming more trauma sensitive and trauma informed even before the pandemic,” said Superintendent Deborah Dennison of San Carlos Unified School District. “We look forward to bringing that experience to the task force to help students and families feel ready.” 

“The pandemic has helped shine a light on and intensified the inequities and challenges our communities already face,” said Melissa Boydston, ‎Vice President, Community Impact – Education for Valley of the Sun United Way. “We’re honored to be part of ADE’s efforts to unite all of us fighting those challenges and bringing solutions to the table.”  

“Arizona families deserve stability and clarity regarding their child’s education after the unpredictability in our schools during the pandemic, empowering parents with trusted information will provide better outcomes next year,” said Stephanie Parra, Executive Director of ALL In Education.

“The AZ Ready for School Task Force established by Superintendent Hoffman is bridging the communication gap with parents to provide clarity and rebuild trust among Arizona families and students alike in an effort to re-enroll and re-engage students and families in Arizona’s public schools,” Parra said.

The Arizona Ready for School Task Force is part of the ADE’s larger Arizona Ready for School Campaign which consists of proactive efforts to empower parents and students with trusted information and critical resources, support enrollment and re-engagement efforts statewide, and provide schools with needed resources and tools to maximize success in the 21-22 school year. 

“This last year reiterated that the best place for teaching and learning is in our classrooms,” added Superintendent Hoffman. “We’re ready to support Arizona’s families, get as many students back in the classroom as possible for the next school year—and do it safely.” 

 Arizona Ready for School Task Force Members:  

All In Education, Stephanie Parra  All In Education, Anaiis Ballesteros  
Arizona School Counselors Association, Bill Lucas 
Arizona State University, Joseph O’Reilly 
Avondale School District, Betsy Hargrove 
Avondale School District, Lori Goslar 
American Academy of Pediatrics – Arizona Chapter, Dr. Jason Vargas 
American Academy of Pediatrics – Arizona Chapter, Dr. Gretchen Hull  
Balsz School District Governing Board, Dr. Redeem Robinson 
Bureau of Indian Education, Maxine Roanhorse-Dineyazhe 
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley, Marcia Mintz 
Chicanos Por La Causa, Erin Garcia 
City of Phoenix, Tim Valencia  
Colorado River Indian Tribe, Michael Drennan 
Arizona Department of Child Safety, Mike Faust 
Arizona Department of Economic Security, Michael Wisehart 
Arizona Department of Economic Security, Jennifer Snow 
Arizona Department of Economic Security, Barbara Guillen 
Arizona Department of Economic Security, Gillian Vanasse 
Arizona Department of Health Services, Stephanie Martinez 
First Things First, Marilee Dal Pra 
First Things First, Angela Mussi 
Flagstaff Unified, Mike Penca 
Gila River Indian Community (TED), Isaac Salcido 
Humbolt Unified School District, John Podhast 
Leona Group, Michele Kaye 
Navajo Nation, Darrek Franklin 
Navajo Nation, Roy Tracy 
Navajo Nation Superintendent, Patricia Gonnie 
New Pathways for Youth, Christy McClendon 
Ombudsman Charter Schools, Binky Jones 
One n Ten, Nate Rhoton 
Opportunities for Youth, Kendelle Brown 
Pima County Superintendent, Dustin Williams  
Phoenix Union High School District, Lynnann Yazzie  
San Carlos Unified, Dr. Deborah Dennison 
Science Prep Academy, Kenneth Mims 
National Social Workers Association – Arizona Chapter, Brandie Reiner 
Sonoran Schools, Christela Cardenas 
Tucson Unified School District, Dr. Gabriel Trujilo 
Vail School District, John Carruth 
Valley of the Sun United Way, Melissa Boydston 
Washington Elementary, Paul Stanton 
Washington Elementary, Pam Horton 
Valley of the Sun YMCA, Jenna Cooper 

About ADE: 

Equity for all students to achieve their full potential. This is the guiding vision of the Arizona Department of Education — the state agency tasked with overseeing Arizona’s K-12 public education system. Our department, led by a publicly elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, is comprised of more than 600 staff across four state offices working to serve Arizona’s students, families, educators, and school communities.