Cave Creek, Paradise Valley districts honored with Magna Awards
Sections    Wednesday May 22nd, 2019
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Cave Creek, Paradise Valley districts honored with Magna Awards

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  • Julia Scotto/Cave Creek Unified School District and Becky Kelbaugh/Paradise Valley Unified School District

Magna Awards HP

Paradise Valley and Cave Creek unified school districts were honored among 15 first place winners of the 2015 Magna Awards sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s flagship magazine, American School Board Journal, and Sodexo on March 10.

The Magna Awards honor districts across the country for outstanding programs that take bold and innovative steps to improve the lives of their students and their communities.

Cave Creek, Paradise Valley districts honored with Magna Awards ParadiseValleyVIP

A volunter with Paradise Valley Unified School District’s VIP program works one-on-one with a student.

“In a time when public schools are under attack, we are pleased to showcase schools and their leaders who are dedicated to innovation and excellence,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of NSBA. “The winning programs are proof that public education is leading the way to advance student achievement.”

An independent panel of school board members, administrators and other educators selected winners from nearly 250 submissions. This year’s three grand prize, 15 first place winners and 15 honorable mention winners were selected from three enrollment categories: under 5,000 students, 5,000 to 20,000 students and over 20,000 students.

Paradise Valley Unified School District was honored for its Volunteers in Paradise Program.

“We are honored that the PVSchools’ VIP program is being recognized for this award,” said Superintendent James P. Lee, Ed.D. “VIP provides a valuable resource, not only to students, but to teachers at a time when school district budgets are being drastically reduced. We currently have 42 VIPs in four schools providing 105 hours of intervention every week.”

Cave Creek, Paradise Valley districts honored with Magna Awards CaveCreekTeamFalcon

A student in Cave Creek Unified’s Team Falcon: Vocational Success for Students with Disabilities program.

Cave Creek Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Debbi Burdick said a  panel of judges selected Cactus Shadows High School’s program, Team Falcon – Vocational Success for Students with Disabilities, as one of five 2015 Magna Awards first place winners in the 5,000 to 20,000 enrollment category.

Cactus Shadows High School students with disabilities have been working in innovative training sites throughout the district. These jobs afford students a chance to experience career options and an opportunity to work alongside district staff to foster mentorship and skill training. Team Falcon students work in the Copy Center, Nutritional Services, Transportation, Facilities, Preschool, Landscaping and Technology.

Team Falcon has supported students in acquiring 21st Century Skills-particularly communication and collaboration. Most importantly, their work experience in the district translates to success in employment after high school.

The district congratulates Janet Holt, John Muir, and Bruce McWhorter for  work with Team Falcon.

All of the 2015 winners are highlighted in a special section in the April issue of the American School Board Journal and will be formally recognized on Saturday, March 21st at NSBA’s 75th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. For more information about NSBA, please visit