Seventh in a series on teachers: As the first day of school approaches, many districts welcome back teachers, staff and students with rallies, convocations setting the tone for the next school year and learning opportunities for all employees.
More than 3,500 Phoenix Union High School District teachers, staff and administrators gathered at the district’s convocation Tuesday at Grand Canyon University.
“This is a time for us to celebrate, to kick off the school year, welcome back all of our staff, see friends and relatives you haven’t seen all summer long and just kick the school year off right,” said Richard Franco, M. Ed., director of marketing for the district that serves more than 27,000 students in Phoenix.
AZEdNews video by Mary Irish: Phoenix Union High School District’s 2019-2020 Convocation
Phoenix Coding Academy software development teacher Brad Voracek said he was back in his classroom yesterday.
“This is a teacher in-service week so we’re here getting our classrooms ready and planning for next week when the students come,” Voracek said.
Convocation is a good opportunity to reconnect with colleagues on other campuses, hear from the superintendent, and see the new brand for the district unveiled, Voracek said.
Convocation, “in general, it brings togetherness. It just brings the family back together,” said Jason Jordan, district network and technology services director.
Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Chad E. Gestson talked about the district’s segregated past, integration, how it’s building equity for all students and its vision for the future.
Then Dr. Gestson unveiled the new logo and brand “Phoenix Union – This is who we are” and the promise: “Phoenix Union’s schools of opportunity welcome, love, and inspire all students to go places and do things that matter. “
Slideshow: Phoenix Union High School District’s 2019-2020 Convocation by Lisa Irish/AZEdNews
Creighton hosts a Welcome Back Rally
To kick off the school year, Creighton School District hosted its annual Welcome Back Rally for all staff members.
“Each year, we have a theme for the rally that coincides with our district’s Strategic Plan. This year it aligns with one of our beliefs of mindful, curious, and adventurous learning,” said Emily Waszolek, communications manager for central Phoenix school district that serves more than 6,400 Pre-K through 8th grade students.
AZEdNews Teacher Series:
Part 1: Small changes can create a safer, more inclusive, trauma sensitive school
Part 2: Film: Challenges of raising a family on a teacher’s salary continue
Part 3: Teacher training: Ways to help students
Part 4: How yoga helps students relax, focus, deal with stress
Part 5: School’s not out for teachers leading student learning activities
Part 6: What classroom supplies teachers buy and what they’d like for students
Part 7: Schools welcome back staff with rallies, learning opportunities
Part 8: New state funding helps Arizona Teachers Academy ease teacher shortage
Part 9: Possible changes ahead in what happens when a teacher leaves mid-year
Part 10: School leaders say better pay would attract more teachers
Apply for an AZEdNews classroom grant
AZEdNews ongoing teacher series
In preparation for the new state science standards, the rally also focused on fun with science and learning.
“Our Superintendent Dr. Donna W. Lewis is even dressing up as Miss Frizzle complete with the Magic School Bus,” Waszolek said.
Jesse De La Cruz, a Biltmore Preparatory Academy alumni and recent graduate of Camelback High School, was one of the keynote speakers. De La Cruz talked about creating innovators and his journey of becoming an innovator, entrepreneur and budding public speaker.
“To finish out our program, we have Heidi Otero as our main keynote speaker, who will be inspiring us with her experience on creating equity on our campuses and changing the dialogue about how we approach learning for each individual student,” Waszolek said.
Otero is National School Public Relations Association’s vice president for diversity engagement and Arizona School Boards Association’s communications director.
Cartwright starts year with staff learning opportunities
Cartwright School District will start the school year with its Cartwright Conference Learning Together at Marc T. Atkinson Gymnasium on Wednesday, July 31st.
“During our new superintendent Dr. LeeAnn Aguilar-Lawlor’s listening tours last year, employees made it clear they wanted more professional development before the start of the school year and we are excited to provide that this year,” said Veronica Sanchez, director of communications & community engagement for Maryvale district that serves more than 17,000 students.
Video by Ella Maya/Cartwright School District: Get your “Learnin’ On” at Glenn L. Downs K-8 Gifted Magnet School!
The conference will start with a keynote by Dr. Bill Daggett, a former teacher, administrator and director with the New York State Education Department who created the Rigor/Relevance Framework, which has helped Pre-K-12 educators effectively prepare students for the future.Dr. Daggett has a special commitment to individuals with disabilities, and he has written many books, reports, and articles about learning and education.
Conference topics include social-emotional learning, the importance of equity and webmaster training.
“Our luncheon will feature speeches from Representative Cesar Chavez, Councilwoman Betty Guardado, and Governing Board President Marissa Hernandez,” Sanchez said.
The afternoon keynote for classified staff on how to provide effective customer service at all levels of the district will be presented by Heidi Otero.
Maryvale Revitalization Corporation’s Jeff Armor will close out the conference with his remarks.
“Maryvale Revitalization Corporation has been a vital stakeholder in our community and a big champion of Maryvale and our school district,” Sanchez said.
Slideshow: Cartwright School District’s Cartwright Conference Learning Together by Valeria Espinoza/Cartwright School District
Tolleson Union holds convocation at its newest school
Tolleson Union High School District Superintendent Nora Gutierrez welcomed back teachers and staff during convocation Tuesday at the district’s newest school – West Point High School in Avondale.
“We wanted to give our teachers a chance to participate in the excitement of the new addition to our district,” said Joseph Ortiz, director of public relations and marketing for the Tolleson district that serves nearly 11,000 students.
“It’s important for teachers and staff members in our district to come together and celebrate the start of a new school year, especially when our district is growing, and we’ve added a new shining star to the West Valley,” Ortiz said.
This year, retired Phoenix Police Detective Jason Schechterle. Jason gave the convocation keynote about embracing challenges and being the best version of you and ASU Associate Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Dr. David Garcia presented a report on recent data.
“We want to energize our employees for the upcoming school year, and this gives us an opportunity to celebrate, almost in a pep rally kind of way, each of our schools and the pride they have in being a part of the Tolleson Union High School District,” Ortiz said.