April Celebrations

Posted by SUSD Communications on 5/3/2024

Before You Go ...
He has worn many hats in SUSD: Nathan Slater attended Yavapai, Tonalea, and Coronado. He taught math and P.E. at Coronado, coached baseball and football, as well, and served as the school's athletic director. He was an assistant principal at Saguaro, then was Arcadia's principal. And, since 2017, Nathan has been SUSD's Athletic Director, overseeing middle school and high school athletics.

This work found Nathan working closely with the Arizona Interscholastic Association, or AIA, serving 20 years on the organization's 4A and 5A Conferences boards, as 5A Conference President, and, currently on the AIA Executive Board.
Now, the organization of the state’s athletic directors – the A-I-triple A, as it’s known, will induct Nathan into its Hall of Fame at its annual conference in Prescott in September.

In this achievement, Nathan becomes just the fourth SUSD leader to earn this prestigious honor, joining Bob Keller from Saguaro, Joe Corte from Coronado, and Steve Harris from Desert Mountain. In the world of Arizona Athletics, this is a pretty big deal, cementing Nathan’s legacy as one of the all-time most impactful athletic administrators in the state of Arizona.  Congratulations, Nathan Slater!!

Team 4146 Houston-Bound
To say Sabercat Robotics is known in Arizona robotics circles is an understatement and this year qualified to compete in the late April FIRST Robotics World Championships in Houston.

Along the way, Team 4146 collected the FIRST Impact Award at the spring break regional robotics tournament hosted at Chaparral High School. Then, at the Arizona East regional tournament a few weeks later, Sabercat Noah Shoup received the Arizona FIRST organization’s $20,000 Steve Sanghi Scholarship, named after the longtime CEO of local chipmaker Microchip. And that was followed by team member Jake Weiss earning the $40,000 Dr. Bart Kamen Memorial FIRST Scholarship!

Even better than the competitive accolades is the work Sabercats Robotics does in the SUSD community. It hosts and oversees each December’s elementary/middle school LEGO League state-qualifying tournament, supports Saguaro’s annual Sisters in STEM event, builds child-size electric cars for disabled children through a partnership with NAU, and, this year, has taken its new Melody Makers program on the road to our elementary schools to show our youngest students the many ways in which STEM and music overlap. 

Thank you, Team 4146, and teacher leaders Susan Lindberg and Chris Brandt!!

New Scottsdale Charros Recognition
Congratulations to SUSD Executive Director of Elementary Education Margaret Serna, recipient of the Scottsdale Charros' new Dr. John A. Kriekard Lifetime Achievement Award!

It was Kriekard who hired Serna away from Tavan in 2018 to lead the district’s Title I program as Director of State and Federal Programs. Her work to develop and establish a plan for SUSD’s English Language Learners has helped drive the success of the district’s Title I schools, all nine of which have earned either an A or B state letter grade the past two school years.

Serna was honored, along with the Charros' 2024 Teachers and Students of the Year at the organization's annual Education Awards on April 19.

Hitting All the Right Notes
Chaparral High School's award-winning a capella group provided pre-Board meeting entertainment in April. Gold Dust Avenue, under the direction of Dr. Sammy Brauer, had an outstanding year, bringing home a second place finish in the annual SingStrong competition in the Big Apple. Senior Lillian Apostolou was also honored with the award for Best Arrangement.


DCES A+ Celebration  

Students dressed in traditional Chinese celebratory wear entertained the April 9 SUSD Governing Board meeting with a presentation showing off their Desert Canyon Elementary-acquired Mandarin language skills. The DCES students, staff and parents were there to share the school's recent designation as an Arizona Educational Foundation A+ School of Excellence. DCES is the starting point of SUSD's Dual Language Immersion Mandarin program.

Yavapai's Winning Postcard Artist                                                                                                                         
Meet Jose Hernandez Salgado, winner of this year's Arizona Historical Society postcard contest.  The Yavapai Elementary 3rd grade student was one of 10 winners in the state in this year's competition. What's more Arizona than the sun, cacti, cactus wren, the state flag and a bald eagle?

Now That's The Spirit!
Whether he's leading his school's annual Parada del Sol entry down Scottsdale Road or shepherding students into their classrooms, it would be hard to find a Navajo Elementary School Buffalo with more spirit than Principal Matt Patzlaff.  Mr. P. was recently honored at a Scottsdale City Council meeting with the city's 2023 Spirit of Scottsdale Award.   

Engaging Students in World-Class, Future-Focused Education
At SUSD, we're known for giving our educators the tools and means to be creative in their classrooms.  One of the ways we do that is through the StartUp Innovation grant program.  The spring 2024 recipients of the up-to-$10,000 grants, Redfield Elementary and Echo Canyon School, were recognized at the April 9 Governing Board meeting.  At Redfield, Principal Amanda Rand will lead a teacher group to pursue a project they call, "Bot-ify the Classroom: Enhancing Education Through Coding Bots."  At Echo Canyon, teacher Kelley Tully, with the support of Principal Kat Hughes, plans to implement her project, "TechTinkerers: Junior Engineers' Workshop" with the innovation funding.