Sahuarita Times: Promoting and Fostering Excellence

Sahuarita Unified School District (“SUSD”) continues to excel and stand out amongst the competition, paving its way to the future through great partnerships, new programs and innovations, and outstanding performance in academics and stewardship to the community.

Tom Murphy, Town of Sahuarita Council Member and SUSD School Board Member, said of the district and its mission, “The Sahuarita Unified School District has established a vision of educational excellence and serves as a model of collaboration, service, and commitment to make a positive impact in the community each day. By celebrating and continuing to advance processes and programs that lay the foundation for students to learn, grow and achieve at the highest level possible, we can ensure the enrichment of our children’s and students’ lives.”

Throughout the past few years, partnerships have been instrumental in enhancing district facilities and programs. The construction of the educational facilities in the Sahuarita Town Center exemplifies the results achieved when multiple parties work together towards a greater good. Working collaboratively with Rancho Sahuarita, the Town of Sahuarita and many other partners, SUSD designed and built an innovative Early Childhood Center, the award-winning Copper View Elementary School, and a state-of-the-art aquatics center.

The Sahuarita WINS program, established by SUSD Superintendent Dr. Manny Valenzuela, brings together a group of community and business leaders to discuss the educational direction of the district and to create expanded opportunities for students. These opportunities are unique to the Sahuarita WINS program and provide students hands-on, real-world experiences that go beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

One example of an initiative that has already been set in motion as part of the program includes the development of a dual-enrollment program for university-level engineering at Walden Grove High School.  SUSD is also working with Pima County JTED and other partners to put together special career and technology related programs to capitalize on the growing job market for those fields.

Working with advanced-level photography students, the Rancho Sahuarita Company began a special “internship” program. The students are capturing the moments throughout the Rancho Sahuarita community, including key events and landscape photos.  The Rancho Sahuarita team then acts as a client critiquing work and making suggestions. Photos can be used for inclusion in those students’ professional portfolios. The company is also working with business and communications students, speaking to them about real-world applications of what they are learning.

Students and staff at SUSD are often recognized and honored for the work they are doing, including student performance, teacher excellence, and outstanding service to the community. Ms. Dayna Burke, 1st grade teacher at Sahuarita Primary School, was recognized as a Top 5 Finalist, Ambassador for Excellence, for Arizona Teacher of the Year.

Also, recently students from both high schools were honored in a ceremony put on by Pima County District 2. On October 26th, 2013, the “Community and Student Leadership Awards” honored community members and students for their outstanding achievement in the areas of academics, athletics, and the difference they make in the community each day. School Board Member Tom Murphy was honored at the ceremony for outstanding Community Leadership, as well as nine students from Sahuarita High School and ten students from Walden Grove. This amounts to over half of all students recognized!

SUSD is also excelling in sports; as the Sahuarita High School football team recently won their section and went on to compete in the Division IV playoffs for the second consecutive year. Walden Grove High School is also celebrating its first state champion, Trey Cashion, who won the title for swimming.

Through the work of educational leaders at each of the schools, as well as chief partners and business leaders in the local community, the district will continue to grow, thrive, and prosper.