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The first-annual Sahuarita Unified School District State of the District luncheon on Friday, Feb. 13, was a showcase of student excellence, and faculty and administration commitment to education. Over ten student groups were represented in the program, treating the 70-member audience to an overview of SUSD’s academic and extracurricular programming. SUSD’s excellence in teaching was also on display, with comments from several regional and national award-winning educators.

District Superintendent Manuel O. Valenzuela emphasized in his address the District’s progress in six key areas that have been strategically identified as foundational ideas that provide a roadmap to achieving the District’s vision of excellence: safe and supportive environments; 21st century college and career readiness; highly qualified faculty and staff; home, school, and community partnerships; valid accountability for all; personalized experience for every student. The District’s Annual Report covers each of these points in depth.

College & Career Readiness

SUSD continues its emphasis on multi-year initiatives that provide Sahuarita students with a variety of skill sets that make them competitive for college and careers after high school. The Beyond Textbooks program, which was developed by and is used in the Vail School District, has been implemented District-wide in Sahuarita schools. The District has also sought and received funding for numerous enrichment programs. The National Math & Science Initiative has roughly doubled student enrollment in AP classes at SUSD’s two high schools, Walden Grove and Sahuarita High School.

Grant funds have also brought programs to extend the learning day for students at Sahuarita High School and Sopori Elementary

Educator Excellence

The State of the District program included remarks from several of SUSD’s award-winning educators and administrators. In the last five years, seven SUSD personnel have been recognized as exceptional educators; awards include the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, Teacher of the Year, and Counselor of the Year.

The District supports faculty professional development, and recently created the Sahuarita Professional Learning Institute to tailor continuing education courses to the needs of teachers. In the 2014-2015 school year, more than 25 professional development classes were offered by the Sahuarita Professional Learning Institute.

Academic & Extracurricular Programming

SUSD schools offer a variety of educational and extracurricular activities to meet student interests, and many of these were featured at the District address. Student performances included instrumental and vocal performances, dance, foreign language translation, essay recitations, NJROTC drill routines, and even a magic show. As noted in the Annual Report, “increasing student choice improves motivation and engagement.”

Congratulations, SUSD, on the remarkable progress made in and out of the classroom over the past year!

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