September 5, 2019
Dear Kyrene Community,
As we roll into September, school activities are quickly shifting from back-to-school introductions to a hands-on, interactive, learning activities. It continues to be a pleasure to visit our campuses and see the classrooms, hallways and playgrounds teeming with students.
Positive Parenting: #SavetheKids
Social media activist and youth advocate Collin Kartchner visited Kyrene for two days of assemblies for all Kyrene middle school students, as well as an evening event for parents. Collin’s powerful presentations challenged children and adults alike to unplug. His message reached me not only as a Superintendent, but also as a mother and grandmother. I worry about how screens impact students’ sleep, their personal interactions and, above all, their self-esteem. For more information on these presentations, as well as a clip from Collin’s events, view my September video message. I am interested in hearing from teachers, parents and community members on this important topic.
Our five Kyrene Superintendent Councils began meeting in August, with initial gatherings of the Parent/Superintendent Council (PSC), Community/Superintendent Council (CSC) and Kyrene Business Alliance (KBA). Thank you to everyone who applied for open positions on the CSC; the response was overwhelming, with more than 100 applicants! The sitting Council was able to select new members to grow its ranks, and we have an incredible group of individuals joining us. The Teacher and Student Councils will convene this month. I look forward to working with each of the councils in the coming year.
Equity Training Underway
Professional development for Kyrene staff in the area of equity and diversity got underway in August. Leaders from every school as well as the District Office participated in the first of several full-day training sessions, during which they engaged in courageous conversations about inclusion and closing opportunity gaps. These leaders will be trained to continue these conversations with the rest of our Kyrene staff, so that every individual employee receives equity training.
The purpose of this model is to ensure that equity is built into our framework – that it becomes systemic and an ingrained part of our Kyrene culture. This work takes time and is happening on multiple levels. In addition to staff training, Kyrene has identified four schools this year to be designated as RISE UP schools, which will get additional layers of support to ensure student success. I look forward to sharing much more about our RISE UP schools throughout the coming year, beginning with a very special video introduction next month. Stay tuned.
Purpose + Generosity = Purposity
Kyrene community, you continue to blow me away with your generosity. After a record-setting launch last year of Purposity, a digital tool for giving, this community then went on to help more than one hundred families in need. For those who may not yet know, Purposity is an online application that allows school staff to share specific student and family needs with users, who can then fill those needs with a few taps on their phones. All donations go directly to the student or family. Here are a few numbers from Kyrene’s first year with Purposity:
123 families helped
622 needs met
$14,000 worth of donations
Kyrene’s Purposity donors provided everything from new shoes for students to household items for families who lost everything to fire. Anyone can sign up to give. Simply enter your mobile number and zip code at Purposity.com and wait for the weekly text alert.
Winning with Wellness
I want to congratulate a few members of Team Kyrene for some important recognition. Kyrene’s “Win on Wellness” program received the Official Gold Seal of Good Health Keeping renewal award from the Wellness Council of Arizona. Chief Benefits Officer Deb Spurgin and her team will accept the award at a ceremony later this month. The Council will also honor Kyrene de los Niños Principal Lisa Connor with the Senior Leadership Award, Kyrene de la Sierra Principal Brian Gibson with the Wellness Committee Member Award, and Aprende teacher Lindsey Strength with the Personal Achievement Award.
A Night to Remember
One of our Kyrene community’s favorite nights is back this year! The Kyrene Foundation will host its annual Night for Kyrene (formerly Taste of Kyrene) at the Arizona Grand Resort and Spa on Saturday, September 28. This signature event helps raise funds that support our Kyrene students and educators.
When you support the Foundation, you help fund mini-grants for teachers and principals, athletic scholarships, the Family Resource Center and more. To purchase tickets for Night for Kyrene, visit the Kyrene Foundation website.
In closing, and with sadness, I want to thank the Kyrene community for the outpouring of love in the wake of the unexpected passing of Kyrene de la Paloma Principal Janet Tobias. I am truly moved by all of the good I see in this District each and every day.
Jan Vesely Ed.D.