•  Superintendent Update header image

  • April 5, 2021


    Dear Kyrene Community,


    Today is the first day of Quarter 4, and while the final quarter is the home stretch to the end of the year, it also feels like the beginning of a fresh start in Kyrene. Our schools and staff are reenergized by the buzz of in-person learning that has resumed on our campuses. 

    One of the best days I have had since assuming the role of Superintendent, has been the day we welcomed in-person learners back to school in March. I was fortunate to spend that day on the C.I. Waggoner Elementary School and Kyrene Middle School shared campus, as students arrived with smiles on their faces, reunited with friends and teachers they have not seen in months.

    3 photos: Toenjes with Principal Maxwell, two students holding hands and wearing masks, Laura Toenjes talking with students

    In January, I shared with you my commitment to ACT—a personal acronym I use to highlight the importance of awareness, connection and trust. In preparing for a safe return to school, our surveys of families and staff made us aware of challenges to both distance learning and a rapid return to in-person; our open communication channels allowed us to connect with stakeholders, to ensure everyone had a voice and felt informed; and I hope our decisions to give educators time to be vaccinated before reopening and to continue offering families an online learning option that we earned your trust. When we say we put student and staff safety first, we mean it.

    The pandemic has divided our community, but I believe, through awareness, connection and trust, we can move forward united and as #KyreneStrong as ever.


    AzM2 State Assessment

    Many Kyrene families opted to continue online learning through Flex or Kyrene Digital Academy, and I am grateful that we can offer an option for everyone. However, options are limited when it comes to mandated State testing. Federal law requires State assessments, and the State of Arizona has no offsite testing option, so we are required to offer in-person testing. 

    I have heard from families who are not yet ready to return students to campus, even for a few hours or days at a time, and I want you to know that I empathize with those concerns. There is no penalty for students who do not participate, but assessments can be an important tool to support your child’s learning. For more information on how State assessments are used, visit www.ExpectMoreArizona.org/AzM2. As we have previously shared, if you have any concerns about the requirement or what safety measures will be in place, please work directly with your child’s principal.


    Expanded Opportunities for Fun and Learning

    Enrollment is now underway for Kyrene summer and fall enrichment programs, including Adventure Tours, Sports Camp, Kids Club and After hours. Additionally, Kyrene’s Community Education team is preparing to offer additional enrichment opportunities in the 4th quarter, so stay tuned for more information to come on that.

    Separate from the popular summer options Kyrene offers for a small fee, this summer, we will also offer the Kyrene Expanded Learning Program (KELP) for free. No sign up is necessary for KELP. Schools will identify students who would most benefit from summer learning advancement and will contact those families directly. Additional information about KELP is available online.


    Diablos Logo

    Excellence in Education Awards

    I am pleased to congratulate the finalists for the Tempe Diablos 2021 Excellence in Education Awards. This annual recognition draws hundreds of nominations, with two Kyrene finalists in each category and three Kyrene finalists for Teacher of the Year. This is an esteemed award in any year, but I am exceptionally proud of the finalists emerging from this uniquely challenging year in education. Congratulations to all Kyrene finalists!



    Courageous Kyrene Students

    Two Kyrene students are recipients of the City of Tempe’s very special Courage Award. The annual YouthFest Courage Awards celebrate students who have faced great adversity, such as illness or loss of a loved one, and still managed to make education a priority. This year’s courageous Kyrene winners are Desvon Johnson and Yanahara Taylor Quevedo, both 6th grade students at Kyrene Traditional Academy. I am so proud of you both.


    Tee Up for Kyrene!

    The Kyrene Foundation’s 10th Annual Golf Classic is coming up on Saturday, April 17 at Arizona Grand Golf Course. Last year, the Foundation raised more than $25,000 to benefit Kyrene students, staff and schools. This year’s goal is $30,000! The annual tournament is a great way to support Kyrene and have some socially distant fun at the same time. I’ll be out on the course, and I hope to see you there!

    Image with Golf Classic Information


    Spotlight on the Kyrene Family Resource Center

    If you participate in the Foundation golf tournament, one area you will be supporting is the focus of this month’s Superintendent Spotlight on Kyrene: the Kyrene Family Resource Center (KFRC). I toured the Center recently to learn more about its history and how the community can get involved. As the KFRC team shared with me, this special place is the heart of Kyrene.

    All of the monthly Spotlight videos can be found in the Superintendent section of the Kyrene website. In addition to the above video, check out our first two spotlights on District Office exterior renovations and the Kyrene Emergency Operations Center. Kyrene has been my home for years, but I am enjoying the opportunity to see these places through a new lens and to share them with our Kyrene community.



    I hope you all enjoyed a long and restful weekend, and I look forward to a strong finish in this final quarter of the year.


    Laura Toenjes

Last Modified on Monday at 5:46 PM