Here’s how Arizona teachers are adapting — not attacking — AI

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Originally published on AZ Big Media.

A teacher’s response to learning about artificial intelligence is comparable to a child’s face after eating ice cream, bulging eyes and happy smiles. “We’re like the happy cheerleaders for AI,” said Janel White-Taylor, clinical professor at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

From K–12 classrooms to university lecture halls, artificial intelligence continues to be tested and Arizona State University is taking a lead in discovering the untold world of AI.

At Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, instructors are formulating a training program that can prepare students who are going to be teachers in a few years to use and understand the technology. In order to teach the students that artificial intelligence is still learning new algorithms, the goal is to identify what it isn’t accomplishing, Jennifer Werner Instructional Designer Senior at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College explained.

Taylor adds that ASU faculty are exploring new methods to incorporate AI into courses, particularly one on problem-solving using digital technology applications, in which students can learn how to write a script or create a piece of artwork using intelligence.

Arizona State University Preparatory Academy partnered with Khan World School, a virtual learning platform teaching grades 6 through 12 virtually at the charter school. The instructors who are apart of this learning environment refer to themselves as guides rather than teachers.

“Their (guides) in a digital environment and are actually facilitating the learning,” Rachna Mathur, the STEM strategist for Arizona State University Preparatory Academy said.

The goal is for instructors to include AI in their classes and begin modifying their lesson plans. Teachers claim that rather than worrying about students cheating, they should be worried about whether their assignments are motivating them.

Taylor gave an illustration of how teachers might revamp their lesson ideas. Instead of merely having a student summarize an article, educate them to request the summary from artificial intelligence. Then, let the student evaluate if the summary was accurate.

“What educators are increasingly seeing is that it is an incredible teaching can help foster the creative process,” Punya Mishra the Associate Dean of scholarship and innovation and professor at Mary Lou Fulton teachers college said.

AI has advanced to an extent where it is now the new kid on the block within certain workplaces.

Are educators worried about losing their jobs?

Professors expressed that students will always need a human connection in order to fully learn and there is a possibility that artificial intelligence might have a bigger role in lessons.

“A large reason of why we go to school is to learn how to engage and interact with people, learn views, it’s not just about learning math and chemistry,” said Mirsha.

The accepted norm today in education is for kids to learn how to use computers “before” they learn how to compose sentences.

“It’s more of a new relationship with this learning system…its a different type of thinking,” said Mathur.

It can also be a era of going back to basics and having children read books out loud and having a designated writing time, “its all about strategy,” said Taylor.

3, 2, 1…Launch Party!

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On the morning of October 12, the world will witness a new era of space exploration as the spacecraft Psyche embarks on its journey from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This mission, aimed at exploring a metal-rich asteroid also named Psyche, marks the first deep-space venture led by Arizona State University.

To celebrate this groundbreaking event, ASU Preparatory Academy Phoenix is hosting a launch party, inviting ASU Prep families from all campuses to attend. With doors opening at 7 a.m., attendees can anticipate an exciting morning filled with breakfast, engaging STEM activities, and a recording of previous launches to help set the stage for the Psyche mission launch next week. Special guest speakers include Dr. Carver Bierson, ASU postdoctoral research scholar and Psyche mission expert.

The Psyche spacecraft’s destination, an asteroid that resides between Mars and Jupiter, will take nearly six years and 2.2 billion miles to reach. The study of this metal asteroid could provide invaluable insights into how Earth and other terrestrial planets came into existence.

Stefanie Contreras, ASU Prep Director of Marketing and Communications, is eager to inspire the next generation of explorers who may one day pursue STEM-related education and careers, saying, “By the time the rocket arrives, our current seventh graders could be at ASU, ready to start studying the findings.”

Ms. Contreras hopes students will come dressed in space-themed costumes and accessories created as part of Arizona State University’s statewide Psyche Spirit Week Photo Contest. The prize is a tour of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration center, including the Mars Space Flight Facility where scientists and researchers are exploring the geology and mineralogy of the Red Planet. 

Join us as we celebrate this monumental occasion and inspire the future leaders of space exploration. The themes for the Psyche photo contest can be found on the spirit week contest website. For more information on ways to celebrate the first deep-space NASA mission led by ASU, check out the university’s website.

ASU ranked No. 1 in innovation for 9th straight year

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Originally published on ASU News.

US News & World Report accolade joins university’s series of top rankings in areas that matter

For the ninth year in a row, Arizona State University is No. 1 in innovation among American universities, ahead of Stanford, MIT and Caltech, in the newly released annual “Best Colleges” 2024 rankings by U.S. News & World Report.

The continued recognition underscores ASU’s commitment to being a New American University — an enterprise dedicated to the simultaneous pursuit of excellence, broad access to quality education, and meaningful societal impact — and joins a series of top rankings that ASU has earned in high-impact areas.

In the past three years, ASU has been named:

  • No. 1 in global impact, by Times Higher Education (2020–23), ahead of MIT and Penn State.
  • No. 1 in research expenditures for geological and earth sciences, anthropology, and transdisciplinary, multidisciplinary, and other sciences, by the National Science Foundation (2021), ahead of such universities as Caltech, Harvard and Johns Hopkins, respectively.
  • No. 1 in engineering technology enrollment, by the American Society for Engineering Education (2021), ahead of Texas A&M, the Rochester Institute of Technology and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
  • No. 1 journalism school in top overall awards for news, by the Broadcast Education Association (2023), ahead of Syracuse, the University of Florida and the University of Southern California.
  • No. 1 in visual and performing arts doctorates, by the National Science Foundation (2022), ahead of UCLA, Harvard and Yale.
  • No. 1 public university in the U.S. chosen by international students, by the Institute of International Education (2022), ahead of UCLA, UC Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • No. 1 in homeland security and emergency management, by U.S. News & World Report (2023), ahead of George Washington University, Columbia University and the University of Southern California.
  • No. 1 business online bachelor’s programs, by U.S. News & World Report (2023), ahead of Penn State University-World Campus and the University of Arizona.

“The world is changing faster than ever, and outmoded approaches are not enough to counter the increasingly complex problems facing our planet,” said Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow. “ASU’s innovation mindset attracts creative and dynamic minds who tackle society’s biggest challenges — from ending health disparities to ensuring a habitable planet to advancing our national security — in ways both inventive and effective.

“Bolstered by collaboration across disciplines and sectors, we are perpetually inspired to demonstrate how optimism and ingenuity can yield better outcomes for all.”

ASU has ranked No. 1, ahead of MIT and Stanford, every year since the “most innovative” category was created by U.S. News & World Report magazine. Institutions are nominated by college presidents, provosts and admissions deans across the country, and schools are chosen based on who is making the most innovative improvements in curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology and facilities.

In the past year, ASU has announced several initiatives that will have a huge impact on the local and global stage:

  • The university will launch the ASU School of Medicine and Advanced Medical Engineering, which will integrate clinical medicine, biomedical science and engineering. The new school highlights a comprehensive new effort to help improve health outcomes across Arizona, which ranks near or in the bottom quartile of many health system performance indicators.
  • In partnership with Applied Materials Inc., ASU will build a $270 million research, development and prototyping facility — the Materials-to-Fab Center — in the university’s MacroTechnology Works building at ASU Research Park. This effort will help advance Arizona’s burgeoning semiconductor industry, key to the nation’s security.
  • ASU won $90.8 million — the largest National Science Foundation research award in the university’s history — to advance groundbreaking research in X-ray science by building the world’s first compact X-ray free electron laser, or CXFEL, on the Tempe campus. This one-of-a-kind, room-sized X-ray laser instrument will fill a critical need for researchers to explore the intricacies of complex matter at atomic length and ultrafast time.
  • The university was chosen to lead the Arizona Water Innovation Initiative to provide immediate, actionable and evidence-based solutions to ensure that Arizona will have a secure future water supply. The governor has asked ASU to work with industrial, municipal, agricultural, tribal and international partners to rapidly accelerate and deploy new approaches and technology for water conservation, augmentation, desalination, efficiency, infrastructure and reuse.
  • ASU has widened access to higher education through Study Hall, a partnership with YouTube and Crash Course in which learners can now earn college credit through courses that begin on YouTube. The first four courses, which launched in March, create a flexible new pathway to higher education that provides up to 12 transferable college credits.

Latest rankings

In the new U.S. News & World Report rankings, the university placed in the top 20 in other notable categories, including tied for No. 13 among U.S. universities in undergraduate teaching; tied No. 16 for senior capstone programs; and tied for No. 16 for first-year experiences.

ASU also had distinguished rankings among several of its undergraduate degrees and programs including:


For undergraduate rankings, the W. P. Carey School of Business was tied for No. 29 in the country, ahead of Brigham Young University, Babson College and the University of Rochester. The school also had 10 undergraduate disciplines or departments ranked in the top 30, including: No. 2 for supply chain management and logistics; No. 9 for analytics and No. 9 for business management information systems.


The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering tied for No. 34 overall and placed in the top 20 for public engineering schools, ahead of the University of Florida, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of California, Irvine. Four undergraduate programs ranked in the top 20 for their categories: civil engineering (No. 16), cybersecurity — computer science (No. 16, tied), computer engineering (No. 16, tied) and electrical engineering (No. 17, tied).


The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College ranked in the top 20 for two undergraduate programs: elementary teacher education and secondary teacher education, which both ranked No. 13.

Find the full rankings on the U.S. News & World Report website.

Celebrating Excellence in Education

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We are shining a spotlight on two remarkable individuals who have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to ASU Prep. Allow us to introduce Eric Roth, math marvel and esteemed 2023 Teacher of the Year, and Allison Voltaire, exemplary elementary principal and 2023 Staff Member of the Year. They both embody the spirit of excellence, innovation, and unwavering commitment to student success that defines ASU Prep.

Meet Teacher of the Year: Eric Roth

In the realm of education, there are teachers who leave an indelible mark on their students and inspire them to reach for the stars. Eric Roth, a middle school math teacher at ASU Prep Digital, is one such educator. Since joining the ASU Prep team in the fall of 2020, Mr. Roth has made a profound impact on his students and the school community, earning him the well-deserved title of Teacher of the Year.

Mr. Roth explains what led him to a career in teaching math. “My parents and grandparents always told me if I set my mind to it, I could accomplish anything. I also had several professors during my undergraduate program that supported me. What better way to give back then do the same for others.” Prior to joining ASU Prep Digital, Mr. Roth dedicated more than a decade to teaching math at Coconino High School in Flagstaff, Arizona. During these years, he also demonstrated impressive versatility and commitment by working as a special education teacher for pre-kindergarten through 2nd grade during the summer, and grades 9–12 during the school year.

What sets Mr. Roth apart is his meticulous attention to detail, exceptional communication skills, and his innate ability to make each student feel special. He creates a welcoming classroom environment where every student is valued and encouraged to strive for academic and personal growth. His knack for pinpointing each student’s strengths and providing any necessary support has had a positive impact on their overall success. He instills confidence in his students, showing them that they are capable of accomplishing anything they set their minds to. Mr. Roth says, “Acknowledging the small things students do add up: participating in the live lessons, attending help sessions just to say hello, or sending me a text message to let me know what is going on in their lives. Pointing out these behaviors and thanking students for doing such things helps build a rapport with them.”

Mr. Roth appreciates the opportunity to interact with students from different parts of the state, country, and even the world. This diverse interaction is something he cherishes, as it gives him the opportunity to facilitate learning among students from various backgrounds.

Another aspect he enjoys is seeing students lift one another up. “There are many times during a live lesson or help session that students compliment each other. Whether it be a new haircut, a shirt they are wearing, or an answer they gave to a question, these are the moments that I enjoy most and I make it a point to show how proud I am when these behaviors are displayed. The care and concern they have for each other really displays how awesome our middle school marvels are.”

Mr. Roth’s hero, Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman revered for helping many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust, reflects his own values of selflessness, service, and faith.

An Ohio native, currently residing in Flagstaff, Mr. Roth spends his free time embracing the beautiful terrain and scenery of Northern Arizona. He enjoys biking, running, and hiking. Mr. Roth’s well-rounded character and dedication have rightfully earned him the title of ASU Prep’s 2023 Teacher of the Year.

Meet Staff Member of the Year: Allison Voltaire

Allison Voltaire, ASU Prep Digital Elementary Principal, began her teaching journey as a 6th grade teacher before transitioning to virtual roles in middle school math, 4th Grade, and 5th Grade. Her passion for leadership led her to earning a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and another in Curriculum and Instruction: Technology for Educators, and ultimately to ASU Prep in 2020.

Living on the Space Coast of Florida with her husband and two children, Ms. Voltaire manages her role virtually, valuing each interaction with ASU Prep stakeholders as an opportunity to reinforce her commitment to the school community. At the heart of Ms. Voltaire’s leadership approach is communication and teamwork. She explains, “We call this the tripod effect when a student, parent or home educator, and the teacher/Learning Success Coach work together as an academic team to support each student.” This approach centers the student and fosters engagement, motivation, and dedication within the school community, creating a vibrant learning environment.

Ms. Voltaire’s vision aligns with ASU Prep Academy’s promise to help students “Prep for college. Prep for careers. Prep for life.” She prioritizes academic excellence alongside the development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and socialization skills. Embracing the digital nature of the school, she equips students with digital literacy and technology fluency, enabling them to confidently navigate digital tools and platforms for effective learning.

By fostering a personalized learning environment, Ms. Voltaire encourages students to take ownership of their education, setting goals, and embracing self-directed learning. She also aims to cultivate global awareness and cultural competence, preparing students to become responsible global citizens. “By appreciating diversity, demonstrating empathy, and understanding different cultures, our students will be better prepared to become responsible global citizens, making positive contributions to the world.”

Ms. Voltaire shares, “My ultimate goal is for our students to develop a lifelong love for learning, extending well beyond their time at ASU Prep Digital. By fostering this love for learning, I hope to nurture individuals who are eager to explore new ideas, pursue knowledge, and continue growing throughout their lives.”

Reflecting on her time at ASU Prep Digital, Ms. Voltaire recalls the second year of the elementary school as a defining moment. This was when perceptions shifted post-Covid pandemic, and ASU Prep Digital was recognized not as a mere fill-in option, but as a truly extraordinary digital school offering unparalleled opportunities for personalized learning. This shift embodies the mission of the school and reflects the dedication and hard work of the entire community.

As the 2023 Staff Member of the Year, Ms. Voltaire extends her heartfelt gratitude to the school community for their unwavering commitment to shared vision. Honored to be part of this remarkable journey, she looks forward to continuing the path of excellence and innovation at ASU Prep.

Thank you Eric Roth and Allison Voltaire for your exceptional service. From all of us at ASU Prep, congratulations on this well-deserved recognition. Here’s to another year of growth, discovery, and countless achievements.

ASU Prep’s Internship Program: Setting up Students for College and Career Success

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In honor of National Intern Day on July 27th, we want to shine a spotlight on ASU Prep’s internship program, designed to support high school students on their journey toward higher education and fulfilling careers. ASU Prep is dedicated to providing students with real-world experiences that spark their interests and prepare them for future success. The internship program is part of this commitment, guiding students on college and career pathways.

The ASU Prep Internship Program

ASU Prep offers multiple avenues for students to secure internships. They can either apply from the database of over 50 contacts provided by ASU Prep, create their own internship opportunities, or turn their existing jobs or volunteer experience into an internship. The program is flexible and accommodates different pathways, even allowing students to gain credit for their internship experiences.

An asynchronous digital course brings together students from across the ASU Prep network of campuses. Participants receive support and guidance from a dedicated instructor and are encouraged to collaborate with fellow students through discussion posts, as well as fun “show and tell” type activities where students can “show off” their internships with one another. Students also complete weekly reflections and submit their internship hours. The elective course can be taken twice to earn one full high school credit.

A Network of Strong Partnerships

While some students seek out their own internship opportunity, like one industrious ASU Prep Digital student who worked at a Lafayette, Louisiana police department, others rely on an impressive list of local partners, maintained by Felecia O’Neal, ASU Prep’s Network College and Career Coordinator.

These diverse partnerships have connected students to internships at the Mayo Clinic; Victory Legal Solutions, a female-owned local law firm; the Biltmore Resort; Arizona Department of Corrections, and many more.

And of course, ASU Prep’s relationship with Arizona State University opens up a whole world of internship opportunities. Ms. O’Neal points out Mathematics Professor Natalie B. Welcome as an ideal example of the level of mentorship available: “She not only walks students through how to be a professor, how to grade papers, and how to use rubrics, she also plans field trips so students will visit all the labs. Whether it’s art or science, she lets them connect to a variety of different places on campus.”

Some ASU Prep interns work with ASU’s SCience and ENgineering Experience (SCENE), getting the opportunity to complete science research in state-of-the art university labs. Digital students can even participate by working in a lab closer to home and meeting with their professors virtually.

The Impact and Benefits

By providing real-world experiences and hands-on opportunities, the ASU internship program instills determination and passion in students, igniting a desire to succeed beyond high school. Students gain insights into their fields of interest, explore various industries, and develop transferable skills that are invaluable for their future careers.

Ms. O’Neal explains the importance of these character- (and résumé-) building experiences: “Determination is when you have a vision or feeling that locks in that you are going to pursue success. You’re not just thinking about it in your head, but you’re actually working on doing meaningful work in a particular area. That determination helps you succeed and figure out how to be successful beyond high school.”

To learn more about ASU Prep’s internship program, students can contact their Academic Advisor or Learning Success Coach.

Visit ASU Prep to learn more about all of our programs dedicated to preparing students for success.

Summer Tips: Improve the Back-to-School Transition

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It’s the last week before school begins and time to enjoy a bit of calm before the hustle and bustle of car rides, homework, and extracurricular activities. These tips will help your family transition smoothly from summer into a new school year.

Tap into creativity through boredom:

If summer has been chock-full of activity, now is the time to rein it in. It is absolutely okay – and even good – for kids to feel bored. Given the chance, kids will easily find ways to resolve their boredom. Over the next few days, provide thirty minutes to an hour (depending on the child’s age) of non-structured “nothing time.” Encourage old-school play that does not include being entertained by screens or other people. If kids need some guidance to get started, set them up with items like cards, blocks, magnetic tiles, puzzles, dolls or art supplies – and then walk away. This is an opportunity for kids to entertain themselves and to discover what they enjoy and where they excel.

Another great option is to assign kids an independent, creative project and set them free to work on it. This could include planning and choreographing a show or dance. Provide them time to create a script, find a costume, create props, design a program, and set the stage before their big performance. If that is not quite your kid’s style, try an engineering project (like building a robot or bridge) that includes household items like boxes, popsicles sticks, plastic cups, and tape. 

Encourage independence:

Send kids back to school with confidence by encouraging practical skills. For younger kids, let them pick out their own clothes and dress themselves. Other skills they can do on their own or with minimal help: teeth-brushing, filling up their own water glass and tying their shoes. Older kids can get their own snacks and help with meal prep, whether it’s measuring, pouring, mixing or cutting. 

Age-appropriate chores that build competence include sorting laundry, making beds, unloading the dishwasher, and cleaning windows or mirrors. You can also have kids organize their dresser or desk drawers as a way to start fresh for the new school year. They’ll tap into their decision-making skills by choosing what stays and what goes.

These important life lessons teach kids that they’re capable of trying and accomplishing new things. As a result, you will be sending your kids off to school as more self-reliant, motivated and perseverant.

Ease into a Back-to-School Mindset:

Good sleep habits are probably the most difficult shift from summer into back-to-school mode, but we know it’s imperative for overall health and behavior. So start now by reestablishing a sleeping schedule that gradually includes earlier bedtimes and wake-ups. 

It might also be helpful to incorporate some aspects of school into daily routine. Maybe create an agenda that shows morning and afternoon activities, including planned reading time and set snack and lunch times. This also can help kids get back on their school-year eating schedule and say goodbye to the lax snacking habits of summer. 

Engage younger children in “playing school” to remind them of some basics. Activities can include writing their name and date, taking a mini spelling quiz, or practicing speaking skills through show and tell. Older kids will benefit from one “academic” activity per day, whether it’s writing a letter to a family member, completing a worksheet, practicing multiplication flashcards or finishing a crossword puzzle. 

One final idea as we say goodbye to summer is to have kids complete a journal highlighting some of their favorite summer moments. This can simply be leftover lined paper stapled together like a book. Young learners can draw pictures and label them by sounding out the spelling of the words; older learners can write a paragraph describing each memorable experience with illustrations optional.

Relax, get some rest and set healthy and happy intentions for a fun and successful school year! 

Summer Tips: Get Kids Out of the House

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Learning should be – and can be – fun. Summer is the perfect time to engage young learners in meaningful opportunities to be curious, to explore, and to discover new interests. Check out this list of fun yet educational (and often free) activities to get your kids out of the house and learning this summer.

Try Geocaching: A combination of technology and active outdoor time, “The world’s largest treasure hunt” involves searching for hidden items in a specific geographical area using GPS coordinates on your smart device. Create a free account on and download the app. Choose a cache to find based on area and level of difficulty and head out for adventure.

Go on a Scavenger Hunt: Apps like Monkey Spot or Goosechase include scavenger hunts kids can do outdoors or in everyday places like the grocery store, finding assigned objects. You can also search online for free printable scavenger hunts by topic — seasonal, outdoor or color/alphabet-themed. 

Explore Outdoors: Discover history and culture and connect with nature at a state or national park. The National Park Service offers a Junior Ranger program with interactive activities that give kids a chance to earn a badge and certificate. Bonus: Fourth graders can visit America’s National Parks for free with an Every Kid Outdoors pass. 

Roam a Local Garden: Let kids explore exhibits, feed fish, and identify types of flowers. The Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix offers free admission 5:00-7:30 p.m. on the first Friday of every month, and The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix hosts Community Day with free admission on the second Tuesday of the month. Search online to find more beautiful gardens and special deals to explore. 

Tour a Museum or Science Center: Check online for nearby museums of art or history as well as science centers for hours, special activities, and free admission opportunities. Some options near our ASU Prep campuses include Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Children’s Museum of Phoenix, and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. 

Through Museums for All, families presenting their SNAP EBT card can gain free or reduced admission to participating venues, and some banks offer their cardholders free or discounted museum passes. Check out an Act One Culture Pass from a public library to gain free access to Arizona’s arts and cultural treasures. 

Visit a Zoo or Aquarium. Check out animal encounters, tour habitats, learn about endangered species, get involved in conservation efforts, and take advantage of play areas.

Try Something New: Research local kid-oriented classes and workshops like pottery, painting, cooking, bird-watching, coding, or photography. Consider looking into Lowe’s or Home Depot’s building workshops or events held at nearby craft stores. Perhaps a new physical activity like gymnastics, martial arts, indoor rock climbing, dance, or ninja warrior training would be a good fit.

Stop in the Local Library: Local public libraries don’t only offer books for free check-out, but also host story time and hands-on activities like crafts, as well as interactive demonstrations like a magic show or science experiment.

Can’t Get Out of the House? Take your kids on a virtual field trip from the comfort of home to places like the Louvre in France or the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium. Tune in to one of the many educational programs offered on YouTube or keep kids busy with an at-home scavenger hunt. 

No matter where this summer takes you and your family, try to include fun learning opportunities for the kids. When planning outdoor activities, be sure to consider the weather. Wear sun protection, hydrate, and have fun! 

Next-Level Twinning: Identical Twins Graduate as Co-Valedictorians

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Andrew and Nicholas De Lapp, 2023 ASU Prep Casa Grande graduates, excel in many areas, “twinning” included. The identical twins stuck together through high school, succeeding in academics and participating as student-athletes at Barça Residency Academy, the prestigious elite youth soccer program located within the Grande Sports World Campus that ASU Prep Casa Grande calls home. Most recently, the dynamic duo was recognized as co-valedictorians of their 2023 ASU Prep graduating class. 

As Andrew and Nick prepared to turn the tassels of their graduation caps and deliver their co-valedictorian speech, they reflected on their high school journey. 

The ASU Prep Experience

When recalling favorite moments, the De Lapp twins agree they enjoyed organizing and participating in school events, like a recycling contest and field day. For Andrew, a standout experience was volunteering for a nonprofit organization, explaining, “It cemented my love of helping others and volunteering to make an impact.” For Nick, participating in these events helped him “see how much I love helping people.”

Andrew and Nick also praise Barça Academy as crucial to their growth at ASU Prep. Because it’s a residency program, student-athletes live away from home in dorm-like accommodations, helping the brothers prepare for the independence of college life and beyond. 

On the path of balancing a schedule full of extracurriculars, soccer, and rigorous academics, the staff at ASU Prep was there to support at every step. Andrew acknowledges that everyone at ASU has been “massively helpful” but is especially grateful to Sean Mark, a chemistry teacher who “sparked my love of science.” Nick singles out principal Sylvia Mejia for promoting a great learning environment and countless opportunities. The brothers both credit academic advisor Denice Douglas for all her guidance and endless support. 

Nick, the older brother by two minutes, sums it up well. “When I look back at ASU Prep, I will most remember the people I met. The people you bring along on your journey make it that more special. Build a network of more inspiring, smarter, more successful friends, mentors and co-workers, and they will help you succeed in your own right.”

Lessons Learned along the Way

Success doesn’t come easy, and the brothers both acknowledge challenges along the way. Andrew felt the pressure of the college decision process, including researching and visiting schools, while still keeping up with his school work and extracurricular activities. Despite the hard work, Andrew says, “Life is all about enjoying the experience. It’s vital to take some time to enjoy the moment. If you’re always working, you’ll never be able to enjoy what you’ve worked for.”

Nick feels the most challenging experience has been balancing a busy schedule and maintaining the confidence to get it all done. He credits his strong support system for keeping him going and advises others, “Cherish every single moment. Do your best at anything you do and try everything. I believe the regret of having never done something feels much worse than the regret of failure or embarrassment. You can learn something from each experience you have.”

It’s a Family Thing

Along with ASU Prep Casa Grande and the Barça Residency soccer community, the De Lapp brothers credit their family for providing them with support and strong guidance. Their parents both work in the healthcare field, their father as an orthopedic surgeon and their mother as a physical therapist. Nick calls them “very hard workers who juggle a lot of responsibilities,” while Andrew says they’ve “always been there through thick and thin,” providing a strong example and inspiring the recent graduates to pursue their own futures in the medical field.  

Andrew plans to become a neurosurgeon, while Nick aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon like his father. Having already earned college credits while attending ASU Prep, they are well on their way to meeting these goals. 

The duo earned merit scholarships and this fall will head to Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota to continue their education and play soccer for the Scots—Andrew as a winger and Nick as center back.

Best of luck to these two outstanding ASU Prep graduates. With a strong foundation and their performance record, Andrew and Nicholas De Lapp are sure to succeed in all their future endeavors.


Summer Tips: Making Financial Literacy a Healthy Habit

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We spend a lot of time encouraging children to maintain healthy habits, from eating their veggies and brushing their teeth to practicing internet safety and being kind to others. Let’s add another healthy habit to the list: financial literacy.

Financial literacy should be introduced when kids are young and should include understanding “money basics” like expenses, budgeting, and saving. Learning money management is a healthy habit that will help kids make better decisions long-term. Try the following tips this summer to practice financial literacy with all ages.  

  1. Talk about money. When making money decisions, think aloud to model this behavior for kids. When shopping, let them know when you’re comparing costsconsidering sale prices or inspecting tags for the unit price, for example. Point out the use of coupons, weighing your needs versus wants and price markups in certain situations like entertainment venues. 
  2. Assign money-related tasks. Have children assist with bill-paying when dining out. Younger kids can simply hand a server credit card or cash (then deal with the change), while older children can help calculate the tip and total cost. When shopping, encourage kids to scan items at the self checkout so they can see the items add up and be more aware of the growing total, as well as the role of tax. 
  3. Create a budget. Include children in budgeting for summer plans. Whether it’s for summer camps or a family outing, define an allowance and have kids help determine how to spend it. For example, set aside $50 for family night and let them figure out if that’s enough for a movie plus snacks at the theater or if it would be better spent with dinner out and a movie at home. 
  4. Play games. Make learning about money fun through gameplay. Monopoly (or Monopoly Jr.) is a popular board game where players buy and trade properties and deal with rent. Other games that involve money are The Game of Life, Payday, Money Bags, or The Allowance Game. There are also apps focused on financial literacy, such as Peter Pig’s Money Counter or Cash Puzzler.
  5. Teach value through ownership. When children earn their own money, whether through chores or a part-time job, they will be more likely to value it. Have them track their hard-earned funds using an age-appropriate app like Rooster Money or Bankaroo. Older children might be interested in Greenlight, a debit card for kids that requires parent oversight. Discuss options for managing money responsibly, from a savings account to investing in stocks.

Being confident when it comes to interacting with money is a healthy habit that sets up kids for success well into their future. With the extra expenses of summer, like camps, vacations and meals, it is an ideal time to start a conversation and include children in money matters. 

Minority Mental Health Month: Tips for Prioritizing Wellness

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Observed in July, National Minority Mental Health Month brings awareness to the unique challenges faced by our nation’s diverse minority groups. Due in part to a history of cultural stigma and lack of access to health care services, these groups often struggle to receive diagnoses for behavioral health issues. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautions that health disparities faced by underrepresented communities “negatively affect the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health and consequently affecting the health of our nation.”

When it comes to managing mental health, this year’s theme centers around culture, community, and connection. Check out the following suggestions to get started prioritizing mental wellness for the whole family. 

  • Create Connections with Others. It is important to feel a sense of belonging and security within our neighborhoods. Activities like shopping, dining, exercise or worship bring an opportunity to build social connections. This can lead to an extended support network of people to assist with childcare or meals when needed, as well as shared family friendly gatherings. Meaningful interactions and having people to call upon are essential stress relievers.   
  • Be an Active Community Member. Community brings more than social connections; it’s also an opportunity to find purpose. Take pride in where you live and work to make it a better place through volunteering and advocacy work. Get involved in issues you care about (like education or health services) through rallies or town hall meetings. Be sure to enlist children’s help when appropriate, like charity walks or collecting donations.   
  • Take Time for Self-care. Be sure to care for both your body and mind. To reduce stress and anxiety, consider meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga — find helpful guides on YouTube or in the app store. Listening to music, keeping a gratitude journal, praying, or reading are also healthy calming practices. For physical health, aim for a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains and limit simple sugars and saturated fats. A routine of regular exercise and sufficient sleep round out a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Talk Openly about Mental Health. Develop an environment of openness and trust that allows you and others to feel comfortable discussing mental health. Some pointers for these types of conversations include setting aside appropriate time and space, being honest, and validating emotions without downplaying or dismissing them. This can no doubt be difficult, but increasing visibility of mental health issues within minority communities breaks the stigma and encourages people to get support when needed. 
  • Seek Resources. In addition to commonly experienced life stressors, minority groups may also be impacted by additional trauma. Therapy provides tools so you can better handle the past, present and future in a healthier way. Seek a culturally competent therapist who is respectful of differences, appreciating that everyone has a unique identity and set of needs. To find a mental health program or resources that are a good fit, check out, search the directory at Mental Health America or American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s extensive list of inclusive resources organized by community. For free, immediate, and confidential support at any time, call or text 988, the Suicude and Crisis Lifeline.

When focusing on mental wellness, remember to keep in mind the importance of culture, community, and connection. When intertwined, you’ll find support and belonging to help you better navigate daily life.