ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest Invites Community to Celebrate Debut of New Dreamscape Learn Pod at Annual STEAM Event

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Media Contact: Whitney Anderson, whitneya@dualitypr.com or 602-740-2373

Free Neighborhood Event Lets Attendees Explore Immersive Virtual Learning Platform, While Enjoying Hands-on STEAM Activities, Food, Entertainment, Tours and Prizes

WHAT: A night filled with exploration, experimentation and hours of entertainment await families and neighbors who attend ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest’s annual Full STEAM Ahead spring celebration, taking place from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 28. The highlight of this year’s free community event is the grand opening of the Dreamscape Learn Pod. This immersive learning and entertainment platform is the ultimate STEAM experience, setting ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest apart as the first and only K-6 school in the nation to offer this innovative virtual reality technology.

In addition to taking the Dreamscape Learn Pod for a test drive, attendees can look forward to a full evening of activities all themed around Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, including coding games, career exploration, arts and crafts, a photo booth and more. Visitors can also look forward to entertaining music, food, drinks, entertainment, raffles and other prizes.

WHY: The free neighborhood event is open to local families, including those interested in exploring enrollment at ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest, one of 12 schools within the ASU Preparatory Academy network. Families can explore the school, meet staff, tour the building and experience some of the engaging educational activities that inspire children to excel in the classroom, including unique offerings like the Dreamscape Learning Pod.

Dreamscape will be implemented into the ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest curriculum beginning this spring and will continue to evolve during summer school and throughout the 2024-25 school year, as ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest expands from its current PreK-6 enrollment to encompass seventh and eighth graders, as well.

The immersive platform reinforces ASU Prep’s approach, which is personalized, project-based and tailored to meet the needs of individual students in diverse communities across Arizona. It’s all part of an effort to remove barriers and help students pursue their passions, achieve their goals and build a lifelong love of learning.

WHERE: ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest, 1401 E. Jefferson St., Phoenix, AZ 85034

WHEN: 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., Thursday, March 28

HOW: Attendees who pre-register will be eligible for prize drawings. Registration is available at asuprepevents.com/steam.

WHO: ASU Prep is chartered by Arizona State University and serves more than 7,000 students across its network. ASU Prep uses innovative approaches to curriculum to prepare all students for success in graduating from a university. Its mission is to design new models for educational success and raise academic achievement for all learners. ASU Preparatory Academy has schools in Phoenix, South Phoenix, Mesa and Casa Grande. In addition, ASU Prep Digital serves online students grades K–12 in Arizona and around the world. For more information, visit: https://asuprep.asu.edu.

ASU Honors Black History Month with Community Events

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Black History Month is an annual celebration of the profound contributions that African Americans have made to all facets of society. Throughout this month, we come together to honor the legacies and ongoing achievements of Black individuals. Here is a sampling of Black History Month events hosted by our ASU community:

George Floyd Global Memorial to present ‘Twin Flames’ exhibit

This arts experience is a unique partnership between the ASU Art Museum, the ASU Center for Work and Democracy, and the George Floyd Global Memorial. Enjoy an insightful guided walkthrough in addition to a food truck with delicious bites, mocktail bar, and entertainment.

Color Cabaret by Music Theatre and Opera

This entirely student-led cabaret helps provide an opportunity for composers, lyricists, librettists, and performers of color, formed through personal connections, friends, and colleagues from all over ASU, to share their creativity.

Black Liberation Through the Marketplace with Rachel Ferguson

Join author Rachel Ferguson as she discusses Black Liberation Through the Marketplace, and come away with a better understanding of Black history and creative ideas for how to make this nation truly one with liberty and justice for all.

International Jazz Day AZ Foundation’s co-presents JADE

Jade Johnson has performed beloved renditions of the National Anthem at Suns, Mercury, Diamondbacks, Clippers and Lakers games, and landed acting roles on TV’s “Blackish” and in theater Off Broadway. From jazz and pop to R&B, hear a focused singer-songwriter hitting her stride.

This is Melanin

Step into a world brimming with entertainment and education. This all-ages extravaganza includes food trucks, music, games, vendors, speakers – and good vibes. Brace yourself for thought-provoking panel discussions and workshops focusing on vital community empowerment topics such as finance, home-buying, and more.

Strong foundations start in Kindergarten.

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ASU Prep Academy is hosting several Kinder Round-Up information sessions at our four elementary locations in the metro Phoenix area.

At the event, families will have an opportunity to meet our teachers, tour our campuses, and learn more about our Kindergarten program, which features:

  • Tuition-free full-day options
  • One-to-one technology devices
  • Individualized learning plans
  • Gifted program options in Spring semester
  • After-school programming

To learn about Kindergarten eligibility and VIP on-site enrollment, click here.

ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest celebrates art and STEM with Creative Fusion Festival

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On December 8, the ASU Preparatory Academy Pilgrim Rest campus was buzzing with excitement, color, and creativity. The occasion? The inaugural Creative Fusion Festival – a vibrant celebration of global cultures, creativity, and community engagement.

Just as the school focuses on a unique blend of arts and STEM, so did the festival. Visitors were treated to free food and entertainment with an array of arts and crafts tables, hands-on STEM activities, grade-level musical performances, and a student art project showcase. There was also face painting, a photo booth, and even a raffle with the chance to win an iPad among other cool prizes.

For student Valerie, the festival was a lot of fun. “There’s activities, a lot of food, pictures, and there’s also a lot of games,” she said. Teacher Adrienne Henderson-Cole was happy families were able to support the student performers, whom she described as “super cute and super excited.”

Beyond the fun and festivities, the Creative Fusion Festival served a deeper purpose. It was about bringing together community partners, showcasing student talent, and “welcoming our community into our school,” as Principal Marissa Schneckloth explained.

Principal Schneckloth saw the event as an opportunity for parents and guardians to experience the school’s unique blend of academics and arts. “Having the music element and the arts and the STEM, all come together in one, really gives parents and guardians the opportunity to see who we are and what we can bring to their children,” she expressed.

Families were thrilled with the festival and the school’s efforts to engage them in their children’s educational journey. Joseph Taylor, a parent, shared, “I’ve never seen the involvement of the parents as they are here and the willingness to partner with the parents. Being able to partner is awesome. That makes being a parent here just a wonderful experience.”

Principal Schneckloth agreed, and emphasized the importance of community partnerships. “They can bring in their resources and expertise and experience and expose our students to things outside of their dreaming and just really motivate them to learn,” she said.

The inaugural Creative Fusion Festival at ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest was both a celebration of creativity and community involvement. It was a fun evening filled with joy, learning, and inspiration, leaving participants eagerly anticipating next year’s festival.

Upcoming ASU Prep Neighborhood Events

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At ASU Prep, we believe that a strong and vibrant community is fundamental to the success of our students! Our community, composed of dedicated educators, motivated students, and supportive families, forms the backbone of our learning environment.

We encourage active community participation to foster a culture of collaboration and mutual respect. This community spirit extends to our free, family-friendly neighborhood events. We hope you’ll join us!

ASU Prep Phoenix Downtown is hosting the second annual Let it Snow event Friday, December 15, 4-7 p.m. It will be the coolest event of the year with festive fun for the whole family, including bounce houses, winter-themed arts and crafts, and giveaways! RSVP today.

RSVP Today!

Día de los Muertos event celebrates the magic of tradition and community

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Recently, ASU Preparatory Academy South Phoenix transformed into a vibrant fiesta of colors and sounds, paying homage to the rich tradition of Día de los Muertos. The community gathered for a night bursting with entertainment.

On November 4, the campus filled with families, their faces painted in vivid designs and many had heads adorned with floral crowns, eager to participate in the festive activities offered throughout the night. Guests danced alongside the lively mariachi, watched the twirling baile folklórico dancers and marveled at a daring aerialist performance.

There was authentic cuisine and craft stations to create sugar skulls and paper flowers, but the heart of the celebration was the breathtaking Cihuapactli Collective Altar, where guests paid tribute to loved ones.

The event was a chance for attendees to soak in the spirit of the ASU Prep community as the South Phoenix campus buzzed with excitement. Student Nataly Garcia shared what makes the school special, and therefore, the event: “It’s a small school and everyone here knows each other. The teachers and staff support each kid individually.” Alejandro Bonfil added how fun it was to hang out with friends and classmates at the celebration.

About the festivities, student Zain Gehrig said, “I would totally recommend this. It’s so much fun being here. I’m having the time of my life.” The pictures and memories of this year’s event will linger on, and are already fueling anticipation for next year’s celebration. As Garcia puts it, “You want to make sure you come next year because you don’t want to miss this fun, amazing party that ASU Prep South Phoenix has offered to everyone!”

To see a recap of the event, please visit our YouTube channel.

No need to wait until next year to join in the fun. ASU Prep is hosting more free community events, including the upcoming Creative Fusion Fest at ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest and Let it Snow at ASU Prep Phoenix Downtown. Find out more about upcoming events here.

The legacy lives on: celebrating Native American Heritage Month

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November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to reflect on the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native Americans and to acknowledge their valued contributions.

In his National Native American Heritage Month proclamation, President Joe Biden stated: “Native Americans are essential to the fabric of the United States. They serve in the United States armed forces at higher rates than any other ethnic group. They continue to steward so many of our great lands. Their contributions to science, humanities, arts, public service, and more have brought prosperity for all of us. Their diverse cultures and communities continue to thrive and lead us forward.”

This month, and all year long, take the time to educate, advocate, and raise greater awareness for the rich traditions and histories of Indigenous communities.

The history of Native American Heritage Month

The journey to recognition was not an easy one. It started with Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a descendent of the Seneca tribe and the director of the Rochester Museum and Science Center, who was one of the first proponents of an American Indian Day back in 1915. His efforts, combined with the relentless work of Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfeet Nation, led to the declaration of the second Saturday of May as American Indian Day by the governor of New York.

Years later, in 1990, President George H.W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November as “National American Indian Heritage Month”. Since then, this commemoration has evolved into what we now know as Native American Heritage Month. It is an opportunity to educate the public about tribes, raise awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and honor the vital role they play in enriching our nation.

From the Iroquois Confederacy’s influence on the U.S. Constitution to the Navajo Code Talkers’ contribution during World War II, the impact of Native Americans is deeply woven into the fabric of American history.

Honoring the vital role of Native Americans

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month can come in many forms. One of the most meaningful ways is through education. Take the time to learn about the different tribes, their histories, and their contributions. Many museums, libraries, and educational institutions like ASU offer exhibits, discussions, and resources during this month.

Participating in cultural activities is another great way to honor this month. Many communities host powwows, dance exhibitions, craft fairs, and other cultural events. These gatherings are not only fun but also provide a deeper understanding of the rich cultural diversity of Native Americans.

Consider supporting Native American businesses and artists to show respect and appreciation. By purchasing Native American art, jewelry, food, and other goods, you’re helping to sustain their traditions and support their communities.

Learn about the important contributions of barrier-breaking Native Americans who continue to shape our society, lead their communities, and impact our culture today. Research Marine Colonel Nicole Mann, the first female Native American to travel to space or Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who became the first Indigenous Cabinet member in U.S. history, among countless others.

Lastly, advocacy is a powerful way to celebrate. Stand with Native communities in their fight for recognition, rights, and respect. Advocate for policies that protect their lands, cultures, and identities. Arizona State University has taken steps to increase awareness & appreciation, as well as motivate advocacy, through the ASU Indigenous Land Acknowledgement, recognizing its campuses are situated on the homelands of many indigenous communities, many of whom continue to live in the area.

Continue to celebrate, learn, and honor

Native American Heritage Month is a reminder of the enduring and resilient spirit of Native people. The richness of their cultures, the depth of their wisdom, and the strength of their spirit continue to inspire us all. In honoring their heritage, we enrich our own understanding and become more compassionate and informed citizens.

This November, let’s take the opportunity to celebrate, learn, and honor the first people of this land. Let’s remember that every day is a good day to respect and appreciate the diverse cultures and contributions of Native Americans.

Accelerating Math Skills: ASU Prep’s Math Momentum Program

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ASU Prep’s Math Momentum program, a testament to the power of innovative, personalized education, seeks to bolster math education by equipping educators with a diverse set of strategies and teaching models. The initiative, now in its third successful year, supports schools across Arizona, particularly those in rural locations and tribal lands, where access to technology and qualified staff may be lacking.

“Math has always been an area of opportunity in the state,” says ASU Prep Digital Principal Brian Austin. The program, a collaborative effort between ASU Prep and the Arizona Department of Education, rises to the challenge of addressing the pressing need for improved math performance and teacher support in grades five through nine across Arizona.

Unique, Data-Driven Approach

“Everyone can do math at the highest levels,” asserts Austin, and Math Momentum is making the opportunity accessible and possible.

To implement Math Momentum, program leaders analyze student performance data, gather teacher feedback, and review existing curricula. Based on these findings, they design the best model to address gaps using the latest research in math education and evidence-based pedagogy.

As a result, Math Momentum is able to offer bespoke solutions tailored to the unique needs of each participating school. From fully virtual to hybrid program options, the educational experience can be customized to each school’s unique needs. In cases of math staffing gaps, a highly qualified ASU Prep Digital math teacher may lead instruction with the support of onsite facilitators. For schools with strong math teachers aiming to boost student performance, the ASU Prep Digital math teacher is available for team-teaching, working with small groups on more individualized instruction.

Through the program, teachers also have access to the Math Institute, which provides professional development and training opportunities for teachers and staff. This includes workshops, seminars, and coaching sessions to ensure educators are well-equipped to effectively deliver the program and support student learning. Mr. Austin is optimistic about the future impact of the program, stating, “We’re breaking new ground and opening up new territory for them to reach their students in a different capacity. That practice will continue impacting their future students in the coming years.”

ASU Prep Digital Learning Success Coaches play a pivotal role in the success of Math Momentum, managing partnerships and supporting students. Coaches provide instruction and resources for cultivating critical math mindsets that foster essential life skills such as problem-solving, persistence, resilience, and collaboration.

Measuring the Impact

The success of the Math Momentum program is measured by both quantitative and qualitative data to assess program effectiveness and impact on student learning.

By year two of the statewide Math Momentum program, every grade level exceeded Exact Path beginning-year to end-year growth goals. The Exact Path Diagnostic revealed that for students who remained in the program for the school year, 88% of students in rural settings maintained or grew their overall math proficiency level, while 93% of students in urban settings maintained or grew their overall math proficiency level.

The Math Momentum program also had a positive impact on teachers. Many onsite teachers expressed satisfaction with their personal development as math educators or facilitators. “The response has been incredible,” says Mr. Austin. “We have many partnerships where those teachers find that Math Momentum is crucial to their instruction now. We’ve had schools that have asked us to expand to their entire math team. And that’s because they’ve seen the results.”

Looking Ahead: Expanding the Momentum

The mission continues to grow, with the goal of extending the Math Momentum opportunity to more schools throughout Arizona and beyond, promoting math excellence and preparing students for college and career success.

“What’s great about Math Momentum is it’s happening directly in the classroom. This isn’t only for those students who have access to transportation or access to technology at home. This is for everyone. I hope to continue serving our Arizona students with Math Momentum,” shares Mr. Austin.

Learn more about Math Momentum and how the program is improving math mindsets and boosting math and digital literacy skills across Arizona.

Baxter, the Diamondbacks’ Mascot, Brings STEM Enthusiasm to ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest

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On the eve of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ first 2023 World Series game, beloved mascot Baxter ignited enthusiasm in young fans when he stopped by ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest. The jersey-wearing bobcat paid students a special visit and brought more than just fun and games. He also brought books and a powerful message about the importance of STEM education.

The books distributed to elementary students feature Baxter as the main character and merge STEM and baseball themes—an innovative collaboration between Honeywell and the Diamondbacks—making reading and learning fun! Local Fox 10 News featured the special visit as Baxter, along with representatives from the Diamondbacks and Honeywell, interacted with ASU Prep students.

The Diamondbacks are not just heroes on the baseball field, but also in their local community. Players have consistently been role models for ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest students, dedicating countless volunteer hours to our campus, which is situated just a mile from their home at Chase Field.

The Diamondbacks and Honeywell are making a significant difference in the community by using their resources and platforms to inspire and educate—one book, one student, and one game at a time. We’re definitely fans of their community commitment.

For more information about our innovative and personalized, tuition-free PreK-12 education programs, visit ASU Preparatory Academy’s website.

 

ASU Prep’s Science of Reading training program is empowering educators and achieving student success

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Ensuring students can read proficiently is a critical goal for schools and educators. ASU Prep is proactively addressing literacy challenges with its Science of Reading training program, which aims to empower educators and improve student literacy. The program is approved by the Arizona State Department of Education, demonstrating the commitment to science-backed teaching methods and student-centered learning.

The primary goal of the program is to equip teachers with the knowledge to make data-driven decisions in the classroom, aligning curriculum with research and data. ASU Prep’s program recognizes many students enter early grades without strong foundational reading skills, relying on pictures rather than phonics-based skills. Teachers are shifting their focus toward addressing the unique needs of their students, as opposed to strictly adhering to a predetermined curriculum or scope and sequence. This shift signifies a move away from a one-size-fits-all approach to education, promoting a more student-centered learning environment.

By focusing on early intervention and equipping teachers with the tools to identify and address struggling readers’ needs, ASU Prep aims to ensure students are proficient readers by the time they reach third grade. This proactive approach can help prevent reading difficulties and empower young readers to become lifelong learners, even though the transition may be challenging. ASU Prep fosters open dialogue and peer collaboration among educators to ease the process.

The success of the program will be measured through pre- and post-assessments for teachers and student outcomes, evaluating knowledge growth and literacy proficiency improvements, and promoting a student-centered learning approach. Student assessments will help determine whether the program leads to increased literacy proficiency.

The Science of Reading training program comprises nine sessions, each focusing on essential components of effective reading instruction, including research findings, structured literacy, phonological awareness, word study, scaffolding instruction, understanding dyslexia, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, and language structure. The program also offers further learning opportunities through an asynchronous Camp Reading course and a book study on Equipped for Reading Success A Comprehensive, Step-By-Step Program for Developing Phonemic Awareness and Fluent Word Recognition by David Kilpatrick.

Ms. Heidi Morton, Training Specialist and Professional Learning Program Manager, has already observed a notable benefit in the evolving mindset of the teachers enrolled in the training. Within finishing one session, Ms. Marilyn Monroy, a teacher in the program, noted a correlation between Science of Reading lessons and improved test scores among her students. Ms. Monroy praised the implemented mini lessons for improving student assessments, with her students improving on spelling tests and even achieving perfect scores.

The initial 45 hours of the Prep Reading Endorsements are scheduled from August 2023 to May 2024, with the next 45-hour segment happening in the subsequent year for a total of 90 hours, further enhancing student-centered learning opportunities.

ASU Prep’s Science of Reading training program represents a forward-thinking and proactive approach to addressing literacy challenges in education. ASU Prep aims to transform students’ reading outcomes and equip educators with the skills to meet the diverse needs of each individual student. As the program continues to evolve and gather data, its impact on students’ literacy development will become increasingly evident.

For more information about ASU Prep’s training programs, including the Science of Reading training program, visit asuprepdigital.org/professional-development.