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

« Back  |  

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

« Back  |  

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.

« Back  |  

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.

Upcoming ASU Prep Neighborhood Events

« Back  |  

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

« Back  |  

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

« Back  |  

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.

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

« Back  |  

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.

Exciting news: ASU Prep Global named a 2023 Yass Prize Semifinalist!

« Back  |  

ASU Prep Global is proud to be named a 2023 Yass Prize Semifinalist, selected from nearly 2,000 applications representing 27 million students in grades PreK–12 across all 50 states.

The prestigious $1 million Yass Prize, to be announced December 13 in New York City, is considered the “Pulitzer of Education Innovation.” The Yass Foundation for Education, powered by the Center for Education Reform (CER) in partnership with Forbes, calls the 33 distinguished semifinalists “the guiding light…who deliver the most innovative education across the country.”

Semifinalists: influence and impact

Celebrated in style at the inaugural Yass Summit, the Yass Prize semifinalists each received $200,000 as they await the next stage of the Yass Prize journey. Semifinalists, including ASU Prep Global leaders, are invited to a four-week business accelerator program, gaining exposure to top-tier resources and collaborating with other industry innovators and entrepreneurs, as well as experts in journalism, finance, and politics. This is an opportunity for ASU Prep Global to strengthen the mission to provide innovative education that raises academic achievement for all learners.

The semifinalist cohort will also have the opportunity to collaborate even after the initial program is over, accelerating educational change through national exposure and access to the media, attendance at global events, contributions on Forbes.com and sharing with policymakers how best to replicate their good work.

If awarded the $1 million Yass Prize, ASU Prep will continue to expand its own ASU Prep Microschools, in addition to launching the Microschool Fellowship Program, which is designed to empower parents, educators and local entrepreneurs to design customized microschools powered by ASU Prep curriculum, adaptive tools, teachers and Learning Success Coaches. “ASU Prep is deeply committed to accelerating new models of education that raise academic achievement for all learners,” said Amy McGrath, ASU Vice President of Educational Outreach and Managing Director of ASU Prep.

PLEASE VOTE: Parents Choice Award

This year, each Yass Prize semifinalist is in the running for the Parents Choice Award, chosen by a nationwide vote through November 25. The winner will be announced at the December Yass Prize gala, receiving an additional $100,000 for school community or organization improvements.

Please vote today – and EVERY day until November 25! Encourage your family and friends to vote as well!

ASU Prep Global’s 21st century, personalized approach

The Yass Foundation for Education recognizes “best in class education providers who can tackle the big education challenges of the day and deliver an education for students that is Sustainable, Transformational, Outstanding and Permissionless.” Let’s highlight some of the ways ASU Prep Global’s personalized, online education earned this significant honor.

Sustainable education

With Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) funds, families have the flexibility to choose educational offerings that best meet their learners’ needs. ASU Prep’s Global microschools offer the convenience of online courses plus the benefits of in-person interaction.

Transformational learning

The blend of digital and in-person learning in our microschools offers students ultimate choice in their day. Each learner’s academic journey is supported and guided by passionate teachers and Learning Success Coaches. With immersive and innovative technology, students can explore a living cell in biology class or interact with a museum statue during history.

Outstanding results

ASU Prep Global’s model has proven outstanding, with a 96% retention rate and a 90% overall satisfaction rating in the 2022-2023 school year. Parents are actively engaged in their children’s learning, providing feedback, and supporting their academic journey. Learners have the flexibility to self-pace and blend learning styles, leading to improved engagement and success.

Permissionless innovation

ASU Prep Global microschools can adapt lessons based on student interests and choice. This fluidity fosters an environment where pace, place, and experiences are personalized, not standardized.

What’s next

As ASU Prep Global waits for the Yass Prize finalists and $1 million winner to be revealed, we look forward to engaging in unique conversations with industry experts and advocating for change. We are excited to continue fueling new pathways that enable more students to access our offerings and transform their educational journeys.

Learn more about the Yass Prize here, and be sure to vote every day through November 25 for ASU Prep Global to win the Parents Choice Award and an additional $100,000.

To Be Globally Competitive, the U.S. Must Value STEM as Much as Literacy

« Back  |  

Originally published on The74.

K-12 education needs to be rethought and redesigned: The engine for STEM learning is curiosity and imagination.

Curiosity is king. Students start their educational journey curious, creative and thirsty for knowledge. This is what drives STEM, particularly science. Our job is to cultivate that and not let a standardized approach to education quash those highly valued traits of a learner.

The world is dependent on innovations, systems and equipment that are designed and sustained using science, engineering, technology and mathematics. This means the nurturing of STEM talent cannot be reserved for a slice of our student population but, instead, an essential component of every student’s educational journey.

It turns out, industry agrees.

Our colleagues in the semiconductor community report the need for curious and creative professionals who can work in teams to solve the toughest problems encountered in the fabs and labs of our most advanced workplaces.

Because innovation is happening at a quickening pace, readying students through the curriculum for every workplace scenario will be impossible. The ability to design solutions from scratch, in real time, is necessary to the innovation enterprise.

Whether this is perceived as an issue of equity or economics, the goal is the same: To value STEM knowledge in the same way we value reading.

K-12 needs to be rethought and redesigned or it will not only fail to meet the needs of a STEM-dependent world, it will fail to meet the needs of a unique generation of students who learns, thinks and engages with the world around them differently than any before.

Millennial and Gen Z parents are tech-integrated and experience-driven. Their children are hard-wired to be the same. Practically, this means they innately use technology to learn anytime, anywhere. But it also means they want to learn by doing. They consider technology their guide but want in-person engagement for connection, collaboration and support.

These were the trends and challenges we had to consider when designing ASU Prep. ASU Prep is a P-20 system of schools and educational services embedded in a larger learning enterprise at Arizona State University. The needs and preferences of our student body is what drives our iterative design. Students become masters in various learning domains from home, at a K-12 campus, on a university campus, at their parent’s workplace or even with peers at a coffee shop.

Thanks to the innovative K-12 policy environment in Arizona, students who can do a day’s worth of school work in less time can fill the remaining hours getting ahead in courses, catching up on concepts where they struggle, working, pursuing an interest in music, theater, Olympic sport or even launching their own small business.

Online learning should not be remote from people. We pair students with Learning Success Coaches to help students build personalized educational pathways into their desired future career. From kindergarten on, ASU Prep students build their own learning plans in concert with a guide and present it to their parents.

Our students are exposed to ASU courses as soon as they are ready and can take any of the 4,000-plus courses on the ASU catalog: in person, online or through our Universal Learner Platform. High school students at ASU Prep are applying their learning via paid internships and hybrid high school/university schedules.

It’s working. With graduation and college-going rates that exceed the averages and large numbers of students matriculating to STEM careers, we believe that we are the school system of the future. As part of ASU’s New American University, ASU Prep is wired like no other K12 system in the country and is poised to design and open access to a K12 model fit for the future of work.

We do all these things not to simply grow enrollment but to develop a knowledge base of what works to share with the broader community and the ASU teams that are increasing university enrollment in underrepresented communities.

Stakes are high for both our country and the families striving within. We embrace the efforts laid out in the New Essential Education Discoveries (NEED) Act to evaluate what is happening right now in the most innovative systems in the United States and apply those lessons rapidly for the benefit of all students.

There is brilliance in every household. We believe it’s our job to design new educational models that value curiosity and show every student that they do, in fact, have a path to a successful future.

Amy McGrath is an educator, vice president for ASU, and managing director of ASU Preparatory Academy, a system of schools and innovations designing new models for all learners.

Epic kid: Barbara Mackey, founding student of ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest

« Back  |  

Recently, Epic Kids featured ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest first grader Barbara Mackey, spotlighting her unique educational path. She and her family are all members of the Pilgrim Rest church and school community, but Barbara holds a special position. She is a part of the first-ever group of students who will attend ASU Prep Pilgrim Rest from kindergarten through 6th grade.

Read Barbara’s story on page 8 of the September 2023 issue of Epic Kids.