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.

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.


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! 

Get to know Principal Alexander—National Podcast interview—Educatered

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Key Points

  • Model as a leader how you create relationships. Walk across the street and meet with the community.
  • It’s essential that students feel embraced and included and that they know how to include others.

Thank you to BetterHelp for sponsoring this episode. Speak with an affordable, licensed therapist at your convenience and save 10% on your first month at

On this episode of EduCatered we’re joined by Heidi Alexander, Founding Principal at ASU Preparatory Academy – Pilgrim Rest Elementary.

We love getting to work alongside ASU Prep in a number of ways and are always blown away by their incredible innovations and most of all… their incredible people. Heidi is one of those amazing individuals. Alongside her team, she keeps ASU Prep Academy at the center of their community.

Let’s listen in as they talk about food, belonging and how to best communicate with families.

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Join Our School Launch Team!

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No available positions at this time. Please check back again.

ASU Prep is excited to launch ASU Prep Academy Pilgrim Rest, a new public charter school in the ASU Prep Academy network. We’re looking for a diverse group of passionate and talented teachers interested in becoming founding members of this innovative school.

We’re enrolling learners in grades PreK–6 to start in August 2022 on the downtown campus of Pilgrim Rest Baptist church in Phoenix, AZ. Community-driven and innovative by design, Pilgrim Rest aligns with the ASU Prep mission to build new models for educational success and raise academic achievement for all learners.

A commitment to strong literacy skills, STEM, visual and performing arts, leadership and health and wellness guide the program. Community integration, family partnerships, personalized learning, project-based approaches and culturally relevant pedagogy support these commitments.

This is an amazing opportunity to be part of a new school launch. We’re seeking education professionals with a strong growth mindset, innovative approach, leadership skills and a commitment to the success of every learner.