Hartmann: Coronado High School Success Initiative update

Why is the Coronado Success Initiative important?

Kim Hartmann

Coronado High School is one of five high schools in the Scottsdale Unified School District. In fact, Coronado High School is one of the oldest Scottsdale high schools, opening its Don doors in 1961, with three generations of proud alumni.

Of the nearly 2,000 SUSD high school graduates each year, 350 will march down the Coronado HS Don football field during commencement this May. Each of the five SUSD high schools has a unique and vibrant community, high school graduation and a promising future is the goal for all of our students.

Coronado High School graduates are not experiencing the same rate of college and career readiness as all of our SUSD graduates. In 2016, the Coronado High School graduation rate was 65 percent as compared to the SUSD rate of 86 percent and state average of 78 percent. In Fall of 2016, 402 SUSD graduates successfully enrolled as freshman at ASU, of which Coronado contributed 12. This disparity is why the Coronado HS Success Initiative is important to our students and community.

I shared with you in February the launch of our Coronado HS Success Initiative that included 139 engaged CHS stakeholders — teachers, students, parents, administration, alumni, elected officials, community leaders and philanthropic partners — gathered at Skysong to reimagine the Coronado High School from a student’s perspective. This was just the beginning of a multi-year initiative. The following are just a few examples of highlights and possibilities when a community comes together:

  • Our SUSD administration and teacher leaders realized a change in curriculum and new classroom techniques needed to occur. This will require additional teacher training, longer work days and sometimes longer work weeks. To partially compensate teachers for the additional work and longer work day, the Scottsdale Charros have generously committed an annual teacher stipend to offset some of this additional effort.
  • Because not all teachers are in a place to take on an extended work week and new teaching practices, all Coronado HS teachers were asked to re-evaluate and re-apply for Coronado HS teaching positions. A teacher position within one of the 30 SUSD schools was guaranteed to every teacher. Of the approximate 50 Coronado teachers slated for next year, nearly all have been placed with a healthy blend of existing and new eager teachers embracing the new momentum and practices.
  • SUSD is a close partner with the ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and their iTeach student teacher program. This year we have matched 50 student teachers with our SUSD K-12 classrooms. Next year, ASU MLFTC has committed 14 additional student teachers and interns to our Coronado classrooms, dramatically and positively impacting our student-to-teacher ratio.
  • We have welcomed new leadership at Coronado HS including principal Dr. Chris Gilmore and leadership team member Dr. Amy Fuller. Both leaders bring a student-centric approach to learning, have successful experience in accelerating first generation college attainment rates and Dr. Fuller is bi-lingual in Spanish.
  • SUSD leadership is meeting with many community partners that have a desire to share successes and resources with our Coronado community. Such as the Charros, SUSD Foundation and the Be A Leader Foundation. Together, we are exploring various initiatives, including: successful college attainment programs, coaching/mentor programs and securing important college grant and scholarship opportunities.

These are only a few examples of the many innovative, collaborative, courageous and heavy-lifting efforts that are being generously shared by so many. The SUSD Superintendent Dr. Denise Birdwell and her leadership team along with the Coronado HS site leadership and teachers, both departing and joining, deserve special recognition.

Their commitment and tireless, often unrecognized, efforts will continue to make an important difference in so many students lives. It is the efforts of our entire community that will continue the momentum and success of this initiative.

Renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead said it best, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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